What makes a better horror movie: murderer or monster?

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Professional horse shoe straightener
Ya know, I feel the opposite.
Even though I don't believe in the supernatural at all, because I am a 200lb. man, I don't feel nearly as threatened by some killer. If you put some dude in my apartment, I have a chance, who knows, maybe a good chance that I come out on top. But you put a witch in my apartment (even though I don't believe in witches)... god knows what's gonna happen to me. I mean, I got something against some guy with a knife or even an axe or something, but against a witch? I got nothin'.
I don't really understand this. You fully admit that only one of these situations can happen to you - but you're scared of the other one?



I have to say, horror is a little bit of a difficult one for me. I rarely watch a horror movie that has me scared out of my wits, and this is something that I thoroughly enjoy. I suppose it holds the same appeal as roller-coasters or bungee jumping, or even sky dives. Its all about the adrenaline rush. Whilst I can admit that there are variations, it seems like horror movies are starting to blend into one predictable structure. Just, for once, I want to be able to watch a horror movie that scares me so badly that I can't sleep, instead of being able to predict everything that is going to happen. I need more shock factors.

Anyone got any suggestions?



As dumb as it might seem to say, I don't really get the notion of going to horror to test my nerves or even necessarily frighten me. Its a bonus if that happens, but I really mostly look at horror as a cousin of science fiction, in that it offers us a different lens to view the world and society. But unlike science fiction, which casts an intellectual and philosophical eye towards humanity, the horror lens is generally an emotionally warped one. A way to view the decay and despair and corruption of existence. So the fear really isn't the point. Just like robots and spaceships really aren't the point of science fiction. They're just an understandable perk of the process.


Its also why I don't get the horror police approach of Wooleys, since horror is a purely cinematic approach for me. It has nothing to do with weighing the potential threat of something to my well being. Or if the concept prays on any particular concern of mine. I think this is because that threat already exists in pretty much every element of life for me, mostly as an abstract concept, and horror films offer me a way to analyze that terror that already exists inside.



Definitely a monster, or something supernatural. Horror movies need to be about something I don't really expect to see in real life, so I don't have to worry about it happening to me. In the real world, I'm not the least bit nervous that I'm going to be encountering a T Rex or be bitten by a vampire, so it's just a cheap thrill.

Murder, on the other hand, at the hands of deranged humans, happens all the time and watching that just seems to crank up my anxiety level. If I'm going to do a movie like that, I prefer the crime to happen early on so the rest of the movie is pursuit and retribution.



Yeah anything real. Car crashes especially. I am absolutely terrified of traffic accidents. Did not enjoy the film Crash at all (it's not hyper real or anything but the content is just horrible).

That said I also hate spiders so wouldn't watch 8 legged freaks. But probably wouldn't watch that anyway.

Just comes down to individuality at the end of the day. I feel monster movies have to rely on things like jump scares or horrific gore or body horror to get their scares across. While a film like 'Angst' is just terrifying because it almost feels like a documentary.

Did you see the movie about the racecar driver who turned into a were-spider?



This may just be what crumbsroom already said, but motivation is key to how scary the antihero or villain in a horror movie is. Whether murderer or monster, the more difficult their motivation is to explain and/or understand, the higher the likelihood of the horror movie being truly horrifying.

The two scariest movies I've seen are Alien and The Vanishing, the former's motivation being scary because there is no reasoning behind it. They're simply perfect killing machines. As for the latter, while the bad guy explains his motivation, it's hard to understand how someone could have such an amoral mindset.



I don't really understand this. You fully admit that only one of these situations can happen to you - but you're scared of the other one?
Cinematically, yes.
In real life, I have literally zero fear of the supernatural as I don't believe there is any such thing. But to me, real life terrors just have no cinematic hold over me whatsoever.
Blair Witch Project scared the **** out of me when it was fresh in theaters. Pretty sure The Ring did, too, just not as much. Nearly pissed myself at certain moments in Insidious, The Conjuring, and The Conjuring 2. And those are just the popular modern ones. I find Suspiria or that long stalking sequence in Inferno much scarier than The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, for another example. A Nightmare On Elm Street is much scarier than The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
On any given night, I do not believe that either a masked killer or a witch is gonna burst into my apartment looking to kill me. But if they do, I'm gonna be a lot more afraid of the witch since they're not supposed to exist and are probably completely beyond my ability to defend myself against, whereas the masked killer I might be able to take out with a golf club.
So, honestly, why aren't YOU more scared of witches than masked killers?



