Horror is a vast genre. But, sadly, it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Too often, critiques disregard horror, and yet, the fandom can’t have enough.
The Beginning of Horror
Reviewing horror movies and the subgenres is quite a task. So, let’s get into it!
Horror goes back centuries when folklore and legends were born. Creatures such as ghosts, vampires, demons, witches, and underwater monsters existed well before writing about them. So, I guess we can say in a way, horror is in our DNA.
The monsters we know defy time and often have roots in many civilisations worldwide. Folklore is where it starts, but it also grows and becomes an entity. After all, Catholicism and Christianity gave us the devil and demons. Horror is everywhere.
Whether or not we want to admit it, eliminating horror cannot happen when reality can be just as horrifying. Legends and folklore have a fragment of truth, and most monsters were human when the tale started.
The Paranormal Horror
History is often an excellent place to create a horror story. So many movies or novels have base on factual events. Now, to what extent are those stories real? It’s up for debate but entertaining, nonetheless.
Movies such as The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and The Conjuring are said to be paranormal. However, their roots come from true events. Whether it is a possessed boy, a man saying demons possessed him to kill his family, or files kept by the late Warrens, they are real.
I guess I’m saying the story is true to those who lived through it. Paranormal or not, something had the article, the video, or the facts available. It doesn’t matter if one believes in the paranormal because something happened in the end. Was it supernatural, a mental illness, or a hoax gone too far? Who knows? It still happened.
The Reality of Nightmares
Society and our surroundings are often proof that we don’t need to reach out far to create horror. Reality can be more than enough. It can even inspire some of the most twisted horror ever made. Sometimes, it’s almost inconceivable to think those are stories inspired by reality.
One cannibalistic killer from Wisconsin was able to inspire a few horror movies by himself. Ed Gein inspired Psycho, Hannibal Lecter, Pa Townsend, Ezra Cobb, Farmer Vincent, Ed Chilton, Ed Gein, Otis B., and Leatherface. He was the primary inspiration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the “based on true events” comes from. The family itself got its inspiration from a southern inbred family of the time.
Ed Gein was a cannibal born in 1906 and lived to be seventy-eight years old. His name was anywhere between Edward Theodore Gein to The Butcher of Plainfield. He committed gruesome acts that inspired books and movies. Gein was the perfect inspiration for Leatherface because he made masks out of the face of people he killed. He made belts, gloves, handles, and bowls, among other utilities, out of some body parts he didn’t eat.
Ed Gein, when arrested, did not go to prison but to a mental institution. He was the embodiment of psychopathy and an excellent subject to study. Understanding the mind of someone like Ed Gein is of primary importance, and horror movies aren’t too far from what he was in real life.
When Slasher Flicks Are Real
One horror movie that few people know has roots, in reality, is A Nightmare On Elm Street. Wes Craven revealed in an interview reading about the story of a boy who fled Cambodia with his family to go to the United States of America.
However, the boy had terrible nightmares and told his parents he didn’t want to fall asleep, scared of dying if he would. Then, one night, the boy screamed, but by the time the parents got to him, he died. The boy passed away in the middle of a dream. That story was, according to Craven, in the L.A. Times.
There you have it! A typical slasher flick, an entire franchise created in the 80s, that has a handle on reality. Freddy Krueger‘s character might be fictional, but the essence of where the story comes from isn’t.
So, is horror so far-fetched?
When Torture Porn Met Eli Roth
Ed Gein inspired a lot by himself, but sometimes it’s an entire event that can trigger someone’s mind to make a movie. Let’s take Eli Roth‘s Hostel, the movie that cemented Roth’s name as the Torture Porn King. Another term for torture porn would be splatter films.
The Hostel franchise is one overwhelming series of movies. But back when the first instalment came out, a subgenre would cement its name in horror subcategories. Torture porn, mostly, owes its name to Hostel.
However, aside from the twisted torture, Eli Roth admitted that the idea came from an actual place he read about. In some European countries, rich people pay to see strangers—most of the time, students from abroad be tortured to death—the dark web is a thing!
So, to those who say horror is stupid or increases violence or encourages unspeakable acts: do your research first. Eli Roth didn’t reinvent the wheel. He simply came across a piece of reality most of us want to deny exists.
Does The Dog Die In The Movie?
Let’s get one thing straight. The horror genre is vast and contains many subgenres. Up to this point, I showed how horror doesn’t take its fiction as far from reality as we think it does. However, some people believe you cannot call yourself a horror fan unless you are ready to watch the entire horror spectrum of movies. That is horse shyte!
Movies are for entertainment, not a barometer of someone’s tolerance for whatever genre they are watching. I consider myself a broad horror fan, but I know where I refuse to cross the line. Exploitation movies are often the genre I avoid. Why is that? Because, as its subgenre indicates, it’s the exploitation of whatever the subject is without reason or making the story move forward.
