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I’ve just finished watching ‘The Walking Dead’ season 3 and I am very pleased with
The Walking Dead (season 2)
myself that I have managed to sleep soundly. It would appear that Zombies don’t scare me the same, or at least as much as they used too. But in my quest to face my fears in order to be able to delve deeper into the world of horror, in the hope that I will become a better writer in that genre, I find myself wondering what scares me the most, the gore or the psychological factor? Don’t get me wrong I still hide behind my pillow at the really gross bits, but that’s not so much out of fear its more to keep my dinner down. Every time I go to eat something meaty the picture of rotting zombie guts flying everywhere comes into my mind. Yes my imagination works on me in vast and wonderful ways, but I wish it would leave me be when I am eating.
That aside, what I have realised while facing my fear of zombies, is that it’s not just the gore that gets me but the psychological factor, the fear that you could become a flesh eating emotionless zombie. But when you have a way out when hope is there sitting just over the horizon then you don’t fear it the same. When everyone bands together to help each other then you feel that little bit more secure and the psychological fear drains away enough to let you slumber without nightmares. But what if the people you think you can count on leave you stranded in that dark forest alone with no back up and a hundred of your worst fears are running towards you in all directions? Then your security is taken away from you. Then you feel the dark cold touch of hopelessness reach out for your soul. So in this situation do you surrender? Do you give up and let the horde take you down into the depths of despair? Well that all depends on your character, whether you are a fighter or not. But then again no matter how strong you are mentally you might not be strong enough to fight off the horde baring down on you. So it all falls down to the what if’s. What if I can’t make it alone, what if I’m not strong enough to fight them off, what if I don’t have the skill to fight them off or to survive? You get the picture. So it’s here that the gore stops and the psychological scares begin.
The character is all alone in the dark house and every sound is audible and enhanced. They can’t get any sleep because they have no one to watch their back and as a result they start to live in their own head. They are sleep deprived, alone, sacred and now they are starting to imagine things. But are those things real or not. They don’t know because they have no one there to clarify it for them. My point is that the fear factor is not just about gore, but the fear of the unknown, the fear that what you are about to face may be faced alone and no one else will understand or help you. It’s the roller coaster ride of, what will happen next….
But I wonder if you could create a really scary story without the gore or at least the minimal amount? Are we so used to seeing blood and guts in our movies that without them it’s just not horror? Or would the psychological factor be enough to scare you?
I guess it all depends on our level of fear and what we have become immune too. But lets face it, it’s not only the gore that stays with us when the lights go out and we are trying to sleep. It’s also the psychological elements of the book or movie that force their way back up to the surface and haunt your dreams. It’s the cold touch of fear that plays out over and over in your mind, the parts that your brain can’t process. It’s the fear of the unknown, and the idea that those things could be real or could really happen to you. You have been taken out of your comfort zone and you can’t find the way back in the dark recesses of your mind. But what gets us out of our comfort zone is not only the fear of the unknown or being left alone, its the thought of all those horrible nasty things happening to us. And you need the gore to portray those events. So it could be said that the gore is the door in, and from then on it’s the psychological roller coaster that determines the scare factor of the movie or book.
So I guess you could say that both gore and the psychological factor feed off of each others darkness in order to bring out the horror. It would appear that they need each other in order to produce the scares we look for. So in the end it all comes down to a fine balance, in order to unbalance our minds and bring out our fears.