A Rant by self proclaimed “The King of Horror”; Andrew Guthlein
“Why do you have such a fascination with such a violent genre?”
That’s the question that comes up most often whether I’m with a new group of people or even people that I’ve known for years. Granted, it’s not the easiest question to answer because realistically, how CAN you defend a genre that involves flesh eating mutants, brain chomping zombies, Ax wielding maniacs, houses that drip blood, and vampires that would love nothing more than to stab a straw in your neck and transform you into a child of the night or worse, a human sized juice box among other tropes. My response is hardly anything that would resemble something well defined, concise, or containing examples that can be googled for further research.
“I love it because unlike anything else, Horror is the genre that has more excitement than a roller coaster ride.”
As I said, not the most eloquent of explanations but for all the years of watching Horror movies, I never felt I needed a reason to explain my love for the genre. I can recall back to my first horror film experience which was Halloween II when it was airing on local television for the Halloween season. I wasn’t even in my teen years yet when I stumbled on the television set in my Grandparents house tuned to a channel showing a movie with a killer in a stark white mask hunting for a young girl throughout the suspiciously empty hallways of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. Now, I wasn’t instructed to plop myself down in front of the television while the adults were occupied with something else. It was just a passing glimpse that entranced me enough to begin developing what would become a full blown obsession in my later years. I don’t know about any of you, but I was the type of kid that reveled in sneaking up well past my bed time and turning on the television with the hopes of finding a horror movie. It was that thrill of the movie as well as getting caught that made the whole experience all the more memorable. I think in this day and age of iPhones, iPads, and laptops that children seem to be receiving at alarmingly young ages, that thrill is gone when the world is accessible by just a touch of a button.
I can recall when video stores were still the titans of home entertainment and the excitement of walking around in one while my parents searched for a movie rental. It was that inevitable walk down the Horror aisle that I looked forward to most. At the foot of the aisle, rows upon rows of over sized clam shell VHS covers beckoned for me to pick them up and read all the plots printed on their backs. These covers were far from the typical DVD covers today that typically feature a head shot of each of the main stars and MAYBE a shot of the killer’s mask in the background. When I was younger, it was truly elaborate covers that depicted the madness that was that particular film or in the case of the Nightmare on Elm Street films through until Freddy’s Dead, beautiful and sometimes haunting hand painted designs that JUST gave you enough to pique the interests. Unfortunately, much like the ghost towns that video stores have become, the art of the deliciously dark or intriguing Horror box art has since died out.
“So King, tell us; why do we need Horror?”
The Horror film is the ultimate form of escapism. It provides us with temporary sanctuary from the real life horrors that await us once the film ends. There aren’t any zombies waiting to tear us apart once the theater doors open. Leatherface isn’t going to be surprising you when you get home with a sledge hammer to the skull. Freddy Krueger isn’t sharpening his claws in anticipation for when you finally fall asleep. There’s enough horror on the news on any given day to give those films a run for their money and what better way to remove yourself from the real life horror than going to see a movie that will provide you with plenty of safe scares from the comfort of a theater seat.
Most importantly, the best Horror films have heart. Those films ranging from the original Romero classic; Night Of The Living Dead, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original Evil Dead film always had one thing in common; they were a labor of love. Those films were made by people that wanted to not only scare audiences but to make something that would grab the public’s attention. For lack of a generous budget, crew, or even experienced actors and actresses, the above mentioned films as well as countless others managed to thrive and ultimately become highly regarded classics because of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making them. It’s that amount of heart that I feel most other genres lack. To truly make a great Horror film, you need to not only scare the audiences but give them something to hang on to well after the movie is over. George Romero, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi, Wes Craven; the true masters of the craft will always be the first to put the heart into the celluloid despite whether or not the film is destined to be a true classic.
I will forever be a Horror genre fan. From the film posters that adorn my walls, to the numerous books that line the shelves, and the pictures I’ve accumulated over the years with various Horror icons. It is the genre that I hold close to me no matter how old I get. After all, are there better fans out there than fans of the Horror genre? I dare you to seek out the answer to that question. At the end of the day the films we love and hold close to our hearts are in fact bloody, gory, scary, and sometimes just plain weird but once those films end, we can all go back to our normal lives with work, family, and friends. Despite what I’m sure is the popular thought for people reacting to a passionate Horror genre fan; we are not the maniacs depicted on film. We are people that live perfectly normal lives with families, co-workers, and loved ones. We love and need this incredible genre because there’s nothing better than the shock and terror of a roller coaster Horror movie. You won’t get that from a romantic comedy, musical, or drama.
It’s all here in the Horror genre and all are welcome.
Stay scared…and don’t mind that scratching noise coming from the closet. It’s only your imagination….
The King of Horror