My personal avoidances are animal abuse, child violence, rape, women’s exploitation without a valid reason, paedophilia, and mutilation without a good reason. For those who are often questioning, “Can I watch this horror movie, or will it trigger x,y,z?” Here is a website for you where they take care of all the traumas.
Does The Dog Die
Again we are all horror fans and our community is healthy. We should keep it that way. No one needs to watch, for example, A Serbian Film, to be a horror fan. We’re all fans of the genre, and we’re here to have a fun spooky time.
Where Are You On The Horror Ladder?
While I said the horror category is vast, the fandom is just as significant and broad. The subcategories are there to indicate what trope you’re in for. Some of them are as simple as ‘slasher flick‘ or ‘torture porn,’ but others are less direct.
This Iceberg Horror Movie Ladder can help locate where you are comfortable in the horror genre. Many YouTube channels create various Top 5 or List of Horror Movies categories that can be helpful. The one I personally recommend is below: Top 5 Scary Videos.
I believe horror is an essential part of creativity. I know so many people who enjoy the genre, and sometimes, their subgenres are way different from mine, but we connect nonetheless. Where you are on the horror ladder is not about your tolerance but your preference and what you enjoy. The horror fandom is for everyone. If you find it relaxing to watch a horror comedy, it is just as valid as someone who watches The Human Centipede. The keyword is: enjoyment.
Those ‘Too Much’ Movies
Now, we’re entering the subgenre of horror that is quite dark and for various reasons. It doesn’t mean it’s horrifying; some are just gruesome for no particular reason. DISCLAIMER: Note here that this segment of the article is about the obscure and twisted matter. If you couldn’t take the decapitation of Charlie in Hereditary, maybe stop here.
Often the darker we go in horror, the more gore-fest we find, not much from reality but fetishes. That subgenre, I guess, falls under the smut-horror movies. A lot of plots rely on exploitation and overly depend on different kinds of crazes.
Examples of smut-horror movies include the Slow Torture Puke Chamber franchise and No Vaseline The Great Porn Swindle —part of a hardcore porn site. I don’t need to say what it is, as the titles are self-explanatory. Those are part of the Iceberg Horror Movie List that I don’t particularly agree with due to its movie placement.
This Iceberg Horror Movie List seems to mix horror with gruesome, nauseating-inducing movies. I think this list could help those looking for movies nobody has heard of or underground movies in snuff movie style. But, for the masses, stick to the simpler one with more reachable suggestions.
But The ‘Too Much’ Movies?
However, some dark horror movies stuck with people and aren’t nauseating or exploitative. Some of these cross many lines for me, but I know people who watched those, and it stuck with them. One of them is a movie called Antichrist by Lars von Tiers came out in 2009. It was an experimental psychological horror movie starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
If you expect a paranormal story about what we think the ‘antichrist’ word means, you’re wrong. Antichrist revolves around the aftermath of parents grieving the loss of their child. They go to a cabin in the woods where both go through different psychological trauma.
The father has visions while the wife has violent sexual sadomasochism bursts. The mutilation scenes are the kind that not everyone can sit through and give the movie a much darker tone with its depiction of those uncomfortable scenes.
Another movie that I consider precious and watched with admiration is Martyrs. This movie received many positive reviews. As a point of reference, Martyrs—the original French movie, received a high 7.1 on IMDb and a solid 4.1 on Google, which is relatively high for horror.
The psychological horror movie Martyrs came out in 2008, and its director was Pascal Laugier. The story revolves around a girl named Lucie who wishes nothing more than to kill those who tortured her after her abduction. She meets two other girls along the way, but not without brutal violence and mutilation.
Why the movie has the title Martyrs is quite a revelation. In the end, one can understand why the movie is controversial but also praised by many viewers. It is part of the New French Extremity movement.
Extremity Movement What?
The New French Extremity is a subgenre of horror, and while not exclusive to the genre, it is popular. It comes mostly from French directors that dare speak and show taboo topics. This subcategory is unique to mutilation and the long-lasting effect of abduction, torture, incest, home invasion, pornography, and so much more. It relies on shocking sceneries but also on their psychological impact.
I watched another movie by Pascal Laugier called, Incident In A Ghost Land, and it was magnificent. The movie discussed home invasion, abduction, and psychological effects on the two sisters. The two sisters couldn’t be more different, henceforth had an entirely unique reaction to the kidnapping.
Incident In A Ghost Land is a good starting point to test whether or not this subgenre is for you or not. It is a powerful, heavy, but passionate movie. I highly recommend this movie to try the genre.
Where I Draw My Line Without Shame
So, this is one of the last dark movies I present in this article. I can watch many subgenres when it comes to horror, but everyone has a line not to cross. A Serbian Film contains most of what I refuse to watch.
