The problem with much of horror fiction


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  1. #1

    The problem with much of horror fiction

    Few horror novels have scared me. It seems like the horror genre is lacking in originality. Out of every tenth book I pick up, nine of them will be about one of the following: vampires, ghosts, zombies, wherevolves and creepy japanese girls with long hair.

    Where's the originality among horror novelists? I just picked up a collection of mangas by Junji Ito, and the guy is just exploding with ideas. Here's just a small sample of what he offers: A family turning into grease and developing extreme acne that the brother uses to torture his sister with, a town becomming obsessed with the geometric shape of a spiral, baloons inticing people to hang themselves and so on...

    Are ghosts and vampires really the best thing novelists can offer? Am I just not looking hard enough? Good horror should, in my opinion, create an ambiguity of threat, feelings of absurdity, and a sense of being up against something beyond human understanding.
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  2. #2
    Media Manager sigmadog's Avatar
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    Well, so much for my forthcoming novel about a creepy long-haired Japanese zombie vampire girl who gets bit by a werewolf ghost.

    Damn! I knew I should have added a dragon.


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    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianBraysy View Post
    A family turning into grease and developing extreme acne that the brother uses to torture his sister with...
    Never a tube of Clearasil around when ya need it.

    And I'm way too old to find acne very scary anyway...

    A family turning to grease scares you? Best stay out of any trailer parks in the deeps south then.

    The fact is, I really like the old traditional horror movies... and any in that same vein that're done well.

    I don't have much use for angsty teenagers with with a sun allergy/skin condition, and peculiar dietary requirements that've been passed off as vampires in the past decade though.

    I did find the female werewolf in "Originals" rather appealing though... but not due to her ability to sprout her own fur coat.

    Anyway, I'm one of the folks that misses the "good ol' days" when monsters were monsters, and not just a plot device for some drama or the other that had nothing to do with horror.

    Oh, and sigmadog... throw in the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, and ya might have a hit.


    G.D.
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    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    The ghosts mentioned are those that are 'friendly' enough to imagine because they are commonly used. Surely, every country and culture have their own local ghosts.

    I'm not a fan of horror works, but what I feel is that those who consume horror works aren't exactly into horror and just want that scary, jump scare sensation. Hence the lite, overly used ideas being adopted repeatedly in the industry. I don't think this type of horror consumers would be delighted with Junji Ito's abominations.

    I see creativity in horror is currently in the same spot as aliens in sci-fi (though alien sci-fi still prove to be more creative at times). Typically, aliens largely depicted as bipedal soggy humanoid with futuristic flair and equipments, large eyes, green blood, big head, smart, evil, cunning. And then their vehicle be like roundish with neon dots or slim stripe, blue fire jet, laser gun. Then the planets always either dry or have large glowing mushroom or coral inhabited with enormous insects or huge scaled ground quadruped or dinosaur-esque flying creatures.

    It's just like that. I mean, who knows if aliens are also human but still living in stone age?
    Last edited by Sir-KP; October 22nd, 2018 at 07:24 AM.

  5. #5
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    I see creativity in horror is currently in the same spot as aliens in sci-fi (though alien sci-fi still prove to be more creative at times).
    Speaking of horror and aliens, I've always thought that Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing were a couple of really good horror movies, as well as pretty good "sci fi" movies. Doom is currently on NetFlix, billed as horror, but I only see it as a sci-fi/video game offering. And not a very good one. ( Sorry, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, but it sucks. )

    And no, I cant really think of any good books to compare them to, since I've only read the usual Vampire and Werewolf variety of those.


    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  6. #6
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    John Carpenter's The Thing were a couple of really good horror movies, as well as pretty good "sci fi" movies.
    Oh yes. My favorite.

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    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    Oh yes. My favorite.
    Heh... Saw that one at a drive-in theater when it first came out, with my first wife, "way back when".

    Had both of us jumpin' out of our skin, and bitin' our own fingers tryin' to eat popcorn while we watched.

    ...and damn that's a long time ago.



    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    The ghosts mentioned are those that are 'friendly' enough to imagine because they are commonly used. Surely, every country and culture have their own local ghosts.

    I'm not a fan of horror works, but what I feel is that those who consume horror works aren't exactly into horror and just want that scary, jump scare sensation. Hence the lite, overly used ideas being adopted repeatedly in the industry. I don't think this type of horror consumers would be delighted with Junji Ito's abominations.
    True. Maybe I'm a dying breed of horror fan. I remember being far more scared of books by Kafka and Sartre, than the average Insidious-type of movie. I enjoy the ambiguity of threat. Rather than feeling "oh crap! That was dangerous." I like to feel "I have no idea what to make of this, but it's messing with my head and making me uncomfortable." Case in point: Uzumaki.

    https://graphicnovelreviewproject.fi...ki-1136536.jpg a picture of a man who decided to turn himself into a spiral. That's far more creepy to me than the average ghost.
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  9. #9
    In terms of commercial (Big Five):
    J-Horror has a much different readership than the American or even the British versions do. The modern horror readership is looking for comfortable gothics with the occasional jump-scare (or 80s slasher fiction)...VC Andrews-ish stuff, or for insipid YA coming-of-age parables.
    Literary horror of the type you describe is alive and well. Recent works by John Langan, Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron have reached the best-seller lists and are exactly in that vein of more imaginative and subtle horror. Even more imaginative work is marketed under the subgenre label of 'weird fiction', partially coined by an essay from WFA-Award-winner Scott Nicolay, who sought to distance the field from both mundane commercial horrors and latter-day Lovecraftianism. Weird fiction is also genre-inclusive and racially-mixed.
    Go find books by SP Miskowski, Gemma Files, Mike Griffin, Craig Gidney, Victor LaValley, Caitlin Kiernan, Jeffrey Thomas, Nadia Bulkin, John Claude Smith...for a start. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. You're just looking in the wrong direction. The good stuff is out there. It's my field -- I know.
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  10. #10
    This isn't really in the same genre as the others, but I think a good psychological thriller is just as scary and nail-biting as the more overt types.

    I have talked about this one before, but the original The Haunting of Hill House still evokes in me a sense of dread. I remember seeing it in theaters when I was a girl, and have just recently bought the book. The characters are a little different from the movie, but the idea of an evil house is still there and still unsettling. The book was written by Shirley Jackson in 1959, and Stephen King lists The Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century. In 2018, three of thirteen writers polled by The New York Times, identified this book as the scariest book of fiction they have ever read.

    So, going forward, I think it might be more fun to explore the things that scare us in our every day lives. You know, things that go bump in the night sort of thing. Forget the vampires, ghosts and walking dead. Look in your closets, way in the back, where it's dark and creepy . . .

    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


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