For the most part, I love horror stories.
In stories about zombies, demons, ghosts, werewolves or vampires (when they’re not being made to look like total pansies by a certain Mormon housewife) if some otherworldly mess happens, and it’s well-written, I want to read about it.
Some of the stuff I’ve read is really messed up, too; one of my favorite books, Stephen King’s mammoth epic "The Stand," is about a super flu virus that kills 99.6 percent of the population by making them drown in their own bodily fluids. That’s just the first third or so; it gets much worse from there.
Despite all of the rotten and gory action that ensues, I’ve managed to read the book at least twice without batting an eyelash (though if one stops to think about it, "The Stand" is perhaps the most terrifying of King’s novels, as its premise is actually somewhat plausible, but we’re getting off on a tangent).
That said, I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to scary movies.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics. Few horror movies can beat the original 1978 version of "Halloween." Rob Zombie’s recent attempts can’t even begin to hold a candle to it. The original "Scream" is just as amazing, as it’s a hilarious spoof of a slasher movie while simultaneously being a great slasher movie in its own right (its sequels, however, are as disappointing as everything else). And who can forget Tim Curry’s performance as the titular character of "It?" These are movies that manage to be thrilling and entertaining without a large amount of blood and gore ("Halloween" had barely any blood in it, despite being a seminal slasher flick).
Some of the more recent horror movies are gross and disturbing, almost to the point of exploitation. I really wish I could see the "Saw" movies, as I like what I’ve heard about their overarching plot. However, I can’t bear to sit and watch as some guy is coerced into plucking his eye out to get a key before a head-mounted-iron-maiden-contraption turns his brains into mush in the most explicit of fashions. The same goes for the "Hostel" movies, which I’m told are widely considered to be "torture-porn," as they have virtually no plot and are basically two hours or so of people getting dismembered in less-than-pretty ways.
To me, these kinds of movies are akin to those haunted house rides you see at amusement parks; they trade storytelling for cheap, temporary thrills that have no real value in the long run.
I must give credit to those filmmakers who are able to make PG-13 horror movies and make them well. Mikael Håfström did a splendid job with "1408," a movie that managed to be disturbing and fulfilling without needing to resort to playing the gross-out card. Håfström isn’t exactly on everyone’s list of favorite directors at the moment due to the abomination that was The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan has made a few rather decent PG-13 horror movies. His most recent project, Devil, was a bit clichéd, but its atmosphere was great and the movie still managed to have a couple of really great jump scares despite its more family-friendly rating.
I simply can’t understand why someone would see a movie just to see someone disemboweled or something like that. I don’t mean to sound like a politician, but these gore-fests are dumbing down movies as a whole. Consider correcting this Hollywood, I’d greatly appreciate it.