As part of my Halloween Horror Blogging Marathon (which begins tomorrow, or, I guess, today), I’m dedicating the next week to the best that horror cinema has to offer. In preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of research on various horror films, and just this moment, I was struck with a question: how do you define what a horror film is?
Horror is defined as an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust – all notions I get from Alien, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, and so on. But when I think of a horror film, I immediately think blood. I think guts. I think sharp knives and dumb teenagers. And that’s a mistake, I know. The slasher film is just one sect of the horror film genre, but it’s the one I identify most with the word horror. Why then do I consider The Blair Witch Project (which has little-to-no blood) a horror film, and Jaws (which has much blood) a suspense thriller? I’m not sure, I guess simply because… I do.
Alien is a terrifying film. One that expertly capitalizes on our paranoia of the unknown. But is it a horror film? Not in the slightest. To me, anyway. Rather, I will always consider Alien a science fiction film. And a defining one at that.
Psycho is one of my top 10 films of all time, but if you asked me to list my favorite horror films, it wouldn’t make the top 15. Or 50. Simply because I’ve never considered it a horror movie.
And there are plenty more. Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Audition, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Cannibal Holocaust – these are films I’ve continually seen on Best Of Horror lists. And while I certainly agree that they provoke fear, shock, and/or disgust, I wouldn’t for a second call them horror films.
So, the point of all this is to gauge what you, my loyal readers, consider to be a horror film. Is Bruce the Shark as horror-worthy as Michael Myers? Does the alien in Ridley Scott’s film deserve the same amount of horror credit as George A. Romero’s zombies? I’m honestly not sure, but I’m curious to hear what you have to say.
So tell me, how do you define what a horror film is?