Jason vs. Freddy…vs. The Quiet Guy Next Door (It’s Always the Quiet Ones)

July 26, 2011

Articles, Arts & Literature

by Michael A. Kozlowski:

When you think of horror stories (or movies, for that matter) it’s likely that the images conjured up are vampires, werewolves, demons, zombies or some sort of human things that die at the end but prove exceptionally resilient when the sequel comes around. That’s cool! Those are some great monsters and can make for great stories, but they are only part of what horror is about.

On the other side of the coin we have horror where the “monster” is some psychopath or virus or just a bad set of circumstances and coincidences that lead to a terrifying situation. These are the stories that remove the supernatural element and scare the shit out of you anyway. And for my money, they’re the ones that really keep people up at night.

Many of the legends that the horror genre was built upon were the populace’s response to things they didn’t understand.  They knew bad things happened but, as God-fearing people, they needed to explain why (because “that’s just the way the world is fucked up” didn’t seem like a good enough answer) and they didn’t have a particularly firm grasp on science and such. Typically, people would dream up some supernatural villain, which generally was in league with, or cursed by, the Devil or some such, to explain why good, old Jebediah fell to the ground and flopped around like a fish and then died or why, when we dug up Grandpa’s corpse (you know, just ‘cause we do that kind of shit around here) was there some blood around his mouth and he looked kind of plump and, while we’re at it, he doesn’t seem nearly rotted enough for having been buried for a few months. Old Jebediah was obviously cursed by some village witch (who would be promptly rounded up, tried and burned alive) and Grampa must be creeping out of his grave at night and feasting on people’s blood (probably because a dog jumped over his body as that sort of happenstance would surely result in this sort of undead behavior). See. People didn’t know what epilepsy was or understand how decomposition worked, so they made up stories to explain it to themselves.

All that kind of stuff is good shit and I am grateful for the misguided and disturbed imagination of our ancestors because they created a whole field of literature for me to play in today. And I’m grateful for the writers and movie makers who came before me, and those who continue the genre today, for expanding and twisting and molding these legends into the ghoulish monsters that inhabit our horror stories. However, as a 21st century resident of an industrialized nation, it’s pretty easy for me to dismiss these monsters as creepy, but unrealistic, figments of imagination. A good creature feature might get my heart rate up a bit and a good ghost story might result in an extra light or two left on when I go to bed but, in the end, I’m not really worried about a vampire tapping on my window or that my Uncle Fred might shed his clothes and turn into a wolf during a full moon (even though I might put an extra pad lock on the hen house during that time. You know, better safe than sorry).

Now, give me a story about an experimental virus getting loose from some government lab and mutating people into super strong cannibals or about some psychopath deciding that everybody with blue eyes and black hair are in league with Satan and need to be exterminated or about some dude going on a killing spree because his Twinkies were stale and I’m apt to be kept up all night. That stuff is not only scary, it’s fucking likely. You see that kind of horror on the news every day.
Even as a horror writer, I am continually shocked by the depths of depravity that we humans can sink to. It boggles the mind. Frankly, I sometimes find it difficult to come up with stuff that I think will actually scare people. Fortunately, most of us are not directly affected by the human monsters out there. But when you read a story or see a movie where the villain, or the horror element, is someone, or something, you can look at say, “Yeah, that’s plausible” it tends to freak you out a bit.

You can find Michael at his website or on Twitter @MAKozlowski.

, , , , ,


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: