Life in progress

Horror vs. Slice and Dice

36 Comments

I was having a little discussion, as I do, in the comments on this post with my friend Foolsquest on his blog, 642 Things about horror movies and what makes us laugh, and I got to thinking about the horror I write.

I don’t particularly like watching horror movies. I used to enjoy them when I was a kid, even though they scared the bejeezus out of me. I remember one night when I was about 15, babysitting a couple of young kids in this old century house. It had a clawfoot bathtub in the washroom. Anyway, I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed the book Carrie and the movie was on TV that night so I decided to watch it. I admit I was fine until the damned dream sequence at the end. I’m sure that bit wasn’t in the book. Suffice to say I was so grateful when the parents got home that night I almost hugged them. But I digress.

I DO, however, enjoy reading horror books. And I enjoy writing horror. What I really can’t stand are slasher films. You know the ones – they invariably include a half naked chick getting stabbed through the bare naked chest and a bunch of people who can’t seem to run as fast as the bad guy can walk. At best, they make me laugh, but for the most part, I think they’re a waste of time.

Now give me a psychological horror and I’m all over it. Even better if it’s in print, because there’s only so much psychology that can be related on screen, The Silence of the Lambs notwithstanding. So I got to thinking, maybe it’s the blood and gore I don’t like. But then I reminded myself of this bloody little gem I wrote just over a year ago and I realised that’s not necessarily all there is to it.

I think blood is okay. Sometimes it’s necessary to fully explore the world in which the characters live, if they’re very off balance or have particular … er … tendencies.

I just can’t see the value in watching pointless violence, just for the sake of violence. Do you?

Author: Linda G. Hill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

36 thoughts on “Horror vs. Slice and Dice

  1. I have a hard time with slasher movies as well. I would rather have at least some understanding of why the bad guy does the bad things. Movies like The Hills Have Eyes and Turista – just yuck! The ones that I’m still surprised I like are the Saw movies, but I think I like the, because they are in the psychological thriller genre and can be outright funny/ironic. There just happens to be a lot of gore, some of it seemingly senseless. Ghost stories scare the crap out of me, but I still love to watch them. I still haven’t been able to watch the Exorcist all the way through. I could probably do it now, but I haven’t tried in probably ten years. Thanks for the great post! πŸ™‚

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  2. I patted myself on the back for watching the Six Sense. I don’t do scary. I don’t do any sort of violence because I can’t stand to see people hurt (whether they deserve it or not). I won’t watch any of the Australian Underbelly series or anything remotely like that. The GG liked Wolf Creek but suggested I leave the room and go to bed because he knows what I am like. As to slasher films. I love the send ups of them and that is all.
    To each their own I suppose but I just cant’ do it.

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    • There’s a lot to be said for empathy, Sue. So do you really just stick to comedy and romance? It seems they’re the only two genres that you’re likely to stay away from any violence in… even dramas often include it.

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      • No, I do watch some action stuff but there are times that I need to turn away. I love the Lord of the Rings movies and any of the Marvel ones because I know they aren’t real iykwim? It’s when real human beings are involved, in real life situations that I can’t handle it.
        I used to watch CSI all the time but skipped the first few minutes of the show and I had to stop watching Criminal Minds though. lol

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  3. I’m not a big fan of slasher movies, either, but I do enjoy the Nightmare on Elm Street movies with Freddy Krueger. I think because I kind of like Freddy’s personality. Other than that, I enjoy a good, creepy ghost story/movie and psychological thrillers.

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  4. I’m in the group of people who don’t like to be grossed-out. And I think I gross out pretty easily. Sometimes I watch things and think, “Was that REALLY necessary?!?” But you know, no one asked me, lol! I like to watch scary things with my blanket up to my eyes, and preferably with my husband, because obviously those make me safe from imaginary terrors!
    I love to read a good thriller, but few and far between. I’m not crazy about bein scared.
    Creepy is good, scary is not.

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    • That’s why I prefer the more psychological stuff – it’s reassuring when there’s a scientific explanation. And it’s damned hard to read a novel with a blanket covering your eyes. I know. I’ve tried!!

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  5. I’m a big fan of the horror genre, and I’ve had plenty of discussions with friends over the years on what good horror is. Slasher films rely on blood and gore to frighten, and the problem with this is that it’s like a magic trick one figures out: meaningless and disappointing. Good horror gets under the skin, and great horror begins pulling.

