I can be kind of obtuse when it comes to the date; I have to date documents at work every day but it’s kind of automatic and then one day it hits me: hey, it’s October! Where did 2016 go?
I hate when that happens.
I especially hate my obliviousness because I’d intended to spend the month of October blogging about the horror genre–books, stories, films, etc. So here I am, four days behind but I am game to get going on this. Are you with me, Constant Reader?
I knew you would be.
I wasn’t allowed to watch monster movies when I was a kid because they always gave me the absolute worst nightmares, and I would always wake up screaming and terrified. Yet at the same time, I was drawn to scary movies; I loved being terrified. One of my earliest memories was watching The Birds on television with my parents, and I’ve never been able to see a flock of birds on telephone/power lines ever since without having a chill go up my spine. The first horror novel I read was either The Exorcist or The Other, I’m not sure which; but they were two of the popular books everyone was reading when I was in junior high school (the crucifix masturbation scene in The Exorcist was discussed in great detail). I never much care for The Exorcist, to be honest, and even when I finally was able to rent the film years later and watch it for the first time, it was more funny to me than anything else; almost like it was trying too hard to be scary and obscene–which is what I also felt about the novel. (I thought about rereading the novel recently, since I am really enjoying the new TV show based on it; but I’ve read other works by Blatty and not cared for them either; plus, I think I’ve read somewhere recently that he’s a homophobe, and yes, I know one should try to separate the art from the artist, but I’m just not that evolved, okay? Sue me.)
Anyway, I digress.
The horror genre is similar to the crime genre in that there are a number of sub-genres contained under the umbrella term of horror; and not all horror is necessarily scary. I am not well-read enough in the genre to even try to define any of these subgenres, frankly; I’m not especially well-versed on horror films or television programs, either. I am a casual fan; when it is done well, I greatly enjoy it–but I am hardly an expert in the field. I know good writing when I see it, though–whether it’s literary or crime or horror or fantasy or romance.
I once said on a panel somewhere–I don’t remember where–that crime and horror fiction are the flip sides of the same coin; the difference being in crime fiction the monsters are human. It was a great sound-byte, and I used a variation of it in the introduction to the anthology I co-edited with J. M. Redmann, Night Shadows, where I said the two genres were both concerned with death. After all, Freddy Kruger is just a supernatural serial killer, right? And while I’ve not read any of the Thomas Harris books (I know, I know, shame on me), the film The Silence of the Lambs is both a crime film as well as horror.
Stephen King, of course, is my writing god. I discovered him when I was a sophomore in high school, and a friend was reading the paperback of Carrie. I’d never heard of either the author or the book, but I picked it up idly and started reading it–and couldn’t put it down. She graciously let me borrow it, and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished reading it that night. I’d never read anything like it before–and I became an immediate fan. It wasn’t until The Stand, several years later, that I started buying King in hardcover; but I have done so ever since (at least, the ones that were published in hardcover; some, like his Hard Case Crime novels The Colorado Kid and Joyland were paperback originals only).
But my real favorites are, and always have been, ghost stories. Barbara Michaels wrote some excellent ones, including Ammie Come Home, The Crying Child, House of Many Shadows, and Be Buried in the Rain, among many others.
And of course, Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier wrote some brilliant work.
I do wish I had more time to read–so many brilliant writers and so many brilliant books out there to read.
So, I intend to spend this entire month blogging about horror. Next time, Dark Shadows.