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Oh, The Horror…

Yesterday morning St Albans looked far more appropriate for Halloween than it did on Saturday where bright sunshine and above average temperatures kind of detracted from any atmosphere of doom and horror (for those that like that kind of thing – personally I don’t and prefer the lighter side of dressing up, although apparently many of the outfits I’ve sported previously – especially those involving tights – can be just as terrifying as some monster). In particular the St Albans fog really does feel that it should have some zombies shuffling out of it intent on consumption of the living. Actually the only thing rambling out of the fog and fallen apples from our tree are a couple of wood pigeons (or as we tend to refer to them, fat pigeons) which tend to inspire laughter by their general bumbling rather than strike terror into our hearts.

Apparently this kind of fog is termed radiation fog, which means that the zombies should I presume be glowing and you’ll know they are close by the increasingly loud ticking of the Geiger counter…

I’ve never been much of a fan of horror movies. I think it is a genre you either get or you don’t and I am not sure exactly what puts me off. It isn’t the ludicrous nature of most horror scenarios or the clichés that seem endemic to them – I’m more than happy to sign up to the extreme silliness of much science fiction/fantasy/superhero movies for example, although a few of the horror movies I have seen often turn out to be more laugh out loud funny then many so called comedies. I can appreciate when horror movies are good (to my mind those that show less and tease more, and are more creepy than scary) but they simply are not my cup of tea (like most romantic comedies, but that is a different rant).

I think the problem is the general sense of negativity and the high body count. Here is my problem; I’ve always had a soft spot for secondary characters in dramas. The principals are all very well but I’m rooting for the guy at the back looking slightly bewildered at what is going on. I think it is perhaps because we do not know much about that character that I am more interested which is unfortunate as, certainly in a horror movie, he’s almost certainly for the chop (or bite or whatever other form of dispatch is intended). The Alien series of movies is a good example of what I do and don’t like; Aliens in particular I love because there are other survivors other than Ripley (not many, admittedly, and poor old Bishop has literally gone to pieces) and as they’ve been whittled down the colonial marines have some kind of personality (I still have a particular sad spot for Vasquez, as competence should be rewarded) which means you care. It is also why I detested Alien3 from the moment they wiped away those characters that I’d cared for and cheered at their survival in the first few moments of the movie.

So come to think of it I cannot really take most horror movies because I cannot allow myself to relate to any of the ‘B’ characters as I know they are likely to meet a sticky and probably unfair end. In the end I always see myself as that character rather than the protagonist. As a result I’d spend too much investing in them and thinking ‘get the hell out of there now’ in the same way as you do with any red shirted Star Trek security guard. About the only thing that I like about first Jurassic Park sequel is that Pete Postletwaite’s mercenary big game hunter literally does what anyone with any sense would do – basically saying ‘you’re not paying me enough to get eaten’ and wander off out of the narrative. It very slightly made up for the one thing I disliked about the original movie, which is that Bob Peck’s character should have survived – that character does in the book – as he knows how to manage around dangerous animals (basically hide in a pipe until help arrives although, that admittedly does not make great drama). But if ever I get around to ever writing any horror I’m going to try and reward common sense.

‘When the zombie pigeon apocalypse arrived, Matthew got a group of his most practical minded friends together, picked up a big stick and headed for the hills… And they didn’t go back for the cat…’


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