I’m going to Texas Frightmare this weekend, which is self-described as “The Southwest’s Premier Horror Convention” and is arguably the largest horror convention in the nation. This year’s guests include Clive Barker, Doug Bradley, Kane Hodder (and a bunch of other dudes who played Jason), Brad and Fiona Dourif, Tobin Bell, all the kids from It, and Matthew Lillard. There will be screenings of several horror classics (Last House on the Left, The Changeling) and new hopefuls (Death Kiss, As the Gods Will) as well as various Q&A’s and photo ops.
This will be the second horror convention I’ve ever attended, but the first one with more than just 50 or so bored-looking folks. So, I don’t quite know what to expect, but I’m excited.
If you’re a long-time reader of the site you’ve likely noticed that I’ve written a lot more about horror movies this year than usual. If you’re new, then, hey, you’re just now finding out horror hasn’t always been such a consistent presence on this site. In a way, I’m simply falling in line with the wider trend. As has been written about time and time again in the industry trades, legacy newspapers and blogosphere over the past year, horror is hip again. The smaller budgets fit into Hollywood’s current hyper-aversion to risk, and the cathartic escapism provides audiences a much-needed safe space to scream at a time of global unrest.
In a larger way, though, I’m simply having fun with a genre I’ve always loved. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved horror movies. I blame my older brothers. They used to tease me that they could watch Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies but I couldn’t because I wasn’t young enough. In fact, on one of my birthdays, they got to watch Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 while I was stuck with Monster Squad (not a bad trade-off, now that I look back on it). That turned horror movies into that thing which I wasn’t allowed to enjoy, which only made me want it all the more.
But they were right. Those Jason and Freddy movies scared the hell out of me. I wasn’t old enough, not that that stopped me.
However, there’s more to it than just, “I started watching the when I was a kid.” Horror allows us an escape and often a safe place to work through societal issues through metaphor. Horror forces us to face our mortality. It lets us scream. All those standard things you normally hear when people talk about why they love horror.
The “why horror?” question is one I’ve always been interested in, first for my own fandom and secondly for everyone else. In 2014, horror superfan Tal Zimerman actually made a documentary tackling that very same topic, charting both his own fandom as well as the academic research on why we like to be scared and giants of the field such as Romero and Carpenter for their thoughts on the subject. One of the more striking moments in the doc is when he attends a horror convention and asks the “why horror” question to fans. Imagine a lot of happy people dressed in black, some of them in costume as their favorite slasher villains, excitedly describing formative childhood scares, long-standing desire for catharsis, or just a need to work through some shit. I imagine the scene would be the same if I asked the question of everyone at Texas Frightmare.
But I’ve got to hit the road and an entire weekend to ponder the question further.
For now, I turn it to you- why do you like horror movies? Heck, do you like horror movies? Let me know in the comments.