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Metaphors in Horror

Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 24, 2019

Metaphors in Horror

Horror is perfect for metaphor and allegory. In fact, a horror story is often allegorical by default, what with its bizarre landscapes and freaky beasties.

Here are some categories of horror and some thoughts on what they symbolize:

Reality Bites

psycho killer! Qu'est-ce que c'est ?

These are generally stories about close calls with home invaders, attempted kidnappers, and human traffickers.

Or rabid dogs, vicious sharks, and monkeys.

Human killers and the natural world (seen in Jaws and Cujo) have grit and, well, reality to them. I think they're cautionary tales above all else…be respectful of animals, especially ones you don't know! Respect nature!

There are just as many lessons to be learned as far as other people go (or potential other people) Lock your doors! Keep an eye on your drink! Hold your keys between your fingers until you get to the door!

Parents should LOVE horror stories like these and share them liberally (I believe they often do)…but always within reason I suppose. We don't want our kids to become paranoid.

Well…maybe just a little bit. Just enough.

Have you heard the Urban Legend about the killer hiding in the back seat? Good! Hopefully you always check your back seat before getting in your car. I know I do!

Monster Mash

-Monsters as Metaphor

The giant bugs of 1940's and 50's scifi were atomic bomb-created.

Frankenstein is our own hubris come back to haunt us. Arrogance and disrespect of nature leads us to the horrors of Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Descent, Alien, etc etc etc.

Vampires and Zombies might represent narcissistic people who DRAIN others of their energy. Perhaps psychopaths and sociopaths are what we're talking about. We must not get too full of ourselves!

We've been warned!



I think that ghost stories are compelling and scary because we ALL wonder, or fear, or anticipate what will happen to us after we die. Ghost stories crack open the door to see what life after death might entail…and the stories also REMIND us of our own mortality. Maybe that's what makes them truly scary.

Ghost stories help us work out the fear of Death itself. That's the ultimate fear!

…Or is it?

The Other

Mad from the Revelation!

This metaphor is the ultimate expression of the fear of the unknown. The world is a huge place that is largely beyond our control. There are powerful forces out there that have a strong influence over us whether we like it or not. Otherdimensional or demonic Beings and stories give us a chance to deal emotionally with those potentially overwhelming emotions.

Our fear of those who are different is a deep human compulsion I guess; it's one that we can ignore, or try to overcome, and unfortunately it's something that can be stirred up and exploited in people. Even as we hopefully transcend it - I think it's something that will always be with us, deep down.

Now that is truly disturbing stuff.

Well, that's all for now-

Happy Halloween, Pumpkins!

Have fun, and be careful.

They're everywhere…




Abt_Nihil at 4:19AM, Oct. 25, 2019

So much truth in hushicho's comment. The greatest perhaps being that "a lot of the time, people confuse realism and verisimilitude". I hope I'll remember to say that next time Daniel-Craig-Bond or Nolan's Batman are discussed.

bravo1102 at 1:13AM, Oct. 25, 2019

It can be so simple. Just an old dark house and a bunch of people thrown together. How much difference is there between the psycho killer stalking a neighborhood and the killer stalking the old dark house offing their relatives? But you think it's a monster until the Scooby doo mask moment.

Kou the Mad at 6:38PM, Oct. 24, 2019

Silent Hill does metaphors in horror absurdly well, when you understand what everything means, Silent Hill 2 is a masterpiece. I also think Downpour was underrated in that regard.

hushicho at 6:32PM, Oct. 24, 2019

I'm glad to hear Talking Heads quoted. Psycho killer! Qu'est-ce que c'est?! I do think that a lot of the time, people confuse realism and verisimilitude, which it's important to distinguish; I find that really, really often in horror, but it's also found increasingly in every other genre. It's also important not to fall into the same unfortunate assumptions that people have at this point about horror -- they were never about a certain set of morals or shaming, at least with most directors. Even John Carpenter, when interviewed about Halloween, pointed out that the characters tended to make mistakes and get picked off by the killer because they were distracted, whereas the babysitter had a very real incentive to be attentive because she was taking care of children. It wasn't about being "pure" or virginal at all -- Laurie smoked up, as did Alice in the original Friday the 13th, and they were both sexually active, just not at the exact time the killer was active. Worth consideration!

usedbooks at 4:41AM, Oct. 24, 2019

I usually call the non-supernatural scary stories thrillers rather than horror, but I think it's because the feelings evoke are very different for me (since the genres are named after the feelings produced, lol). And there are so many sub-genres within horror. The only horror I enjoy are short stories (like anthology form). Long ones just start to aggravate and bore me. I least enjoy "disgusting" horror. Not a sensation I want to evoke for myself. But the really sci-go stuff like parallel dimensions and breaking laws of physics are the ones that haunt my nightmares.

MOrgan at 3:08AM, Oct. 24, 2019

A few years ago I was reading a collection of Victorian ghost stories. The introduction talked about how ghost stories had pretty much faded as a big deal, but the Victorian age was an era of great change in various fields and the ghost story returned with a vengeance. It was like the ghosts were representing, in general, what had been lost in a new era of great uncertainty. I'm probably doing a lousy job of remembering how the writer described it, but I liked the idea that ghosts represented what had been lost rather than what was to come.

marcorossi at 1:40AM, Oct. 24, 2019

I'm not sure the "realistic" serial killers are all that realistic. Very often horror movies portray charachters who are quite unrealistic, however they are emotively engaging. So I think that it is a form of fake realism, where some character that represents some archetypal fear or unconscious drive is represented as a pseudo realistic killer.

bravo1102 at 12:51AM, Oct. 24, 2019

Generalized anxiety disorder? Be afraid of everything and most of all be afraid of being afraid...

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