What makes horror prosper?

Horror is one of few genres which the imagination can compensate for the lack of styles. For example, Howard Phillips Lovecraft may not have the best writer in terms of techniques, but his imagination made him the master of modern horror. Similarly, James Herbert’s The Rats was criticized for its overt violence and writings, but the image of man-eating rats turned it into a memorable horror classics.

On the contrary, some horror stories may have stylized writing, but it does not deliver the gut punch people are expecting.

Also, when you examine the history of horror movies, many "classics" were regarded as pure garbages by the critiques but endured such attacks. In many cases, the imaginations of horror movies later inspired many talented writers and led to the blooming of quality works.

So I was wondering, what makes a great "horror" literature/movie/etc? It is a simple question but hard to answer. What makes certain horror more memorable and enduring? For example, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle was said to be as popular as Dracula, but now it remains as one of forgotten works.

So what makes horror survive and prosper?

  • I think it's drastically different when it comes to horror literature and horror movies. A movie can be really horrifying merely because it's extremely gory and distorted and have really dark music going on the background - it does not necessarily have to be anything meaningful. However, since you only read a book by your eyes, all the horror has to be delivered by words, which is much harder. A writer has to know how to manipulate words to convey the horror to his/her readers. In addition, I think many people watch horror movies just for the excitement while the people who read horror books look for more than just the excitement. – JamesZhan9592 8 years ago
  • I may write on this topic; I want to write about Poe and Lovecraft and the horror genre in literature so this topic might fit well with that. I think a good horror story has to tap into our fears: fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, etc. In the original "Halloween" movie, which seems tame today in terms of sex and violence, one of the creepiest aspects of Michael Meyers is that we don't know why he is the way he is. There's no explanation for his behavior. – S.A. Takacs 8 years ago
  • I appreciate this topic, nice one. Horror way back when Mary Shelley was doing work, was much different than what we have now. Saying that, the horror genre is pretty subjective. That said, many find Frankenstein to be a horror, many prefer to analyze it as a piece of science fiction. Even looking at the short story called "The Machine Stops", a piece written early 1900s describing the lives of people run by machines with nothing but buttons and screens (back when screens were just dream, crazy huh?), could be considered a horror when read- a horror of a possible future. So saying all of that, there isn't really a defined set of outlines for the horror genre, and so that's what brings us to the modern day movies, where there aren't really reoccuring guidelines that I can notice after each modern day horror film. A great horror plays on the fears that we all have, fear will always exist and thats why the horror genre exists- whether its a literal monster or a dystopia. – Arian 8 years ago
  • This is a great topic. I think one way you could pump up this article, is perhaps adding several notes on the biology of the human psyche when exposed to horror, and the adrenaline thats released (many scholars have written on this). Also perhaps, examining what was considered scary in the 1940's, as opposed to which horror genre survives and thrives the most in 2015. Great idea, would love to read once its published. – Valeria Sharivker 8 years ago
  • This is a good topic, and something I think about a lot. One interesting way to approach this may be looking at the way gore films seem to have become a larger point of focus in recent years, as suspense-centered films (like anything made by Hitchcock) have seemed to be made less often. Is this one of the ways horror is keeping up with audiences? Giving them something new? If so, what's the next stage? – KTPopielarz 8 years ago

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