Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Fear Relegated to Thrillers

Sorry about the last two times. I was sick and then I was trying to get over the after affects of being so sick. I thought it was only fitting that coming back I should talk about illness as one of the fears used in horror stories. For some reason, as frightening as real illness is and the fact that there are some really horrific diseases and medical conditions out there, illness is generally relegated to thrillers instead of more mainstream horror.

Some illnesses certainly lend themselves to thrillers, such as those spread on purpose as a biological weapon. Others like mysterious plagues could go either way depending upon on the nature of the plague. Certainly supernatural plagues or diseases lend themselves to horror stories better. A stand out in that arena would be a book like Graham Masterton's Night Plague. Of course we cannot forget the absolute biggest disease in horror, though only select stories refer to it as such. That disease is called vampirism.

Diseases of the mind crop up in horror stories now and then. The most famous of these toes the line between mental disease and actual supernatural phenomenon. That illness of the mind is called possession. The best thing about the novel over the story for The Exorcist is that novel never really settles on whether or not Regan is actually possessed or if it's all in her head. Certainly the telekinetic goings on do not prove anything given that in the framework of the story it could be either the demon or just a case of RSPK (recurrent spontaneous psycho-kinesis) presenting itself as just another symptom.

It is apparent that sickness can go either way, so we are left with the question, just why is it that it doesn't appear in horror more often? Does the audience—readership or viewership—prefer to avoid it because it's too real (excepting when it isn't) or do the writers—authors or screenwriters—just not want to craft such stories? What do you think?

Mood: animated.
Music: A Tyranny of Souls by Bruce Dickinson and Fright Night by Stratovarius.

Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls
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Stratovarius: Fright Night

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At 8:37 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think there are probably a number of reasons why it doesn't appear that often, and I'd bet pacing is probably the main one. Disease just takes its damn time killing people and lacks the immediacy of a masked stalker, spine-ripping monster, or attic-haunting ghost. While perfectly terrifying in real life, it 's much harder to make work in the span of a 500-page novel or 90-minute movie.

Cabin Fever was a recent--and relatively successful--attempt to make a disease-based horror movie.

Poe's Masque of the Red Death was a nice, atmospheric story, but probably more effective with readers who actually lived in fear of the consumption....

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Robert G. Male said...

Sadly I have yet to see Cabin Fever. I'm still working on collecting older horror movies and I seem to have missed it at the local video store.


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