Is horror a genre, or is it an aesthetic? This guest post by Elizabeth Twist, a writer and life-long horror fan, seeks to answer that question and suggest a new understanding of "horror" in film and fiction.
I am a horror fan and much of what I write is horror – or at least, I think of it that way. I am frequently subject to the following exchange:
Well-Meaning Interlocutor: "What do you like to read?"
I enjoy challenging people on this point. When they say they hate horror, often they mean they hate gore porn or slasher movies. Though I personally appreciate even the gorier manifestations of horror, the reality is, you can find horror in all sorts of flavours. Do you like the original Twilight Zone? Did you thrill to Poltergeist when you were a tween? Ever dip into Stephen King's massive oevre? Love the spooky chills of classic movies like The Innocents? How about your annual viewing of A Christmas Carol? Any fond memories of Scooby Doo? Casper the Friendly Ghost? Beetlejuice?
All of these works have horror elements. Some are firmly placed in the horror canon; others merely dip their toes in the horror pool.
The problem lies in definitions. For many people, horror is "that gross stuff I don't like." It is as if we each have our own sliding scale of what we can handle and what we can't, and for those who haven't thought it through, horror is anything that exceeds their tolerances.
It is time for a new understanding of horror.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.