I am a horror fan but also gore phobic.
I know the above statement might confuse people; if you think about horror, what first comes to mind? To some people, Eli Roth’s Hostel pops up first. To others, they think back to the old black and white movie of Nosferatu, to how dark and suspenseful it was seeing the monster creeping into the room of the damsel. For me, when I think of horror, I think of other films such as The Babadook, Night of the Living Dead and some more hilarious ones that yes do fall into the horror genre such as Shaun of the Dead. Horror is a wide subject with many subgenres and many, many films. But I’m slipping from the main point; I am terrified of gore. The sheer sight of it makes me leave the room, feel uneasy and at one time start to cry (it was the remake of Evil Dead if anyone was curious on what made me cry.)
I don’t fully know why gore can make me squirm in my seat to the point that I’m running out of the theater hyperventilating and sitting out in the lobby trying to stop a rising panic attack. The first big horror movie I remember watching was Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Like many I was at first confused because I had come in during the middle of the movie, it was showing quite late at night and I was already sick and couldn’t sleep. I sat and watched it, constantly asking why this man in the tacky fedora was killing people. Then there’s the scene where Johnny Depp’s character Glen Lantz gets sucked into his bed and fountains of blood erupt out like Old Faithful. I ran out of the room and refused to go back in.
As an adult, I still refuse to watch that movie because of that scene but now I sorta joke about how much fake blood and different takes it took them to get that scene right. I’ve seen lots of horror movies in my life. Some I know the beginning credit sequence so if I stumble on it while watching cable with my family or boyfriend I know what it is and can tell them to turn it off or simply leave the room. I mostly do the latter choice as I have different movie preferences. A prime example is my roommate. She absolutely loves horror movies. It’s how we bonded and became friends in the first place. But we always run into a snag come movie-time; she loves gore and I can’t watch it. She tried to show me a movie called Q: The Winged Serpent. She kept going on and on about how cheesy Q was as it was made of clay and because the movie came out in 1982 so the effects were pretty bad.
What she failed to tell me was there was blood, albeit bad fake blood but nonetheless I asked her to kindly turn the movie off and I have yet to go back; I will eventually. It’s hard being terrified of blood and gore because you never know what movies go all out with it or have very little of it. Before anyone can show me a new movie or we go to the theater I ask a million questions about the movie to my friends who have seen it before me. My fear of blood isn’t just limited to horror movies. One of my favorite directors is Quentin Tarantino, a director who makes his bread and butter on aestheticization of violence and lots of blood.
Going back to my love of horror; while I can’t watch many recent films, many of the newer ones going for shock value and showing mountains of guts and blood, I drift towards many older and some foreign films. I tend to also shy away from many horror movies made in the 70s as a lot of them were made with plenty of fake blood and squirting wounds. I’m not saying foreign films don’t have lots of brains and guts and gore; I’ve seen some that are just that. Don’t get me started on Dead Snow; I still have nightmares over that. A director my roommate sometimes talks about is Lucio Fulci, an Italian film director referred to as the “Godfather of Gore.”
I have been asked before how I can be a fan of horror but not like gore. Gore does not make the horror movie. There have been lots of horror movies that didn’t feature gore. I was raised on the old school Universal monster movies and old school horror movies; the love of those horror movies has carried over with me to today. Many times, old films relied on you putting the pieces together that you don’t see but do hear from off screen, they make you sit and wonder if really the monster was killing the dashing hero or if he was toying with him to prolong his suffering. The Black Cat does a wonderful job of this as the monster tears one girl to shreds on the other side of her house’s door while her mother stands on the other side listening to her yell for help. You don’t see the monster kill its victim but you realize it happened when you hear the thud and see the blood seep into the house from under the doorway. The dark atmosphere and shadows dancing across the walls as the monster or killer stalks across the screen fill you with a sense of dread and you struggle not to yell out to the people on the screen to watch out. Those moments are the kind that make you sit on the edge of your seat, anxiously picking at the cushion waiting for the monster to come out and until he does you’re left sitting there scanning the shadows on the screen as the hero talks looking for a sign of the man that is the monster or the monster that science forged.
That’s what real horror is about. Stumbling through the dark of an old manor waiting for your doom at the hands of a Bela Lugosi- type villain in anxious, gut-wrenching terror as you turn another dark corner. But not all horror is like that. Eli Roth is as much of a part of the horror movie community as is Alfred Hitchcock; both equal and yet greater in their separate fields. Each has their talents in what they do but out of the two of them I’d rather watch Psycho than Green Inferno. To each their own.