    For me, Poe has always been the best horror writer out there. I did have a fascination with Lovecraft for a while, but his protagonists seem to be straw men to get knocked over by his horrific constructs. Thomas Harris did great with “The Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs.” And I’ve been reading “The Shining,” but to be honest it’s been a let down for me.

    Great post, Linda! It’s always nice to think about what makes a decent horror story work! The one you wrote was pretty interesting as well!

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    • “Good horror gets under the skin, and great horror begins pulling.” I agree. I’m not sure what I’d think of “The Shining” after all these years. My fave Stephen King novel is still “‘Salem’s Lot.”
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting! πŸ™‚

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  6. I love horror, in all its forms. Silly, psychological, and just downright bloody – I love it all. The gorier the better. Is that weird? I’m doing a Horror October month on my blog – if anyone would like to get involved come visit me! πŸ™‚

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  7. For me the significant phrase is “pointless violence”. Any purposeless activity is a waste of time for both the artist and the audience. I think that is my main objection to most of the slasher/splatterpunk genre–there is no comprehensible reason for the character to be acting in such an anti-social manner. I have a fair amount of violence in my books, but I try to make sure that when it occurs there is a good reason for it, and that it is the best tool for a particular job.

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    • Exactly. If it fits the nature of the character–and the character is important!–then it’s not pointless. But it’s still got to be PART of the story. Not THE story.
      I think that may actually have been a rant. Haha!

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  8. I tend to stick to comedies and actions, but I have a friend who loves horror movies. Talking solely about Slasher flicks, they’re basically guilty pleasures that are supposed to be over the top. Still going too far out of the realm of reality can hurt the movie because you want to be drawn into the idea that it can happen to you. Many people that enjoy these movies see the antagonist as the one to root for. Think how Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhes, and Michael Meyers are the ones with the fan base instead of the survivors of their movies. Maybe they’re just the horror equivalent of ‘mindless actions’, ‘potty comedies’, and ‘overdone romances’.

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  9. I dearly love psychological horror stories. The one book that really scared me was “The Shining.” Other than that, I just enjoy them.

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    • I was saying that to someone else about The Shining. It’s the only book, to date, that I’ve had to put down. Granted, I was only 14 at the time. But getting into the mind of a maniac is wonderful, isn’t it? As long as the story is well-written. πŸ™‚

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  10. It’s the suspense for me. Give me ?Hitchcock over splash fiction every time.

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  11. I don’t mind blood and gore (The last movie I remember watching related to such things is Apocalypto) but Ghosts and creepy stuff , I avoid (no “The Conjuring” kind of movie / book for me) however good they might be. Psychological Thrillers – Love them. Horror is so not for me.

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    • I’m not sure how I managed to watch The Sixth Sense the first time, when it came out, but I can’t watch it anymore. Even though I’ve seen it. It’s weird. I’d like to see Apocalypto though. I’ll have to look that one up. Thanks for the mention of it, KG. πŸ™‚

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  12. Hmm. So I’m drawn to the complexity of sick minds, eh? Uh oh. Maybe I should opt for more blood and guts! Less complex (although equally sick minds, most likely).

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  13. Since my hubbys affair… its all I watch… like in twilight, when edward leaves, and Bella is all Lets go watch Face Punch! .. blood guts n gore IS my kind of movie now.. The bloodier, gorier, actiony without some intrepid out of place love that has nothing to do with the movie is the best thing ever!! Although I will admit, i have always loved these movies, and romance comedies but wont go near a love movie now.. I wanted to watch if I stay but, it wouldve just upset me and in turn id fight woth the hubby so I passed.. Saw collection is my top fave, then resident evils, then final destinations…

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    • If I Stay had me crying half of the way through it. You’re probably better off staying away from that one. πŸ˜› Haven’t seen the Saw movies, nor the Final Destination ones, but I did enjoy the first couple in the Resident Evil series. πŸ™‚

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  14. I agree. I don’t enjoy a lot of blood either but strangely enough I do enjoy shows with a lot of warfare in them like Vikings and Game of Thrones…Maybe it’s the politics connected with the violence I like most…Interesting that you write horror and enjoy psychological horror- it’s my favourite subgenre too πŸ™‚ I really liked The Shining.

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  15. I’m not really into movies or books that make me cringe or wince, so I guess I’m not into blood, guts, or gratuitous violence. And horror? Well, I suppose if it’s really well done and gripping, maybe. On the other hand, a good psychological thriller can have me riveted.

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