If You Like Horror . . .(Part One)


I believe someday scientists will find a genetic marker that corresponds to a fondness and fascination with horror. You know who you are. You also know who isn’t. There is no middle of the fence when it comes to reading horror or watching a scary movie. You either keep your eyes and adrenalin fixed on it no matter how frightening it may be, or you run screaming from it into a room far away to bury your head in a pillow and leave the lights on for a month. Oh, there are different types of horror literature and film that attracts the connoisseur of terror – let’s call us horromaniacs – because, quite simply, there are so many ways to scare the shit out of people. Let’s talk about some of them, why don’t we? Draw the curtains, lock the doors, crawl under the bed and see if your boogie man is mentioned.

There’s a fantastic website that is dedicated to helping fiction writers develop their talent and become published called Writing To Publish. I recommend it to any fledgling author or serious student of the word. The site does a wonderful job of listing and describing the different forms of fiction genres, and it is from here that I will begin to spell out the wide range of horror’s subgenres. So, thank you, Writing To Publish webmaster, for the fright we are about to partake of.

Twenty six varieties of Horror, that’s how many, but I’m sure we can talk our way into making up another dozen if we tried. I’m not going to get into every one of them, at least not without a Master’s degree attached or royalty check, but will draw out some of the most provocative subgenres to blather about. The list is at the end of this blog and you are more than free to worship them at your leisure, anyway.

Can you imagine what would happen to the world if sentient beings from another star suddenly arrived? Look at the classic War of the Worlds movie with Tom Cruise. It was originally written in 1895 by HG Wells and is considered one of the earliest works involving extraterrestrials. It is difficult to wrap my head around the implications of such an event, but I can tell you with a certainty that unless they have wings and shine love, I’m going to be quietly freaking out. If they are aliens they’ll need to go through TSA, too, unless they come over from Mexico. Angels don’t have to worry about security. Their radiance gives them a pass. This genre of horror tops my list alphabetically and in level of fear, just by the simple fact that if aliens have the technology to reach us, they probably have weapons that could kill just about anything in the blink of an eye. We hope that they come in peace, but there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that way. I recommend the non-fiction work Communion by Whitley Strieber.

Dark Fantasy horror involves such creatures as vampires and werewolves. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a perfect example of this type of horror. Don’t even get me started on the whole glittery emo vampire craze sweeping the literary world. I haven’t read or seen Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter but I would prefer that any day of the week. Vampires by their nature are horrific beings. They literally suck your blood and then if you’re lucky they’ll turn you into one of them. Werewolves are content just to have you for lunch, but if you survive you’ll be a real bitch to live with every full moon. These sound like relationships I’ve been in, and that frightens the holy hell out of me. This subgenre gets under your skin because in certain circumstances you can be in mortal danger and not be aware of it. Werewolves and Vampires are able to pass themselves off as humans. So do lawyers.

Erotic Horror involves the ingredient of sex, but is a long way from porn, and it isn’t just people screwing and then getting killed, or getting killed and then getting screwed (twice). Clive Barker has written a few novels which will give you a woody and stop your heart. A good example of this is The Hellbound Heart. Too often fledgling authors want to create stories of this nature but usually end up having way too much sex. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking Fifty Shades of Grey is within fifty miles of this type of horror. It deals with S&M, which might frighten the timid but is in reality play-acting for adults. I urge you to read The Book of a Thousand Sins by Wrath James White. You’ll never recover from that, I promise you. Now, my novel OOBERS has a handful of gruesome sex, but it’s used more like a condiment to the sick, perverted soup of the plot. I suppose the real-life poster child of erotic horror was Jeffrey Dahmer. His escapades weren’t soup, they were straight up meat. Oh, and by the way, if you like your Erotic Horror in a little glass with an umbrella sticking out of it, read Gothic Horror, or better yet, curl up with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Speaking of OOBERS, I like to think of my novel as an extreme form of horror, the subgenre commonly called Splatterpunk or Grindhouse or Visceral. Keep a vomit bag handy when reading this type of horror, I mean it. My years as an Army Medic, Scrub Tech and Medical Assistant taught me a great deal about human anatomy and physiology, and I deliberately exploit that knowledge as I have my characters slice and dice their victims. I’ve always loved horror but even at a young age was disappointed by the weak, suggestive writing that seemed too scared to cross any moral boundaries. OOBERS is a Visceral counterweight, its voice a gurgling scream of splatter and gore. I really enjoyed watching Last House on the Left and the Saw movies because they weren’t afraid of shedding a little blood. If Splatterpunk is your turn on, you must get OOBERS. Then read Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Volumes 1 through 6. Perhaps you can tell by now I like Clive Barker. He’ll scare you fifteen ways to sundown.

And then there are ghosts. Nothing quite like seeing a spectral being dragging a chain and moaning as it approaches you while you’re trying to sleep. There are so many ghost stories out there I could write an entire book on it. This subgenre contains some of the best literature ever written. Who doesn’t know of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, or have at least heard of Stephen King’s Bag of Bones? Practically everyone has at one time or another either directly experienced a ghostly encounter or listened to another’s personal tale. Imagine sitting at your laptop, casually strolling through your Facebook page, and then feeling a definite hand on your shoulder when there is no one around. That’ll clean out your sinuses. Ghosts encompass mischievous poltergeists, orbs, historical figures and especially and most commonly the occasional family member who refuses to leave you alone even after they’re dead. I have on many occasions felt what I call an ‘Extra Celestial’ presence nearby, but those aren’t the bad guys. I consider ghosts and their relatives denizens of the Ethereal Plane, and that place is hopping with all sorts of malicious and evil entities like Demons and Succubae. OOBERS is chock full of Ethereal entities that give my characters a difficult time (to put it lightly) and who like to inhabit the bodies of weak-willed goobers and make them do all sorts of nasty stuff.

My next blog post will continue where I left off, and will explore other significant subgenres of horror such as the unique style of HP Lovecraft, the Supernatural and Techno-horror. You’ll absolutely DIE when you read it.

As promised, below is a list of subgenres in horror literature. Until next time we howl . . .

Creepy Kids
Cross Genre
Cutting Edge
Dark Fantasy
Dark Fiction
Extreme (splatterpunk, grindhouse or visceral)
Gothic (English gothic, southern gothic)
Lovecraftian (Cthulhu mythos, etc.)
Media tie-in (Dark Shadows novels, etc.)
Mind Control
Supernatural (demons, zombies, etc.)
Psychological (surreal)
Quiet or Soft
Rampant Animals
Rampant Technology
Satanic Bargains
Suspense or Dark Suspense (thriller)


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