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Attraction to the Horror Genre
The Conjuring Trailer
Although the industry in the horror genre continues to grow, one doesn't easily come across others who favor the uniqueness of this contribution. Many people tend to stay away from horror movies, bedecking their environment with memorabilia or celebrating any type of relative occasion. Halloween tends to be an exception.
To be unreceptive of the genre derives from many responses. Some including:
- the mental jolt from a center of peace to a state of shaken uncertainty
- testament of one's religious beliefs
- graphically revealing testimony of violent behavior
- unbelievable, yet possible, concepts of spiritual existence and competence
- altering of an individual's perception
These responses can be very well summed into one word: fear
It is more welcoming to laugh at a comedy, become intrigued by drama or feel compassion from a romance.
Reported July 21st, 2013 by the Associated Press, the movie, The Conjuring, earned $41.5 million it's first week. The Conjuring is about a family who moves into an old farm house where they encounter unsettling paranormal activity. Encouraging attendance for this audience is the fact the movie is based on a true story.
AMC's The Walking Dead, a cable TV series revolving around the zombie apocalypse and a select group of survivors, maintains top Nielsen ratings during it's season's premiere.
What is the attraction to the genre?
It Started With The Dolls ...
I, myself, am an avid horror fan and have been since early childhood.
My imagination was activated by my doll collection. Often, I pretended my dolls would talk, not only to me, but to each other. A firm believer my dolls conjugated with each other while I slept, it was routine to comb their hair, dress them and neatly place them on the shelf before going to bed. They were respected as if they were people. I didn't want them getting angry at me. I was sure if they did, they would hop up and run away.
Years later, I would see a movie that would corroborate my theory.
Television of the 1970's was limited in the form of children's programming. Unlike now where Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel are on in the evening; we had nothing.
One Saturday evening, I was turning the knob (this is pre-remote era) looking for something to watch. My mother had gone out and I was home alone. I came upon an introduction to a program. The introduction fascinated me. Although the viewing was black and white, the music was captivating. This was the first time I'd seen anything like this.
As a young child, home alone in a Chicago neighborhood, the video below flickered on the television that evening.
Creature Features Intro - Chicago
Creature Features: The Best Of The Best
Creature Features (1970-1976) was a TV series which aired on WGN, Channel 9, in Chicago on Saturday evenings. It featured, what are now called, classic horror movies.
The first movie I saw was Attack of the Puppet People, (1958). The fantasy of my dolls coming to life was authenticated through this cinematic story of a doctor who abducts, shrinks and imprisons people as living dolls. My addiction to the series was immediate.
Without the technology of a VCR or DVR, if you wanted to watch something on TV, you better be in front of it on time. No matter what I did during the day, I made sure I was positioned on the living room floor with lights off.
My mother warned me of possible nightmares. But nothing could prevent me from watching the show.
It wasn't until I got older that I realized this show took away the loneliness of being an only child.
The Horror Roller Coaster
Looking back, I recall the emotion of watching those black and white movies in the dark as a unique feeling. It's the same compliment of excitement and fear felt when approaching a roller coaster. I equate a horror movie to a roller coaster as follows:
- the wait line = the music
- standing at the gate as the roller coaster rolls past from the previous ride = the start of the movie
- getting buckled in the ride = preparing yourself for something to happen
- the crank up the first hill = the music/camera pan/darkness before the monster strikes
- the gravity dive (intense sensation) = the scare (intense sensation)
- getting off the ride = so glad it's only a movie
- possible nausea after the ride = possible nightmare
The difference between a roller coaster and a horror movie is obvious. You are not taking a chance with your life while watching a horror movie. A mechanical failure where you may be stuck several feet in the air isn't possible. The end result for both are different perspectives of survival. One is a celebration of returning to the ground safely; physical attribution. The other is a celebration of awareness; a mental attribution.
Much More Than Fear
It's been over 40 years since I saw my first horror movie. And today, the addiction is as great as it can get.
No longer just about movies, it's about atmosphere. The small baby dolls have been replaced by 6ft animatronic dolls and other horror decor purchased once a year at my favorite Halloween store; Spirit Halloween. Halloween is 24/7, 365 days a year.
These replicas encourage what is the right side of my brain just as a scenic landscape encourages the artist. I have horror figures around my desk. When I get stuck or my mind goes blank, I look at them. The creativity I see in these figures flicks the switch of inspiration need to stimulate and encourage.
This I owe to the entertainment industry's decision of allowing their audiences backstage. Through bonus footage depicting the secrets of storyline concept, creation of special effects and mythology of make-up, horror, for me, is a model for creative influence
It is my opinion other genres are easy to create. Horror requires an inverse type of thinking.
The purpose is to strip your audience of comfort. It is mandatory to askew their perception into believing they are about to experience something so incredibly disturbing that it affects them to the core. To mentally remove them from their seats to the center of the unknown is half the battle.
All this to be done with out the knowledge of your audiences strengths. The treatment must cover weakness on a large scale.
Horror In The Eye Of The Beholder
The allurement of horror to any individual is a personal choice. People have many reasons for taking on a horror movie.
Sometimes, life can be mundane. Falling into a stagnate routine void of fulfilling challenges. Stimulation is needed to awaken the brain and stir the emotions. On the other hand, you may be so busy you can't breath. The stress of meeting life's demands have you screaming for an outlet. Escape is a natural response. But, the desired design may be of another world.
The Protector or The Protected
Sometimes women want to feel protected. She wants to know her significant other will shield her from harm, even if the fear is all in her head. Wrapped in the warmth of strong arms or a simple grip of the hand is comforting and warms the heart.
On the other hand, the man can exhibit his want to protect. Chivalry is reinvigorated not only on screen, but in the seats as well.
Challenge of Will
Everyone has an inner strength. People who are avid horror fans are aware of the set up and cues. They know when the scare is coming. So they mentally challenge the movie to scare them. Entice my fear and make me jump, if you can. Those who want to be challenged are the ones who attend the theater alone.
A Community Experience
Most people view horror movies in groups. In a group setting, whether with a group of friends or alone in a crowded theater, people feed off of the fear of others. It actually turns the horror movie into a comedy. Reactions are amusing and comical as there is always someone who screams louder, jumps quicker and hurls popcorn higher.
The horror genre, much like Fantasy and Sci-Fi, allows the possibility of endless creative applications. Because there are no rules as to the validity of realism, concepts are limited to the influences of the mind.
It is said Stephen King was inspired to write horror after reading a book written by H.P. Lovecraft. Tom Savini,"The Godfather of Gore," was inspired by Lon Chaney's The Man of a Thousand Faces 1957.
How do you view the horror genre?
And To Those Who Just Don't Like It...
The world revolves on a well-balanced axis due to all types of perspectives. Some people just don't like to be thrown into the pit of fear.
The concoction of corn syrup, food coloring and corn starch looks too much like real blood. Prop tricks, latex and special effect techniques creates more realism than pretentious stage play. Or, they may feel the macabre is offensive to their religious beliefs.
As I stated above, it is of personal choice. Yet, the fan base for this genre, the potential for industry wealth and franchise opportunities continue to flourish.
For me, it is horror which helps me with my writing. But horror is not the only subject I write.
It is horror which helps me with my art. But horror is not the concentration of my art.
It is horror which helps me with my photography. But the only horror I have photographed is that of my waking face.
After enjoying the genre and learning the tricks of the trade, fear is something I rarely experience. I do enjoy seeking the challenge.
And for those reasons, I will continue to be a fan.
© 2013 OMGirdle