Friday, 9 October 2009

Shhh, Did You Hear That?...........

Human beings loved being scared as long as it is in a controlled environment. We love fairground rides, ghost stories, horror films, anything that gives us a little jolt, a little taste of our own mortality, but with the promise that by the end of it, our feet will safely touch the ground and we can queue up and do it all again.

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:

Paranormal Activity.

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.


Eva Gallant said...

I agree....gore is not scary. I like the suspense of what might happen! Dean Koontz is another great horror writer.

Judearoo said...

Totally agree with you on this, Dan. Saw the most amazing showing of Nosferatu with live musical accompaniment - so so cool!

By the way, that clip scared the living bejaysus outta me. Like it! :)

AlpHa Buttonpusher said...

I think Twilight killed my hunger for horror.
I have to admit though this PA trailer is promising. I just hope it's not like those movies where they squeeze all the action/good stuff in the trailer if you know what I mean.

Alice in Wonderland said...

Love this Dan! Nosferatu is one of my favourite all-time films! I hope this new movie lives up to the trailer, but it looks like another Blair Witch to me. But, I'll try anything once!
I'm waiting to see Doctor Parnassus which opens next week, just to watch Heath Ledger!
Thank you for the kind message.
Big hugs and keep in touch!

JennyMac said...

I have never seen the film..however, I did read this very disturbing story about the woman in the picture. Her husband, an exotic cat lover, gets caught having an affair so she spends 2 mill PLUS to create an "exotic cat" face? Are you serious????

That is gore like I have never seen.

hope said...

Add another to the list of anti-gore people who prefer the Hitchcock method. You know, that subtle "boo" when you least expect it because you're being led down the garden path with the hair raised up on the back of your neck.

To this day, I still think Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is the scariest book I ever read. I hate all this gore and teen age vampires. No, it is NOT my age talking. I'll stomp and pout if you need proof. ;)

Anonymous said...

I quite liked Thirty Days of Night, but it's not really a classic horror.

Finally somebody tackles the emofication of vampires. Nice work Dan!

Lorenza said...

I can cope with spicy food but not with horror movies or books. It must be something lacking in my life but I confess I NEVER WATCHED ONE! That is the reason why I could cope with the gentlemen vampires of the Twilight Saga (I read all of them to understand why my daughter was completely possessed while reading them!). I enjoy the "Thriller" video clip, it is more than enough for me

ladytruth said...

It's not just Edward Cullen's eyebrows that are absolutely delectable *splashing my face with cold water quickly*

I agree with Matthew, 30 Days of Night scared the daylight out of me every few minutes, but I've been watching some old(ish) horrors from the nineties lately. Some good stuff back then. You can always put 'The Shining' on repeat if you can't take it anymore? :)

ladytruth said...

Sorry, it's me again because I watched the trailer after writing my first comment. When I saw those girls cling to their boyfriends and some hide under their shirts I was thinking they should've provided a safety blankey before showing the movie, but bloody hell when something crawls into bed with those poor people my eyes started watering. The last that happened was with The Others and The Grudge. Scary stuff ;)

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

Given I am still having nightmares about "I am Legend" I doubt I will be lining up for this one. I like my horror like I like my curries - mild!

Life with Kaishon said...

I don't really love being scared : ) I laughed out loud about Billy Ray scaring you : ). The picture in your post scares me a little! : )

JenJen said...

I am a big fraidy cat. I don't like anything scary, it gives me nightmares.
I'm thirty-almost-six.
The PC I am using has no sound (I don't know) and even with that handicap, I watched the preview.
I'll be awake for days.

WhisperingWriter said...

Okay, that picture scared the mess out of me. Yikes. Dear gracious, YIKES.

I can't watch gore movies. I cover my eyes.

jules said...

I love that picked out Edward Cullen's eyebrows to point out. The thing is, while Twillight is all the hype now, I'm sure it's just a trend that will last a few years, wear off, and then the real vamp stories will be able to be found again.

I loath how much scary movies are just scarily gory. Have you checked out 1408? I believe it's actually based on a Stephen King novel and it's quite unsettling. No gore, just really a really unpleasant hotel room. Left me spooked!

JennyMac said...

Hi again. I have something for you. Put on your fancy duds and come to the Sunday Awards Show.

Midnitefyrfly said...

I hope I didn't miss anything too critical in the first paragraph and a half because I had to scroll down past that hideous picture before I could start reading- seriously.

I started reading the works of Mr. King at the tender age of 12. "Carrie" was my first and I think "Gerald's Game" was my last, with many in between. I have to admit I am not fond of the science fiction horror blends. I agree that I find great like in a lot of Dean Koontz' work as well.

I like "horror" that gets you thinking and wondering, trying to relate to what seems unrelatable- the mind (or spirit if you consider the paranormal)of someone creating it, whether in writing, screen play, or worse, in life.

On the movie scene, I am deeply disappointed. I look forward to "Paranormal Activity" and hope it isn't just a wide screen exaggeration of the many paranormal TV shows.

Dan. said...

Eva- I did like Dean Koontz (Phantoms-top read) but slowly stopped buying them.

Judearoo- That does sound pretty cool. I watched some of it recently and remember the music being very weird.

Alpha- Check on the net some of the reviews. Everyone is raving about it.

Alice In Wonderland- Been reading mixed reviews on Dr Parnassus. One to wait for DVD for me.

JennyMac- She is one scary looking lady. Why would you do that to yourself?

Hope- I didn't like Gary Oldman's version though. Camper than a row of tents.

Matthew- 30 Days of Night was pretty good. Hokey, but at least the vamp weren't moping around and were portrayed as actual monsters.

Lorenza- Go on, try it? You might like it?

Ladytruth- I am one of the only people that doesn't like The Shining. I love the book, and it is nothing like it. I feel ashamed.

Long dark hair, blue eyes- We need to toughen you up girlfriend.

Life with Kaishon- She is one freaky looking lady, isn't she? Like Billy Ray.

JenJen- Get your husband to take you and you can hide under his arm. One of the best things about going as a couple.

Jules- Once again, I am a bit of a King purist. I don't like many versions of his stories. Stand by Me, Misery, and Shawshank excepted.

JennyMac- Thank you!

Dan. said...

Midnitefyrfly- I think the reason I love King so much is that he always sets his stories in some nameless street, not some gothic castle, so you always feel a better sense of connection with what he is writing. Best storyteller since Dickens.