For some people, the idea that a person could possibly enjoy and even love horror seems absurd. Why would anyone enjoy sitting through a two hour film of blood, guts, and jump scares? Or, why would someone purposely read a book designed to give them nightmares, or walk through a maze like building filled with actors whom you allow to startled you?
I’m certain that the answer to this question is as varied as the people who love the horror genre as much as I do. There is no way I could ever begin to answer that question on behalf of the entire human race. I can however, on a much smaller scale, attempt to explain why I love the horror genre.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, horror has always held a very special place in my heart. It had a significant influence on not just my childhood, but my upbringing. My father is a special effects makeup artist. Ever since I was a small boy, I can remember being surrounded by the various projects my dad had worked on. Together, as father and son, we would sit on the carpet in front of the couch, and watch films like, The Lost Boys, Fright Night, American Werewolf in London, Company of Wolves, Darkman, Salem’s Lot, Son of Frankenstein, and many more.
All the while, as we watched these amazing movies, my father would work on his latest makeup project. For me, the adrenaline rush that came from watching frightening films, could be associated with good times. Moments of true bonding with my dad. Moments that were as exciting as they were memorable.
And I am certain, to some extent, seeing how the monsters and gore on screen had been made, by watching my father recreate the same effects in our living room, desensitized me to a degree. Things that would normal traumatize a five year old, were fun, and cool!
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate horror in an entirely different way. That’s not to say I don’t still enjoy being scared. I am, admittedly, an adrenaline junky. I love rock climbing, scuba diving, bungee-jumping, and skydiving. I am clearly hooked on the dopamine rush that comes from being scared as well. However, now that I am an adult, I can appreciate the subtler nuances of the horror genre.
Horror is a strange element. It is a form of storytelling that purposely pulls at the strings of our imaginations, and forces us to think of the things that scare us most. Whether it’s a ghost tale around a campfire, a monster dwelling under the bed, or a killer hiding in the closet, these stories make us think. If done well, good horror will give us only the details we need to paint a picture, and then asks us to use our imaginations to see the rest, filling in the blanks with our darkest and scariest thoughts. And that, in my opinion, is genius. Our brains are much more powerful storytellers than the sentences we read, the words we hear, or the images we are shown.
By letting our imaginations do the heavy lifting, we are able to tell a better story. The darkest, and most frightening thoughts we have, dwell within our minds. Good horror utilizes this, creating a type of tale more believable than any other type of story, and creates something exponentially more terrifying than the thing lurking inside someone else’s head by using your own imagination against you.
Fantasy and drama ask the audience to imagine how they would feel, dealing with real emotions and real to life experiences in a setting either very real, or very fantastic. Romance places us in the shoes of another person, and asks us to feel the emotions of the characters we share the story with; to love another person as much as the characters do. Horror does these same things, but with an added bonus. Horror asks us to imagine dealing with real emotions the strongest of which is fear, in an environment as true to life as it can be, but with an inescapable sense that we cannot beat the odds, trapped by whatever it is we fear the most. Horror also asks us to experience the emotions of the characters we share the story with. It asks us to love characters, and then forces us to lose them to that which we fear.
What is the worst thing you can think of? The worst person or monster. What makes them so scary? Now imagine how you would react if placed in the same room with those things? How does that make you feel? Terrified? Good, because that’s what horror is all about!
As a writer and artist, using horror as a tool to tell a story that scares others is also, more than I can explain, extremely satisfying. I truly love watching someone as they view a film I’ve made, or read a story I’ve written, and see how it affects them. If the person is frightened, even a little, I know I accomplished what I had set our to do, and I’m overjoyed at that.
Beyond all that is also the fact that the things which reside within me, within my broken and twisted mind, have a place to call home, and that is the horror genre. It is a way to vent all my pent up emotions, and strange and terrifying dreams. I am able to let them flow out of me, and into the real world for others to be fascinated or terrifying by.
Without horror who knows what kind of person I would be. It’s a thought I care not to have or worry about because I do have horror, and I love that I do.
Horror is in some ways like a gym for my brain. It is a haunted and dark gym, where the bench press tries to crush you and the treadmill sends you into a spike pit of death if you don’t run fast enough, but it’s a gym nonetheless. What I mean by all this, is that horror is a way for me to exercise my imagination. It’s a tool that helps me become a better writer, a better filmmaker, a better artist. It allows me to push the limits of what I know without the risk of going too far, because in horror, the audience expects things to go too far. They want the gore, the fear, the strange oddities. They want the sex, and violence and deranged killers. That’s what horror fans want! I know because that’s what I want from horror. And as a creator I can push myself into making something new, and original, and over the top without fear that I’ve actually crossed the threshold.
I hope that with this website, with the medium to work with, I have created a place for myself and the people I collaborate with, to make new and exciting content that is both eerie and entertaining, just as our slogan says. I hope that I am able to create something that scares you, and makes you question your sanity. I hope I can write a story that keeps you up in the middle of the night, and makes you fear putting your feet down on the floor beside your bed afraid of the thing beneath which might grab it. I hope that the content I make is entertaining and fun, and frightening!
Most of all, I hope you enjoy what we have to offer here on By Candlelight Media, as much as I enjoy making it. Because at the end of the day, that’s what matter’s.
Written By Rick Bishop