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June 23, 2018


Why Horror Seduces

by N@ncy


Why does horror work?

  1. Horror engages with psychological mechanisms
  2. …that have evolved over millions of years.
  3. We need fear to stay alert and alive.
  4. As long as we are fearful imaginative creatures
  5. ….there will be a central place for horror in our culture.


Does Clasen tell me anything new and interesting about  ‘horror’?

  1. I learned to be alert for…
  2. alpha predators…man-eating shark  in Spielberg’s Jaws
  3. clowns who hide their evil intentions with face paint or masks…in King’s IT
  4. shape-shifting creatures…vampires…in Stoker’s Dracula
  5. inanimate objects infused  with malicious intent to kill… the car in King’s Christine
  6. supernatural agents who act like ordinary neighbors…in Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby
  7. …and there is no way to have a fair fight with a ghost!



  1. Since I read a few horror books this year:
  2. Soon, Who’s Afraid and Aletheia
  3. I wanted to learn
  4. why horror seduces?
  5. We enjoy make believe
  6. ….want to experience negative emotions
  7. …but only in a safe context!
  8. There are many types of horror: disgust, fear, shock, loathing and dread.
  9. Some books are better than the movie: The Shining by S. King
  10. Some movies are better than the book: Jaws by R. Benchley
  11. Our appetite for horror will not go away anytime soon.
  12. Horror will stay with us and M. Clasen wants to explain why.
  13. Horror is not a genre like a western or crime fiction
  14. ….it is pure emotion!


Last thoughts:

  1. After reading this book I have learned  that horror literature
  2. is more than furious poltergeists or chain-saw wielding rednecks!
  3. M Clasen explains why we are drawn to the dark side,
  4. …with sweaty palms, a racing pulse and
  5. …a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach.
  6. Remember the iconic opening scene in Jaws (1978)?
  7. Remember the music?
  8. Da-DumDa-DumDa-Dum-Da-Dum-Da-Dum
  9. I want to read more Horror and Dark Fantasy books
  10. …but don’t know where to find them!
  11. Here is the link for This Is Horror  website.
  12. This website specializes in horror fiction and the craft of writing,
  13. Here are a few notes about
  14. Part 1. ...human fear system. (ch 1-4).
  15. Part 2 is an overview of post WW-II American horror.
  16. Edgar Allan Poe was America’s first horror writer.
  17. “…vision of terror that stalks within us.”
  18. Stephen King is the most successful horror writer
  19. ….selling more than 350 million books since 1974.
  20. Part 3 M. Clasen looks to the future moving from
  21. literature –> film –> interactive horror dimensions (niche market).
  22. Despite a sluggish begin (ch 1-4) the book picks up steam
  23. …and becomes stronger, faster and more insightful with each page!



Chapter  1  – The tone is very academic ..what horror is and how it is studied. This was nice to know but was not a great ‘hook’ that would keep me reading.  I plodded hoping to find some real interesting remarks.

Chapter 2 – This discusses why fear is our oldest and strongest emotion. Clasen describes the human fear system.  The horror genre targets our fears…still I have not read anything….new!

GOOD – A well constructed  horror story has us anxiously scanning the fictional environment for threats. That is very true! While reading Aletheia I was looking for  foreshadowing or objects that appear in the story that would link  to the ‘lake monster’  that awaits the characters!

Chapter 3  –  This was an interesting chapter about monsters, scary scenes and terrified characters. Included is Stephen King’s personal top 10 terrors! The first one is what we all feel…fear of the dark! I had to laugh when Clasen mentions “…we should be terrified of cars and worry much less about snakes and spiders.” (pg 40).

Chapter 4 – People manipulate fear to produce pleasure. “…being absorbed in a fictional universe and made to feel afraid as a result…” It is the pleasure of feeling strong emotions in a safe context.


My top horror movies:

The Tingler (1959) –  shock
An obsessed pathologist discovers and captures a parasitic creature
that grows when fear grips its host.
Can you imagine me….9 years old and watching this?
I’m still traumatized!


Psycho (1960)- shock
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
My mother learned her lesson and forbad me to see this movie!


Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – fear
A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
My sister and I went to see this movie…a flawless horror masterpiece,
at an afternoon showing…at night was too spooky.


The Exorcist (1973) – disgust
When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
I was just married and felt so grown up
…but this movie brought me to my ‘horror limit’!


Jaws (1975) – anxiety, dread …something dangerous is out there but you don’t know where it is or when it will strike!
A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.
I loved this one. The opening scene is iconic…the music!! 

LISTEN to the film trailer narrated by Orson wells…. link
See the movie….before you go swimming.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. tracybham
    Jun 23 2018

    This book does sounds interesting, but I am still avoiding horror. I did not see The Tingler or Psycho. I did see Exorcist, and it did not bother me too much. Rosemary’s Baby was icky. and I hated Jaws. I went to see Jaws in the theater when it first came out, and that was when I realized that I had to monitor movies before I decided to see them. I did like parts of the movie, the acting was good, but too, too scary for me, especially in a theater.


    • Jun 24 2018

      The best part of the book is part 2: overview of American Horror post WW II.
      I enjoyed reading about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of creating in horror classic.
      Part 3 …..step too far…virtual horror with play station, games and 3-D goggles.
      I haven’t seen a horror genre film since 1999…The Sixth Sense and that was with a paranormal Burce Willis! That is a great film…I forgot to add to my list.
      Still…Jaws is a favorite and I’d watch it again!


  2. Jul 2 2018

    Oh, this sounds interesting! I’m quite a bit more interested in reading about why people enjoy horror than I am in reading horror myself. I’m sorry to hear it was on the academic side though. I checked and am not surprised to see this is from Oxford University Press – I’m pretty sure I’ve picked up multiple books from them that had engaging, pop science sounding titles that turned out to be more academic than I’d hoped.


    • Jul 2 2018

      I agree with you …read about the the horror genre and not really read it! But remember horror is more than rednecks with chainsaws and slashing. I enjoy the horror genre that deals with the paranormal and psychological manipulation ( someone slowly going mad for instance in The Shining by S. King). Thanks for you comments!



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