Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Horror Doesn't Do Me

I don't read horror.

And its not because I don't like it. It's just because that it doesn't affect me in the way that the other types that I do read affect me.

A good example of this would be the last time I visited Beat To A Pulp. They had a short story posted by a well known writer of horror that everyone was going ga-ga over (sorry, no disrespect intended, just trying to make a point). So I went over to see what the hub-bub was all about.

While I found it to be well written and interesting (which is what I put in the comments, "interesting"), the entire story didn't affect me to the degree that it did to the others who left comments about it. In fact, it didn't affect me at all. To me, a story in which the end result was a woman eaten up by rats just didn't leave that kind of lasting impression on me.

The reason, I believe, why horror doesn't affect me, can be directly traced to the one genre that I first got hooked into as a teenager, and one that remains my favorite to this day.

True Crime.

I originally got hooked into reading about true crime and its many, many offshoots when I was a teenager and still read it to this day as an adult. The books that I have in my collection, which I wrote about here, are heads and shoulders about what anyone in the horror genre can come up with.

In addition to reading books about true crime, I've also found an excellent portal about the many facets of true crime and death (both go hand in hand) called Death and Dementia(side note: going to Rotten dot com will probably scare you or gross you out more than most horror fiction available today).

Also, while I was working in the archives department at the State Library (2001-03) I had the time during my day-to-day activities to peruse the various county coroner records that the state keeps stored there.

So as you can probably imagine, being exposed to such real life horror for the past twenty-five years has desensitize me to about 99% of whatever kind of horror anyone can churn out for that genre and its sub-genres. I'll let you figure out what the remaining 1% that does affect me is.

What it boils down to is this: Horror as an overall genre doesn't appeal to me, because no matter what elements a particular story may contain, it simply doesn't make the kind of lasting impression that the other kinds of genres (like true crime) that I do enjoy reading do.

In my humble opinion, once you get hooked into reading true crime, all types of fictional horror simply don't make the grade.


  1. I haven't read enough horror to really even know, I just know I'm not a big fan of over the top gruesome stuff. I don't watch psycho killer horror movies, stuff like that. I do like monster movies, and I like psychological thrillers, stuff like that. I think it takes a lot more skill to imply horror and freaky stuff and affect the reader that way than it does to just gross them out.

  2. Wow, we are quite different on this count. True crime doesn't interest me for several reasons. 1) it is indeed far more horrific than fictional horror and that means it pushes me too far into a discomfort zone. 2). it ultimately reveals how incredible banal human criminal behavior is. After a little exposure to it I feel like I've been watching reality TV. 3) it's realistic, which generally bores me. I live my life so I know what reality is like. And as a psychologist I've seen the emotional reality of criminal activity and it's impact on people. I don't need to read about it too.

    Generally, I like to read about stuff that is outside the norm and, unfortunately, true crime is not really outside the norm.

  3. I've never been into horror. I can't watch or read it, or I have nightmares. But you're right - real-life stuff is pretty terrible on its own.

  4. General comment: I want to make it clear that my post was not intended to be a slam against writers of the horror genre. I respect anyone and everyone who can turn a word or phrase on its ear and scare the crap out of the reader.

    Chris: About the only horror movies I've watched in my lifetime, was the classics from the 30's and 40's. I don't watch any of today's slasher/hacker movies simply because I don't like.

    I haven't read psychological thrillers either, mostly for the same reasons listed in the post.

    Charles: You make some great points about why true crime doesn't interest you, and the only rebuttal points I can come up with is say the opposite of your points, which in the end doesn't make that good of a rebuttal.

    The only thing I can say with certainty, is that I like and read true crime and while I respect people who can write horror, I just don't read it.

    R: I find quite often that the real life stuff I've read, will stick with me (unfortunately) a helluva lot longer than most fiction.

  5. I think that's the neat thing - there's something for everyone to feast on. I have to watch what horror I read (not my favorite genre) or it does seep into my dreams and my imagination makes it much much worse - lol!

  6. Talon: True.

    I have the same problem with true crime. I do have to watch what I read as well and in fact, there are certain books that I have that I will read in the daytime and not at night.

  7. I like it all and that's why BEAT to a PULP is open to most genres. Wait a week and there is usually a different offering.

    Funny, I didn't see the old lady as being killed by the rats but that she had found a protection against the Wizard and had discovered her true love. Who knows, perhaps more folks read it your way.

    Btw what did you think of "The Great Whydini?" That was more in keeping with a true style crime.

  8. David: Have not had a chance to check it out. Will do so today.

  9. I guess that's why they publish so many different kinds of things. You can only say, different strokes for different folks.

  10. So very true.

    But in the end, so long as they can get people to read, I think that's all that really matters.


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