5 Horrific Subgenres of Horror
What scares you? What keeps you awake at night and causes you to quake and tremble beneath your sheets? The things you find horrifying might resonate well with others, while some might not understand what all the fuss is about. However, truth be told, we’re all scared of something and different things can terrify different people.
Horror-themed television programming and most of what Hollywood has to offer tend to be rather conventional when compared to the utter litany of subgenres that are out there. However, as the years have gone on, more and more movies have blurred the lines, giving rise to some of the most twisted subgenres. Most of the credit goes to Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense who would frequently blur the line between what were ostensibly thrillers and the horrifying surrealism of his direction. Thanks to him and other creative directors, there are far too many horror subgenres to talk about in the space permitted.
So, listed below are five of the best.
Eastern icons of cinema like the anime Akira and the film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, these are both great examples of body horror. This subgenre places heavy focus on the graphic depiction of destruction and degeneration of the human body, but it can also include parasitism and mutation as seen in The Thing. What makes the subgenre so effective is that it instills a certain sense of personalized dread whenever the viewer sees such a visceral depiction of body horror. In the case of The Thing that sense of dread is pretty easy to comprehend – it’s saying “you’re next.” That’s why many top horror lists still have a soft, squishy spot in their hearts for The Thing and others like it.
Post-apocalyptic horror has been a pretty popular genre in a lot of recent Hollywood offerings from Viggo Mortensen in The Road to Zombieland. The undead have been particularly prominent in really driving home just how bleak life can be for those not lucky enough to be wiped out in the apocalypse. When there is no infrastructure, no law, no morals, no civility – when humanity loses its humanity, you truly are on your own, and that can be especially frightening.
They say that crazy people only think they’re getting saner while the truly sane individuals are the ones who actually question their own sanity. However, what if those who question it are so crazy that they actually think they are sane and able to question their dwindling sanity? You can go crazy asking those questions behind the questions and that’s really the essence of psychological horror – the uncertainty. It’s horror from the perspective of an unreliable narrator who never quite knows what’s real. Shutter Island was a great example of this along with Session 9.
The 1979 film Alien popularized the tagline “In space no one can hear you scream.” Alien is regarded by many as the quintessential sci-fi horror movie with others like Event Horizon following in the wake. What makes these films effective as far as horror is concerned is the sheer claustrophobia they induce. You’re on a ship with nothing but the deadly vacuum of space outside – there’s only so many places you can hide.
So… there probably aren’t too many people out there who could honestly say they like being murdered and/or tortured to death. The mere thought of a toe or finger being cut off or being pierced with a fishing hook is a little unsettling. So, why make splatter horror movies and why go out and see them? There have been lots of psychological studies on this but no one can really agree on why we are both horrified but intrigued with these “splatter films.” Maybe it’s a way for us to get as close as possible to it (and confront it)…or maybe, deep down, it satiates that inherent thirst for carnage.
The list of subgenres goes on, as long and as varied as there are individuals with their own individualized fears. What you find scary might not affect others in the same way…and what others find truly terrifying may be a trifling thing, indeed. The beauty of horror and its various subgenres is that, now, it’s less of a sweeping sensation – capable of hitting us all where we live.
AUTHOR: Adrian Rawlings; @adrianrawlings2
BIO: Adrian Rawlings is a TV and horror blogger. Look to him for the scoop on hit movies and TV shows, horror, tech reviews, how-to’s, and more.