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Drawing the Line in a Universe of Terror


Where do we draw the line? It’s a question that comes up all the time with horror fans. At what point does our entertainment step over the line from being escapism and diversion into tastelessness, shock cinema and even something potentially destructive to ourselves. 

For non-fans of horror, the line is clear. It begins at the portal to our beloved genre itself. The moment a film or book description says HORROR, then it qualifies as destructive and repulsive. Fair enough. But people with that perspective are missing all of the art, joy and literature that horror has to offer. They’re missng out all of the catharsis and wonderful fantasy and escapism that the dark art of horror has to offer. It’s long been known that indulging in dark fantasy like horror films and violent entertainment is a normal and healthy outlet. 

William S. Burroughs wrote, “This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principals, but ours seems to be based on war and games.”

He sure got that right. And it’s not just humans. It’s every living thing. Violence, conflict and fear are present in every life form on the planet. Think about this, humans are just about the only living creatures on earth that don’t die regularly from being eaten alive, dying in a state of pure agony and terror. And the only reason for that is because we’re at the top of the food chain. Almost every creature that exists now or has ever existed in the history of the world has died from being torn to pieces and eaten alive.

To add to Burroughs’ perspective, not only is this a war universe, it’s a terror universe. We begin our existance in a state of shock and terror as we’re born. We then spend our lives “seeking” peace and harmony, because our natural state is fear and violence, and in the end, we die, more often than not, in a state of sadness or terror. No one wants to die. Why? Because it’s painful, it ends everything you know, possibly your very existance (a thought too large and too dark for any of us to even grasp), and it potentially sends you hurtling into the next level of existance.

So with all the terror and horror that exists in, and bookends our life, it’s natural for us to be at least a little preoccupied with the subject. Scaling it down, putting a monster face on it, and making it entertaining is just a way for us to get a hold on our terror universe.

But sometimes a film or a book comes along that rattles our senses, takes us to too dark of a place, goes a little too far, steps over the line, if you will... It shows us terror and horror that’s a little too close to the real terror universe that we live in. It’s rare, but it sends even horror fans running. 

What horror film crossed the line for you? What have you seen that went too far? It’s a personal boundary and different for everyone, and I’m really curious what is too far for you in this Universe of Terror that we’ve found ourselves in.

Let me know. I’ll be waiting.

Gaudium per Atrox.