Saturday, April 26, 2008

THE GOLDEN AGE OF HORROR

I started this post on Sunday last - well, didn't do anything other than give it a title, but it was to remind me to write about this great topic during the week.

Then Inkpot beat me to it. :)

However, I will absolutely agree with what she has said.

First of all, there seems to be a huge market for horror/dark speculative fiction. Maybe this has always been the case, and I've only noticed since I've started looking at markets in the last month, but certainly markets for this genre seems to outnumber sci-fi and fantasy. Of course, there is an overlap between them.

I guess the cinema has always loved to horror - think countless Dracula films, werewolf etc (I've seen loads made in the 1930's and '40s). In recent decades horror was not so prevalent - sure, you got the B movies, often great films, but it's only fairly recently that we are seeing big budget horror movies.

Finally from a lot of websites and blogs I read, there seems to be a consensus that horror is in. I particularly like those wonderful people in Necrotic Tissue who maintain that as the 1950's & 1960's saw the golden age of science fiction, we are now entering the golden age of horror.

I really hope they are right.

When I was a child, I always liked horror - sinister Vincent Price in the waxworks, Bela Lugosi as Dracs, Phantom of the Opera, and - the stuff of nightmares - THEM. (Actually the Hammer House of Horror version of Dracula scared me the most. For a long time I had a cross made of blu-tack stuck on the wall beside my pillow).

When I grew older, horrors seemed to degenerate into slasher movies and serial killers. I never bothered watching them - maybe I should? But recent years films have seen an improvement, with some great horror flicks, including zombie movies (Shaun of The Dead being my favourite) and other scary tales (Descent for example, though the claustrophobia nearly got me there). Is Pitch Black, one of my all-time favourite films, not considered horror? There are loads more but I won't list them now, as I didn't mean to take this tangent.

What I meant to say was with a horror story you can get an exciting tale, characters you care about, fascinating themes, and everything else you want for a satisfying read. In fact, in some ways (like sci-fi) you are more at liberty to discuss the big topics - life and death, redemption and salvation, love and despair, what it means to be human. Even if you don't get the greater depth, at least you can have an exciting tale that will keep on edge for hours/days.

So it's great news. Especially for those of us who like to dabble in horror.

2 comments:

Inkpot said...

Good post VT. I don't think you can really class Shaun of the Dead as horror, it is more comedy, but it owes a lot to the horror genre and Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright are obviously fans of horror. Pitch Black is sci fi, not horror. I love both those movies. My fav horrors would be Romero's Dead trilogy (didn't care much for the fourth installment) The Descent, Resident Evil, Host, to name but a few. I know it is tired now, but the original Ring (or Ringu) was also good.

Con Fysed said...

They are all good movies (haven't seen the ring, either version, though).

However, there is a certain amount of cross-genre. For instance, Pitch Black is set in the future, in the world of long distant space travel - yet it's a monster movie too. When are monsters sci-fi or horror? I guess THEM was considered a sci-fi, but to me it was always a horror. So what really defines horror?