Whats Wrong With Horror Fans?


Horror fans, it is time for self-affirmation. I feel it is our duty to do something about “the others”. No, not ghosts that still think they’re people, although that can be a problem from time to time. I’m talking about those folks out there who don’t appreciate the things we hold dear. “What things?” you may be asking yourself. Well, things such as dismembered corpses, decapitations, death-by-wood chipper, etc.

There are, believe it or not, people who do not share in our appreciation of all things bloody and infected. While we can’t stomp those people out, or force them to see our vision, we can make known our feelings of resentment. What gives someone the right to enjoy a movie like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and not give equal respect to Cujo? How can someone make the case that a sequel to Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants has merit but sees no value in one of the many Saw entries? Our tastes are being labeled as obscene and we have to figure out why so we can stand up to those who look down on horror as lower entertainment.

When someone shows disgust at our taste in movies they are objecting to the familiarity we have with things that are considered offensive. The more movies we watch, the more desensitized to the violence we become. When people say that horror movies are offensive they’re really telling us that they are shocked that we could ever become familiar with the macabre. How dare we enjoy playing spectator to such acts of brutality. In truth we are assessing the craft of movie making. We enjoy the editing and camera placement that goes into a particularly complex scene, such as the rape in Last House on the Left (2009), which I particularly appreciated.

Last House on the Left

Here’s where I have to carefully explain to the non-horror fans out there that I did not enjoy seeing the star of Return to Halloweentown being raped, but I did like how the scene itself was shot and put together. I thought there was a good mix of up-close-and-personal shots interspersed with long shots showing all the characters from a distance. The rape continued to go on but the director forcefully removed me from the scene. Moments later I was pushed far closer than was comfortable.

That, my friends, is engaging cinematography. Shocking cinema lets you become involved with what is going on instead of letting you become complacent. The fans of horror are just as interested in seeing how the climactic set-pieces come together as they are the girls in short skirts…or no skirts. (Not to leave out the female fans, Jeepers Creepers 2 departed convention and had a mostly allmale cast shirtless for the entire movie amid the bloodletting. Ooh la-la.

Horror movies are nothing if not equal opportunity exploiters.) I found horror through special effects. I really enjoy seeing what the guys at KNB can come up with and how they execute their effects. I enjoy a great story as much as the next person, but I gotta say that I got pumped when Goetz was laid out on the table saw in Frontier(s), or when Janet Leigh was stabbed in the shower in Psycho (1960). Violence is not something we should strive for in the every day, but it does occur and the expression of it in film is perfectly valid and can be quite artistic. There is no edict that makes one form of expression acceptable and another worthy of a ban. We live in times where political pundits and extreme right-wingers are fighting to censor the films we love. Fortunately, we also live in times of great understanding of the concept of freedom of expression. I am not interested in ever seeing Nights in Rodanthe, but I am not upset at it being shown to the public.

It does not need to be protested even though it’s too goddamn sappy to exist [in my opinion]. At the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Whitebread need to be allowed to see the movies they want and they need to allow me to see what I want as well. I am not interested in force-feeding Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to an unwary public, so just live and let live already! It all boils down to this: We horror aficionados love something that is apart from the mainstream. Hollywood can make as many bullshit PG-13, pop culturefriendly pieces of horror that they want (some of which might even be OK) but true horror will always remain fringe and be shit on by people who don’t understand that the audience for these cult films aren’t all potential serial killers. We like the extreme stories. We like being prodded by a filmmaker looking to engage an audience. We like wearing black t-shirts with “This Is My Boomstick” printed on them. We dislike being looked at as lesser people because we see in an experience like Grindhouse a sublime and un-paralleled viewing experience.

Bruce Campbell, Ash

Most importantly we need to stand up for what we love. It is just as unbelievable that a magazine can be devoted to the collecting porcelain dolls as horror films. It is just as valid to enjoy the cinematography in Citizen Kane as in The Shining. It is just as creative to weave a fantastic slow-burn movie called Audition as it is to film a commendable adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (soon with added Zombies!). Don’t allow yourself to be cowed by people who can’t see past the arterial spray.

