Now I personally dig the horror genre as a whole. From an early age, I devoured the books of Stephen King, snuck classic horror films like The Thing and An American Werewolf In London from my friends fathers collection (though one time, when I was about 12, I grabbed what I thought was a copy of Return Of The Living Dead. It turned out to be a film called Deep Inside Vanessa Del Rio. I played it. My life changed. Ahhhhh, so that's how you do it?), and just generally got off on reading and watching stuff that gave me a little scare.
And even into adult life, I still love horror. When I write for pleasure, it’s nearly always something with a supernatural twist, or has a slight fantastical air to it. And a good majority of the books I buy I normally come from the Horror section of Waterstones.
But I have noticed over the past six or seven years, this is becoming a more and more difficult thing to do. Mainly because the kind of books that I want to read are slowly being pushed into a little corner of the store, to be replaced by all those awful paranormal romance novels.
And I blame Buffy.
Ever since that show ended, there has been a slew of all these watered down, sub Vampire Slayer knock offs, spearheaded by Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. You cant bloody move for them, they are everywhere. Taking up a whole three rows on the bookshelf. Every cover looks the same, Anita Blake, looming out at me, promising me vampire hunting, excitement, and smooches with the undead.
And then of course there is the whole Twilight saga.
Now Twilight has pushed the whole notion of vampires as evil, foul, creatures of the night, back into the shadows and replaced them as moody, foppish, angsty teenagers, where the actual notion of being a member of the undead just leaves you slightly miffed with everything, like you have a permanent strop on. “Ohhh, I am so dead, and it like, really sucks, and like, everything's so, dark, you know? Bummer.”
Where is Nosferatu? Where is Stoker’s Dracula? King’s evil monsters from Salem’s Lot? I want my vampires to crawl in the dirt, to lurk in the shadows, and above all, to be bloody scary. I don’t want legions of teenage girls to be mooning over Edwood Cullen and how dreamy his eyebrows are.
But it is not just books as well where the horror has died. I can’t remember a film that last scared me? Gore is fine in doses. Nothing more than an amusement and a way for the special effect technicians to show off their latest gadgets. But gore doesn’t scare. I’m talking about that creeping, unknown feeling, where the hairs on the backs of your arms slightly raise and makes you wonder what that creaking noise is outside your door.
Maybe it is an indication that I am just getting older? What used to scare me as a kid, doesn’t really scare me now? Now I am scared of long term illness, unemployment, losing money. Ghost and ghouls vanish when you turn the lights on. The fears of modern living don’t.
But the general output of Hollywood movies is also to blame as well. I can probably count on one hand the number of films that I have seen in the last ten years that actually scared me. Blair Witch, REC, er…….Hannah Montana? (Only the trailer, but man, that was enough. Billy Ray Cyrus? It’s like your worst nightmare made flesh)
Now it seems that horror films fall into two categories. PG-13 vanilla horror films, minuscule scares, at least one shot of the lead heroine in her pants (In itself, not necessary a bad thing, granted). Or the other end, the totally boring, and as about as scary as putting your face into a bag full of kittens, gorno films, the torture porn, if you will? Not scary. Not fun.
The only decent film on the horizon, one that has been getting a slow rumble of appreciation across the pond and seems to be justifying the hype, is this one:
Looks spooky, doesn’t it?
Also looks like another Blair Witch clone. But if all reports are correct (and a lot of reviewers are saying so) then this could be the scariest film in ages. And god bless it if it is. Because in the watered down version of horror that us scare junkies are currently living in, we need something to cling on to.