View Full Version : What's the point of horror

01-08-15, 01:56 PM
I considered adding this to the other thread here about movies, but I'm not sure if it is related.

I mentioned that I find gory horror movies unbearable to watch. But there's more to that than it just being 'too much'; that would imply that I could enjoy not-quite-as-gory horror movies.
But I don't. It is the whole idea of watching unpleasant stuff - or reading it (Brett Easton Ellis comes to mind), or even listening to the kind of BlackDeathPestilenceDecaySpeedKillMetal music that seems to be composed entirely of shrieks, grumbles, skulls, blood and references to sickness, suffering and death.

I wish I knew what the point is.

This has bewildered me as long as I've been aware of it. Sure, I've gotten across some answers: that it should offer a form of 'catharsis'; or a handful of other psychological explanations that all fail to make a lot of sense.
Some say itís a form of political commentary - yeah, bollocks.
Another one: ďget over it, itís just fantasyĒ. But that doesnít explain anything, and it neither has the effect of "oh, it's ok then I suppose". Quite apart from the eternal discussion whether or not fantasy violence inspires people to copy it - I feel that these movies etc. make the world an overall worse place in a very real sense.

I just cannot escape the impression - at least for the really grisly ones (the 'body horror' genre, or the 'New French Extremity') - that you'll have to be either an extreme masochist or else someone who delights in seeing others suffer.

All the same, I cannot believe that that's true. Or, I hope it isn't; that it is rather that I'm unable to see it in another way, in a more abstracted or distant way that takes the edge off. Or whatever - that I could at least see any sort of merit in these things. That they might benefit some people, cause them to think deeper, or whatever it may be. But I fear that they donít.

And that's just for the people who watch it - the state of mind of someone who creates something like that is an even bigger mystery. Where does a fascination with such intense misery and lust for blood come from?
If I try to imagine what state of mind would be needed to create something like that, I fail. I could just as well try to imagine what it feels like to be a can opener.

I hope that this comes across?
It really bothers me that I don't understand this, because it stares me in the face every time I read about something like this. It's the same bewilderment and unsettlement every time again - and I hate it.

I just want to somehow understand it so it wonít trip me up all the time, and I can forget about it.
I hope this makes some sense.

01-09-15, 01:49 PM
I used to be able to watch gore when I was a teen, but now it makes me physically ill. I loved the movie Idle Hands, I saw Scary Movie (don't remember if I saw them all or not)- those were parodies, not actual horror, but I like some actual horror ones like Thinner or the Hand.

The horror ones- I liked the thrill of the plot, the fact that there was a life-and-death battle between the protagonist and unseen evil forces. The gore raised the stakes, made the struggle more important, more real and more convincing.

Also, besides the blood and the death, these movies usually have a psychological component: they claim to reveal the dark side of the human mind, the one capable of real-life horror- which definitely exists- and can be interesting to see. Even for a non-violent/non-sadistic person, it is still interesting to see what goes on in their heads.

Another thing: you might empathize with the victims in the movie, if you like them, but often it, it's the unlikable characters that get killed, making it a bit of a revenge fantasy. I admit that I often do want the bad guy to die a horrible death in a movie, even though I wouldn't want it in real life. That's the beauty of fiction- there are no permanent consequences, nobody really gets hurt, so there's no reason to have a guilty conscience.

About the comedies- they are so ridiculous, you can't take them seriously. You can't empathize with the victims, since their suffering is so obviously fake and you can't feel any fear since the threat is usually laughable. You basically just watch grown-ups play with ketchup and you treat it as such.

Awkwardly, the older I got, the more sensitive and more empathic I got, so now I dpn't like to watch horror movies anymore. Still, dumb movies like 300 are fun to see because I treat them as comedies, so I get emotionally detached from the plot and the characters.

The worst thing to see though are documentaries and anything portray real-life pain and suffering- I can't wrap my head around the things that happen to some people, especially the things humans do to each other- it makes me scared and angry. I'd rather bury my head in the sand and watch cartoons...

03-22-15, 01:41 PM
I wish I knew what the point is.

