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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shades of the Times

Since  childhood, I've loved horror and monsters. Bring on the vampires, werewolves, ghouls, zombies, ghosts, mummies, atomically altered insects, I love them. These days, not so much. Vampires have turned into "sensitive glittery emo types"
( and zombies are funny.

This really stinks. I don't want to watch some simpering misunderstood romantic tragic vampire BS. I want the classic vampire; evil, killing, well-dressed, scary but charming creatures they are. I want werewolves that hide from society and have no conscience for killing when the moon is full. I want ghosts that ominously appear and give you nightmares. I want hordes of nearly unstoppable zombies that determinedly lurch on in search of brains. And mummies with unquenchable vengeance.

All my monsters have been vanilla-ed into mediocrity. What's called horror these days is sadistic gore. Humans are the monsters, humans that torture others. While I agree this is a much more realistic portrayal of evil in the world, it seems a sort of normalizing of psychopathy. We hear too many tales of people imprisoned for years or hacked to pieces by madmen. Watching the worst of human capabilities isn't horror to me, it's PTSD-inducing.

The magic of the horror genre was that it didn't and couldn't really happen. Dracula didn't live down the block for years running an antiques business. He didn't go to high school and suffer an interminable, pale adolescence. He was an abomination, a creature of the night, and yes, an allegory. But an evil that was vanquished in the end.

And that, in my humble opinion, is how it should be.



Anonymous said...

Everything seems to be diluted and sanitzed these days....booooorrrrrriiiinnnggggg.

Geo. said...

Beautifully written, Austan. Left me wondering, yet again, if we create our monsters as much as we're created by them. What's the real difference between Caliban and Taliban? I'm going back out to prune roses now.

Pearl said...

Well hear hear!! I am with you on this one.

We have to ask ourselves "why"? WHY do we insist on normalizing the horror?


Austan said...

Lawless- Yeah, and it's not good on any level.

Geo.- Thank you. Perhaps we should be defined by how we define.

Pearl- Yes! We do!

bazza said...

George Orwell once wrote an essay called 'The Decline of the English Murder'; I sense an echo of his sentiments in your post.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I read something just the other day about the trend to make zombies and werewolves more sympathetic characters in today's books and films. I'm not a huge fan of horror movies, but the zombies and werewolves in the old drive-in B movies were more funny than scary because they weren't very believable. This new tendency to try to make us empathize with them makes them more believable. I can't say that I've actually read or watched any of these new offerings, but I don't know if being able to empathize with them would make them less scary or more scary. For me, the scariest monsters in movies were the Jack the Ripper types.

CarrieBoo said...

Oooh, what a post. I grew up a horror fan (more monster-y the better) and haven't watched anything new in ages, since it turned into what you describe. That is not fun!!! I agree, it's more traumatizing than anything else. Hopefully it's just a phase and things will return to "normal" before long.

Lisa said...

I have got to send you True Blood when I send Game of Thrones :D

Austan said...

bazza- Wow, I have to go find that and read it now. Is it in the collected essays book, do you know? Thank you!

Susan- everyone has their favorites. If they ever make Jack the Ripper sympathetic I'll give up.

Carrie- I hope it's just a fashion of the times. Normalizing horrors isn't a good trend.

Lisa- don't expect miracles! I ain't the romance type. ;)