Someone I know wrote a blog entry on why he likes horror. At the end of it, he asked what hooked his readers on it as well.
Instead of replying directly on his page, I thought I’d write a piece of my own, and dedicate to him. So, John, this is for you.
How I got Hooked on Horror
I can’t remember how old I was when I watched my first horror movie, but I know that it was after my sister’s birthday party one year when we were young. She had had her friends sleep over and they had stayed up to watch scary movies.
The next day I had asked my mom if I could watch them. Immediately, she said no. But after some persistance (“Come on, mom. It’s daylight. I won’t be scared.), she gave in and let me.
The first one was Friday the 13th Part 3; the second, Happy Birthday to Me.
From a cinematic perspective, I’m sure they’re both horrible. But to me as a young child, they were downright horrifying!
At the end of them, I couldn’t sleep for a month.
I remember being frightened in the shower. I hated to turn the light off when I went to bed. Even walking up the stairs posed a bit of a problem since someone could grab me while I went up them.
It wasn’t until I had a revelation that made the fear go away. And it was this same revelation that got me hooked on horror.
I was thinking about the movies and how frightened I had become when I realized that each one had been shot in a studio somewhere – with cameras, directors, actors, sound crew, etc. That meant that everything that had frightened me so much had been fabricated. None of it was real. It had just been done in a way to make me think that it was.
So, once I figured that out, I started watching horror films more and more. I started paying attention to different devices that were used to scare the viewer. I would listen to the score (which I am still fascinated with – check out “(Not Really) Whistling While I Work” if you want to know what I’m talking about). I would focus on the lighting and camera angles. I would try to figure out the characteristics of the main characters, and even the killer.
Then I took things further.
I realized that a lot of horror films (and books, for that matter) offered more than just scary scenes. Many of them were trying to make social or political commentaries (expecially in the zombie genre). They even broached philosophical issues regarding human nature and our place on this planet. It was simply a matter of sifting through the fear.
And that is the story of how I got hooked on horror.
Now, when I started writing seriously a few years ago, I had no idea that horror was going to be one of my main focuses. I mean, just because we love classical music doesn’t mean that we want to make a living out of it. But when I sat down to write, that’s what came out (and continues to do so).
I can’t help but think that Friday the 13th Part 3 and Happy Birthday to Me might have had something to do with that.