LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Horror Blog: The Blurred Lines Between Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy
By James Whittington, Sunday 29th June 2014
“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it's when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it's when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there...” ―Stephen King
For all the Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror fanatics out there…this post was written just for you! I bet some of you notice how much of the content on the Horror Channel also contains Sci-Fi and even Fantasy through shows like Doctor Who, War of the Worlds, and even Xena: The Warrior Princess. And one might ask, ‘why is this so?’ Well, you came to the right person because I know a little something about horror and I want to take this opportunity to show to what extent fantasy/Sci-Fi influence horror.
First things first, I want to beg the question as to whether anyone of you can truly categorize and define these film genres from one another because I sure can’t. Obviously, Sci-Fi shows like Doctor Who tend to fuse science with fiction, while Fantasy shows like Xena focus their settings and narratives completely around the supernatural and the imaginary. But when you think about it, there are sooooo many aspects between Sci-Fi and Fantasy that overlap.
For instance, both genres try to recreate worlds that differ from this one in ways that push the boundaries between what is real and surreal. This grey space between the real and the imaginary by no doubt gave way to the Horror flick. Just about every Sci-Fi/Fantasy involves a heroic protagonist who faces the great dilemma of protecting his or her people from an extremely-evil force, villain, or monster. I’m sure we all at one point of time in our childhood found ourselves getting scared sh*tless, while watching people on TV get zapped and vaporized by a giant robot or devoured by a giant spider. No matter how cheesy the special effects were or how many times we were told by our parents how these monsters were not real, our kid-selves may still have gotten goose bumps and creeped out. And this fear of the unreal and unknown is what constitutes the CORE of horror films!
As seen from the quote above, Horror is all about messing with your head and creatively using as many tactics, from creaking stairs to a maniacal laugh, to scare the pants off you. And these tactics may even go beyond what is physically and logically possible by drawing on the uncanny and the supernatural, through ghosts, vampires, the boogeyman, etc. Like Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror deconstructs what we think to be reality in ways that are first subtle and normal. Most if not all of these films begin with a character that go about their normal lives at work or school, before encountering something odd and out of the ordinary, which they must overcome or avoid altogether. But the small thing I believe differentiates Horror from Sci-Fi/Fantasy is having characters who do not know the source of the conflict, let alone its solution. And this cliff-hanger is what draws us viewers in to the point of no return where the film’s ending is left to our imagination.
So, here was my little spoof on Sci-Fi/Fantasy and how they each contribute to Horror Films. I hope I convinced you that horror is not JUST horror because it may in fact take on other film genres and categories. To see what I mean be sure to tune into Horror Channel.
Until next time, stay scared!
Related show tags: DOCTOR WHO, THE INVADERS, WAR OF THE WORLDS, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS MORE FEATURES Renowned Author and critic Kim Newman takes us on a nostalgic trip through Horror Channel's Classic Monster Marathon Day on Sunday 24 November.
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