Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror


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Post Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:24 pm

Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

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The Good Friends of Jackson Elias are back, and, at the behest of Tore, we're trying to get to the root of why horror appeals to us so. The discussion takes in films, books, TV and, of course, games, including a number of Cthulhu-related anecdotes.
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Post Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:02 pm

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

That was a great episode!

I'm the kind of horror fan that's actually not that hard to scare. I watch some movies through my fingers still. :D
Where Yig doth tread no man treads tomorrow.
Reeking death, harvest of humans in hatred.
Suck on the shitbag of what you created, what we created.
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Post Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:08 pm

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

Glad you liked it, Tore, and thank you for the topic! As soon as I mentioned your suggestion to the other two, their eyes lit up (and not with the usual luminous green worms). We spent more time discussing this episode ahead of time than any other to date, simply because it appealed to us all so much.

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Post Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:44 am

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

A really thought provoking episode!

This one really pokes and prods the sore tooth that is the attraction to horror we all seem to have in some form or another on this forum, and amongst humanity in general as well.

For me personally, the most obvious question to ask is 'Why do I enjoy horror'? Or, in all honesty 'Is there a worrying aspect to my enjoyment of horror'?

I'm not a huge lover of OTT 'jump shock' horror movies, nor do I particularly enjoy extremely gory films. Books that describe zombies tearing into people like a all you can eat buffet or pulling out strings of intestines like sausages (or links for my American friends ;) ) similarly leave me a little cold.

So what is it? What is it that attracts me?

Well, like an unwary fish to a Sorcerer, I am drawn to the characters in the story; good, well made characters will pull me into the world immediately. I also enjoy stories that show a real understanding of what others feel horrified by; these are not necessarily the obvious horrors, they can be intensely personal to an individual character or could tap into a primal fear. Being eaten for example!

So, for me at least, it's the reality of the horror that draws me. If the horror is right the source of the horror is far less important, though if the source also appeals ... ! A good example discussed in the episode is Alien. As I think I mentioned on a previous post to Paul, Alien is one of the purest examples of the Haunted House horror story I can think off; the isolated location, possession, an antagonist that is able to move around in a non-conventional way .. It's all there!

In thinking about this episode I also realised that horror and humour are quite similar in nature. Both operate on the subversion of expectation; a story unfolds that appears to be going one way and then *twist* and we're off to the races in a different direction.

So for me, to extend my piscatorial metaphor above, the protagonists are the bait and the source(erer! :shock: ) reels me in.

Ant


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Post Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:54 pm

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

Now I really should answer my own question. :shock:
Where Yig doth tread no man treads tomorrow.
Reeking death, harvest of humans in hatred.
Suck on the shitbag of what you created, what we created.
Yig now incoming, Yig now is here.
Yig he makes everything impossibly queer.
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Post Thu Nov 26, 2015 9:11 pm

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

Why do I like horror? (sorry, it got a bit long).

My love of horror is pretty tightly connected with my love of short fiction. As a kid I was a bit of a 'fraidy-cat. The other kids in my school would talk about watching Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street. I would lose sleep over melting Nazi faces in Indiana Jones. Slasher horror would have made me piss myself (if only metaphorically). 

I found that I could read about horror fine though. Well, I say fine. I did lose sleep over some stories. M. R. James' Lost Hearts is one I distinctly remember. The apparition in that bathroom was absolutely in OUR bathroom, at least until I looked.

“His description of what he saw reminds me of what I once beheld myself in the famous vaults of St Michan’s Church in Dublin, which possesses the horrid property of preserving corpses from decay for centuries. A figure inexpressibly thin and pathetic, of a dusty leaden colour, enveloped in a shroud-like garment, the thin lips crooked into a faint and dreadful smile, the hands pressed tightly over the region of the heart.”

It did not stop me though, even if some stories gave me pause, Ray Bradbury's The Man Upstairs made me leave horror behind for almost six months. It was not a bogey-man fear either, in the sense that I was not afraid that Mr. Koberman from the story would come after me. I was afraid that the world really was subtly wrong in a way which allowed things like Mr. Koberman to exist. The story opened me to the idea that tactile sensory input could be conveyed through text. Similarly Edgar Allan Poe's The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar made me imagine the sounds of the dead man's lolling tongue.