The point is related to us being curious about the so-called "dark side",
I suppose. There exists a thrill to being "afraid" as well.

Anyway, it's perfectly "o.k" for you to dislike such movies. I don't like gore
either. I like mild horror with tons of suspence and almost no gore.

03-22-15, 02:18 PM
I don't understand this myself but then will happily watch " criminal minds". i don't know what moral limit in me makes some things acceptable and others not. i can't watch any horror fillms and any scene of torture ( even in some action movie) upsets me.

my mom absolutely loved horror films and terrifying books. kindle was full of them! She would say a movie looked good and just the ad for the movie, scared me. she said loved those really old frightening grimm's tales when she was little.

I really respect that you feel this way!

Little Missy
03-22-15, 02:48 PM
Usually just the music is enough to make me run away from it.

03-22-15, 04:23 PM
I have never personally liked any type of movies that were about people willingly hurting each other. What is this fascination with blood and pain and dead people? Surely, you wouldnt want inspector Morse to turn up in your neighbourhood, yet many people love to watch it on TV.

Having said that, it is extremely puzzling to me now that I have for many years very much enjoyed war movies, scifi and fantasy where clearly violence is also a very major theme. Lately I have begun to very much dislike even those though.

03-22-15, 06:33 PM
I can't stand horror, even the scary movie films, I find the whole genre too scary, I get enough crap in my head without giving myself nightmares (like in one of the saw movies they were attached to a thing that was going to electrocute them all to death or something and they had to get the keys and escape and one of them ended up dead in a nasty way because of it)

03-22-15, 07:34 PM
its for fun , some people enjoy being scared, some don't

i love horror movies, more so around the halloween season

03-22-15, 09:17 PM
I completely get where you're coming from. I find horror movies and their other media counterparts to be the most pointless concept ever. I don't understand anybody getting enjoyment from them. I don't mind suspense or Alfred Hitchcock-style old-school horror which was mostly psychological and short on gore, and mostly is able to hold my interest due to the challenge of trying to predict the turnout. But I abhor the gratuitous blood-and-guts stuff, which from what I can see has no redeeming value - it certainly doesn't feature top-notch writing and storyweaving and offers no takeaway in terms of a moral-of-the-story lesson. I, like you, wonder about the people who enjoy such things, while feeling a bit bad about it because some of them are people I like and respect.

For the people who have said here that they used to enjoy such things but no longer do, I would guess that it would have something to do with being more aware of real, actual violence. It surely makes it more difficult to think of the movies as being pure fantasy when you are more aware that unthinkable violence does happen in real life, and that there is absolutely nothing entertaining or enjoyable about it whatsoever.

It's kind of like when we were kids and we'd used to gleefully sing songs about burning down the school and torturing the teachers, like "Glory glory hallelujah/ Teacher hit me with the ruler/ I stood behind the door with a loaded .44/and there ain't no Teacher anymore." We could sing that stuff because to us, it was no more real or possible than the man we also sang about who lived in the moon, whose hair was made of spaghetti, eyes were made of meatballs, nose was made of cheese, and mouth was made of pizza. But after Columbine, and as more school violence began to occur, I'd remember those dumb songs and marvel that we could ever think they were funny.

03-22-15, 09:50 PM
people "wonder " about people who like horror movies?:roll eyes::rolleyes:


03-22-15, 10:14 PM
I find slasher movies and torture porn help combat depression.

eclectic beagle
03-27-15, 03:44 PM
I always regret engaging in morbid curiosity. In many ways it's like the circular pursuit of a child.

03-27-15, 03:55 PM
It's art like any other. I used to be able to not stand horror at all.

I then went through a phase where I watched a bunch of it. I never loved it but I think I get it now. They're just exploring different feelings and senses the way a painter, chef or musician does. Horror movies are sort of like someone blending scotch or preparing spicey food. We enjoy it the way we enjoy lots of things that to our senses aren't pleasant but rather are "strong" even if unpleasant. Black coffee, dark chocolate, cigars.

They're digging into those feelings and how and why we react to them, and trying to make something out of it. Albeit, horror movies digging into our most sensitive and visceral feelings and I've never been able to detach myself enough to say those things are my favorite.

