Monday, October 31, 2005

Horror Movies/TV, etc.

In his post "Masters of Horror" Premieres, Tim Lucas says, among many worthwhile things, "This isn't the kind of horror that interests me anymore, and it's a kind that never interested me particularly. Horror rooted in fear of death and mutilation doesn't stick to the ribs, or the brain, the way horror based on the mystery of life and death can do, at least in my humble view."

I thought of this a bit more watching Maniac last night.

Honestly, I think despite some controversy among critics, the only real difference between the likes of Maniac or I Spit On Your Grave and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or Man Bites Dog isn't intent at all, but rather simply of artistic success. Certainly I'll hold that Henry succeeds more and in the same terrain as Maniac is attempting to work in.

But ultimately, for me, full enjoyment of a film like this comes down to something I don't have. It seems horror movie viewers can generally be split into two groups, the fans of things that have some relation to what does or could happen in real life and those who prefer to see nightmares enacted onscreen.

I grew up in Washington in the shadow of the "Ted Killer" and later the "Green River Killer". The truth of madmen like these scares me the handful of times I've ventured to read about them. And there's certainly something morbidly fascinating and compelling about a film such as Henry that explores what goes on inside someone like that's head in some fashion. But somehow the layer of fiction takes much of what might terrify me away.

So, yeah... Put me firmly on the side of nightmares.

Give me a horror movie that comes together in fragments that don't entirely make sense. Give me haunting imagery over vérité grit. Give me ideas that ultimately say something about the evil in me and the reckless apathy of the Universe. Make me think. Make me work for it.

Ultimately, it's pretty easy to terrify the animal inside of each of us that can't stand the idea of having our flesh pierced and cringes at the idea of this mortal coil being unwound. It's the terror of the immediate and it's easy and leaves you with little. It's a simple thrill... and occasionally a fun one... but allowing yourself to release your outer inhibitions and the traps of conscious thought and bear witness to the nightmare, that's challenging. It's ultimately a bigger and more satisfying thrill, too, but it's one that forces you to confront something bigger than merely the piercing of the flesh.

I could be putting up a list of horror movies for y'all to see, in the spirit of All Hallow's Eve, but Steve Bissette has a couple of well thought-out lists up, Top Horror Flix Pix!, and I agree with nearly every one of his choices... and certainly agree that the lists are interesting and that all the films on there are worth checking out and having your own reaction to.

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