Comments like “how can you call yourself a horror fan yet you’ve never seen [insert title]” and “you’re not a real horror fan if you [insert opinion]” really bother me lately. I see them everywhere, not just here. Despite shouting diversity and inclusiveness due to being the bastard children of cinema viewers, we sure like to pick on each other for having different opinions. Remember, every experience within the genre is different due to likes and dislikes, the amount of money you can spend on buying/renting movies, and the amount of time you can set aside to actually sit in front of the television and binge watch. Hell, maybe your parents were against horror movies and banned them from the house, and now you’re finding your way back to something you once loved. It really is impossible to watch every single motion picture in the spectrum and retain important facts and information about each one. In my case, I have very little knowledge in regards to titles that were produced prior to the early 1960’s, anything before Psycho. And the more I think about it, the more that’s OK; because unlike most other genre categories, horror is an education and we’re lucky enough to pick our degrees in that blanket area. And we really need to stop picking on each other for having different majors.
Think about it. For argument’s sake, let’s say that every film genre can be represented by a real life college major. Musicals equal the humanities or more obviously theater arts. Action movies equal criminal justice. Comedies equal event planning. And so on and so forth. Let’s say that horror movies are represented by psychology due to all the mind fucks that go on in an hour and a half span of time. Psychology as the major focus can be broken down into special areas of interest or even minors – child psychology, forensic psychology, personality psychology, etc. The same thing can be said about the horror genre as it has dozens of small subgenres or areas of focus – creature features, found footage, ghost stories, slasher flicks, torture porn, werewolves, zombies, etc. I think it’s safe to say that horror has the most subgenres and tiers out of any other category of film. Whatever branch you of genre you love will be your movie major and the subcategory you enjoy the most is your area of focus. In my case, my degree is in horror and I have my minor in straight-to-DVD films of the last 15 years or slasher films of the 1990’s. And what’s great about education is that there’s different levels and you get to chose which amount is good enough for you. You could have your associates, your bachelor’s, your master’s or your doctorate. All that matters is that you’re out there trying to learn (or in this case, watch a crap ton of bloody good movies).
However, as with any college you enroll in, you’re always required to take a ton of general knowledge classes and electives. That can be said for anyone devoting their time to watching scary movies, whether they’re in theaters or indie flicks rented off Redbox. There’s so much content out there, so many new technological advances, so many rising stars, that you shouldn’t limit your knowledge to the golden days of yesteryear. You shouldn’t stick to your comfort zones because you’ll miss out on original stories that are literally dying to be told. You’d be surprised how many movies, set decades apart and within different subgenres, run parallel with each other and become similar in a really beautiful way. As a reviewer here at HorrorSociety.com, I always take heed to watch screeners outside of my comfort zone or movies that aren’t “my cup of tea” because that would be cheating myself out of a new experience; thus cheating myself out of further education. Recently, I got involved in a spat in the comments section of an article because a reader was claiming a class in NYC that was dedicated to black horror movies and black film producers was racist against white people because they weren’t represented in the class at all. If you’re actively viewing movies and trying to make a go at being a horror buff, why would you turn down any specialty class? Get a different perspective, learn how someone else’s culture can effect their style of film-making.
So, let’s stop all the bickering. Let’s stop all the name calling like “newb” and whatever else. Colleges have lecture halls, debate periods, and other classes that are open to round table discussion. And with that in mind, we should be open to discussing things in a respectful way without poking fun at someone else’s level of knowledge or expertise. I don’t care if you specialize in remakes. I don’t care if you specialize in Hammer Films. I don’t care if you specialize in found footage movies. All that matters is your watching. Your supporting the genre and breathing life into the business of movie making with whatever amount of money you spend. I’ll discuss anything horror related with anyone because that’s how you make it more than sitting on the couch and turning your brain off for an hour and a half. No, that’s how you switch your brain on and turn watching horror movies into an experience you can share with others. If you have your master’s in Japanese horror, share that insight with someone who doesn’t. If you have your master’s in 1980’s VHS horror, share it with someone new who’s starting to learn about the field. Knowledge is power and we should be encouraged to share that with each other, and together we get the privilege of nurturing the next generation of horror fans.