(though I used to be too "sensitive" for action movies,.. now I like action movies.)

04-09-15, 03:41 PM
I have never personally liked any type of movies that were about people willingly hurting each other. What is this fascination with blood and pain and dead people? Surely, you wouldnt want inspector Morse to turn up in your neighbourhood, yet many people love to watch it on TV.

Having said that, it is extremely puzzling to me now that I have for many years very much enjoyed war movies, scifi and fantasy where clearly violence is also a very major theme. Lately I have begun to very much dislike even those though.

I hate horror. As a kid, I had a weird fascination for it but as the beagle said I regretted every time I watched something scary. Some of those scenes are still etched into my brain and they still freak me out.

I love murder mysteries though especially Morse and all the other British murder mysteries playing in idyllic, quaint villages with a homicide rate worse than downtown new York apparently. I find them really relaxing (unless the murder is particular gruesome or disturbing in some way) and after a long, hard day there's nothing more soothing than settling down with a cosy little murder mystery.:o

Baal Moom
04-10-15, 03:06 AM
What's written here notwithstanding, I actually consume very little horror fiction.

I like watching fake people getting hurt. If I were to make a ********* guess, maybe not feeling required to empathise with the characters -- since they're not people -- I feel free to indulge a sort of sadism. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc., but isn't a living being, I'd like to smash it with a sledgehammer. That'd be so cool. I've never murdered or raped, I haven't tried to beat anyone up since I was 12 or 13, and I'd been a little bast**d before I saw any horror films. I don't know if horror fiction has adverse effects on the average consumer, but if there were a clear correlation between consuming horror fiction and being a violent criminal or a nasty bast*rd, I'd expect not to read that Japan is a nation of extremely courteous people who hardly commit any crimes. If there were numerous instances of violent crime for which there could be no other explanation than people having been driven mental by watching cinema -- following the release of horror films, or after horror festivals, or amongst habitual consumers of horror, we would know about it, since the correlation would have appeared obvious, and something would have been done about it.

I actually didn't like Hostel when I was little, the gore was too much for me -- particularly breaking bones makes me feel too nasty for some reason. I never tried to re-watch it, and it's more gory than the few live action horror films I've watched. I have no problem with CGI gore to the extreme, though -- which also leads to the next sort of enjoyment I derive from gore and horror.

There's another sort of enjoyment -- maybe a real appreciation of being scared and distressed in a safe environment. Only two pieces of literature have ever scared me, and the winner by far is a story called Nethescurial by Thomas Ligotti. It's freely available online on a Ligotti fan-site, though I won't vouch for the legality of it, of course. I read it at night, out loud, in one sitting, and by the end I was literally crying with terror. Sobbing like a slapped toddler. And it was such a rush. It was a beautiful sensation, a sort of fuzzy, happy buzz nestling in all the nooks and crannies of my body, a bit like what I feel after having done four or five shots of vodka.

EDIT: Just to make it clear: It's not that I can watch everything horror that isn't violence pr0n -- I am a real wussy about some things. Disease and animals that feed on the dead in particular... Ugh.

04-10-15, 09:40 AM
Because enough people in the world enjoy them. Certain people need more stimuli than others and horror taps all those morbid senses. For example, a sex addict doesn't find much enjoyment in conventional sex, instead he is stimulated by kinkier stuff.

04-24-15, 02:41 PM
I don't like roller coasters, they terrify me. Most people like roller coasters. I find the reason they like them is the loss of control. I find the reason I hate them is loss of control.

Perhaps you hate horror films whils others may love them for the same reason that I hate roller coasters.

04-25-15, 10:54 PM
I do not enjoy gore movies, although not long ago I saw a Japanese gore movie that was very stylized and bizzare. I enjoyed that. But I am a huge fan of HORROR, and I especially love metaphysical horror, gothic horror, and some of the more intelligent horror movies and books. I am also a huge fan of all music that is loud, aggressive, and totally anti-social in many ways.

12-30-15, 04:17 PM
You cannot pay me enough to watch a horror movies. No.