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Toto on Why We Love Horror

posted by Nell Minow

Christian Toto asks why we love horror movies and he comes up with what to me — someone who has very little tolerance for horror movies — some very plausible answers. The entire post is well worth reading and here is a sample:
Losing control: Our lives tend to be bland, or at least uneventful. And that’s a very good thing. But horror movies offer an alternative reality that play upon our worst fears. In most cases, the hero lives to tell the tale. On some level we hope we’d react with the same heroism if we were fleeing a knife-wielding maniac.

An inept drama or comedy can be painful to endure. An inept horror can pack one moment, one scene, which can prove unforgettable.

Horror is communal. I’d never encourage people talking in a theater … but once in a while the crowd noise can elevate a standard horror viewing into an event.
Hidden messages: Horror movies often pack a political or social punch that would otherwise come off as trite or heavy handed. George A. Romero has led the way with his “Dead” features, commenting on racism and consumerism courtesy of his flesh-chomping zombies.
I believe that a scary film, whether a noir thriller, a slam-bang action film, or a horror film, or even a drama with an angry confrontation and some emotional risks, is a dress rehearsal for our emotions, a way for us to work through our fears and experience a sense of release. I’d just rather do it with a little better dialogue and a little less blood. But if you feel differently, be sure to check out the Rotten Tomatoes list of the all-time best horror films.



  • Big Dave T

    Wow, thanks for posting this. I made the comment over on Toto’s site that horror movies provide an escapist retreat from our everyday problems, much like Universal’s horror movies did during the Great Depression. They told people that there are worse things than being broke and out of a job–you could become one of the walking dead.
    Great list over at Rotten Tomatoes too. Classics all!

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