August 8, 2011

Films which I don't think are horror

Prompted by another blogger's post about a recent book by Kim "I want to be John McCririck" Newman and James Marriott, I've decided to finally begin my own list of films which I don't think are horror since it's easier to define what is horror by what is not.

The Silence Of The Lambs (Widescreen Special Edition)The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

"A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims."

Although there are a couple of horror elements in "The Silence of the Lambs", I really don't consider any serial killer movies to be horror. To me they are "crime" dramas. I'm not diminishing the fact that real murders are very horrific to everyone involved but, as far as storytelling goes, I don't include this particular subgenre in the horror category.

The BeguiledThe Beguiled (1971)

"While imprisoned in a Confederate girls boarding school, a Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts."

Anything like this, including "Misery" (1990), is nothing more than a "kidnapping" movie and once again fits into the crime genre. Let's face it, there are several crimes being committed in this movie and most of them are sexual. It's a great drama and Clint Eastwood is superb in the role but it isn't horror.

GialloGiallo (2009)

"In Italy, a woman fears her sister may have been kidnapped. Inspector Enzo Avolfi fears it's worse. They team up to rescue her from a sadistic killer known only as Yellow."

Okay, so this is a pretty horrible movie anyway but the whole "giallo" genre has very little to do with horror. I know some people would argue that modern slasher films owe a lot to the early Italian directors such as Dario Argento but, to me, they are often "terror" movies rather than horror and focus on the emotional responses of the victims just for shock value. Once police or private detectives are involved in these films, they belong to a whole other genre of "thrillers" entirely.

Fatal Attraction (Special Collector's Edition)Fatal Attraction (1987)

"A married man's one night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family."

Once again "Fatal Attraction" and its clones are "thrillers" not horror. The difference is subtle depending on what actually scares you but I'd call Michael Douglas' predicament in "Fatal Attraction" annoying rather than horrific. There are several other films all dealing with obsessive love (or simply obsession itself) such as "Poison Ivy" (1992) and "The Crush" (1993) but they are just dramas to me even when murder is involved.

CubeCube (1997)

"7 complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless kafkaesque maze containing deadly traps."

"The Cube" is science fiction. Of course, there are many times when sci-fi crosses over into horror and vice-versa especially when monsters or alien creatures are involved but something like this just doesn't really belong in the horror category. Other movies which involve psychologically torturing their victims such as "Exam" (2009) also don't count. Unless the torture is both mental and physical but, above all, firmly grounded in reality, science fiction really shouldn't count. This I know is highly debatable.

One thing which I vividly remember from an old interview with the late, great Peter Cushing is that he always described horror films as "fantasy". I do like that idea as all drama is fantasy (or fiction) anyway but obviously the definition puts the image of dragons, elves and suchlike in people's minds now.

Do you agree or disagree? What defines horror for you? Let's have a discussion for once rather than an argument and see if we can actually define this genre. With "cross-genre" movies appearing all the time, is it even still possible to say what horror is?

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