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Horror and Horror Compounded November 13, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in End of the World, fantasy, ghost towns, writing.

Why my mind wanders (and why I so often join it) isn’t something that concerns me, even if it should. I just loose the dogs of war and woof my way through. Pacing and horror seem vitally intertwined, but there are different ways of achieving the end of scaring your audience silly.

The gothic style (not goth, gothic) is slow-moving, even glacial. Consider Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. Very slowly paced, but it builds like a mason puts together a wall. Each brick is careful located and when you realize the wall is almost done, Fortunato, it is too late to do anything but rush to the end. Slow build, immensely powerful, quick conclusion. It’s like watching a dam begin to leak. A drop here and there and then the unstoppable flood.

Modern horror relies on bringing out the menace immediately. Instant gratification (or mortification, depending). From here the pace is steady. How do you escalate when all your cards are face up on the table? The SyFy Channel monster movies are certainly in this vein. Monster in opening credits, go from there. I am tempted to say such things are less horror and more shock. Nothing they do these days has the pacing (or impact) of The Birds, if you want a nature turning against us plot. (OK, I admit it. I watched Rage of the Yeti last night. It was actually funny rather than horrific)

For me, horror lies in places not thought of as “horror.” About the scariest movie in decades was A Beautiful Mind. It’s got it all. Isolation. Events beyond the protagonist’s control. Ineffectual help arriving too late. And real horror melding fantasy and reality. This scares me. Lord of Illusions is merely a movie I watch, trying to figure out why I’m watching it again. House on Haunted Hill is a better “shock” movie, meaning it makes me jump–but does not horrify me, give me that brain itchy feeling of dread so I go turn on the lights. Just to be sure.

or maybe the Vincent Price title is more to your liking



1. Antonia Cardella - November 13, 2011

I so agree about Beautiful Mind. The idea that your whole world/life is an illusion, but you don’t know it, is the most horrifying thing I can think of…

2. Bill Trousdale - November 13, 2011

The movie that disturbed me the most was ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ supposedly based on Henry Lee Lucas. Just the thought that monsters like this really exist creeps me out. I was reminded of this because Henry was played by Michael Rooker who was just brought back tonight on ‘The Walking Dead’.

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