Horror as an emotion

Recently, the great Renfield Rasputin wrote a piece in which he mentioned Horror as an emotion. I had never considered this before and found it to be a beautiful concept. I will touch on this some more today while sharing some examples from my life for context.


I previously mentioned that Evil Dead was the first horror movie I was ever allowed to watch. What I did not mention was the roller coaster of emotion that was my first viewing. I felt very uneasy and nauseous for most of the movie. When the terror really started to kick in I could feel my body get weaker and my heart beat faster. Why was this happening? This movie, these moving images on a low quality VHS tape; How could they produce these reactions? I think it was because of my life at that point. Let me explain

I grew up poor. I wasn’t “food stamp” poor(we don’t have those in Canada) but we were most definitely in the bottom rung of society. At the time my Mother was in the hospital battling cancer and a whole plethora of other health issues. (I know plethora means “over abundance”. Trust me when I say that this usage remains very accurate) My father was no longer able to work due to his own health issues. He suffered a heart attack the previous year. “But Shawn,” I hear you asking, “What the hell does this have to do with anything?” And to that I say “Patience, I’m getting there.”

My life at the time was filled with uncertainty and I was rife with insecurity. I was trapped at an age where I was too young to fully comprehend my situation and old enough to get the gist of it. Knowing that your situation is bad but having this odd understanding that it’s actually worse than your mind could fathom is a weird feeling.

All of that is what I felt when watching Evil Dead for the first time. Dread. Clive Barker described Dread as a feeling that your worst fears are going to repeat themselves. That what you are afraid of most is about to happen to you again. It sticks inside of you and you can’t get it out of your mind.

Watching Evil Dead, and the rest of the movies for example, reminded me of the helpless feeling that comes with watching your family deteriorate. The feeling of knowing that it’s only going to get worse. When I was watching Evil Dead, despite the fact that our circumstances were completely different I could feel for the characters. I could empathize with them. Their lives were turned upside down in moments and you knew it wasn’t going to get better for them.

Dread is a powerful emotion. It’s what kept me watching horror movies. It became addicting. It helped me understand and even cope with the losses around me. Sometimes when we are at our lowest, when things seem as though they can’t possibly get worse, it’s a realistic lesson that sets our mind at ease and not a sunshine and rainbows  happy ending.

That was kind of depressing so I will say that at this point in my life I am very happy. I get to do what I love every day which is talk about horror with like-minded people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people. Our writing team is full of passionate people and I love the fact that they chose to write for us and not another website. I’ve made friends through here. I don’t mean acquaintances, I mean actual friends. People I would have a beer with, people I would even consider lending money to and then harass every day until they paid me back. My life right now is great. I have a wonderful dog, an amazing cat, a beautiful girlfriend and a career. I owe all of that to horror and the feeling of dread. The emotion that comes from watching Horror.

2 thoughts on “Horror as an emotion”

  1. On further reflection, I seem to have plagiarized the “What does this have to do” and “Be patient” lines from Mr.Renfield himself. For that, I apologize.

  2. Bravo my young apprentice, very thought provoking! Horror is one of the primary human emotions. It is a beautiful emotion that today, we find ourselves paying money to achieve. This emotion can be measured by the response from the viewer/reader that it creates, whether that be an emotional or psychological response. Since I see that it triggered an emotional response from you to write this article, I can say “See? It works”.

    Well done, sir. I appreciate the nod to my article and I see what you deem as “plaigiarism” as nothing more than “influenced by”. Flattered I am. I had hoped to influence young minds (I am the oldest vampire here) and it appears that I have accomplished my mission.

    We should be the ones thanking you for sharing your story with us.

    Renfield Rasputin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *