"Reading" Horror Movies (Instead of Watching Them)

During the recent livestream for the tribute to Devil Doll, @timryder mentioned that he can’t really stand to watch horror movies, but he does read synopsis of them on Wikipedia.

First of all: thank you to Tim for mentioning this and making me feel less alone in this behavior I thought was super, super niche for much of my life. I had literally never known of anyone else who does this, or at least admits to it.

I am very easily squicked out by a lot of gory visuals and sound effects, often even if they look cheesy. But I love spooky stories, and I don’t really have the same issue when it comes to reading or hearing them. And I have a weird fascination with reading the plots of horror films and learning their lore. So I probably know a weird amount about the histories and storylines of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Predator, and the Halloween franchises for someone who has never and probably never will see a single one of those films. (Well, I did watch a fair amount of Halloween III: Season of the Witch once.)

I’m curious: does anyone else here do this? Or are Tim and I the only people in the universe who “read” horror movies?

7 Likes

:grin: I look up their plot synopsis on Wiki all the time. Because I like knowing what people are talking about, even if I have 0 intention of ever seeing the films.

5 Likes

I don’t read horror movies, but I understand the dislike! I don’t mind a thriller, and as a teenager in the 80’s I went through my own slasher-movie phase. But since that phase ended, I actually think it’s kind of weird to enjoy movies whose entire premise is just various horrible ways of murdering people. And I don’t enjoy being scared – movie scared, roller coaster scared, whatever. It’s an unpleasant sensation that a great deal of evolution has gone into avoiding. Even as a teen I had limits; my sister thought The Toxic Avenger was great, but I had to stop watching after the (totally cheesy but still extremely gross) car-running-over-the-head scene.

I do, however, love anything with Bruce Campbell in it, so there’s that.

3 Likes

My primary motivation is just being interested in the mythology of the characters. Not that slashers are known for having especially intricate plots, but I always find the origin of supernatural characters like Freddy Krueger or Stephen King’s IT interesting, and the weird rules of their fictional worlds. That said, a lot of my interests overlap with those of horror fans, so it’s definitely come in handy in conversation to know what people are talking about, and I think it makes perfect sense to simply want to be in the know! As a MST3K fan alone we’re probably in a place to be especially likely overlap with horror fans.

2 Likes

That’s very similar to me - on occasion I really like a thriller. I also enjoy what one might call “atmospheric horror,” like older Universal horror films such as Bela Lugosi’s Dracula or even going back to silent era horror films which are more about mood than anything resembling a jump scare or gore. But yeah, seeing people getting killed repeatedly is just…not a thing that appeals to me, despite my interests (MST3K, Svengoolie, Universal monster films, etc.) overlapping with those of modern horror fans.

Recently I read about how there’s a literary distinction between “terror” and “horror,” where the former is all about suspense and build-up and the latter is all about fears realized. I’m definitely a fan of the former - I love David Lynch films, for example - and not so much the latter, like slashers.

As for Bruce Campbell…I avoid a lot of his films because of this very aversion, but I absolutely love when I can see him in something. I binge-watched The Adventurers of Brisco County, Jr. a year or two ago and had a blast (shout-out to the late Julius Carry, too) and one horror film I do love, in fact I’d go so far as to consider it one of my all-time favorite movies, is Bubba Ho-Tep.

2 Likes

I’ve seen several comments on various social media in support of this habit.

WE ARE LEGION

5 Likes

No, though I’ll sometimes try to find out the ending, not because I’m squeamish but because -with a few exceptions- I HATE when evil wins or gets to continue on for sequels (Saw can so go to :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:). I HATE the misery inflicted on innocents, I HATE torture porn… and again it’s not about the gore, it’s about the cruelty, it’s the intent.

Horror can be a tough sell - if I’m not buying into the world you created, it’ll make me laugh my head off. Hereditary was one of those, or the bit with the kid going all “Home Alone” on his mother’s a$$ in the Babadook, James Wans Insidious might be the funniest of them all, they’re just so very ridiculous to me, rather than scary.

On the other hand, I do like the old school classics, Gothic Hammer Horror is a kick. Universal monsters, sure. I like a good eerie ghost story, like The Changeling or Kwaidan. Things that mix in psychological ambiguity, like The Innocents, or The Haunting. Good old fashioned 50s style sci-fi horror (Them, The Fly, Incredible Shrinking Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

So, it just depends on the type of horror you’re talking about, slasher, Giallo, ghostly, psychological, creature features… or even a high seas adventure that makes you scream (Jaws).

I don’t really like pants wetting fear, I do like chills (for example, the ball bouncing down the stairs in The Changeling, gave me chills. The Others gave me chills)

3 Likes

I play a lot of violent video games but the gory stuff tends to be quick and the action is kinetic. By contrast, I was unfortunately exposed to a lot of gory movies when I was younger, making me VERY averse to body horror and emphasized gore. I blame being made to watch Event Horizon in the theatre when I was 9. :sweat:

That said, despite my aversion to gore visually, I get a morbid fascination when I catch wind of disturbing movies. Like Tusk, for example! That would probably creep me out for life if I watched blindly and saw it. Hearing about it, I knew it wasn’t a movie I wanted to watch…but I was still curious as to what developed and why. It’s a mild fascination that anyone thinks up this crazy stuff to begin with.

2 Likes

“Back in the day,” the excited discussions of the latest slasher/gore films were all about “how cool” was the manner and visuals of the various deaths. Nobody seemed to be talking about backstory or plot, so I never felt the need to know or offer such information. (Also back then, there were no easily available recaps or analyses, online or otherwise.)

Maybe closest to the topic with me is Game of Thrones. I read the first few books and enjoyed them. But when it came to watching the series, there was just too much reveling in the visual aspects of various things, so I bailed after season one and never cared to look back. (I kept with it for that long because I had to see the last chapter of book 1 on screen.)

2 Likes