Home > cultural commentary, horror > Horror and other genres

Horror and other genres

This is just a quick ‘note to self’ more than anything – through a chain of chance links I found the Liars’ Club blog, which has on it an elegant version of an argument I’ve occasionally tried to put in a more halting and kludgy way.

In essence their argument is that ‘horror’ as a genre was killed off by the arrival of gorefests and splatter, where the main plot motivation was serial torture and murder. This undercut a lot of the more cultural, social, psychological stuff that had been going on. Many of the big acts in the horror field thus went on to find other labels for themselves. So ‘horror’ lives on, but under new names.

There you go. Simple observation, maybe with complicated implications I haven’t started to work out yet. For a start, I should probably stop describing some of my stuff as ‘horror’ and invent a new label to encapsulate the kind of thing I do…

  1. May 29, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    I don’t know – horror hasn’t really died. It has just fragmented and at the moment some of the sub-genres are popular but eventually others will rise back to the top. Same as fantsay. Vampires were in but now Angels are. Steampunk is in but something will take over eventually.

  2. May 30, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I’d agree, horror hasn’t died, but the argument is that the advent of hardcore murder/torture under the horror label has meant that what used to be published as ‘horror’ is now put out under labels like ‘dark fantasy’, or has slipped sideways into alternative labels such as suspense, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, or combinations of these terms – the Liars’ Club blog goes into some detail with examples of how specific authors are now being marketed.

    Meanwhile the term is still used in its ‘original’ sense, in anthologies such as the annual Mammoth Book of Horror, and indeed on writers’ websites that list potential markets, such as Duotrope.

    All these things get reformulated every few years, though…

    I hadn’t noticed a trend towards angels yet – though I guess one could read some interesting cultural undertones into such a move. In the UK (which is where I am) vampire stuff still seems to be popular though has probably peaked, and other subgenres, werewolves and zombies in particular, are now getting much more shelf-space in bookshops and seem to be increasing in popularity as well.

    Steampunk, as you say, has also become popular and taken over from what used to be described as ‘goth’ or ‘gothic’ (which I accept is not quite the same thing!).

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts – and if there are any particular angel-based books you had in mind I’d be interested to know what they are.

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