What is horror?

The_ScreamNot long ago I got an email from an author who was upset with me because I had talked about one of her books on this blog; and I had said her writing combines horror and mystery. In her email she said that she does not write horror. She continued to say that horror is all about blood and guts and shocking people and she doesn’t do that, what she writes is paranormal mystery. I replied to her that to me, paranormal falls into the horror genre and horror can be a lot of different things, not just blood and guts.

This lady’s email really got me thinking, What is horror? I asked people in the horroraddicts.net facebook group and several people responded. One of the people who commented was Chantal Boudreau who said horror is about a lot more than gore. Chantal wrote her own blog post on what horror is which you can read here. Most of the other responses on what horror is, said that it’s a broad topic that can  be a lot of different things but basically horror is anything that scares you.

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_NightmareSo even though one author sees paranormal mystery as not being horror, other people say paranormal does fit into the horror genre. Paranormal includes anything that doesn’t have a scientific explanation such as ghosts, psychic powers or extrasensory perception. People are scared of what they do not understand, and since paranormal deals with the unknown, I think its horror.

I would even go a little farther with this and say there are a lot of different sub genres to horror. Comedy such as The Addams Family or The Munsters fit into the horror genre. A lot of science fiction can also be classified as horror such as Alien or The Terminator. For me personally, I think hospitals can be scary places, so a show like ER can fit into the horror category for me. Even police dramas such as Criminal Minds or The Following can be horror because these shows deal with serial killers and that definitely fills most people with a sense of fear.

To me  even though I would consider the Friday the 13th movies, which I never liked, and The Nightmare On Elm Street movies, which I loved, horror; I didn’t find them very scary. So to me something doesn’t have to be scary to be considered horror. As I’ve gotten older I find movies don’t scare me anymore but books still do. That being said I still enjoy watching horror movies but I look at them as more funny than scary. I would still throw them into the horror category though.

So to me horror just describes something that is dark, different or misunderstood, not necessarily shocking or scary. So to everyone out there, what do you consider horror? What scares you? Do you consider something horror if it doesn’t scare you? Can scary sounding music fit into the horror genre? Also what makes you love horror? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.