Category Archives: What is Horror?

What is Horror? by Rebecca Besser

What is Horror?

By Rebecca Besser

 

If you do some research on what horror is, you’ll discover horror is the revulsion one feels when something terrible happens. That it follows terror, which is the anxiety and anticipation of something bad about to happen.

“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.” – Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966).

There are many vehicles in which horror is found: film, literature, art, etc. All of which use a mixture of terror and horror elements.

When people hear the word horror, they generally think about creatures such as vampires, zombies, demons, and other monsters. They also think about blood, pain, misery, and torture – psychological horror. The common denominator in all horror is death.

Death is the most terrifying thing that anyone can face – either their own demise or of someone they care about. Often, even a stranger’s death, seen up close, can impact someone in ways they never dreamed possible; it forces them to face the fact that they will die someday and there is nothing they can do about it.

Death, and what leads to death, scares everyone in some way whether they realize it or not. That’s the base root of all horror. Terror is what we feel leading up to the death we know is coming and horror is what we face when we are toe to toe with death.

What form of death scares you the most? Chances are that’s the kind of horror you like to experience the most, because it gives you that thrill of terror and most satisfying horror moments as it all pans out.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015 & 2017. All rights reserved.

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Craziness by Rebecca Besser

Craziness

By Rebecca Besser

 

Psychological horror is one that has such a broad spectrum that it could be anything from someone who has lost a loved one and simply snapped to someone who has had mental issues all their life that just can’t be controlled.

Slasher horror to serial killers, nervous breakdowns to the mentally ill – what do they all have in common? All stories that fall into the psychological horror genre have something to do with human beings that have gone off the deep end in one way or another, even if they seem sane to themselves.

For this kind of terror, emotions are played up until there are such high stakes that something has to happen in the form of horror relief.

Collateral damage is a guarantee in all psychological horror. Family members of the targeted aren’t safe. Friends of the targeted aren’t safe. No one close to the targeted is safe.

There can be a lot of blood involved with psychological horror, but there doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it’s the buildup of a mystery, such as a kidnapping villain who kills there victims and only the bodies are found later. Or a stalker who just doesn’t understand limits and personal space that ends up killing someone they think they care about accidentally.

Why is this stuff scary? Because we realize it’s most likely the stuff that can actually happen to everyday people. It could happen to us, even if we try to prevent it.

Psychological horror involves that strange guy down the street in a neighborhood where kids are disappearing. It’s where the crazy guy at work snaps and blames his co-workers for all his troubles. It’s anyone. It’s random. It happens every day in the real world.

What’s going to stop it from happening to you or me? There’s no way of knowing. Chances are, at some point in life, something scary and tragic will happen in our lives or of those we know. It’s inevitable.

Psychological horror is real terror. Psychological horror is what plagues your thoughts every time your child is out of your sight, when your family leaves your house in the morning and you wonder if you’ll see them again, and it’s the fear you feel when you’re out after dark and you hear a strange noise behind you. It’s inside you. You are scared something is going to happen, or someone will step into your life and cause your death or the death of someone you care about.

Be safe, my friends, and enjoy horror entertainment while hoping none of it ever happens to you!

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

Bloody Hell by Rebecca Besser

Bloody Hell

By Rebecca Besser

 

Supernatural evil is a prominent element in a lot of horror entertainment. Demons and disgruntled ghosts are unsettling, and they’re great for building the tension of terror before the horror really kicks in and the collateral damage begins. There’s something intimately frightening about something that can literally possess one’s body and displace their soul.

It would be like being dead without really dying. And, if that’s not bad enough, you’ll usually end up dead. (Again, it’s all about death.)

Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, Hell, Satan/Lucifer, or even God, there is always the implication that you can be possessed by strong evil spirits. This is brought about in many tragic and simplistic ways. From early supernatural horror, we know not to play with Quija boards; that’s almost always how the possessions or unsettling of evil spirts happened back in the day.

Now it’s getting raped by strange plants or looking at writing on a wall that allows the takeover of one’s body.

Sometimes the exercising of the demon(s) is farfetched and complex. Sometimes it’s simple and straight forward.

Ghosts that can control their surroundings, such as haunted houses are equally as creepy as personal possession. There’s no escape because it’s in your personal space. There’s nowhere to go, and often there are few you can turn to for help, and even then, dispelling the entity from your life can be complex.

The supernatural/demon elements are costly to the lives and emotions of their victims. They are elements far beyond control and understanding that can wreak havoc on anyone and everything they touch.

