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What's behind it?   —   Horror Movies

The American Nightmare. A horror documentary showcasing some of Horror's most beloved film makers like George Romero, Tobe Hooper, and Wes Craven to name a few. The documentary was interesting as it not only covered the film maker's inspirations for specific movies, but also their take on how certain events in the world has impacted the horror genre as well as their own film making. For example, Tom Savini discussed how his experience in Vietnam inspired much of his work in make-up and special effects.

A significant portion of the documentary devoted itself to the ideas behind why people like horror movies. One person said that people like horror movies because of the thrill they get from being scared, the same reason why people ride roller coasters. Another person remarked that when someone answers that question with "It's like riding a roller coaster" that they aren't really giving an answer so much as their reaction to how it makes them feel, that there has to be something else beneath the thrill of it all that makes horror fans desire and seek out the genre. One of the critics being interviewed remarked that for some people, horror movies are ways for them to deal with the graphic nature and violence of the world in which we live, and it somehow toughens the person, making them more capable in dealing with the horrific realities in life. Someone else commented that horror movies are simply a medium in which we utilize in order to tap into some of our most primal urges, the violence, the gore, that it somehow releases those subconscious cravings into an acceptable format.

I think that all of those points are valid, and that, as with most all things, it's highly dependent on the individual for the whys and hows. After giving some thought to my own reasons for loving the horror genre I think I've come to a somewhat simplified answer. For me a horror film (or even novel) is all about the survival. Ultimately I'm putting myself into the shoes of the main character whose job it is to defeat whatever the evil is that has set out against them. A horror film makes me feel alive because it's affirmation that given the right amount of perseverance, one can survive the most horrific of situations. Maybe it's part of that point stated earlier, that some people use the horror genre as a means to toughen themselves, ready themselves for whatever the real world has to throw at them.

Part of the successful survival in horror movies is about digging deep within yourself and, not only discovering, but utilizing aspects of our own animal instinct that mostly lays dormant in everyday living. I find it fascinating what a person is capable of given the right situation. Take Wes Craven's highly controversial movie "Last House on the Left" for example. Throughout the whole movie we see these three individuals torture and kill two young girls in humiliating and horrific ways. But the movie takes an odd twist when the parents of one of the victims discovers what has happened to their daughter. It is then that the parents become the ravaging animals, and the means by which the parents torture and kill the killers is almost more terrifying than what the killers had done to the two girls. It's those dormant capabilities that we all harbor that I find so engrossing and ultimately empowering.

Of course the exception to all of this is Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, whose side I am always on, because anyone who can die that many times and come back each time tougher and ultimately, taller, just deserves my respect.

Posted 3.7.2006 11:29:57 PM





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