Last Sunday, I watched The Exorcist.Â At the time, I didn’t know they’d be dropping its name at the Oscars.Â I just wanted to watch a scary movie.Â I’d been staring at my DVD collection for a while (sorry, no blueray at chez Southard), trying to decide what to watch.Â Dawn of the Dead?Â [REC]?Â The House of the Devil?Â April Fool’s Day?Â I settled on The Exorcist because I wanted to take my time.Â I wanted to be horrified, not frightened.
See, I feel (and most dictionaries would agree) that there’s a difference between horror and fear.Â Fear is the result of your fight or flight response kicking in.Â It’s a jolt of adrenaline right to your spine that tenses up your body.Â Horror is deeper.Â There’s a strong emotional component, a sort of dread or disgust that shakes you at your very core.Â Horror is what happens once you’ve had time to think about fear.
As I was watching The Exorcist, I found myself thinking how impossible it would be to make a movie like that today.Â The first ten minutes consist of Father Merrin walking around Iraq, gazing upon dogfights, archeological digs, and blind men.Â It’s a series of scenes that, at first, don’t appear to have much to do with the movie.Â Only later do they really resonate.
You couldn’t include those scenes today.Â At least, you couldn’t include them with out half a dozen jump-scares and a rape demon that cornholes Father Merrin but good.Â Maybe you could, but they wouldn’t describe the movie as a horror film.Â They’d call it something else.
But so what?Â Does that make slasher films less fun?Â Shit, no.Â There will always be room for fun in horror.Â There should also be room for another kind of horror, though.Â The kind that crawls in slowly and doesn’t let go.
For instance, I love both Ringu and its Hollywood remake, The Ring.Â They’re completely different takes on the same concept, though.Â To me, one of the most chilling scenes in Ringu involves the ex-husband character (whose psychic in this version) sitting alone in a crowd when somebody walks up to him.Â We don’t see more than the girls feet and legs, but we know it’s the ghost.Â It’s a wonderfully haunting scene.Â At roughly the same time in the U.S. remake, we get a jump-scare of a deformed body in a closet.
But damn if I don’t love both of those flicks!
All of this got me thinking about horror fans and the differences between them.Â Certain fans thrive on the gore and guts.Â They want kill after kill.Â Some fans only want that if it involves zombies.Â Others like a nice, quiet ghost story.Â Still others want something that’s more along the lines of The Exorcist, something that works its way into and maybe connects on a more cerebral level (for lack of a better term).Â No one group is more right than the other (unless you ask them. then the others are all idiots or elitists, depending on who you ask).Â They’re all a part of the horror.
Horror, ladies and gents. The Big Fondue Pot in the Ground.