THINGS EVERY HORROR FAN SHOULD DO FOR THEMSELVES AND THE HORROR COMMUNITY (PART 2 OF 2)
As promised here is part two of things every horror fan should do for themselves and the horror community! I hope you enjoyed part one (1–5). Enjoy part two (6–10). Take these 10 things into consideration.
6. If you like horror films, try reading horror books. If you like horror books and films, try listening to some horror music (expand your horror scope)
Expanding your horror scope is something that you as a horror fan should always try to do, not only for your sake but for the sake of the horror genre, community, industry, etc. Horror, as previously stated, is a multimedia genre with its cold undead hands in everything from books, to comics, to eBooks, to Magazines, to Video Games, to Music, Toys, and of course film (to name some of the biggest). By expanding out and experiencing horror in various forms, you are expanding, deepening, and strengthening your appreciation and understanding of the genre as whole… and your understanding of it through the specific lenses of multiple frame works and media.
You’re also supporting the horror industry and those who work in various mediums within it, creating content for your enjoyment and pushing the genre forward in new directions and new ways. I recommend setting aside a small portion of your horror budget for when you go combing the dark recesses of the web or your local book, toy, music store, etc. for new things to give you chills whose style or format you may be not be as familiar with. Who knows what cursed thing you may unearth!
7. Try and take a critical or semi-critical look at the genre
Now this one will most definitely, just from the title, make some intimidated and turn others completely off. And with good reason. This is one of (if not they most) difficult and challenging tasks, no matter if you enjoy (or end up enjoying) this kind of thing or not. Then again, it’s supposed to be challenging. However, it should be noted that if you’re reading this article it most likely means you’re beyond a casual fan or viewer and are a bonafide horror fan — meaning you owe it not only to yourself but the horror community to at least attempt to look at the genre through a critical, semi-critical or, dare I suggest, academic lens.
If you find that it’s not for you, that’s okay! Some horror fans simply want to enjoy the genre without delving into theory or critical analysis. For some horror fans, that takes the fun out of being a horror fan and makes it more work, less mysterious, less exciting. But other horror fans (like myself) find that it only enhances our love for the genre. We like nothing more than to pick apart, analyze and wallow in the minutia of our favorite horror films, books, comics, franchises, and tropes. Whichever school of fan you are, you won’t know until you try. And even if you do try and find that it’s not for you, you still may take away something that may serve to enrich your appreciation and understanding for the genre. Either way it’s a win-win.
Just remember that it’s because of those fans who took the time to write those articles, publish papers in journals, and compile books and bibliographies that horror and its creators have gotten recognition and continue to get recognition today. It’s because of those fans/scholars, journalists, and historians that bared their fangs in front of the ridicule of their peers (and because of fans like you supporting them) that horror is gaining respect in contemporary circles and reaping the benefits of that recognition. This scholarly approach to the genre helps reinforce the genre as one that is worth of study and dissertation… a genre worthy of support and appreciation.
With that said, if you’re wary of the prospect of delving deep into the theory and jargon surrounding your favorite genre, I recommend going to the library and seeing if they have (or can order) any books on horror (preferably published by McFarland Books or some such company) that interest you or if they can help you find essays, or academic articles pertaining to horror in their databases. Academic books and articles can be VERY expensive, so I would recommend doing this first before going to your local brick and mortar book store, or buying online.
Note: If you’re looking for fun, conversational, and academic (but not dry and boring) books on horror, I would recommend anything by horror historian David J. Skal. His books are a joy to read in their tone, style and content. I’ve found even people who fall in the latter school of horror fans enjoy his books. If you don’t check out anything else, check out his work. You won’t be sorry.
8. Watch Classic Horror, Read Classic Horror, Support Classic Horror, Understand and Appreciate, the Genre’s Roots
Much of the reason why so many horror fans lament the current state of the genre is because a good many modern creators in the genre lack even the most fundamental knowledge and appreciation of the genre pre-1980. And THAT, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, is a serious problem — not just for horror fans, but the horror community, industry and the future of the horror genre as a whole. If you want to see the horror genre thrive as a genre, and as a community and industry, do yourself a favor and get yourself read up and watched up on some horror history before Jason Voorhees.
Read some of the earliest most influential horror stories and studies. Start from the silent beginnings of film, with such famed early filmmakers and films as fantastic fantasist and illusionist Georges Méliès’s Le Manoir du Diable; expressionist maestro Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; and 1925’s Phantom of the Opera starring “the man of a thousand faces” (and father to the future Universal Wolf Man) Lon Chaney, and work your way up. Learn how your favorite and new favorite horror icons and tropes came to be and where they originated.
Support horror hosts (which I’ve covered in a previous post) who regularly feature these early cinematic frights. And lastly, cast your votes in The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, named for “the monster without make-up” whose career was tragically cut short. How? Go read about it!
9. Use the Horror Genre to Educate Yourself and Others and Promote Social Change
By its very nature, horror deals with the most taboo topics. In doing so, it has earned a stage to comment and educate on these topics. This stage should NOT be ignored. Because horror is global in scope, its audience is as well. This means the genre’s fans and creators can help educate and build understanding and awareness on many issues, on a scale larger than even the most visible and powerful activist groups. Horror has REAL power and can do REAL good in the world. You owe it to yourself as a fan and member of the horror community to take advantage of this fact. You can help prove broadly that horror as a genre is just as valid as any other. More than that, you can help prove that it has the power to make a real difference for the positive, further ensuring a more progressive and understanding future for all.
10. Create something yourself
Finally, one of the best ways to take advantage of the genre’s power as a tool for change and to help the genre grow and evolve is to create something of your own. By incorporating everything from this list and creating something that’s all your own — be it a blog, magazine, journal, book, comic, film, game, etc. — you are ensuring horror’s future by adding to the strength, evolution, and longevity of the genre and its community. Who knows? What you create could inspire or help decide the future of the genre and the direction it goes.