Horror Vs Gothic
As a child I stayed away from horror movies. My mother preferred to stay away from them as well, so it wasn’t difficult to do. However, now and again friends would expose me to a random horror movie.
When I was in 2nd grade I spent the night at my friend Shelly’s house and I caught sight of some of the movie The Howling. It scared the crap out of me. Though Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were popular at the time, I refused to see them. My friend Nikki forced me to watch Candyman when I was in 12th grade and it left me on edge for weeks afterward.
I refused to read Stephen King as well. Every time I told people I wanted to be a writer, they’d all say, “You mean like Stephen King?” and I wanted to scream NO! I wrote romance, mystery, adventure, fantasy and science fiction, but horror was one genre I didn’t dabble in. But then I ended up watching Misery, Dolores Claiborne, The Tommy-knockers and Sleepwalkers anyway. By 2007, I’d given in an started reading King after all. If he influenced the writer’s of Lost, he must have something to offer I reasoned. And I did enjoy The Gunslinger or Dark Tower series.
I was 16 years when I first picked up Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The 1992 movie with Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves and Winona Rider led me to pick up the original 1897 novel. That novel then led me to picking up the then new series The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith shortly there after and my love of vampires began.
A friend of mine had read The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice back in 1990, but I didn’t pick them up until 1994. I saw the movie of Interview with A Vampire and decided to read the whole series. It wasn’t long until I was hooked on Rice’s rich prose. I also enjoyed her book Belinda and the Beauty erotica series.
In college I discovered all things Gothic. The subculture created an interest in the literature for me. I researched the history of the genre and even wrote a Gothic Novella called My Perfect Drug in 1996, which was published in 2013.
From 1995 onward I was a die-hard fan of The X-Files. The scary and gory elements once would have frightened or even disgusted me, but no longer. I was drawn into the mythology and didn’t mind the monster-of-the-week episodes. Later, I would become fans of such TV shows as Fringe and Grimm.
I learned to embrace the darker side of things, however, I was never able to fully get on the horror bandwagon. I would watch movies like The Lady in White, The Others or The Skeleton Key, but couldn’t bring myself to view Saw or The Ring. Supernatural was fine, but torture and blood still was not palatable to me.
Watching someone suffer still affects me greatly. It leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and in a bad mood for days afterward. I am still far too sensitive to enjoy flat out horror. Hell, even the ghost stories leave me spooked for days. But I’ve learned over the years to tolerate and even embrace some of the darker aspects of books and movies.
This is why, to this day, I differentiate between the Gothic and the Horror genres. I know myself well enough to know that I can stomach a creepy tale or two, but that slasher movies and the like will never be my cup of tea. I think the dark side has a lot to offer us and that we can learn from some of the more tragic tales in life, but blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore doesn’t do anything for me. It has always felt rather pointless.
This Halloween I will enjoy the tie to the supernatural world and find magic among the gravestones, but I will not be celebrating pain and suffering. Instead, I will be celebrating the loved one who we lost along the way, but that are still with us in spirit.