Well, hi, there! You might think that you’ve just clicked on this article, intending to enjoy a little hot-takery before you return to your real life, but you’re wrong – the doors are locked, the timer is counting down, the puppet is cycling in with his grumpy audio tape: it’s October, and, here at No But Listen, we are going to be spending this month creating thirty-one days of writing on horror movies. And you’re trapped here with us, you fools!
And that starts right here! Specifically, I want to focus on the enigmatic truth that every horror fan knows: horror movies are just as good when they’re bad as they are when they actually work.
But why is that? A bad comedy is not a film worth watching; a bad science-fiction movie is not something I will seek out on a Saturday night. But there is something alchemic about a bad horror. Even the very worst nonsense of a horror film will pass for a good time with me, and I know no horror fans who wouldn’t jump at the chance to enjoy a particularly ridiculous slice of attempted-spookery.
I think it’s got something to do with the fact that horror is the only genre that I don’t need to actually fufill what it says on the tin. As I’ve written before, horror movies don’t actually have to be scary to be good – some of the best horror movies out there aren’t the ones that actually scare me the most. If I don’t laugh at a comedy, it sucks, but if I don’t scream at a horror, I can still love it.
Which suggests that it’s not just the fear that I’m coming to this genre for. No, instead, I think it’s something else – I think it’s a genre that, inherently, asks us for a suspension of our disbelief. Horror basically requires you, as a creator and a viewer, to accept that this is going to get a little unhinged, at least. It’s the ridiculous that I’m here for, the complete break from reality – I just happen to enjoy it most in the form of haunted houses and horny teens as opposed to Middle Earth and alt-history, you know?
Even at it’s very best, horror is one musical cue away from being an outright camp comedy, and at it’s very worst, it doesn’t even need that music cue to make it happen. When a genre teeters on the edge of ridiculous at the best of times, the worst of times just push it over into the welcoming embrace of the silly. And that’s why I’m always going to love a terrible horror movie – because it feels like the final evolution of the silliness of this genre, and I will always love it for that.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via BornCute)