Horror has always been built upon the foundation of fear: fear of the dark, fear of the unknown. And as our fears have evolved, so has horror.
H.G. Wells’ radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds spread alarm in the late 30s by making people believe the Earth was being invaded by aliens. In the 60s, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho set the bar for horror cinema. Shadows, a frantic sound bite, and the image of blood swirling down the drain had a generation terrified of setting foot in the shower. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was yet another milestone in horror, Jack Nicholson’s iconic line sending chills down the collective spines of the 80s. But for all the terror these events inspired when they were released, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone scared by them now.
Why? Because society has changed. Our fears have changed.
A crazy guy bashing down a door is no longer an unlikelihood, it’s almost an expectation. A stabbing in the shower is a daily occurrence. The news is filled with stories of people eating faces and butchering their children and killing old folks for pennies, terrorists chopping off heads to make a point. We, as a society, have become inured to the brutality of our world. We see it every day. The Showtime series Dexter is a perfect example of our numbness. Who could ever have imagined a series about a lovable serial killer would succeed let alone last seven seasons? But here we are.
What does this mean for horror?
It means it has to work much harder to penetrate the psyches of a jaded society. Horror can no longer rely on the tried and true terrors of its past. It has to continue to evolve. Fortunately, it’s done just that.
Modern horror movies have shifted away from the gore and guts approach that made movies like Friday the 13th and Hostel so popular, and have delved more into the supernatural. They no longer try to terrorize their viewers with blood and body parts, but have moved on to sudden, sharp starts, the ghost story returning with a vengeance.
In literature, horror has leapt over the edge of brutality and sanity. It’s become bizarre and inhuman. Modern day authors like Wrath James White have supercharged their works with cannibalism and sexuality, lacing their writing with a clinical creativity that violently exceeds anything that’s come before. Robert Devereaux bursts from the box of conventional horror with stories of fetal beauty pageants and Santa Claus gone wrong while Carlton Mellick stomps on society’s sensibilities with surreal tales of sex toys and obese ninjas.
Long gone are the days of subtlety. But where does horror go from here? There’s no reclaiming the innocence of times past so the only way is forward. This is the horror of horror. How far can it go?
Raised on a diet of Heavy Metal and bad intentions, Tim Marquitz has always been interested in writing, but it wasn’t until about 1995 the urge became a compulsion. However, it would be many years later before the ability matched the interest. Fortunately, the two have reconciled…mostly.
Writing a mix of the dark perverse, the horrific, and the tragic, tinged with sarcasm and biting humor, he looks to leave a gaping wound in the minds of his readers like his inspirations: Clive Barker, Jim Butcher, and Stephen King.
A former grave digger, bouncer, and dedicated metalhead, Tim is a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts, and fighting in general. Involved in the Live Action Role Playing organization, Amtgard, since he was fifteen, he derives great pleasure from bashing people into submission.
He lives in Texas with his beautiful wife and daughter, a neurotic dog and their finger-crippling cat. You can find out more about Tim and all of his books at http://tmarquitz.com/