Author Talk

Horror Finally Getting Love at the Oscars 2018 – GET OUT!

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‘Get Out’: How the Oscars Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Horror

Jordan Peele’s smash is the first true horror movie in years to receive a Best Picture nomination. And it’s about damn time.

After grossing $254.6 million at the global box office, landing on numerous estimable top ten lists, and emerging as a prime awards-season player, Jordan Peele’s Get Out continued its amazing run this past Tuesday when it nabbed Academy Award nominations in four categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya). That definitively confirmed its status as one of 2017’s most critically beloved films. However, it also made it something of a historical outlier, given that its one of the rare horror films to ever be recognized in those major categories—a situation stemming from the fact that, for most of the organization’s history, the Academy has exhibited a near-total disregard for that most diabolical (and durable) of genres.

First, let’s get something out of the way: Get Out is a horror film, period.

Yes, Peele’s directorial debut was nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, and yes, it does contain some humor, especially courtesy of Lil Rel Howery as Rod, the TSA agent who helps his best friend, Kaluuya’s Chris, cope with the monstrous goings-on at the suburban family home of Chris’ white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). Nonetheless, hair-splitting be damned, in virtually every respect—from premise to narrative construction to climactic revelations—Peele’s hit operates deliberately, and confidently, within traditional horror-cinema parameters. It’s a movie designed to scare first, and make one think about its attendant, intertwined racial-socioeconomic issues second.

As such, Get Out’s four nods definitely buck tradition, because over the course of its 90 years, the Academy has seen fit to celebrate only a select few horror films in its top fields. To list all the genre classics that never made it as far as Peele’s would take days, but a brief rundown would include: FrankensteinDraculaThe HauntingNight of the Living DeadThe Texas Chainsaw MassacreHalloweenThe Shining and A Nightmare on Elm Street—all of which received exactly zero total nominations from the organization, even though they comfortable reside in horror’s pantheon. The omission of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 Stephen King adaptation is an exceptionally egregious one, not only because it’s so clearly the work of a master, but because it features—nearly four decades later—one of Jack Nicholson’s most indelible big-screen performances, as axe-wielding daddy dearest Jack Torrance. (To add insult to injury, Kubrick received a Worst Director Razzie nomination for the film.)

Considering the Academy’s long-standing demographic breakdown (generally speaking, members have been old white males), one might theorize that voters have traditionally been out of touch when it came to a strain of movies often aimed at younger audiences. Or, perhaps, it’s that horror—intent on unnerving through jolts, or excessive blood and guts—has been viewed as more superficial and/or juvenile than its compatriots. Certainly, boundary-pushing exploitation cinema, as well as legions of cruddy B-movie splatterfests, have helped forward a particular opinion of horror as lowbrow, sensationalistic, and thus more about cheap thrills which are, in some fundamental way, lesser than the elevated pleasures afforded by dramas, romances, war epics and period pieces.

I would contend that such stances misunderstand the potential (and power) of the genre, but whatever the case may be—or one thinks about such reasoning—the Academy, save for naming Frederick March as Best Actor for 1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Rebecca Best Picture in 1940, spent many decades ignoring horror (see: Psycho). Then, in 1969, Ruth Gordon won Best Supporting actress for her turn in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. And more groundbreaking still, in 1974, the Academy bestowed a Best Picture nomination on William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, thereby conceding that the genre had achieved an undeniable level of commercial (and critical) appeal. Of course, it didn’t win that top prize, coming away with only a Best Adapted Screenplay triumph. But it was a serious step forward in terms of mainstream acknowledgment that, when done right, bumps in the night—or demonic pea soup vomit, in this instance—could have artistic value to discerning cinephiles.

In subsequent years, the Oscars occasionally conceded that great work was being done in the genre—1975’s Jaws got a Best Picture nom (but nothing for Steven Spielberg), and won for Sound, Film Editing, and Original Score; Jerry Goldsmith won Best Original Score for 1976’s The Omen; Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received acting noms for 1976’s Carrie; Sigourney Weaver got a well-deserved Best Actress nod for 1986’s Aliens; and Kathy Bates won Best Actress for her turn as an author’s psychotic fan in 1990’s Misery. Frequently, it was the technical side that proved most fruitful for horror, as evidenced by wins for The Phantom of the Opera (1943), Alien (1979), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Aliens (1986), The Fly (1986), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).

When it comes to Best Picture, though, the lineup is woefully thin: Friedkin and Spielberg’s seminal efforts are joined only by Black Swan (2010), The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991)—with the latter remaining the most feted of all horror films, and one of only three movies ever to win Best Picture, Director (Jonathan Demme), Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Actress (Jodie Foster), and Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally). Yet even then, one could make a persuasive argument that Demme’s film is more of a cat-and-mouse crime thriller than a straightforward horror film. And Black Swan’s horror credentials are up for even greater debate, given that it might be more accurately classified as a psychological thriller.

Which is another way of saying that, when the Oscars do decide to indulge their scarier side, they regularly do so with reserve, eschewing hellish nightmares in favor of ones that traverse more suspenseful terrain—hence the reason that enthusiastically received recent efforts like It Follows (2015) and The Witch (2016), both of which boast outright supernatural elements, didn’t even register come awards time. In that context, Get Out’s achievement is all the more impressive. No doubt the Academy was most enamored with Peele’s incisive (and often amusing) dissection of contemporary American racism, especially as it pertains to those who proudly claim to be liberal. But that doesn’t change the fact that, come the gala’s March 2nd telecast, moviegoers will be able to root for a Best Picture contender that hinges on dissection—and brain transplants!—of a literal sort.

Lets hope it’s the beginning of more horrific things to come.

Originally posted on https://www.thedailybeast.com/

Continue reading “Horror Finally Getting Love at the Oscars 2018 – GET OUT!”

Author Talk

What Horror? This Horror #2

creepy door

Okay horror fans, you’re in for a treat. Two very talented horror writers share their chilling childhood memories and what drove them to their love / obsession of the horror genre. Hunter Shea, and Jackson Dean Chase shares with us, “What Horror? This Horror.”

From Hunter Shea:

I was raised on horror. No big secret there. By the time I could walk and talk, I’d seen more scary flicks than most teens. My parents loved going to the local drive-in and most of the second features were monster or biker flicks. At home, I often sat with my dad absorbing all of the terror-filled delights Chiller Theatre had to offer.

The thing is, horror movies didn’t frighten me. Oh, they gave me the occasional start and made me reluctant to sleep with the lights off, but I was always able to separate the scares on the screen from reality. The Exorcist was a fun way to spend a night. Worrying about thieves breaking into our house while we slept was a dread concern that weighed heavily on me.

Until I was 8, we lived in an apartment building in the Bronx. The various sounds of our neighbors knocking around never failed to put me in a state of panic. When we moved to a house in the suburbs, the silence of the night was deafening. When raccoons dumped our garbage can lids or wind made the old house groan, my heart would gallop into overdrive.

My bedroom was on the second floor, the first room a person would come to when they ascended the stairs. I was absolutely terrified by the thought of opening my eyes at night and seeing a strange face leering at me from the top of the stairs.

As I got older, the grip that fear had on me lessened, until I no longer thought about it as a teen.

But then came the night of the ‘visitors’. Let me set it up for you. My parents and sister were away on summer vacation.  I was 19, had a job and a girlfriend that I wasn’t about to leave for a week. One day, I came down with what I thought was the flu. I had body cramps, fever, chills, you name it. My girlfriend came over to take care of me. I remember telling her I needed to take a nap and for her to hang out downstairs in the living room where she could watch TV. It was late in the day, around 7. My body aching, I collapsed onto the bed.

I wasn’t asleep for long before I felt a presence in the room. Assuming it was my girlfriend, I wiped the sweat from my brow and opened my eyes.

What I saw stole the breath from me. I tried to scream but nothing would come out.

My room was bathed in a pale, green light. I could see the coming dusk outside my windows. The light was in the room, emanating from the walls and ceiling!

Standing around my bed were a half-dozen figures, their features hidden in shadow. They were tall and lean and each one pressed a hand onto my bed. It seemed as if they had been waiting for me to awaken. Unmitigated terror locked my joints and seized my muscles. I couldn’t move, couldn’t cry out.

One of the figures bent down towards my face. How could I not see what it looked like? It was impossible. A large, featureless head peered at me. I felt the weight of its hand on the bed.