A Serbian Film, in my opinion, is there to shock and test what people agree to show to the public. I don’t think it has another purpose. It touches on topics that few would be comfortable watching. Do we fall under the horror-smut subgenre? Maybe.
The story revolves around a porn star getting older and wanting to leave his career. In other words, he wants to be an actor and not a porn star anymore. He agrees to take part in an art movie but realises he is in over his head with scenes of pedophilia and necrophilia involving not only a corpse but a baby as well. Those are just the tip of the iceberg for this movie.
You might come across some horror fans who would say, ‘Oh, A Serbian Film is nothing! It’s a kid’s movie compared to what I can watch!’ Don’t take it personally. Answer with a smile, ‘The more power to you, then!’ Because that movie was a test to see which country would ban it from classifying it as an X-rated movie. But that is my opinion on the matter.
The Darkest Movie I Enjoyed
Like many horror fans, I have favourite subjects. My favourite horror genre is found footage, which I’m proud of! Sometimes I like psychological horror, too. I also enjoy watching serial killer documentaries, and so I stumbled upon The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a mockumentary—falls under the ‘found footage’ umbrella—about a fictional serial killer. Do not underestimate this movie because of its ‘found footage’ label. The Poughkeepsie Tapes gave nightmares to many who watched it. It also disturbed many viewers, believing that what they watched was real.
The movie is entirely fictional. However, the inspiration comes from various serial killers that lived. It shows the serial killer filming what he does to his victims, keeping his first captive alive throughout the years. The movie shows how a psychopath sees humans, thinks, acts, and can get away with murder.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is not for everyone as it shows mental abuse, torture, and tests to what point not only the body can take pain but the brain too. This movie is one of the best horrors I watched, and I only recommend it to those with a strong stomach. It’s not a gore-fest. It’s psychologically heavy.
Another Dark Informative Horror Movie
This brings me to Megan Is Missing. I am quite disappointed and sad when people say horror is gross, brainless, inspires horror, and so on. I find myself wanting to show them movies such as Megan Is Missing. Maybe those people would stop and think about what is happening in their household.
The reality the movie presents to us shows social media is the perfect tool to solve a murder but also to become a victim of murder. It demonstrates to what point parents know nothing about their children’s lives. It doesn’t point fingers because we were all kids at one point, and we know what we hid from our parents, guardians, and so on. If a teen wants to keep a secret, they will.
Megan is the typical popular girl in a rougher neighbourhood, not an off-the-beaten-path one, but in suburbs of L.A. where you must do certain things to be at the top of the food chain. Megan is best friends with Amy, a nerdy, good, focused, more introverted girl. They have known each other all their lives.
But one night, Amy witnesses her bestie, Megan, giving a blow job to a boy for cocaine. Megan is fourteen-years-old. The people at that party are between thirteen and sixteen at the most. Those children are sexually active and it is quite discriminatory toward the girls. We see them intoxicated, drugged, raped and beaten by their ‘friends.’ Amy wants no part of it.
The filth I felt watching the movie while Megan was having sexual relations and powdered nose were horrible. My skin crawled at the view of what teenagers are becoming in specific areas of countries. But the most terrible part of the story is Megan’s kidnapping and her best friend looking for her. Sadly, Amy will find Megan, but neither will come back.
See, the Megan Is Missing movie shows how simple it is right now, in the present, to kidnap children, do whatever sick thought crosses your mind and get away with murder. The way the murderer disposes of his victims is in the desert and yet, it is a horrifyingly believable scenario. Nobody would ever find the corpses.
I only recommend Megan Is Missing to very strong-minded people. If you have children, especially daughters, think twice because it will leave a mark. I have no children and it punched me in the gut. It’s an amazing movie, but it is easy to tell they made it to shock people into seeing how easy it is to abduct and get away with murder. Sad but true.
We Are All Horror Fans
There you have it, the proof that horror has many subgenres to satisfy almost everyone. Horror isn’t cheesy, or stupid. It does not increase violence or encourage it. Horror takes from the darkest reality can give and turns it into an entertainment medium to show what society became.
Horror is intelligent and much smarter than we think. It touches us, dares us, and teaches us many things. Horror gave us classic cutting edge styles, and showcased unknown people’s talent, and made them celebrities.
Not all horror movies have us think or fear reality. There are horror movies made to turn off our brains and just enjoy the ride, too! But don’t underestimate the horror genre or point figure at it without taking it for a test drive. Also, the iceberg? Take it as a way to find your horror subcategory to enjoy.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not a horror fan because you don’t watch movies that are part of the iceberg. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a freak or stupid for watching horror. Horror is a lifestyle. The darkest psychological horror movies take their inspiration from society. The news isn’t that different, either.
Be you, enjoy your horror category and rock on!
One thought on “Reviewing Horror Movies And The Subgenres”
Awesome job putting together this article!!! A little something for everyone!💖💋💯