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What the hell do I mean by "hardcore horror"?

10 Years Ago


    Since “hardcore” is tacked onto other terms so readily and lightly, I figured that I would put together a working definition of what it is that I mean when I say “hardcore horror”. I would very much like for this to be an evolving definition, so please feel free to add to it as you so desire or to respond to this with comments and questions.

    When I talk about Hardcore Horror, I am usually referring to the relatively recent sub genre of horror populated by the works of people like Charlee Jacobs, Ed Lee, Jack Ketchum, etc., though many of them do not like the term. My favorite comment about that comes from Charlee Jacobs, who said that it makes her think of porn. I actually prefer the term hardcore simply because the genre seems to work in response to Splatterpunk much in the same way the Hardcore music worked in response to Punk. S**t. Now I have to backtrack:

    Splatterpunk (usually referred to simply as “splat”) was a sub genre of horror that appeared mostly in the eighties that was characterized by the idea that, as a society, we had become so desensitized that to get anyone's attention, writers would have to revert to extreme measures. Thus were born iconic works like Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart or Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho (which could actually be seen as signifyin' on splat, but that is another matter) that were characterized by their extreme, and often sexual, violence.

    Hardcore Horror takes this same idea but pushed it further, often making use of a very direct, simple and concise writing style that increase the sense of uncomfort in the reader. Where splat would often make the horror and pain into something beautiful (see Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse), Hardcore makes it as ugly as possible within the bounds of written language. Hardcore also tends to focus on human monsters and travesties, even in the presence of sub- or- super-human monsters. The idea here seems to be an attack on the conceit of civilization in western society: that we, as a civilized people, do not harbor those deep down desires for blood and destruction. Therefore, artists in this line of work tend focus on pointing out our tendencies toward horrific actions. In a way, you could look at it as extreme anti-romanticism.

    Of course, not every work fits into this mold perfectly but I think that helps to give a general idea of what it is that I am talking about.

[no subject]

10 Years Ago


Originally posted by Anton Cancre

    Since “hardcore” is tacked onto other terms so readily and lightly, I figured that I would put together a working definition of what it is that I mean when I say “hardcore horror”. I would very much like for this to be an evolving definition, so please feel free to add to it as you so desire or to respond to this with comments and questions.

    When I talk about Hardcore Horror, I am usually referring to the relatively recent sub genre of horror populated by the works of people like Charlee Jacobs, Ed Lee, Jack Ketchum, etc., though many of them do not like the term. My favorite comment about that comes from Charlee Jacobs, who said that it makes her think of porn. I actually prefer the term hardcore simply because the genre seems to work in response to Splatterpunk much in the same way the Hardcore music worked in response to Punk. S**t. Now I have to backtrack:

    Splatterpunk (usually referred to simply as “splat”) was a sub genre of horror that appeared mostly in the eighties that was characterized by the idea that, as a society, we had become so desensitized that to get anyone's attention, writers would have to revert to extreme measures. Thus were born iconic works like Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart or Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho (which could actually be seen as signifyin' on splat, but that is another matter) that were characterized by their extreme, and often sexual, violence.

    Hardcore Horror takes this same idea but pushed it further, often making use of a very direct, simple and concise writing style that increase the sense of uncomfort in the reader. Where splat would often make the horror and pain into something beautiful (see Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse), Hardcore makes it as ugly as possible within the bounds of written language. Hardcore also tends to focus on human monsters and travesties, even in the presence of sub- or- super-human monsters. The idea here seems to be an attack on the conceit of civilization in western society: that we, as a civilized people, do not harbor those deep down desires for blood and destruction. Therefore, artists in this line of work tend focus on pointing out our tendencies toward horrific actions. In a way, you could look at it as extreme anti-romanticism.

    Of course, not every work fits into this mold perfectly but I think that helps to give a general idea of what it is that I am talking about.