I thought I was going to pass out. Was it sniffing me? I couldn’t take anymore. Mustering all the strength I had, I managed to release a cry that was more croak than anything. The figure straightened up, looking at the others. There was a creak on the steps. My girlfriend had to have heard me!

I turned to face the stairs. When I saw her, my head jerked round to the figures. They were gone. There was no strange, verdant light. I was alone, sweating in a dark room.

It took me years to come to the comforting realization that it had all been a fever dream. It felt so real, the panic so raw, I was sure I had been visited by ghosts or aliens, or maybe even both. It was a moment conjured by my delirious brain that has marked me forever. The one thing it showed me is that if I could create something so strange I frightened myself, I could tap into that power to scare others.

From a nightmare was born a writer. The welcome sign is always on for the visitors of my subconscious…or are they?

Website: Huntershea.com

Twitter: @huntershea1

 

From Jackson Dean Chase:

“…Creatures from the past are alive today.”

—Peter Graves, The Mysterious Monsters

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, you hear a lot of stories about Bigfoot. When I was just seven years old, my father took me to see The Mysterious Monsters, a documentary about Bigfoot, The Yeti, and The Loch Ness Monster. Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves was the host, and went around interviewing those who had survived meeting the monsters.

Those parts weren’t all that interesting, but what screwed me up for life were the dramatic reenactments of the encounters. My young mind couldn’t tell the difference between what was fact and fiction—I assumed someone had been with the survivors filming the events as they happened!

The most terrifying of these reenactments took place in a rural setting at night: a house surrounded by dense forest, a forest alive with the sounds of crickets, owls, and an ominous rustling in the bushes…

Inside, a housewife sits watching TV while her husband works in another room. She hears a stealthy noise outside and peers out the window. Seeing nothing, she goes back to watching TV. But through the curtain, a giant, ape-like shadow passes by, completely unknown to her.

When the woman hears the noise again and goes to look out the window, a giant hairy hand smashes through the glass, clawing at her! She screams for her husband. He comes running with a rifle. He opens the front door and comes face to face with Bigfoot!

The reenactment ended there, but my horror didn’t. I’d seen scary movies before, but never like this. This one said the monsters were real. And they were out there somewhere, waiting to get me!

I spent many sleepless nights peering out my window, afraid the slightest sound meant Bigfoot was coming. Every day on the bus ride home from school, I would stare into the woods, wondering if this would be the day I would catch a glimpse of the monster. I never did, but I began to wonder… if Bigfoot was real, why not Dracula or the Wolf Man? Why not ghosts and demons and all kinds of sinister things?

The best defense I could think of was to study up on as many different kinds of monsters as I could. I read and watched everything that was even remotely horror-related. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I even considered a career as a “monster hunter.” Although it’s been decades since I saw The Mysterious Monsters, the horror of that night still haunts me. It always will.

In a way, I did become become a monster hunter—only the monsters I hunt are the ones in my mind, and I defeat them by dragging them out, exposing them to the light of the printed page.

Website: www.jacksondeanchase.com

Twitter: @Jackson_D_Chase

I would like to thank my friends Hunter Shea and Jackson Dean Chase for stopping by and sharing those childhood terrors with us.

There’s more to come sweet horror fans. Check back next Friday.  Horror writers are lined up, waiting to share those creepy childhood moments that drove them to write about the monsters that still haunt their memories.

We’ll hear stories from Dylan Morgan, K.C. Harper, Adam Ickes, and Michael Frost and the list is growing.

If you’re a horror writer and would like to share a scary childhood memory , contact me.

There’s plenty of room for you here, in the dark.

Author Talk, Short & Dark

A Kiss in the Dark~

Horror is indistinct, misunderstood and often portrayed poorly.So to set the record straight, these horror writers give their definition of horror.

Horror defined by Adam Ickes:

Horror is an exploration into the dark recesses of the unknown and the misunderstood. It is a candid look at what terrifies us at a subconscious level and gives those feelings of dread and fright a face that we can relate to. Good horror blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. It makes you look into shadowy corners and wonder if you just saw something move in the blackness. It instills a sense of fear where there should be none.

 

adam bookHe returned to the back of the truck and yanked the sheet off the girl. The stench of decomposition caught in his nostrils and brought him to a halt. He twisted his head in disgust and grabbed the side of the truck to steady himself until he could regain his composure. With a shake of his head, the compulsion to vomit faded, but the smell still lingered.

