August 21, 2013

Who are the Horror Lamers?

I've often mentioned them on this blog as their very existence disgusts true horror fans, but if you're new to the genre, you may be wondering who these "Horror Lamers" are.

Without naming names (yet!), here's a rough guide to how the Horror Lamers clique came to be, their identifying characteristics, what motivates them, and what steps to take should you find yourself falling into their cosy trap of mediocrity.

History of the Horror Lamers

The Horror Lamers are an internet clique whose members initially met each other, as did most of us, through blogging portals such as "The Horror Blogger Allliance" and "The Lamb". While there's nothing intrinsically wrong with those sites themselves, the Horror Lamers decided to use them as social networking communities with the emphasis on being social rather than the subject matter.

Once they had ingratiated themselves, they invited their pretend friends from all the forums and real social networking sites to join them, and thus the "Horror Lamers", or "Horror Socials" as a friend of mine calls them, came to be.

Characteristics of a typical Horror Lamer

The Horror Lamers are horror fans in name only. They may have seen a few horror movies, but who hasn't? Even the most casual movie watcher has seen the more famous horror movies if only by accident or out of curiosity. Horror Lamers, however, take their appreciation of the well known horror movies to new levels of obsession because, let's face it, these are the only horror movies that they really know about. Don't be fooled though because it's mainly a bluff. Horror Lamers are more concerned with making friends and hanging out than discussing anything in the horror genre.

Here's an unordered list of their top ten favourite movies:
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Friday the 13th
  • Evil Dead II
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Creepshow
  • Beetlejuice
  • Army of Darkness
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Trick 'r Treat
  • Insidious

Give or take a few more slasher or zombie movies (especially if they are also comedies), these titles are the epitome of all things horror for a Horror Lamer. You'll find them repeated to death on their blogs and social networking profiles.

A typical blog post from a Horror Lamer will feature a big picture of one of their "horror icons", a poster, or some piece of related Etsy merchandise which they've found on Pinterest, and a couple of sentences expressing how "kewl" they think the subject is.

If they write "reviews", expect them to retell the whole story in their own words, include all the spoilers, and then finish with a couple of sentences saying, "It was kewl. I liked it." None of them knows the difference between a synopsis, an ecphrasis, or a critique, and they have no desire to change their state of blissful ignorance.

Horror Lamers rarely watch or mention new horror movies unless they are the most popular pieces of mainstream dreck which hit the theatres around Hallowe'en. Yes, they love Hallowe'en! Big time! In recent years, some Horror Lamers have attempted to promote "Paranormal Activity" (because they never really understood "Saw"), but their shilling of remakes and Blumhouse Productions have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Most horror lamers are stuck in the '80s and will frequently overuse the word "cheesy" or "cheesey [sic]" to describe their favourite movies. Many have adopted West Coast speech patterns whereby everything is "super" something-or-other, and, oh yes, there will be acronyms and text speak! "OMG, it was like super cheesey LOL" Note that they love using "LOL" instead of and without punctuation as the end beat of their sentences.

While there's nothing particularly harmful about such fluff, it's from the interactions which follow that things become more annoying. If you're ever silly enough to comment on one of their posts, expect to be immediately followed back and commented on yourself with one of these generic responses:
  • "Great post! I adore this movie!"
  • "Good post! I love this movie!"
  • "Nice post! I like this movie a lot!"

Get the picture? They have nothing insightful to say about your review or article because they don't really know anything about the subject. They're hoping to see pictures (which they can steal for their own blogs) and don't read what you have to say anyway. If you've mentioned one of their known movies, they'll only see a potential kindred spirit and want to be your friend even more.

Other notable replies include just noticing the title of your blog and writing whatever they damned well feel like in a vaguely related way. You could have spent days writing the best analysis of Jason Voorhees' supernatural abilities, but you'll get "Nice post. I really love Jason's mom. She's so kewl." or something equally irrelevant. If you're really lucky, you might get a link to their latest blog about "Beetlejuice bobbleheads" made out of cardboard and earwax by one of their friends on Etsy.

After a dozen or so replies, and being guilt-tripped into commenting back, you'll probably be looking for ways to block the Horror Lamers from your life, only to find that they've also invaded your social networking groups and those of your real life friends as well.

Three misconceptions about Horror Lamers
  1. Horror Lamers are noobs. No, they have been around for a long time, but they know as little about the horror genre as they did when they first decided to use it as a means to an end.
  2. Horror Lamers are all girls. Although some Horror Lamers are girls, or guys pretending to be girls (and vice versa), the split is roughly 80-20 in favour of males. Unlike some cliques where the novelty value attracts a bunch of horndogs, the Horror Lamer girls are a gruesome looking bunch and the men aren't any better.
  3. Horror Lamers are still horror fans. Only in the same way that a biscuit is a kind of cake. I've even had one leave a comment saying, "I don't really like horror films, but..." That's the mentality behind them.

What motivates a Horror Lamer?

The bottom line is that they are lonely. They want internet friends and have latched onto the fact that the mythical "horror community" is a friendlier and more accepting bunch than other cliques. They often come unstuck, but they know that new/younger horror fans feel like outsiders and are begging for attention. The Horror Lamers just can't wait to give it to them, and the amount of smoke that they'll blow up asses is legendary!

At this point you may ask, "So what's wrong with that?" Nothing, if these people were being truly atruistic and honest, but they're not. They will make friends with you because they need you a lot more than you need them. They want their numbers of subscribers, followers, likes and comments to be as big as possible because it makes them feel popular for the first time in their empty lives.

When you go to their blogs and see between 20 to 30 comments under yet another picture of Freddy's glove while your analysis of the end scene of "Martyrs" still has tumbleweeds blowing through it, it's bound to fool you into thinking that they are doing something right and you aren't. But examine these comments closely and you will see that they are all from the same people, several times over, and the number includes the blogger's own multiple replies! Aw, they think the comments section is a chat room!

