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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

 I want to write a good horror story, but horrors these days are so scary to the point where they bother me.

Jenz in Michigan

This week's Answer: 

Those Good Ol' Horror Days

I know exactly what you mean, Jenz.  Horrors have really gotten so... so... horrific.  They are very hard on the senses now, all those heart-pounding (and head pounding and other parts of the body being pounded or pulled apart or entered with sharp objects without permission) moments that have become many moments that add up to many extended periods of time when you, as the audience member, finds yourself with a death grip on your popcorn or the person-next-to-you's popcorn or anything else you might grab (and, if that person-next-to-you happens to not be the person you came in with, then you could be looking at further more real heart-pounding, with-the-police moments).

It's the name of the game now, Jenz.  Horror isn't like it used to be, the good ol' days when all you had to do in your imagination, as you watch, was to avoid or run away from or overcome one or two obviously-zippered- or heavily made-up monsters from the deep or deep space or deep forest or deep haunted house or deep wherever-else-monsters-and-fiends-congregate.  Monsters and fiends back in the days when you could even bring a child to a horror picture (although running the risk of many wet sheets or a high psychiatrist's bill) were really not such a bad lot.  Frankenstein was misunderstood (and, to his detriment, he never understood fire). Dracula didn't want to hurt all of you; he was just interested in your basic fluid that kept you going (sort of a like a good mechanic, really).  The Mummy wouldn't have acted out if he could have just gotten a hot shower.  The Werewolf only needed a shave and to change his calendar during full moons.  But, then, Mister Hitchcock changed everything and we couldn't take showers without lifeguards.  After that, "chainsaw," "get out!", "They're here...", "Freddy," "Jason," (all those poor Jason's and Freddy's...), "hurry!" (try counting those in a let's-all-run-away-from-whatever-is-after-us movie), none of them would ever again embody their former sweet, innocent meanings.  And let's not forget the inimitable, "I see dead people."  How are we ever again to attend a funeral (or a bridge game of depressed environmentalists on Valium) and not think about that?

What I'm trying to point out is that we are in a new era of the horror movie.  Producers of such fair are out to scare the stuffing out of you (which the clean up crew at theatres are complaining about).  They, the producers (not the clean up crews) are not content to just make you jump out of your seats, but they want you shaking and quaking and reelin' and rockin' and rollin', baby!  And if there's some tossin' (up your recently ingested popcorn and soda), so much the better.  They, the producers, don't have to do the cleaning up.  Maybe they're already doing audience preview research, discovering what truly shakes the viewer, how much she perspires, how fast his blood pressure rises.

Coming to a theatre near you...

Heart Attack!

You won't leave the theatre without a paramedic...



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