Horror - gore or no gore?
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
As a horror writer, I'm interested in readers' taste when it comes to viscera or subtlety in the genre - which do you prefer? Or do you like both? Do you think blood and guts are unnecessary in evoking fear?
Nope. I'm not a big horror reader so perhaps my opinion doesn't count as much, but psychological horror is much scarier for me. Give me Shirley Jackson any day--The Haunting of Hill House still makes me look over my shoulder and keep all the lights on, no matter how many times I've read it.
I am an avid horror fan and my opinion is that it has its place. If a character is smashing up a zombie or other baddie...some description of the damage inflicted adds to the color of the scene. Psychological horror is important but describing the scene including the flying guts and blood is crucial.
I like horror but I don't like pointless gore. I don't mind some gore but I like to be able to use my imagination when I read.
I used to read horror quite a lot as a teen, but I found myself drawn more towards gothic stories as a got older, mostly because the horror is more psychological and less gorey. I think too many of years of bad blood-caked horror films have caused horror writers to think they have to splatter the blood every 3 seconds in order to create fear, but that's simply not true. One of my favourite horror stories of all time is Robert Louis Stevensen's The Suicide Club. All the gore is implied, but it's about a man who wants to commit suicide but is forced by circumstances to commit murder instead. Very, very creepy.
I think I remember The Pit and the Pendulum as being the best horror story I read when younger. Since then I have become a devotee of Stephen King but prefer it when he is more subtle and does not give his frightening characters too much blood or too many maggots. After a few pages of gore it does not seem so horrible.I like my ghosts to be almost believable. That is much more thrilling.
I much rather prefer subtlety and the horror of the unseen, as in works like House of Leaves and the writing of HP Lovecraft. I mean, I'm not against gore, per se, I think it can be used to great effect in movies such as The Thing, but if I were to pick one or the other I would go with, at the very least, "less gore."
I read horror novels.. and I think that the writer who can imply instead of describe in graphic
detail is the better writer. That is just my own opinion. I also believe that British authors
are better at implying than American, most of the time. Just my own opinion, mind you ...
I think it depends on the story.
Take Ketchum's Off Season for instance. This book was filled with disturbing and gory scenes. When the book was first released, there were many scenes, sentences, and phrases that either had to be left out or re-written because Ketchum was told it was too gory and too disturbing for readers. He felt it was important for the story to be told the way it was written, but being his first novel, decided to play give-and-take with the editors. Down the line, he released the original version of Off Season with nothing cut out. It was gory and very disturbing, but I think it was absolutely great! After all, the story is about cannibals. How could you possibly tell the story without the shock factor?
I don't mind gore if it applies to the story, such as Off Season. Writers have to be careful when dealing with stuff like this. If it's just senseless gore and doesn't really apply to the story, it can become cheesy and useless.
Thanks for the thoughts all. I used to be a major gorehound, and this is reflected to some extent in my first book, but I've found since about 2008 that I've been moving away from that more towards the subtle, the weird and the uncanny end of the spectrum. It's something I've also noticed with some friends how their tastes in horror have either changed, evolved or stopped altogether - maybe it was something to do with turning 30!
That all said, there are still visceral writers who I greatly admire. If you like Jack Ketchum then I highly recommend checking out Wrath James White. His stuff is elegantly written and literary but also disgusting and vile as well.
Thanks for the recommendation. I've added a couple of WJW books to my wish list :)
I like both, but I prefer psychological horror. Nothing wrong with a dinosaur or zombie or vampire rending limbs, but a dark hallway with a locked door and a creepy noise coming from within will do a lot more for me.
There's a list of best horror novels in the new lists feature:
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.