From Sins of a Father by Adam Ickes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Brian Moreland:

Horror is anything that produces dread, fright or fear. It can take over your senses while watching a scary movie, reading dark fiction, or touring through a haunted house on Halloween. The adrenaline rush can be felt as a fun, exhilarating thrill-ride or so terrifying you want to crawl within yourself and hide. Horror can be a dark adversary faced in real life, such as a serial killer, the brutalities of war, or a violent accident that’s so gruesome you have to look away. It can be news that’s so shocking that time stands still. Whether in reality or through entertaining mediums of fantasy, Horror is confronting Death and all the dark emotions it brings up. For those lucky enough to survive, facing fears takes us to the pinnacle of what it feels like to be Alive.

 

 

witchinghouseThe house that ate people stood within a coven of pine trees like an ancient god being worshipped. The high branches touched its shingled roof with reverence. Towering three stories, the rock house was far from being a flawless god. The moss-covered stones that cobbled its walls were pocked from years of rot and abandon. Fungus and creeper vines had spread across its facade, leafy tentacles invading cracks where boards covered the windows. The glass within their frames had long ago shattered. The Old Blevins House, as it came to be called, was set miles deep within the East Texas forest and rumored to be haunted.

From The Witching House by Brian Moreland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Clarissa Johal:

Horror knots your stomach and pulls the breath from your lips. A horror/gothic horror novel should make you look over your shoulder and ask the question, “What if?”

 

struck-bookThey were in a house. A Victorian. Fire burned in the fireplace. She could smell the burning wood. The light reflected off elaborate, but worn, wallpaper and furniture. A half-eaten biscuit lay on a delicate-looking plate. An empty teacup lay on its side. Julian took her by the hand and led her up a winding staircase. She studied him from behind. Tall and lean, he was quite broad-shouldered. Fine white hair draped across his back like silk. His form-fitting, tailored jacket hit mid-thigh, and matching black pants were tucked into knee-high leather boots. He walked with catlike grace, his boots making light sounds on the stairs.

Otherworldly, her thoughts whispered. Still in her hospital gown, Gwynneth felt vulnerable and naked. Her bare feet pressed against the wooden floor. Grit stuck to her toes. He led her down a hallway lit by fluted glass light fixtures along the walls. At the end of the hallway was a door.Never taking his eyes off hers, Julian opened it.
Dark figures scattered like exploding glass. Red, so much red. There was blood everywhere. Blood-soaked sheets, pillows; blood pooled onto the wooden floor and soaked into an ornate carpet. A woman lay across the bed. She wore an old-fashioned white nightgown, which was plastered to her body. Her long dark hair spilled across the sheets. Gaping wounds covered her chest. A knife lay on the floor. The windows were open, and white curtains fluttered in the evening breeze.
The creatures writhed in the corners as light from the hallway shattered their darkness.
From Struck by Clarissa Johal
Horror defined by C.J. Sellers:
The aim of horror is to provoke emotions within the realm of fear. The genre’s villains are not merely mean, vile, or impure — they are monstrously so. The ordinary is violated by a perfidious chaos wherein the world ceases to provide ample comfort or quarry. In this sudden atmosphere of dread, readers cannot tear our eyes away as our nightmares manifest into life.

 

cynthia book

“I shivered in my solitude, not only from the cold, but also from a growing terror. I was actually beginning to believe this superstitious nonsense on some level and could not reason myself away from it.”

From Pale Hunter by C.J. Sellers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by K.Z. Morano:

Horror is life… or a milder reflection of it. Horror as a genre captures people’s capacity for love and hope and courage. It shows people’s will to survive under seemingly impossible circumstances. In the end, horror shows you how precious life is and it leaves you with the question of how hard are you willing to fight just to cling to it.

 

KZMaranoKatie came home from school, the delicious aroma from the kitchen greeting her.

“Mom?”

An eerie voice reverberated through the hallway.

Her mother was singing some strange, fragmented lullaby…

The door creaked open.

“Shhh…“ Katie’s mother warned. “You’ll wake the baby.”

Part of the blanket fell away to reveal raw turkey cradled in her mother’s arms.

She held it to her breast, lovingly patting its wet pimpled flesh.

“W-Where’s the baby?” Katie quavered.