Its also why I don't get the horror police approach of Wooleys, since horror is a purely cinematic approach for me. It has nothing to do with weighing the potential threat of something to my well being. Or if the concept prays on any particular concern of mine. I think this is because that threat already exists in pretty much every element of life for me, mostly as an abstract concept, and horror films offer me a way to analyze that terror that already exists inside.
It doesn't nearly as much for me either but it is one explanation and the one I most often have to talk about. People always say, "Well, if you think werewolves are more horror then you must be more afraid of werewolves than something that's real and that's silly", and I always think, "Well, if you actually encountered a werewolf you would be a lot more afraid of it than you would some dickweed in a mask with kitchen knife or something, and the characters in these movies, which often act as avatars for ourselves, are actually encountering a werewolf, so yes, this is more frightening, blah, blah, etc."
But honestly, it's as much a stylistic choice as anything. I find the supernatural just a lot cooler and lot more stylish and a lot more genre than human killers, which are rarely interesting (except when treated interestingly such as Don't Go In The House or Psycho or such) and when you have the choice between the fisherman who the teens ran over with their car but it turns out he didn't die stalking idiots who can't simply run away from someone walking after them or a ghost/witch/werewolf/vampire/zombie/creature/cthuluian grotesquerie that our avatar simply cannot escape from and that may do something worse than death to them... well, you have my money. Especially considering all the stylishness the supernatural can allow in a movie.



I'd have to say that I don't generally find monsters to be as scary as film as a "good" murderer, since, although the latter can obviously be more vulnerable, like the otherwise horrifying Leatherface accidentally injuring himself with his own chainsaw (and the girl escaping him because of that), I'm still able to detach myself from the reality of films fairly easily, always keeping the thought at the back of my mind that whatever fantasy creature I'm seeing isn't real (of course, it's different if we're talking "real" monsters, like the Great White in Jaws). On the other hand, people like Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs can obviously exist and torture/kill real people in reality (and aspects of his character were obviously inspired by actual serial killers), so I'm going to have to go with serial killers for this question.



But honestly, it's as much a stylistic choice as anything. I find the supernatural just a lot cooler and lot more stylish and a lot more genre than human killers... Especially considering all the stylishness the supernatural can allow in a movie.
Absolutely. I think it opens up a flurry of possibilities, even in terms of editing and effects, that are rarely used in horror with ‘human’ killers.



Professional horse shoe straightener
So, honestly, why aren't YOU more scared of witches than masked killers?
Because masked killers are far more likely to be in my neighbourhood than monsters.



It doesn't nearly as much for me either but it is one explanation and the one I most often have to talk about. People always say, "Well, if you think werewolves are more horror then you must be more afraid of werewolves than something that's real and that's silly", and I always think, "Well, if you actually encountered a werewolf you would be a lot more afraid of it than you would some dickweed in a mask with kitchen knife or something, and the characters in these movies, which often act as avatars for ourselves, are actually encountering a werewolf, so yes, this is more frightening, blah, blah, etc."
But honestly, it's as much a stylistic choice as anything. I find the supernatural just a lot cooler and lot more stylish and a lot more genre than human killers, which are rarely interesting (except when treated interestingly such as Don't Go In The House or Psycho or such) and when you have the choice between the fisherman who the teens ran over with their car but it turns out he didn't die stalking idiots who can't simply run away from someone walking after them or a ghost/witch/werewolf/vampire/zombie/creature/cthuluian grotesquerie that our avatar simply cannot escape from and that may do something worse than death to them... well, you have my money. Especially considering all the stylishness the supernatural can allow in a movie.

I get the preference for the particular stylistic flourishes those films can offer. If forced to choose, I generally probably prefer the supernatural ones as well, and that may be one reason. What I'm mostly saying though is I just don't get reducing those that deal with a more human threat to 'well, I could beat them up' or 'I would run faster than that'. Like, I guess for some, sure, technically this is probably true. And by that measure, I imagine Joe Rogan would have no reason to be frightened of even the Cthulian grotesquerie (he would bore it to death with talk of wrist locks). But this just seems to be a vantage point that overlooks the cinematic treatment of horror in those films (which to me is THE metric for deducing what is horror or not horror), and focusing a little too hard on reasoning yourself away from any sense of dread. And 'reason' is a terrible thing to bring into a horror movie.



I'd have to say that I don't generally find monsters to be as scary as film as a "good" murderer, since, although the latter can obviously be more vulnerable, like the otherwise horrifying Leatherface accidentally injuring himself with his own chainsaw (and the girl escaping him because of that), I'm still able to detach myself from the reality of films fairly easily, always keeping the thought at the back of my mind that whatever fantasy creature I'm seeing isn't real (of course, it's different if we're talking "real" monsters, like the Great White in Jaws). On the other hand, people like Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs can obviously exist and torture/kill real people in reality (and aspects of his character were obviously inspired by actual serial killers), so I'm going to have to go with serial killers for this question.
I agree that a Buffalo Bill-type actually exists and can kidnap women and keep them in wells. But a serial-killer movie is pretty much always a Thriller to me, especially if it has a strong police-procedural angle. Demme flirted with some Horror imagery and vibe in a few scenes (which proponents of calling it a Horror movie always point to as if the rest of the movie doesn't exist) but I just can't find a serial killer as frightening or certainly as much "Horror" as something supernatural or superhuman that a small FBI woman couldn't just shoot dead.
Like I say, always give me something I don't understand and can't fight or escape from.