How to avoid the Horror Lamers

The sad thing is that you can't. Sooner or later, just by letting it be known that you are into horror, one of them will find your blog and tell his or her friends about it.

I imagine that a typical conversation between one Horror Lamer and another goes something like this:
Horror Lamer 1: "Hey, I just found a kewl new blog! The guy really loves Freddy and Jason and has lots of wicked kewl pictures. I followed him and he followed me back. You should follow him too!"
Horror Lamer 2: "Oh kewl. Link me and I'll check it out! He follows back, yeah?"
Horror Lamer 1: "Absolutely. Here's the link - http:/ K. Bye."
Watch in horror as your Google Friend Connect box or Twitter followers list gets populated by the same faces that you've seen dozens of times while surfing horror blogs yourself. You'll probably get a load of "e-book reviewers" and "YA horror authors" as well. Very rarely, you'll get non-bloggers who the Horror Lamers have brought over from Pinterest or their Facebook groups, but they'll maybe only comment once with a spam link.

How to remove Horror Lamers from your life

Most people think that if you don't reply and don't acknowledge them, the Horror Lamers will get bored and disappear. If only it was that simple. They'll cling to you like leeches and suck the joy out of being a horror blogger unless you take action.

The only thing you can do to get rid of these pests completely is to install Disqus and block them. Blocking them from your GFC widget does nothing, but they will probably flame you on their Facebook walls and Twitter timelines for doing so. Once they've invaded your Facebook and Twitter, Horror Lamers are an even worse problem and pose a potential threat to your credibility, so be prepared to nip them in the bud before they get that far.

Here's a list of guaranteed to be successful methods:
  • Consistently insult everything that they like even if you actually like some of the same things yourself.
  • Flame them first! Name, shame, and call them out.
  • Block them everywhere, and warn your friends to do the same.

The Horror Lamers will retaliate, and your subscriber count will drop, but it's worth it in the long run. It's so worth it!

Other horror cliques online

Although the Horror Lamers drift in and out of other cliques—or rather join them and get banned—there are several horror cliques which are just as despicable, and some have even more sinister agendas.

  • The Horror Poseurs. AKA The Rob Zombie Lookalikes. They are covered in tattoos and piercings, only wear black horror movie t-shirts, listen exclusively to rock music, and watch nothing but indie horror movies. Ask them for their opinion of "Wolf Blood", and then wait several years for them to come up with an answer which doesn't have the name of a wrestler in it.
  • The Hardcore Horror Fans. Watching everything indescriminately just to tick the movies off, these guys live and breathe all things horror, belong to every forum, want to make their own horror, but have no discernable talent or ability to do so. Many of them end up as indie horror filmmakers, bloggers, or suicides.
  • The Indie Horror Filmmakers. A camera from Wal-mart, a bunch of drunken friends, a backyard to lark around in, and a DVD burner on their computers are all the things these guys need to have a good time. Often to be found lurking Kickstarter or Indiegogo and begging non-stop for money on the social networks.
  • The Wannabe Scream Queens. They will do anything to get 5 seconds in any horror movie just so they can have an IMDb profile and claim that they are actresses.
  • The Horror Neckbeards. Morbidly obese, unshaven and unwashed, still living with their parents, but with hoards of horror DVDs and books which they believe will make up for their physical and social inadequacies. Most are virgins and have very active YouTube channels or podcasts.
  • The Horror Lites. Not so much a clique as a constantly metamorphosing hivemind who love horror which isn't too horrific. Formerly "Buffy" fans, they've now turned to "Twilight", "Underworld", "Resident Evil", horror comedies, and TV shows such as  "Dexter", "True Blood", "Bates Motel" and "The Walking Dead". Their position as horror fans is tenuous at best.
  • Women in Horror. Fauxminists who promote their members' indie movies until you're sick to death of hearing about them. Any criticism of this hypocritical PR group is met with allegations of sexism and made out to be a further example of male oppression. Historically, they have repeatedly proven themselves to be the biggest cyberbullies and cowards on the internet. Be forewarned that they will opportunistically play the victim card if it looks like their equally brainwashed, emasculated, whiteknighting male followers can be called in to do some dirty work for them. It's best to not speak to any of them unless you want to be falsely accused of something.
  • The Horror Haters. It doesn't matter what it is, they hate it. Remakes, sequels, even the original movies and the actors in them. They hate everything to do with horror movies, but they carry on watching them regardless! Sometimes their opinions are supported by the next group.
  • The Horror Contrarians. Truly polarising movies confuse them, so they'll say exactly the opposite of the norm to create controversy. If someone hates "The Conjuring", they'll gush like fanboys over all the reasons why it's the greatest horror movie ever made. If someone likes "The Exorcist", they'll tear it several new assholes to get pageviews.
  • The Vampires. They honestly believe that they are vampires and will drink your blood if you let them. They love everything to do with vampires and nothing else although there are werewolves among them now too who are even more amusing trollcows.
  • The Horror Hipsters. For them, a horror movie has to be so obscure that only two or three people have heard of it. They love the idea of "cult", but hate it when it happens. Ironically amusing "so bad it's good" movies float their boat until more people buy into the delusion, and then they disown them.
  • The Horror Elite. The last great horror clique which is dying out due to the age of its founder members. The horror elite have seen every horror movie from every subgenre and quantified/qualified them objectively. Probably the toughest clique to join because their members are ageist.

Have you been a victim of the Horror Lamers? Do you now know who they are? Do you think that you may have fallen into the trap of being a Horror Lamer yourself? Or do you identify with another online horror clique? Leave me a comment below.

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