Her mother’s face split into a demented grin. “Dinner will be ready soon.”

Slowly, numbly, Katie walked towards the kitchen. Something hissed and sputtered in the oven.

Mommy Makes Dinner (from 100 Nightmares) by K.Z. Morano

 

Horror defined by Lucian Barnes:

I must admit, I do not share the same sentiments as a majority of the population. If a story is written and would be considered for a PG-13 rating if a movie were made of it, in my eyes it shouldn’t be classified as horror. To me, true horror isn’t made up of situations that only make you jump a little; they make you cringe, cover your eyes, and sometimes tickle your gag reflex and make you want to vomit. In order to accomplish these things, I believe a good horror story needs to employ plays on the emotional stability of a character, a healthy dose of elements that ignite a fearful reaction in the audience, tension and unpredictability (a book is usually not very good if you can see what’s coming before it happens), and lastly, gore.  There are many ways to achieve this result, whether by psychological means or the use of supernatural entities.

 

Lucian Barnes Destined for DarknessHis dreams were very bizarre and disturbing, but from them an idea formed about how to feed his family. Why let the victims he hunted down wither and rot in the ground when they could provide his family with meat. They were already cut into pieces when he buried them and it would only be a little more work to carve the flesh from their bones.

From Destined for Darkness by Lucian Barnes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Thomas Amo:

When suddenly everything normal suddenly becomes clear something is wrong.
That feeling you get when you’re alone and you know, someone is watching you. You’re alone in your home downstairs
and you hear footsteps above you. The fact you’ve realized something is wrong..usually means, it’s already too late.

 

thomas bookMatilda could hear her father’s sobs in the distance, and it tore at her tiny heart. She slipped from under her covers, pulled her overnight case out from under the bed and opened it. Inside was Rosie’s book of witchcraft and book of spells. Matilda turned the soiled pages and looked at ink drawings of covens dancing around fires, goats being worshipped, and a faceless white creature with a single horn growing from the side of its head, until the tip of the horn, was nothing more than a wisp. Matilda stared at it for a long time. It had thin slits where its eyes should have been and no mouth. It was chained to a demon that went by the name Zagan. Matilda eyed the caption under the picture. It read: Zagan, keeper of the faceless one that does the unthinkable things death will not. 

The image troubled her, as it certainly looked terrifying enough to her.

“Zagan, I wish you could help my daddy,” she whispered.

From Midnight Never Ends by Thomas Amo

 

 

 

Horror defined by Latashia Figueroa

Imagine you are in a small room, the lights are out and you can see nothing. Not even your own hand in front of you. You believe you are alone until you hear breathing. Your breaths become quick and shallow. The breaths you hear are slow and deep. They surround you. Your hairs become prickly, your mouth dries. And then lips land flush on yours. It is sudden. You are surprised,shocked and filled with anxiety. Before you can release a scream, a door opens. It brings forth light. It is your escape and yet you do not flee. You are both haunted and captivated by the kiss in the dark.

Every direction looked the same. The coolness of the air did not stop the sweat from pouring down his face and into his eyes. His stomach turned, his heart fluttered violently within him. He instinctively reached into his pants pocket for his cell phone but quickly remembered all cell phones had been confiscated upon arrival.

They were told “no outside distractions.” It would limit their experience here. No smart phones, or iPads, or even a camera. It was to be a weekend without distractions, a chance to focus on himself for a change and make some very necessary improvements to his life. For the past two days, he and the others had endured intense physical and spiritual labor. But it was worth it, Brad had thought. It would all pay off in the end. He had felt lucky to be here, that he had been chosen to experience this spiritual awakening.

Now, running in the woods alone, in the middle of nowhere, terror scalding him from head to toe, he didn’t feel so lucky anymore.

The Retreat (from This Way Darkness) by Latashia Figueroa

 

A Day In the Life of a Writer

Writing Horror: Avoiding What’s Been Done to Death

 

www.lovethesepics.com
http://www.lovethesepics.com

 

Some people . . . claim that there’s nothing new in horror. In a sense, that may be true. More than sixty years ago, H.P. Lovecraft drew up a list of the basic themes of weird fiction, and I can think of very little that the field has added to that list since then. But that’s by no means as defeatist as it sounds, because the truth is surely that many of the themes we’re dealing with are so large and powerful as to be essentially timeless.

