one big bloody tent

The Guardian recently ran a piece about what it called the “post-horror” movement. Where the new films coming out were somehow different than what’d come before because, in the writer’s opinion – and I’m gonna simplify it for you – the filmmakers were relying less on blood and gore and more on a sense of dread and quiet scares.

Although it’s always great to see the horror genre being openly and actively discussed – which leads to open, active discussions in the community – I’ve noticed a trend, an annoying trend, that I need to discuss. And it’s basically this:

Horror is one big bloody tent. And to forget that simple, undeniable fact is a disservice to what we – writers, filmmakers, readers – do.

Horror is Saw. Horror is Get Out. Horror is Friday the 13th and The Others. Horror is The Fog and Hellraiser and Nosferatu and Phantasm. Horror is Alien as well as a documentary on the rise of Hitler and the chaos of World War II.

Horror is Anne Rice and Stephen King and dozens if not hundreds of writers – some known, many not – in-between.

Blood. Gore. Mysteries that lurk in the shadows. The creeping dread of something unseen but still felt. The terror of an unexpected, impossible sound coming from the dark. The fear of being surrounded by a group of strangers that could go from docile to deranged in a split second.

You see? Horror can be a great many things. That’s why it’s a genre I love and which speaks to me. You can do almost anything when it comes to horror.

So, instead of laying down a false marker by saying “Well, this was horror back then and this new stuff, now, is post-horror” doesn’t do justice to everything horror was, is and will be.

In fact, one could say that without Bela Lugosi there’d be no Lestat. Without The Texas Chainsaw Massacre there’d be no The Green Inferno. Without The Strangers there’d be no The Purge.

As disparate as these examples seem – and I’m well aware I’ve now become The Guy with All the Lists, but I’m proving a point – the earlier courage of one in some way gave birth to the other. Horror, as a genre, whether it be fiction, film, TV, short stories in magazines, whatever, it’s all tied together.

One drop of blood spilled years ago in some way, somehow, gives birth to a scream heard in the here and now.

That’s why, in my opinion, “post-horror,” as a label or, as I said earlier, some kind of marker, just doesn’t work. New-horror. Modern-horror. Those might work. Maybe. If we absolutely NEED to somehow play with Before/After and categorize things into a haphazard row of unnecessary boxes.

Or, heck, we could just KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid – and just continue calling it what it is:

Horror.

 

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The five BEST moments in Martuk … the Holy.

#3 will blow your mind.

#4 CHANGED MY LIFE!

The TOP FIVE moments from Martuk … the Holy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. A Golden God lifted him in the air … and what he did next WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!!!!!!!

FOR REAL!

shocked-face-2(baby)

2. An ancient evil slithered down Martuk’s throat during a SACRIFICE … and Martuk will NEVER be the SAME!!!!!!

And NO ONE even tried to help!

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3. A mysterious Magi THREATENED Martuk and then walked into the flames and what happened next CHANGED EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!

It blew Martuk’s mind.

shocked-face-3(mother-of-god)

4. In first century Jerusalem, Judas introduced Martuk to Jesus … and what happened next AMAZED HIM!!!!!

Things were NEVER the same!

shocked-face-4(really)

5. Jesus ATTACKED Martuk with a KNIFE … and Martuk will NEVER forget WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!!!!!!

He STILL talks about it!!!

shocked-face-Jay-Z

… MORE TO COME!!!!!!!

97.24% of those not polled will NOT say “Martuk” correctly!!!

shocked-face-puppy

Do you??????  (it’s “mar-took”)

thumbs-up-Jesus

Lasher King Koontz

One of the downsides of being a writer is you oftentimes find yourself so busy writing that you barely have time to read.

I recently decided to rectify that and, in the process, made an interesting discovery.

See, I picked up three books, one I was familiar with, one where the author was somewhat known to me, and the third written by someone in my genre I’d never read. So I ended up with Lasher by Anne Rice, The Stand by Stephen King, and Brother Odd by Dean Koontz.

Here’s where the interesting part comes in.

I’ve read Lasher a few times. The sequel to The Witching Hour (one of my favorite books, if memory serves … it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it), it’s a fairly strong piece of work. Not a fave, but not bad. I can pick it up, open to a page, and know exactly what preceded it and what’s around the corner.

What I discovered this time, though, is the writing.

Anne Rice writes lyrically. Her sentences are sometimes long, her dialogue tags are either solid and basic or creative and overwrought, and the woman loves her commas, relying on those to give her Writer’s Voice its rhythm instead of full stops.

Compare that to Stephen King. He’s what I call an economical gasbag. His words are carefully chosen and each does its share of the work in the sentence, but he also can have paragraphical prose. It’s written very well, of course, but the words don’t carry the same sense of lush lyricism that Anne Rice’s do. Again, economical. And a gasbag (sometimes).

I say that lovingly. King is king, no matter how you slice and dice it.

Now, on to Koontz.

He’s new to me. Very short sentences, more or less. Full stop, full stop, full stop. There’s an almost truncated rhythm to what he does. And then he’ll throw in a descriptive phrase or sentence … okay, A LOT of descriptive phrases and sentences, albeit brief ones, that kinda throw you. Several times I’ve had to stop and Scooby Doo. Then I’d unravel the mystery, pat myself on the back for being a clever fellow, and get back to reading.

Is Koontz an author I’m enjoying? The jury’s still out. I can appreciate the syncopated, often interrupted way his Writer’s Voice speaks, but it’s taking me a moment to dive deep and lose myself, like I do with Rice and King.

Regardless, I am learning two other things:

1) I still enjoy a great book and need to carve out time in my weekly schedule to read for pleasure and not just for research, and

2) It’s time to get busy on the two books I need to write. Not that I would compare myself with Rice or Koontz or King, but I do find myself rewriting them (sometimes) in my head and then feeling hungry to get back to telling my own stories.

Now that I think about it, besides a great story, that’s one of the gifts great authors give us: inspiration.