I recall a few years ago a conversation I had with my BFF’s then 10 year old son about what exactly horror was. Having grown up around two horror movie fan’s (his mother and I) he should have known what true horror was, but considering his age things such as Saw and its bastard children were lumped in with and considered horror by the kid. Of course being the person I am I had to set the kid straight which of course led to what I refer to as The Look. Anyone who spends anytime around kids knows what I’m talking about. It’s that expression of disbelief kids get when a parent, aunt, uncle, etc. tries to explain something and it screams “You have to be shitting me”. Yeah, that look. *chuckles*
I’ve been thinking a great deal about that long ago conversation since I’ve got two horror manuscripts in the works and a bad case of writer’s block. For someone who was fed on a steady diet of classic Universal and Hammer horror as a kid what normally passes for horror in this day and age is a sad case of lack of creativity. Okay, folks…tons of gore and gallons of blood do not a horror movie make. Or maybe I’m simply getting to fucking old for this shit. *sighs*
In an attempt to find some kind of inspiration I’ve been digging for horror movies (Maybe I should consider watching Snow White & the Huntsman since a friend just told me it was the worse movie she’s ever seen), but it seems I’ve watched every damn decent American made horror movie to be found. I’m working my way through potential British ones and even wandered into Asian territory (which I’ve never done before). I like what I’ve seen so far when it comes to Asian horror cinema. Basically because of the way they view the supernatural–spirits in particular.
But back to the point of this blogtastic babble. The question I pose is How Far is Too Far? when it comes to the horror genre. I’m damn sure my mother would (Goddess rest her soul) have a heart attack and question my parentage if she read one of the two manuscripts I’ve been working on for the past eternity. I was chugging along like The Little Engine Who Could on my MS The Cottage when I wrote a scene that hearkened back to an incident during my teen years.
My mother not only loved horror movies, but novels as well and I inherited that love because of her. Only once did she refuse to let me read a book. As a matter of fact she was so horrified by this particular book and what she’d read, she tore it to shreds and then burned it in the wood stove that heated our home. For the life of me I cannot recall the title, but this book taunted me for years. I was fourteen at the time and my imagination ran wild with what could be so horrifying as to create that reaction. Years later after moving to St. Louis I discovered my aunt had the book along with a sequel in hardcover. I could not help snatching said book and sneaking it upstairs for a read.
What had horrified my mom about the book? There was a scene where the female protaganist was raped by the spirit haunting her house.
The question being had my mother overreacted to the scene or did this writer go to far? What would someone consider going too far when it comes to writing a damn scary story?
Now, over a quarter of a century later I’ve went to the place my mother had freaked out about. In my MS The Cottage I wrote a scene that involved sexual assualt and the supernatural. Have I now gone too far? Perhaps that’s the reason I’ve got stuck because up until that point I was busting my nuts to tell a great ghost story. I don’t plot out my stories ahead of writing–never have–but rather allow my muses free reign. To my shock they went there in a big way. My mother would be horrified, but is this single scene going too far? Have I written myself into the one type of story I bitch about when Hollywood shits it out?
Have I become the pimp of horror porn? Or am I simply overthinking a single incident in a fictional tale?
So, folks let me know what you think.
How far is too far when it comes to horror?