Horror's been around for a long time.
"How long Drew?"
Well I'm glad you asked! As a matter of fact, the oldest known story, the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh is chock-full of scary shit. The theme is probably one of the most frightening and depressing ever – that life is finite, as the gods have only alloted a small taste of it to man, but have kept immortality for themselves.
Horror in literature is ancient, but if you look through the ages to see who we've been aiming most of our horror at, you'll find that it's… CHILDREN. Yep, that's right. We've been fucking with our own offspring for centuries, eons even. Don't believe me? Then check out the following bodycount of mayhem and evil in three of the most popular fairy tales of Western Culture...
Hansel and Gretel
Children abandoned in the forest by a mother who can't feed them (that's the original version) find a house made of gingerbread and candy. The woman who lives there invites them in, only to cage them and fatten them so she can cook and eat them. Cannibalism much? Ultimately the kids escape by pushing the woman into the burning oven and baking her alive. They flee to the sounds of the burning woman's screams.
Goldilocks and The Three Bears
A curious case of home invasion by a little girl who unwittingly enters the home of three anthropomorphic Bear-creatures. After eating their supper, destroying some furniture and falling asleep in their beds, Goldilocks awakens to three angry (and probably lycanthropic) bear beasts who eat her because their porridge has been spoiled. (Again this is taken from an original Dutch version of the tale).
Little Red Riding Hood
A little girl takes some food to her bedridden grandmother who lives in the deep woods. Unfortunately, before she can get there, an anthropomorphic wolf-man (again, a likely victim of lycanthropy) gets there first, murders and eats the old woman, then delves into Ed Gein-esque transexual territory by going drag and dressing up as Grandma. The little girl arives to deliver the food, becomes sceptical of the wolf's disguise and the wolf eats her before she can call for help. In later versions, the wolf was softened in the storyline by only tying Grandma up and locking her in a closet, which doesn't make any fucking sense because why wouldn't he just eat her? A hunter was also added to the story in later versions to give Red Riding Hood a happier ending. Bleh. I liked it better when it was a straight-up cautionary tale of rape and death.
And why restrict your terrorizing of children to just story when you can immortalize your horrors in song? This brings me to my favorite lullaby of all time - "Rock-a-bye-baby". Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of that one? There's a lot of theories about the origin of this story, but they all ultimately involve someone leaving a baby to sleep in a tree and the ultimate collapse and terrifying fall of the child. WTF is wrong with us? I'm even laughing as I type this.
This… This is what we have been singing gently to our children to get them to go to sleep?
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
So there you have it. Terrorizing young people is practically engrained in our DNA. Why? Maybe we're training them for the terrors of life. Maybe we're just sadistic assholes. Either way, I don't see it ending any time soon.
And that's a good thing.
Gaudium Per Atrox.