Not too long ago I tried to concoct some sort of a theory that horror wasn’t really much more than a sub-genre of fantasy, but soon found I had rather a flimsy argument. Fantasy, although often shoehorned in with sci-fi, is I think more closely related to horror than it is to sci-fi, but that’s hardly evidence, is it.
There is often a supernatural element to horror stories: ghosts, demons, monsters and other fantastical creatures. But then sci-fi is often used to find horrific scenarios: Alien, The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers – you name it. Which you may – or may not – wish to class as supernatural….
… Or at least cryptozoological, which is more the theme of Tremors, say, or The Abominable Snowman.
Of course, sometimes it’s as down to earth and natural as animals. Normal, real animals: sharks in the sea (Jaws); snakes on a plane (Snakes on a Plane – was that horror? Ah, who cares); birds all over the place (The Birds). Albeit animals behaving in preternatural, if not necessarily supernatural, ways.
But then it’s often simply humanity that is the source of all evil. Humans, and all the horrible things they can think up; all the horrible possibilities that they – or rather we – carry with us.
And this may be where we have to address the slasher sub-genre. I don’t really want to, but I have to – get it out of the way close to the beginning.
I don’t want to dismiss slasher films out-of-hand. Some perfectly good films such as Halloween and Scream come under this category. Not that either of these are films I love, however. (But, I should point out, nor is Jaws. Or Snakes on a Plane. I’ve never even seen Snakes on a Plane, and now I’ve mentioned in three or four times. I really must stop.)
I should acknowledge Tucker and Dale vs Evil here, though – a hugely fun and enjoyable take on the vaguely slasher type of film. I may have to take it up again later – even if it probably isn’t really a slasher film at all.
There may still be the potential for great films in this part of the horror world, but in my experience they are more often pedestrian, dull and predictable. The only inventiveness seems to be in the novel ways in which people are killed, horrifically.
Or people just keep getting stabbed.
But, well, there is Psycho. You can’t really talk about slasher films without talking about Psycho.