Sunday, October 18, 2009

Be Afraid-Be Very Afraid

First Thing, October 2009

Why is so many people fascinated by horror movies? David Goldman gives us his take.

Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid
The horror-film genre is multiplying like one of its own monsters, showing six-fold growth over the past decade—turning what used to be a Hollywood curiosity into a mainstream product. Not only the volume of films but their cruelty has increased, with explicit torture now a screen staple.

Why do Americans pay to watch images as revolting as the cinematic imagination can discover? Many things might explain the vast new market for uncanny evil. If you do not believe in God, you will believe in anything, to misquote G.K. Chesterton; and, one might add, if you do not feel God’s presence, you will become desperate to feel anything at all. Terror and horror create at least some kind of feeling. After pornography has jaded the capacity to feel pleasure, what remains is the capacity to feel fear and pain...

But the growing morbidity of America’s imagination as shown in the consumption of cinematic horror suggests we might heed the tagline of Jeff Goldblum’s 1986 remake of Vincent Price’s The Fly, made famous by Christina Ricci in the 1993 spoof Addams Family Values: Be afraid—be very afraid.

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Makes me wonder whether watching horror movies is escaping from personal pain and loneliness to experiencing artificial horror. Scary.


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