Thursday, July 18, 2013

Has Horror Bled Out?

Returning to the topic of horror, which always seems to come up on blogs. I came across Diane Dooley's post on Women in Horror since she had left a pingback on "Invitation"... and I didn't notice it till now. So I may be late, but never too late to discuss.

A couple of things: I've talked about Urban Fantasy being more horror than fantasy, and recently, a few commenters from Crowded said "By the Stars You Will Know Her" is fantasy, not horror. I built "By the Stars..." to be a tale of horror, not a fantasy story--though I will settle for calling it dark fantasy--but this got me thinking that maybe a good chunk of horror stories are parading around as fantasy.

After all, fantasy is BIG right now. For the first time, fantasy is actually mainstream, thanks to Harry Potter and other popular children/young adult books. You'd be stupid not to jump on that train. And since the fantasy genre is more welcoming to female authors, it makes sense that women are submitting their horror stories as supernatural and/or dark fantasy.     

So because horror has been bleeding into the fantasy genre for a while now, it's not surprising that someone would look at a horror story and think: fantasy.

But will horror be able to recoup its blood loss and stand on its own?

Time will tell.

Western genre was never able to make a come back. We sorta grew out of adventure stories, sadly. However, Westerns are relived through science fiction (i.e. Star Wars, Firefly, various anime such as Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star) and to a lesser extent fantasy. It may very well be that horror will simply be absorbed into fantasy.

And I have to admit, my dark fantasy tales are much bloodier with a higher body count than my horror stories; partly because I prefer psychological horror. So in my mind, I actually treat the two differently. One has a single protagonist descending into madness, the other has the protags slaughtering stuff. I also write and love sci-fi horror, which tends to be more mental than gruesome. Hmm, now I wondering why my dark fantasy is so gory...

Any thoughts, opinions, psychosis, outraged pessimism? I figure I'd ask since no one will answer.


  1. I think it's hard to write straight horror because we don't want to fall into the cliché traps of blood and guts and everything that has been done before, and so we draw from other genre's we like, dark fantasy usually being a go-to for most of us.

    Many times I set out to write that awesome horror story, only to finish and realize it isn't really horror, but something else, usually bizarro for me.

    But I do hope horror comes back/sticks around. I'm trying to do my part. Great post, Siobhan.

    1. I agree, horror is kinda tapped out, and us writers have to look for ways to make it fresh. After all, the movie Alien is simply the haunted house trope in space.

      I think weird fiction can be classified as horror--or maybe it's horror that should be classified as weird since that's how it started, although it isn't always scary. I have one bizarro piece where the narrator is freaked out, but the reader is probably going, "WTF? Is this guy for real?"

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Erin!

  2. I think spec-fic in general is kind of a catchall for the crossover amongst genres. Horror in and of itself shows up all over the place in the other subgenres, and I think it can add a lot to the story (i.e. the "Reavers" in the FIREFLY universe). Like you, I enjoy writing stories with dark elements, but they're not always easy to classify once they're finished.

    1. That's very true about genre crossovers, but yet, each genre has always maintained their specific qualities. Though I do wonder if horror is losing all its qualities to fantasy, and one day people won't recognize horror as horror, but some off branch of fantasy. I do believe that if Urban Fantasy is here to stay (and it's looking that way), that it'll be the end of horror stories set within cities.