Stephen King divided up the realm of horror into three categories in his indispensable book of essays Danse Macabre. There is terror -- the large sense of the universe never being the same again after the events told in the story, of inescapable personal threat as the aim of the story: nameless dread finally has a name. There is horror: a more removed sense of sympathy and pity for some victim of supernatural violence. And, as King concluded, if you can't get either one, there's always the good old reliable gross-out. Well, the gross-out is king in current horror. It's a lever is pumped 'till the handle breaks, and no one ever tires of it. The jack in the box pop-up followed by the explosion in the strawberry jam factory ... not that I'm complaining, mind you, but a more rarefied sense of terror is what floats my boat. Using some examples from America's first horror master Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) I'd like to try to describe easy ways to get it ...
categories Cinematical