Monday, October 26, 2009


I've been thinking about those horror films I've been watching, Sooz's comment is spot on - a lot of them are crap, but when they're good (like Alien or Jaws or Silence of the Lambs) they're just so so good. The premise of the first "Saw" film is that the antagonist (aka baddie) has terminal cancer and sees all the healthy people around him who are wasting their healthy lives. He threatens these people with death, and thereby makes them realise how much they really want to live, and how wonderful it is to be alive.

If you can possibly remember that the bit where the doctor saws through his ankle is all plastic and ketchup make-believe, then you really have a very compelling film. I'm still a beginner so Mr. CB has been instructed to pinch me every few minutes and remind me that it's all make-believe.

Now that's another thing - isn't it amazing that film can be such a powerful medium that we can watch actors pretending to be hurt and we feel absolute revulsion and horror to the point of not being able to distinguish reality from fiction?

My friend Sarah, during the last days of her rather awful illness, was reading this book. I was at first shocked at her choice of reading material, I was still a ridiculous romantic in those days who believed that a very pretty piece of poetry might be the sort of recommended reading material for someone nearing death. But now it makes such perfect sense. Fictional worlds of death and dismemberment go a long way to take our mind off the TRULY horrific fact - that when we die there is just nothing, no "me" any more. Much more fun to think of blood, guts and mysterious clues.

A few months ago I heard an interview on the radio with Dorothy Porter. It was repeated from the previous year, when she had been feeling well enough to talk. She mentioned that what gets her through her bad days, those endless days in the hospital and in her bed at home, is reading Agatha Christie. She said that when things really got bad, nothing but Agatha Christie would do! It made perfect sense to me - the plotted murders, the poisons, the cunning animosity, the striving for justice. That's just what makes you feel better about everything.

So I'm now shedding one more prejudice, one more cliche, and I am embracing the horror and celebrating a creative life which need not be hemmed in by lovely rhymes, romantic embraces and soft-lit sunsets.

For who knows what tomorrow may bring.


sooz said...

The suspension of disbelief is indeed a miraculous thing. One of my fellow students brought an industry catalogue to a tute that was full of all the stuff they use to make all that fake horror. I'm sure they do it all with computers now but back then realism was a product of make up various props. There was something like 50 different kinds of fake blood, depending on how it was to be used (pooling, spurting, dripping....) and where it would filmed (hard surfaces, fabric, outdoor, indoor...) and other variables I can't recall. Totally demystifying!!

fifi said...

I think if you were feeling truly dreadful, it would be galling to be reading about sweetness and light constantly. A touch of black would be just the thing.

Duyvken said...

I think Sarah was on to something, I have been voraciously reading The Millenium Trilogy since we lost the baby. It's been a real 'break' from reality.

Duyvken said...

I think Event Horizon is my favourite horror film and I am not even sure if it fits into teh genre, it's definitely not a body of films I spend a lot of time watching but I know that it has experienced a resurgence in the past few years. What an interesting subject!