Who decides what horror is?

I just got back from the most recent “Horrorhound Weekend” horror cryptkeeperconvention in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where many castmembers from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” were in attendance. Because that show is very popular, even amongst people who don’t typically consider themselves “horror fans” the convention had a lot more “mainstream” (read: normies) visitors than ever before. Because of this, many of the fans who’ve been coming for years and are a part of the horror community felt like their sanctum had been infiltrated. This caused somewhat of a backlash against the “Walking Dead” cast within the comment threads of many a Facebook group and it led to a lot of comments about how, “The Walking Dead isn’t even real horror,” and “real horror fans” don’t like it.

Stop right there.

Let me dust my shoulders off.

First off, yeah it is. It absolutely is horror. The definition of “horror” is:

  1. An intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.
  2. A thing causing such a feeling.

And I would say that the events portrayed on that show meet those requirements. After all, if George A. Romero’s “Dead” series is horror, why wouldn’t this be? Because a lot of the stories deal with the human drama that occurs within an apocalypse scenario that involves zombies as much as the zombies themselves? Give me a fucking break. The original “Dawn of the Dead” had so much downtime with the characters goofing around the mall, sleeping, talking, blah blah blah, that the same could easily be said for it. In fact, good ol’ George has said endlessly that it’s the human story within the zombie framework that he’s really interested in. Those are the stories he wants to tell. Someone even said, “Well, it’s not horror, it’s sci fi/fantasy…” Shut up. Why are we splitting hairs? It’s so fucking silly that it hardly bears thinking about. But I am thinking about it because I don’t like being told what things are by people who aren’t the definition police, which brings me to my next point.

Don’t tell me what is and is not horror, and don’t tell me I’m not a “real” fan if I like certain things.

I’ve been in love with this genre for nearly my whole life. Thirty years, since I was six years old. I’ve seen countless movies, read novel after novel, collected the comics, written in the genre myself, done horror themed artwork and have wallowed in every aspect of it ad nauseum. I’m on a weekly show where I discuss this shit with my other horror-nerd friends. I know what I’m talking about. I AM a fan of “The Walking Dead” both the comic and the series. I find it frightening, dramatic, well written, well acted and as good as anything else. So to the definition police, write me a ticket for, “Not being a true fan of horror.” Then go fuck yourself. People can like what they like. Just because you (again, I’m speaking to the people who feel they speak for the genre and its community here) don’t like it and think that only slashers, or only French revisionist horror, or only atmospheric supernatural fare, or only exploitation/grindhouse is the “real deal” don’t make it so. I hate “Twilight.” Hell, most of us do, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are horror fans who also, inexplicably, enjoy it. You can’t tell them they’re not real fans and, as much as I hate to say it, you can’t say it’s not horror. It’s very light, admittedly, but vampires and werewolves equal horror. They just do. Get over it, get over yourself. Same goes for “The Walking Dead” or anything else that has the elements that we think of as horror. Things can be more than that, they can be sci-fi/fantasy or urban gothic or Southern fried nightmare but so long as they’ve got a monster, or a ghost, a zombie or a serial killer hacking people up in disturbing ways…it counts.

I just wish I understood where those people get off telling others what is and isn’t horror. What qualifies them? If you’re one of these people, tell me, what makes you more qualified than me to decide? I’m not saying you have to like the show. I’m not saying you shouldn’t express the opinion that you think it’s shit, or overwrought, or a soap opera or whatever it is you don’t like about it. I think you SHOULD express those opinions, but don’t try to say that it’s not horror. Or that anything else isn’t. Things are what they are. You don’t have to like it. I hate those stupid “Hatchet” movies (I do like director Adam Green though…”Frozen” was great) but I would never say that people weren’t real fans for liking them even though there aren’t any supernatural elements in it.

All I’m saying is, quit trying to tell me what is and is not horror. Have I driven this home yet?

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5 thoughts on “Who decides what horror is?

  1. freaking wah… why did I come over here to read this shit? Butthurt maybe? Did someone who doesn’t know you say you were a certain way? Did that really hurt your feelings? Gimme a break.

    1. Not butthurt at all. I’d been reading a bunch of comments over on the HorrorHound Weekend facebook group about how a bunch of people were pissed that the Walking Dead cast was there causing all the suburban soccer moms to crowd up the lines and this thing began to emerge where people started saying the show wasn’t “real” horror and talking about what was instead. I don’t have a problem with people complaining about stuff they don’t like but I don’t like people telling me what is and isn’t horror. I’m not sure why you came over here to read this shit either. If you want a blog that gives you detailed info on movies and good, critical reviews, go to http://www.bloodygoodhorror.com. They’re awesome. If you want a blog where people rant and rave about the shit they love citing personal and sometimes arbitrary reasons for why they do, keep reading this. Or just read it to continue to give us shit. Everybody says what they want. We don’t care. No hurt feelings though, just wanted to bitch. That’s why I have a blog.

  2. Totally agree. Bile shouldn’t be pointed towards any fans that showed up, it should be pointed towards the miserably inept management of the event. Personally, I didn’t feel that my sanctum was infiltrated, but I did feel that I paid out money to people who certainly didn’t give me any sort of return on my expenditure. The only reason we ever got into the convention is because we left a friend’s bbq on Friday night and ran back to the convention at 10pm so we could actually get our passes. This was due to a friend (Troy saved the day) calling and saying “Hey, you can actually get in now!” We’d been in the area all day and left around 6pm when it still looked hopeless. The crew I was with had no intention of standing in line for multiple hours to get in, since the only real reason most of us would have gone in was just to see you guys.

    So, in summation, there was a lot of nerd rage flying around that weekend, people just need to stop and consider who really was screwing them – it certainly wasn’t the folks who came to see the show.

  3. Randy–agreed. There were a lot of behind the scenes issues with handling the crowds that really fucked around with our friends’ experience. Thanks for always coming out and hanging with us no matter what. 🙂

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