Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Horror Philosophy

I've been meaning to post this question for a while. It is an intriguing one, and our lovely friend Peppermint was musing about it the other day.

I open my comment section to thoughts and mutterings in response to the following inquiry:

What makes a horror flick a horror flick?

21 Comments:

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

Monsters, the supernatural.
Scariness does not = horror movie.
Ex. 'Seven' is not a horror movie, even if it's horrific. It's a "thriller"
The line is thin and usually defined by some guy in a rubber mask ;)

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

But then what about, say, the Texas Chain Saw Massacre? I don't think anyone would argue that it's NOT a horror movie. And yet, there are no monsters and no supernatural beings--the evil beings are all human...

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

True enough, but (despite his lack of "powers"), you could easily say that Leatherface is a monster. His dementedness goes above and beyond that of your typical killer.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

PLus...guy in mask ;)

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

Heh heh. So, then couldn't you argue that the guy from SEVEN is also a monster whose dementedness goes above and beyond that of your "typical killer," thus making SEVEN a horror movie as well? (Please note that I don't actually consider it a horror movie either, I am just trying to root out what the hell it is that makes a horror movie a horror movie.)

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

No, because the guy from Seven is just a psychopath, not a monster.
If you were to place Leatherface and the guy from Seven in a lineup and ask someone, "which, if either, of these two people, is a monster" they would easily point to Leatherface. Plus, Seven attempts to take place in the real world (with cops and investigations). The world is TCM is soooo different from that, or our own. In that, a family can commit grisly mass murders (under the eye of their partially dead grandfather) with no retribution whatsoever. So it can not truly be called real. I would say that, if TCM ended with the family getting arrested (or even murdered, themselves) it would turn from a horror movie into a thriller. Because, in TCM, we are given the impression that the family is a continuing presence of evil, who will not ever stop..instead of just a real family whose actions take place in a world of cause and effect. So maybe the difference is in how much the movie ties into any source of reality?

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

But then what about, say, THE SHINING? Do you consider that a horror movie? That ties in pretty directly to reality--it becomes moreso a question of insanity than the supernatural too in a lot of ways...

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

But then what about, say, THE SHINING? Do you consider that a horror movie? That ties in pretty directly to reality--it becomes moreso a question of insanity than the supernatural too in a lot of ways...

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

The Shining is *definitely* a horror movie. Right off, it involves the supernatural. (If it were just a question of insanity, you wouldn't have the numerous scenes with little Danny and his "friends"). It also involves psychic powers being used. Though some people do use the "maybe he was just insane" thing, I do think the Shining is a supernatural film.

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

Yeah, I guess you're right. I couldn't think of a better example of a horror movie that didn't involve the supernatural--what about that CABIN FEVER movie? No supernatural or monsters involved there.

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

I haven't seen it, so i can't judge/comment.

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous harvey said...

I believe the movie is called Se7en.

Patrick, how does you distinction between horror and thriller take into account Michael Jackson's obviously supernatural "Thriller"?

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

That is why I left you the link, Pattie-el-Dorko. It explains what the movie is about. Flesh-eating virus is neither supernatural nor a monster. But clearly there is no doubt that that movie would be considered a horror movie.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

The link doesn't say much, other than the most basic. I haven't seen it, so I can not judge if it's the atmosphere, treatment of story, etc. that would make it a horror movie.

Oooh, Michael Jackson has torn my theory into pieces! Damn you JACKO!

 
At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

But you are not getting it. Based on your theory--which is that it has to involve the supernatural or monsters--you can clearly see from the movie-description that neither is involved. And yet it's marketed and listed and OBVIOUSLY a horror movie.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

My theory is not all encompassing, nor is it well thought out. When it comes down to it, as long as there is either a random dance or shower scene, I'll fork over my ticket. There's some movies worthy of picking apart to define the various aspects of each, I don't watch horror (or thriller, or sci-fi or whatever) movies for that, I watch them for simple entertainment.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

I wasn't asking WHY you watch them or what you like about movies, o strayer from the topic. I was just asking what MAKES a horror movie a horror movie.
so *BELLLLLLLLLLLLCH*

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

And I answered. Apparently you didn't get it and need it spelled out.
My answer:
I don't care.

 
At 3:36 PM, Anonymous RothChild said...

I agree that horror movies usually have some kind of supernatural or monster in them. That kind of classification makes sense to me. I think what makes a horror movie a horror movie is the component of helplessness in the face of something evil and supernatural (whether that be a ghost, monster, or flesh eating virus). This would make it different than Se7en insofar as there is no supernatural occurance. What occurs is easily explained as being the actions of a madman. The Shining cannot be easily explained as only madness since there are ghosts in the place and supernatural things happen. I think that is the catch. I think that if something is able to be explained in the realm of human and natural ability, then it is not a horror theme. If something cannot be explained as human or natural, then it is horror themed.

 
At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

Interesting. I think that actually pinpoints things a bit more clearly, and I bet Patrick might actually agree with you on that (AT TO DEATH, Patrick).

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

I agree with NO ONE.
Okay, I actually DO agree with that theory.

But I don't have to like it ;)

 

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