Stand up and be proud, as I know you are, that you have been able to see the merit in Inside, the craft of Martyrs and the historical value of Dawn of the Dead (1978). Obscenity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. As long as you can reconcile the two, you’ll be on top of things. The next time someone asks you, with a conceited sneer, why you’d bother wasting your money on a DVD of The Devil’s Rejects, just remind them that you didn’t ask why they bothered to buy Fool’s Gold.


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      1. Jennifer Hill February 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        I explain my tastes as such – I enjoy the adrenaline and fear that come with a good flick, and the safety in knowing it’s fake. It’s one thing to get off on something real like a serial killer does. It’s another to watch in safety knowing this is makeup and special effects and acting. And you nailed it with appreciating the filmmaking. I love practical makeup and so to watch something like Saw with all it’s gore is so much fun because most of it is practical. You’re not going to get anything that creative or inspiring from some romcom (I think their makeup budget only accounts for smeared mascara because the lead woman cries all the freakin’ time).

      2. UltraViolence February 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

        I enjoy horror just because. I dunno why, I can’t really explain it without looking like a mad person to a non horror fan. I’m not aroused by on screen rape, mutilation of murder but I enjoy the effect it has on me. The fear or dread. The way it increases my heart rate and fills me with adrenaline. The ability a director has to get me to feel real fear, sympathy, empathy or dread. Martyrs, during the abuse scenes, I felt like I was there, watching, advocating the actions. Desperately wanting it to stop but the powerless feeling I felt was real. I felt real conflicting feelings at the end of I Saw the Devil. No other genre has ever had this power of me.

      3. big jake February 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm

        Awesome article! When I tell people why I have horror tattoos or why I love horror movies they look like they are better than you. F#*$ that! Horror for me is an escape from all the BS that is really going on. I know its fake, if I wanted to see the real stuff, I can watch the news. These people who won’t let there kids watch genre movies but them let them watch the news are hypocrites.

      4. The Creature February 15, 2013 at 5:55 am

        A well written and thought provoking article, Innspector. Nicely done!
        I have a feeling that the people who find our tastes in the horror film genre to be repulsive and disturbing are the very same who are afraid of the grim reality of our lives/society that our movies reflect. These are probably the same individuals who would like to see our genre heavily censored, with the gore and nudity edited out for the sake of “children’s safety”. What these people fail to realize, of course, is that it is their responsibility (and theirs only) to decide what is appropriate for their children to watch and it is not the responsibility of the artists to change their visions to appease the dumbed-down crowd of fearful viewers and “concerned parents”. To quote John Cusack in The Raven (2012), “Is imagination a felony?” Anyway, just thought I’d put down what I think. :)

      5. Don Bellville February 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm

        For me horror is about nostalgia. I am trying to find the same scare I had as a child. I have found that to be, so far, impossible, but I love the search.

      6. Christopher V. May 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

        So you want people whose taste you view as inferior to not view your taste as inferior?

        People watch horror films for many reasons (to feel in control of horrific realities, an appreciation of make-up effects craft, a tension building prelude to sex, a validation of psychopathic desires, sexual arousal, etc.) and you hold no special ability to speak for all of us.

        Personally, I have found that many horror fans hold a naïve and arrogant position wherein they are daring and progressive ‘free thinkers’ who are unjustly made victims by an alien species of religiously evil and tyrannical closet psychopaths, when all that is actually happening is provocative material provoking people in very different ways.

        If you dig it, then dig it. But how can you expect other people to remain silent concerning your tastes and sociopolitical ideology when they have there own contrasting tastes and ideals? You are not ‘right’ anymore than they are righteous.

        To paraphrase from George Romero’s Day of the Dead, “The trouble with the world is that people have different ideas concerning what they want out of life”. It is irrational and absurd to suggest that we ‘should’ all agree when it comes to the merits of artistic expression as a form of public behavior and social influence (especially concerning transgressive material).

        And what is so damn cerebral about an axe to the head?

      7. Innspecter September 27, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        Are you arguing that appreciation doesn’t need definition or that horror fans can’t be proud and defensive of what they love because that automatically debases someone elses personal likes/dislikes? (And if you reread the last sentence you’ll see that I’m not making the point of who’s right or wrong.)