These were the things that dragged me in too. I wanted to see the wrong thing. Realism might deal with the kind of banal problems I had, with arguing parents, bullying and so forth. They always show a small world though. While it could show the unpleasant realities, realism seemed unable to show the wrongness and the absurdity itself. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” as Howard says. I would add that the greatest catalyst is that nothing can be known, or be made to make sense. The strongest fear is alienation, and horror fiction told me that alienation was real. Besides it was thrilling as fuck.

Unlike novels, horror short stories were deeply intense. They focused my emotions on the feelings and the sensory input of a story, rather than the slow built-up of plot in novels. Short stories could affect me deeply in a single sitting, while a novel felt more like work. It felt like you had to trudge through a narrative and an attempt at painting the world. Potentially fascinating, but often at the cost of immediacy.

Later on in my life I hardened my heart and started watching horror film too. I found that there were movies which could make me imagine beyond what was shown, could make me whoop with surprise and revulsion. I haven't looked back since, except to check for axe-men.
Where Yig doth tread no man treads tomorrow.
Reeking death, harvest of humans in hatred.
Suck on the shitbag of what you created, what we created.
Yig now incoming, Yig now is here.
Yig he makes everything impossibly queer.

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Post Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:22 pm

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

Tore wrote:Why do I like horror? (sorry, it got a bit long).

A lot of this resonates deeply with me. Short stories were also my favourite medium for horror when I was young, although this was more to do with availability than anything else. I was in my late teens before home video became popular, so most of my childhood exposure to horror films came from either television or the rare film I could convince my parents to take me to see at the cinema.

Happily I discovered the joy of horror short stories at a young age. My mother, seeing that I had a morbid imagination, introduced me to Edgar Allen Poe and the more adult stories of Roald Dahl when I was around 9 or 10. Shortly after that, I started picking up the occasional Pan Book of Horror Stories at jumble sales, and discovering collections in the school library that contained stories by writers Lovecraft, MR James and J Sheridan Le Fanu. Discovering Harlan Ellison a few years later bridged the gap between my love of horror and growing interest in science fiction, and Karl Edward Wagner did much the same with sword & sorcery.

As horror films became more accessible to me, however, I became obsessed with them. I never lost my love of horror fiction, and especially short stories, and still read them regularly, if not quite as voraciously.

I agree exactly with what you say about the power of short stories as a medium. There are definitely horror novels that pack a hell of a punch (having recently reread TED Klein's The Ceremonies and Thomas Tessier's Finishing Touches, I was pleased to discover they were both still able to unnerve me), but the short story seems to be the purest expression of nightmare.
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Post Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:32 am

Re: Episode 66 - The Appeal of Horror

Great episode guys as it's a fun topic & very hard to do when everyone is sitting around a bright room knowing full well they got on this game as a horror game.

While the jump scares are a great touch at times to keep the mood from going flat, it shouldn't be overdone. I can't recall the podcast/interview I heard this on while talking about similar lines but one suggestion from a writer/GM (sorry all, fuzzy on the name at this point) but he said that if he couldn't inject some horror into the game session at a certain point, frantic tension with unfortunate consequences works good too.

To frighten someone in the game while running it is an extra bonus, we are all there to have fun so for me as a new GM to CoC/Gumshoe, if it happens great but it's not the overall goal of the evening. For me with horror being a jaded horror fan brought up on the Munsters, Scooby Doo, Addams Family, Dark Shadows & more, I love the horror genre as a wonderful land of dark & foreboding fantasy. And as a GM, my plan early on that fits me is that I have this scenario/campaign of dark fantastic ideas maybe with some creatures, just insert players & then let's all see where this story goes.
"That's funny, usually the blood gets off on the second floor." -Mr. Burns in The Shinning episode (Treehouse of horror V)

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