They are intense beyond words in terror and horror. There’s nothing scarier that something reaching from beyond the grave to mess with the living, is there? They make death that much scary, knowing there are dark things there we might have to face in the afterlife.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

Immortality by Rebecca Besser

Immortality

By Rebecca Besser

 

Remember that fear of death I was talking about? What if you didn’t have to face it…ever? That’s the main draw of vampires (in my opinion). Who wouldn’t want to live forever? ME! But, there’s a catch… You have to kill to stay alive; it’s not an eternity for everyone.

To be a vampire, you have to be willing to truly leave humanity behind. You have to be willing to see humans as your food. They are no longer your family. They are no longer your friends. You will either kill them to get the sustenance you need, or they will die from being human over time. The only exemption to this fate would be if they were too turned into a vampire.

Although the allure of vampirism will always be there, because the idea of having all the time in the world to travel, learn, and explore will never grow undesirable. Everyone wants that free pass that keeps them from having to face death (death thing AGAIN!). But, in a way, they do have to face death. They watch generations pass away and new ones rise up (not to mention at every meal). I imagine it would be like having babies over and over again as you watch each generation try to learn and apply what the previous generation has mastered. That could get tedious.

Vampires were all the rage for a while, but not in their pure state. They were popular in a watered down version of “people friendly” vampires in literature/movies in the Twilight version.

This disgusted most people who had been fans of vampires forever (like me). Gone were the glory days of Blade, Interview with a Vampire, and From Dusk Till Dawn. Gone were the days where vampires were classy, killing death machines that didn’t apologize for being kickass!

Now, after the spotlight was pointed at the “soft” vampires, the popularity and demand for anything vampire has gone way down.

I, personally, would love to see a strong, true, violent uprising of something new in the vampire world. Unfortunately, that will be hard to pull off, especially since the horror creature of desire is now the zombie. And even zombies are being watered down into “people friendly” niceness.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

Undead Trending by Rebecca Besser

Undead Trending

By Rebecca Besser

 

Zombies are currently the most popular horror creature.  Why? That could be anyone’s guess. The popularity of The Walking Dead has definitely pumped up the fan base with people who normally wouldn’t give zombies a second glance. I think that’s partly because of the drama of survival.

People want to see who lives and who dies, and the how for both. They know there’s the threat of a zombie attack at every turn. They know that if someone does something stupid, someone will die. (There’s that death thing again.) So, zombie entertainment becomes about the survivors more than the zombies; it becomes about the people who live and how they deal with those who don’t.

Zombies are also popular because of the apocalyptic element they bring on their…puss trails. People understand and know that once everything gets so bad that something like a zombie plague breaks out that society will evaporate. This lends zombies a political angle.

How many people are happy about the way things are going in the world? I would say pretty much no one. And that leads us to crave a “reset” and that’s why any apocalyptic fiction is of interest. We love the art, we love the literature, and we love the shows/movies that depict what we crave.

We crave change. But we know it would be ugly. Zombies are ugly and violent. They are the perfect vehicle for our innermost yearnings of change.

Everyone imagines themselves as a survivor in the Z-poc, but most of us would be the shambling, rotting corpses that run around being the hardship of those who survive (those crowds of zombies had to come from somewhere). I don’t think anyone imagines themselves as a zombie for real. I mean, it’s fun to pretend to be a zombie at Halloween, but wouldn’t you want your loved one to shoot you in the head if you really were a zombie? I know I would.

Let’s all hope we never have to find out if we can survive…or if we’ll be just one in the horde of deadly change. Either way, we’re likely to die at some point and that terror of possible death lends to the undead horror that is the zombie.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.

What is Horror? by Rebecca Besser

What is Horror?

By Rebecca Besser

 

If you do some research on what horror is, you’ll discover horror is the revulsion one feels when something terrible happens. That it follows terror, which is the anxiety and anticipation of something bad about to happen.

“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.” – Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966).

There are many vehicles in which horror is found: film, literature, art, etc. All of which use a mixture of terror and horror elements.

When people hear the word horror, they generally think about creatures such as vampires, zombies, demons, and other monsters. They also think about blood, pain, misery, and torture – psychological horror. The common denominator in all horror is death.

Death is the most terrifying thing that anyone can face – either their own demise or of someone they care about. Often, even a stranger’s death, seen up close, can impact someone in ways they never dreamed possible; it forces them to face the fact that they will die someday and there is nothing they can do about it.

Death, and what leads to death, scares everyone in some way whether they realize it or not. That’s the base root of all horror. Terror is what we feel leading up to the death we know is coming and horror is what we face when we are toe to toe with death.

What form of death scares you the most? Chances are that’s the kind of horror you like to experience the most, because it gives you that thrill of terror and most satisfying horror moments as it all pans out.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.