For instance, the folk tale of the wish that comes true more fully and more terribly than the wisher could have dreamed is the basis not only of “The Monkey’s Paw,” but of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary and of my own novel, Obsesssion, yet the three stories have otherwise far more to do with their writers than with one another. That suggests . . . that one way to avoid what has already been done is to be true to yourself.

That isn’t to say that imitation never has its uses. Here, as in any other of the arts, it’s a legitimate and useful way to serve your apprenticeship. . . . If you’re writing in a genre, it’s all the more important to read widely outside it in order to be aware what fiction is capable of. It’s less a matter of importing techniques into the field than of seeing the field as part of a larger art. Depending wholly on genre techniques can lend too easily to the secondhand and the second-rate. There’s only one Stephen King, but there are far too many writers trying to sound like him.

It’s no bad thing to follow the example of writers you admire, then, but only as a means to finding your own voice. You won’t find that, of course, unless you have something of your own to say. I did, once I stopped writing about Lovecraft’s horrors and began to deal with what disturbed me personally. I began to write about how things seemed to me, which was more important and, at first, more difficult than it may sound. I tried (and still do try) to take nothing on trust to describe things as they really are or would be.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the horror field is riddled with clichés. The house that’s for sale too cheaply, the guy who must be working nights because he sleeps during the day . . . , the attic room the landlady keeps locked, the place none of the topers in the village inn will visit after dark—we can all have fun recognizing these and many others, which is by no means to say that they haven’t been used effectively by masters of the craft. But I think there are more fundamental clichés in the field, and I think today’s writers may be the ones to overturn them.

Take the theme of evil, as the horror story often does. Writing about evil is a moral act, and it won’t do to recycle definitions of evil—to take them on trust. Horror fiction frequently presents the idea of evil in such a shorthand form as to be essentially meaningless—something vague out there that causes folk to commit terrible acts, something other than ourselves, nothing to do with us. That sounds to me more like an excuse than a definition, and I hope it’s had its day. If we’re going to write about evil, then let’s define it and how it relates to ourselves.

All good fiction consists of looking at things afresh, but horror fiction seems to have a built-in tendency to do the opposite. Ten years or so ago, many books had nothing more to say than “the devil made me do it.” Now, thanks to the influence of films like Friday the 13th, it seems enough for some writers to say that a character is psychotic; no further explanation is necessary. But it’s the job of writers to imagine how it would feel to be all their characters, however painful that may sometimes be. It may be a lack of that compassion that has led some writers to create children who are evil simply because they’re children, surely the most deplorable cliché of the field.

Some clichés are simply products of lazy writing. Tradition shouldn’t be used as an excuse to repeat what earlier writers have done; if you feel the need to write about the stock figures of the horror story, that’s all the more reason to imagine them anew. . . . It’s only fair to warn you that many readers and publishers would rather see imitations of whatever they liked last year than give new ideas a chance. But I’ve always tried to write what rings true to me, whether or not it makes the till ring. If you don’t feel involved with what you’re writing, it’s unlikely that anyone else will.

There’s another side to the field that is overdue for attack by a new generation—its reactionary quality. A horror writer I otherwise admire argued recently that “it has been a time-honored tradition in literature and film that you have a weak or helpless heroine”—implying, I assume, that we should go on doing so. Well, tradition is a pretty poor excuse for perpetrating stereotypes (not that the author in question necessarily does); time-honored it may be, but that certainly doesn’t make it honorable. In fact, these days, so many horror stories (and especially films) gloat over the suffering of women that it seems clear the authors are getting their own back, consciously or not, on aspects of real life that they can’t cope with. Of course, that isn’t new in horror fiction, nor is using horror fiction to define as evil or diabolical whatever threatens the writer or the writer’s lifestyle. But, at the very least, one should be aware as soon as possible, that this is what one is doing, so as to be able to move on. I have my suspicions, too, about the argument that horror fiction defines what is normal by showing us what isn’t. I think it’s time for more of the field to acknowledge that, when we come face-to-face with the monsters, we may find ourselves looking not at a mask but at a mirror.

 

Ramsey Campbell’s thoughts  on “Avoiding What’s Been Done to Death” edited by Mort Castle

Originally published on Writer’sDigest.com