 

Playing devil's advocate... "hardcore" by this definition , in terms of literature is not much different from describing, say, Marilyn Manson in terms of music a few years ago.  The only issue I have with it is going to that extreme to illicit some kind of response from an audience that has become totally desensitized...there must be something of substance there, some reason for it to matter beyond just being "extreme".  THere must also be SUBSTANCE.  I think Marilyn Manson had about as much substance as KISS (in otherwords... none), but a  film like American Psycho has substance in the same way Lovecraft's stories have substance.  The fear of the unknown, and a healthy fear is something society needs.  It is that paranoia that doesn't let you relax, wont allow you to rest on your laurels with your two car garage and $75K a year and the kids in college-everything-gonna-be-alright.   Films like American Pyscho were a reminder that insanity isn't just something on the folded front page of your newpaper (...the lunatics are in the hall....and every day the paperboy brings more - as Pink Floyd once pointed out) but in the next cubicle/corner office/ etc. Good horror should remind us of our mortality and remind us that there is a REASON that human beings experience fear. 

Sorry, not much of a Devil's Advocate...in the end we are saying the same thing.  I've just always taken exception to the term "Hardcore" as well, and the idea of extreme makes me laugh nine times out of ten.

[no subject]

10 Years Ago


I don't entirely disagree with the silliness of the term, mostly due to it's overuse.  However, it is the generally accepted term for the sub-genre, so that is what I went with.

As far as the issue with extremity for its own sake, part of the point of Splat was drawing attention to our own desensitization (just see American Psycho's reduction of everything, even outlandish sex and violence, to simple commodities).  However, I would defend shock for shock's sake on the basis that we have a tendency towards complacence and those elements force us out of that state.  Marilyn Manson did a wonderful job of pointing out to us the level of our complacency as a society and exactly what nodes needed to be punched to force a questioning of ideals and ideologies, though he could never hold a candle to GG Allen ( I have a hard time believing anyone will anytime soon).  That said, in the hardcore genre, the idea of the shock seems more to knock us out of our assumed sense of safety and superiority (The Girl Next Door is a great example here).

***damn, do I love a good debate, keep bringin it momma!***

[no subject]

10 Years Ago


Originally posted by Anton Cancre

I don't entirely disagree with the silliness of the term, mostly due to it's overuse.  However, it is the generally accepted term for the sub-genre, so that is what I went with.

As far as the issue with extremity for its own sake, part of the point of Splat was drawing attention to our own desensitization (just see American Psycho's reduction of everything, even outlandish sex and violence, to simple commodities).  However, I would defend shock for shock's sake on the basis that we have a tendency towards complacence and those elements force us out of that state.  Marilyn Manson did a wonderful job of pointing out to us the level of our complacency as a society and exactly what nodes needed to be punched to force a questioning of ideals and ideologies, though he could never hold a candle to GG Allen ( I have a hard time believing anyone will anytime soon).  That said, in the hardcore genre, the idea of the shock seems more to knock us out of our assumed sense of safety and superiority (The Girl Next Door is a great example here).

***damn, do I love a good debate, keep bringin it momma!***


I understand...Although my arguement is shock only goes so far.  It gets your attention long enough and then you get pissed and stop thinking, or disregard it, or... Substance behind the shock would force people to question their reaction (see Audition,the scene when the old boyfriend is let of his burlap sack to dine on a bowl of the girl's vomit - there's a message there, not just an opportunity to disgust as many people as possible...although it DOES!).  Thing is, you get used to that shock and become as apathetic as you ever were.  YOu have to shake up a person's world to break lose the apathy.  Shock is too temporary.

The concept of sex and violence as commodity in American Psycho was shocking - and affecting enough to make the complacent question their ideas of sex and violence.  Same way our sense of safety and familiarity is questioned by Girl Next Door.  That could be YOUR neighbor, that lady you admired for taking in the foster kids or...you get me?

I'm full of argument (among other things, shite being one obviously) and always ready to go to battle and lose to you!

[no subject]

10 Years Ago


Sparing tis how we keep our blades sharp my lovely one.