As individuals and as a society, we can become desensitized to a degree to our revulsion to some acts of violence, that is part of the socialization process, but we can never become entirely immured for I think the heart of horror lay in the idea of it and the idea is ever renewed. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was replete with violence, and violence itself is elementally horrific because we are automatically repelled by an act that is at its core patently anti-life. And the movie contains I think the message to us that pointless violence diabolically carried out by the mentally deranged can be perceived and interpreted as horror, because the idea of that occurring, is itself horror. For some folks the mere hint of a ‘horrifying’ idea together with buckets of blood and pasta guts is enough, whereas others do not find the blood and guts near as truthfully horrifying as the knowing the idea can be thought up.
Let’s face it, some folks are adrenaline junkies, as are rollercoaster riders and risk takers of all sorts. With the first group, they climb into the rollercoaster knowing they will be safe, but those who skydive or go extreme snowboarding get a rush from knowing they actually may not come back alive. For them the risk is real, the adrenaline more pure and unalloyed.
To me, folks who go to slasher movies are riding roller coasters, but there is another kind of horror fan. One who ignores the blood and guts marathons, or at best sees them for what they are, a whistling past the grave yard while riding down the street in your car in broad daylight. But there is that other horror fan, the one that visits the graveyard at night, strides through the dark and into a cold dank mausoleum, walks up to that big silent hulking thing crouching in the corner, and with one insistent finger keeps poking that dark thing in the eye.
There will always be those decrying that there is too much violence in the world, too much in our movies, video games and in the headlines of our newspapers. And in a sense, that will always be so. Regardless of what the actual count of violent acts in any of those mediums may be over time, violence is part of life. The thing is, I see horror as a kind, a form, of pain. And we should all be thankful for the gift of pain for the world is a rough place and if we could not feel pain we would damage ourselves irrevocably.
And so, we debate the violence of imaginary madmen, but we know real madmen be out there, men who think we be the mad ones. Men who think real violence will cure our madness. Or their own.
Those gory fairy tales of yesteryear, I read many of them as a child. Not the ‘safe’ version of ‘The Brothers Grimm’ for me. For it was soon after I began to read that was I given a copy of that book, a copy that had been my own grandfathers when he had been but a lad. A copy of a book with teeth. The stories disturbed me, gave me a nightmare or two, but I learned that evil is possible, that terrible things happen sometimes, even to the prepared. And I learned indirectly a bit more about that thing in the corner.
The thing in the corner. In slasher movies it is presented as but a caricature, a man in a mask in a Halloween fun house making us stick our hands into a bowl of wet pasta and grapes. But in our newspapers, we half see the unblinking burning eyes of that thing in the corner as he stares out at us between the bars of the columns on the page and we know he waits for us in that darkened crypt.
And we know that beyond that crypt and that thing in the corner, is a darker place, full of greater monsters yet, monsters whose presence can be broadly felt and but only dimly perceived, if perceived at all. Monsters who be so great when they ponderously and slowly shift about they cause our very world to slowly undulate but on such a scale so great as to go unnoticed by most of us, save perhaps at our deepest most instinctual level, or only through a great dint of refined perception. When one’s ear is straining to hear such shiftings at the feet of the earth, the noise of the rollercoaster is ignored.