Posted by: Kristen Hicks | July 7, 2012

Loving Horror

My netflix queue is out of control. I just reviewed it a few days ago to see if I could cull the list of over 600 movies to something more realistic, but found that I had a considerable majority of horror films and I just couldn’t bring myself to remove most of them from the list.

It’s often difficult to explain to new friends and acquaintances just why I so thoroughly enjoy horror moves…and not just the quality, widely acclaimed ones like Halloween or Rosemary’s Baby, but also the mediocre, the awful and everything in between. I know there’s a semi-large community of people like me in this, the internet’s full of blogs and podcasts devoted to the discussion and dissection of vast numbers or horror movies, and before that there were trade magazines and cable shows like Monstervision devoted to satisfying our insatiable horror story cravings.  It’s yet refreshing though when I encounter someone considered “respectable” who shares this passion, as does Colson Whitehead, an award winning novelist (officially considered a “genius” by the Macarthur Foundation) who brings enough prestige to the issue to have a full piece published in the New Yorker about his love of the genre.

For me, I think the genesis of my interest in horror movies had two primary factors:

1. An association with my favorite season, as the lovely Fall that followed the challenging Texas summers was always accompanied by a slew of a variety of (heavily edited) horror movies on cable

2. The illicit, exciting nature of enjoying something slightly rebellious in the midst of my sheltered and very safe suburban adolescence

At a certain point, the enjoyment began to come from an interest in comprehensiveness and an excited willingness to embrace the label of horror fan and, as such, take on the responsibility of seeing as many horror movies as possible. From there, the movies begin to take on a whole new level of interest as I become more and more familiar with the common tropes, the way the movies borrow from each other and how each movie fits into the larger genre it’s a part of. With this in mind, even the most lazy and formulaic of horror movies become more interesting to watch, though never as fun as the truly awful ones.

Without such a history, had I first encountered horror movies in my 20’s or later, I’m not sure I’d be quick to embrace the genre. I don’t actively jump that often while watching them anymore or have lingering images of terror after the tv (or computer, as is much more often the case these days) is turned off. But, because I did have those experiences when I was younger when that kind of strong emotional and psychological response to a story was especially meaningful, I expect an abiding interest in such movies to stay with me for as long as I’m still spending many hours of my life chasing stories.

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