I’m the head-editor for Deadite Press, an imprint of Eraserhead Press that focuses on cult and extreme horror. What I look for in books is the sickest and weirdest shit out there. Snuff film starring an infant? Fuck yeah! Genital grinder? We have a hit! Fucking someone in their skull via a power-drill hole? Can you make it a series?
Many of my friends, and even many others in the horror industry, don’t understand what I get out of these kinds of stories. They don’t understand why anyone would want to read or watch something filled with rape, torture, necrophilia, mutilation, and all other sorts of vile acts.
It’s really quite simple. I find all those things horrifying.
Many seem to forget the point of the horror genre is to horrify the audience. While I adore the fog-drenched sets of the Universal monster films and I’m a sucker for a well done haunted house flick, those things don’t actually scare me. Sorry to break it to everyone but ghosts and werewolves aren’t real. Rapists, serial killers, terrorists, sex slavery, and random acts of cruelty are real. The thought of being stalked by a vampire does not linger in the back of my brain in the same way as what could happen when walking alone in the middle of the night.
I know it’s cliché to say but humans are the real monsters and our supernatural creations are just stand-ins for our own fears. I just prefer the cut-out the symbolic middle-man and get straight to the dirty shit. Watching films like NEKROMANTIK and SALO give a safe glimpse into the depravity of the human condition.
In recent years we’ve had two controversial films released that (somehow) managed to get coverage in world-wide mainstream media – THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE series and A SERBIAN FILM. Apparently the idea of films revolving around forced shit eating or the production of child pornography/snuff were too much for some. Some misguided protectors of morality even managed to talk some countries into placing arrest warrants for the directors for obscenity (don’t worry, the cases got worked out and Tom Six and Srđan Spasojević are fine). All over fictional films featuring no real acts of violence or sex. They just went “too far.”
The idea of someone complaining that a horror film or story has “gone too far” completely mystifies me. The horror genre has always been the genre to “go too far.” It’s part of the point. Horror has always been pushing the boundaries of good taste to scare, upset, and disgust. It’s always been an integral part of the genre and it always will be.
I have to immediately question if these films did indeed go “too far” or were they instead successful horror films? They assaulted the audience with concepts and images that disturbed, sickened, lingered in the mind. Those that complained about these movies in terms of their subject matter just got something that we’re not use too – an affective horror movie. I believe those films should be praised for accomplishing their goals of mentally fucking the audience without mercy.
I’m not one for criticizing someone’s taste in media. If you like something I don’t like, good for you! But I will say if you are approaching the horror genre with a politically correct mindset, you’re going to have a bad time. The world is a violent and sick place and for many people, myself included, movies and stories that wallow in that nastiness help make the cruelty of reality make a little more sense. It’s a safe glimpse into the dark side of humanity. Complaining that a horror film disturbed or bothered you is like complaining that a comedy made you laugh. It’s just fucking stupid.
However, there is no denying how much fun it is to get together with some like-minded friends, crack some beers and spark up, and watch the GUINEA PIG series or BLOOD SUCKING FREAKS.
Maybe I am just a sick fuck? Fuck it, I don’t know but I know what I like. I think I’ll go watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST again…
This essay originally appeared in issue #4 of Splatterpunk. It was an awesome issue that also featured John Skipp, J. F. Gonzalez, Robert Essig, Shane McKenzie, and many more. There are still a few copies left, click here and get yourself a copy.