know what you’re saying. Yeah, right. How can horror reach people where
they are and touch their hearts? Horror? Really?
Please, before you tune out,
give me a chance to explain myself.
Horror seems to be the bad boy
genre of fiction. It’s the kid with
the Black Sabbath T-shirt, the torn jeans, tattoos, and hair in his
eyes. It’s the punk everyone has written off as a rotten apple, a lost
cause, hopeless. Keep your child away lest they be influenced and come
home with a screaming skull tattoo on her neck. But is it possible that
the kid with the rough exterior and the bad rap really has a heart of
gold? Is it possible that the tough guy is really a gentleman? Is it
possible that because of the way he looks and the image he wears he’s
allowed entrance into circles the rest of us wouldn’t have a chance of
Is it possible that horror can
reach people where they are and touch hearts like no other genre can? I
Life is scary
Let’s face it, life is scary.
Monsters are real. As a kid I had a
lot of fears, including a recurring nightmare that left me sweaty and
afraid to go back to sleep, because sleep is where the creatures
waited, where they lurked in shadows and picked at their sores and
schemed against me. But I never knew real fear until I was diagnosed
with colon cancer two years ago. Cancer is a monster too many people
have to battle, a monster that is real and ruthless and cares nothing
Others have known different fear
and monsters that are all too real.
An abusive father, a belligerent boss, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,
loneliness, abandonment. Nightmares are there, whether in the land of
dreams only, that place the mind goes when sleep overcomes and the
portal to different dimensions is thrown wide open, or in the land of
reality where facing fear is a daily chore, where shadows are never
just shadows and evil intentions lurk behind every smile.
The fact is, we all live with
some form of fear and usually it’s not
the docile brand but the kind that horrifies. Stories that deal with
fear and things that go bump in the night land on the front porch of
everyone’s heart because fear is something none of us can hide from, we
must all face it.
Life and death
What is the one thing people
fear more than anything else? Death. I
wouldn’t be afraid of heights if the fall wouldn’t kill me. You
wouldn’t be afraid of the dark if nothing waited there that could
mangle and torment and ultimately take your life. There would be no
fear of burglars if they wanted nothing more than a friendly handshake
and a glass of water. The root of all fear is death, or at least the
potential for death.
But death is all around us and
therefore fear. We all live day to
day; we all walk that fine line between here and there. And whenever we
hear of a fatal auto accident or robbery or a loved one loses his
battle with cancer or heart disease claims another victim we are
reminded of our own mortality, our own impending appointment with
fiction is all about life and death.
The struggle to live with death on the doorstep. And that’s something
everyone can identify with.
Good and evil
Ahh, the basis of all conflict,
good versus evil. At its core this
is what life is all about. Good and evil in the spiritual realm, good
and evil in the physical realm.
Good and evil in our hearts and
minds. The battle rages on and on.
More than any other genre of
fiction, horror pits good against evil
in the most epic of struggles. And it gives the author freedom to
express this dichotomy, this confrontation, in both its extremes. Good
at the best the heavenlies has to offer, and evil at the worst the
supernatural realm can conjure.
Through horror writing we can
communicate that all that is good
ultimately comes from the One who is good, and all that is malevolent
and wicked comes from the one who is wicked, that father of lies, that
great deceiver. And in the end, if the author has done his job well,
good wins out, light banishes the darkness, and the reader is inspired
that there is indeed hope.
Hope from Horror
The crossroads meet at hope.
Though life is scary and monsters
abound, though death is imminent, an appointment that can’t be
cancelled, though evil is alive and well and pressing in on all sides,
there is always hope.
That is why I write horror and
that is why I believe horror can
reach the heart. In the darkest parts of the human experience, when the
shadows grow black and the way is unseen, where vision fails and
strength is lost, where the heart grows weak and courage is a thing
sought after but not found, there is light, and where there is light
there is always hope.