The difference between horror and slash:
Horror is a genre. Slash is a musician.
But seriously… for those who don’t like either genre, there’s a tendency to lump these two together. But these are two completely different animals. Horror does not equal slash. But does slash equal horror? That can also be debated.
I’m obviously a horror fan. I mean, I’d really hope so, since I spent a chunk of my life writing a horror novel. Sit me down in front of a stack of horror movies and I’ll happily watch every single one. I’ll even watch the bad ones as long as they’re good for a laugh. But slash… ehhhhh.
I’ve watched a few slasher flicks in my day, and every single time I’m left wondering why I bothered to sit through the whole thing. These movies are nicknamed ‘torture porn’ for a reason. Hey, I’ll go out on a limb and say it… I think it takes a ‘special’ kind of person to truly enjoy these films–special meaning you might be a forty-five year old serial killer living in your mother’s basement. Special as in, I wouldn’t check your internet history even if you paid me.
I really don’t get the appeal of these types of movies. There’s blood and gore and screaming. They make you cringe and peer at the screen through your fingers. This isn’t horror… this is an unabashed bloodfest designed to gross out the viewer. The point isn’t to scare anyone. The point is to make you uncomfortable until you squirm, to make you laugh out of (perhaps) embarrassment, because you paid ten bucks for this. Ten bucks.
There are two movies that spring to mind when I think ‘mindless torture’. The first is Funny Games–the 2007 version; the second is Last House On The Left–the 2009 version. Odd that both of these are remakes. It seems that a good majority in this genre are, because there’s only so many ways you can saw someone’s arm off before it gets… well… repetitive. I saw both of these films in the theater, and both left a bad taste in my mouth. (Some will say that’s exactly the point; to that I respond, since when did entertainment become unpleasant?)
I’ll admit, I only went to see Funny Games because of Michael Pitt. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, Mike Pitt is a bit of a Hollywood rarity. Seeing him in a movie is like seeing a shark while snorkeling, or catching pandas in the throws of fuzzy passion. Unfortunately, he swindled me into squirming through a torture flick all in the name of edginess. Funny Games is nothing more than a movie about a pair of torturous kids who kill an innocent family for fun. (Crap, did I spoil it for you?) The silver lining is that it only managed to gross about seven million, and that’s world wide.
The same can’t be said for Last House On The Left, which pulled in over forty-five million. Last House is a slasher of the worst sort. It’s one of those movies that tries to be as gory as possible without garnering an NC-17 rating. There’s a hammer to the head, a bullet to the face, a hand down a garbage disposal, and, most unfortunate of all, a graphic rape of a seventeen-year-old girl that seems to last forever, all in the name of ‘horror’. Granted, this movie does have a nice twist of bad-guy-becomes-the-victim, and you actually start to feel a little justified in the horrible fates these people succumb to, but at the end of the day it’s nothing but gross-out gore.
You want to talk horror? Kubrick’s version of The Shining: that’s horror. Everything from the score to Jack’s long and winding drive up the mountain to the Overlook Hotel to Danny’s infamous big-wheel ride through the hallways. Those are images that are forever tattooed onto the psyche’s of those who call themselves lovers of horror. The Ring’s Samara is another perfect example of the genre being pushed to it’s limit. Who can forget the image of Samara crawling out of the television and becoming real? Even The Blair Witch Project, while leaving audiences befuddled and a little irked, managed to scratch its way under the viewers skin. The subtlety of it was masterful. I left the theater thinking ‘um, okay?’ only to lie in bed with my eyes wide open that same night, freaked out but not sure why.
The difference between horror and slash isn’t just buckets of blood, it’s exactly that: subtlety. The best horror movies scare you, seemingly, without even trying. They scare you with slowness, with tension. I’m not saying that every slasher flick lacks these elements–some of them are better than others. But the slasher flicks aren’t the ones that keep you up at night. And really, shouldn’t that be the point?
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