Make no mistake, horror has gone mainstream but it’s also nastier than ever before. My take…

March 31, 2014

The Walking Dead, saison 1
We’ve opened Pandora’s box…

The Walking Dead season finale contained one of the most violent scenes I’ve witnessed in a film of any kind and it didn’t involve zombies at all. A ruthless gang of survivors had the protagonists of the series dead to rights. And then the heroes turned the tables, eliciting vile payback. Rick bit open the throat of his captor and then guts the heathen who was about to rape his son. More death. Like that.

The previous week’s episode featured the entirely unexpected murder of a young girl, who’d lost her mind and killed her sister trying to prove that her subsequent “turning” would be evidence that the undead were, what, normal? These episodes were brutal, nihilistic and, basically amazing.

9b018be2_WalkingDead1

The living people have become the walking dead themselves. They move forward killing everything in their paths, like zombies. The flicker of hope for humanity grows ever more dim. It’s barely there.

During a commercial break (yes, I watched the network broadcast) was a preview of a sequel to The Purge, a film about legalized crime including (and especially) murder. I didn’t see the original movie but enough people did to warrant a sequel.

Then came a Hyundai spot where you can build your own zombie killing car. Benign in terms of mayhem the spot is meant to be funny. I suppose…

My, oh my. So many visions of the Apocalypse! We Are What We Are is the title of a film about modern day cannibals, itself a remake of a Spanish film about people eaters.

salemsbook
Read it with the lights on…

I’ve been a horror fan since I can remember. The first real book I ever read for “fun” was Salem’s Lot. As a boy I thrilled at Hammer’s vision of the undead. Christopher Lee’s Dracula and his gory sexy brides formed my world view –or at least provided lurid escape from the sketchy real world: my parent’s divorce, step-father’s suicide, gang-bangers on every corner, teachers that didn’t give a shit, friends who had it worse than me and acted accordingly.

By comparison, fictional evil was somehow… attractive.

caroline-munro-christopher-lee-dracula
Lee’s Dracula and friend. What’s not to like?

For me, hanging out with miscreants on the street corner was far more threatening. Pretending not to be scared in real life was a lot harder than bearing monsters in books and on screen. Enduring evermore-gruesome fictions was (and is) a way for a young man to demonstrate courage. It’s a theory.

And now you feel it don’t you? The mainstream embraces horror like never before, as I did as a teenager and still do. In films, books, comics, games, television, music and even commercials. Always profitable but formerly seedy, the horror genre has risen from the grave!

You have become like me, God have mercy on your souls.

5 Responses to “Make no mistake, horror has gone mainstream but it’s also nastier than ever before. My take…”

  1. MrWisdumb said

    This is interesting, but I don’t think it is so much horror going mainstream as it is mainstream going more realistic (if you can use a word like ‘realistic’ when discussing zombies). A late 50s show like The Rifleman had hundreds of killings in it, many done by the hero of the show. Westerns and war shows were very common place, they just weren’t presented as the horror they should have been. Now, since shows are so much more realistic and the brutal shows up everywhere and is more or less commonplace, the horror genre has become the escapist fare again – and is increasing in popularity because of it (the horror brutality can be fun because people know it isn’t real, unlike say a terrorist plot line in ‘Intelligence’ or ‘Hawaii Five-O’ that will kill millions of people and reminds people of what could really be).

  2. I think that today everything is going mainstream. Not a suprise horror went too

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