I get the preference for the particular stylistic flourishes those films can offer. If forced to choose, I generally probably prefer the supernatural ones as well, and that may be one reason. What I'm mostly saying though is I just don't get reducing those that deal with a more human threat to 'well, I could beat them up' or 'I would run faster than that'. Like, I guess for some, sure, technically this is probably true. And by that measure, I imagine Joe Rogan would have no reason to be frightened of even the Cthulian grotesquerie (he would bore it to death with talk of wrist locks). But this just seems to be a vantage point that overlooks the cinematic treatment of horror in those films (which to me is THE metric for deducing what is horror or not horror), and focusing a little too hard on reasoning yourself away from any sense of dread. And 'reason' is a terrible thing to bring into a horror movie.
Well, I was asked why I feel the way I do, not to make rules for everybody else.
And that's largely why. Some of it's because, outside of Bava and Argento and the like, murdering humans aren't usually done with the style and flair that I associate with Horror. Honestly, that's the real reason, but the other stuff counts too. There are obviously exceptions, like Rob Zombie's stuff which is hard not to call Horror because it is all done in such a heavy, almost immersive Horror style even though the killers are all human (except for DOCTOR SATAN!!!), but they're pretty rare. I mean, like, it's hard not to call 31 "Horror" but I would definitely say that The Lords Of Salem is more Horror.



An out of their head villain. Somebody who is pure death drive driven. Somebody like Frank booth who has lost that last touch of filter between consciousness and pure id. Something you could conceive as existing rather than make believe.



The interesting question is the "Better" part. Given that we all have our secret fears, better in this context seems to refer to a movie that plucks the fear nerve for an individual. The fear nerve is deep-set in our psyche, and can be psychological or real-world or a combination of both. In my case, I have virtually no real-world fear of vampires, T-Rex or extraterrestrial brain-eaters, so I watch those movies with psychological immunity, mainly for their entertainment value, which they should have. Slightly higher in the rankings, but still way down, is serial killers and warped psycho stranglers, etc. Those exist but are fairly rare in the death statistics.

On the other hand, what's fairly common is ordinary, low level crime, like being robbed and murdered. Those way, way, way outnumber vampire killings.

At the top of the demographic heap of course, is normal death, by means of the usual list of causes such as heart attacks, cancer, etc. "Horror" movies about that only seem to appear on the Lifetime Channel.

All of this leads to my observations that the best horror movie is one that's about the fate that we won't experience. Werewolves, mutants, murderous spirits, or whatever are a "safe" fear, one that we don't need to actually worry about. It's like the amusement park ride, where you get a cheap thrill but don't really expect to fall to your death and splatter next to the popcorn stand, because the ride is inspected and you're belted in.

I guess this leads to the conclusion that the best horror movie is a medical drama, like New Amsterdam or Chicago Med. Half of the patients walk out the door, the other half get transported to the morgue. That's a far worse percentage than those running from dinosaurs.



I have a slight fear of the slasher, but that's not really a special fear at all, especially considering that I grew up with an NRA instructor for a father. He showed me this.



Besides, if a slasher ever does come, I've built in my head an instant "what's a good weapon around me" button. As for demonic activity (as a follower of God I believe it exists), my father also built into me a lack of fear in that regard. As a kid, he taught me that angels can easily kick demonic ass. And before that, my experience with demons was strictly limited to episodes of Jackie Chan Adventures. Even The Exorcist didn't scare me, no matter how damn good it was.

As a result, the first and foremost thing I look for in a horror movie is not tension but story, which explains my love for the first Saw. As far as including thematic delivery / deconstruction goes, I'm considering my top horror movie to be Scream.


Despite my cheap attempts at self-glorification, I do have a slight trauma caused by a movie, but it's not the typical kind. I was the kind of five-year-old who was never bothered by Sarris holding a stave with his own soldier's head, despite the fact that my parents told me to close my eyes. No, my trauma was not in fact caused by a horror movie. It's one of three irrational fears that I had as a kid, and the only one I haven't overcome. I can't even look at this trauma in real life. I've tried. I'll tell you the other two, though. This first one was caused by The Lion King.





The second one was caused by this trailer, and as a result I had dreams of being lost in abyss without a top or bottom, and weirdly enough, movie logos in that water served as a cruel reminder.





Not telling you the third one for fear of trolling or attempts at forcing me to look at it for my good. I've tried a few times and I can only get part of the way through.



I suspect that there aren't too many of the movies you are describing. It would be difficult to do horror from the monster perspective and keep it within genre. The audience begins to identify with the character shown most on the screen, so showing the "bad guy" doing bad stuff becomes progressively less scary. But there are plenty of dark comedies from the perspective of the bad guy.



I suspect that there aren't too many of the movies you are describing. It would be difficult to do horror from the monster perspective and keep it within genre. The audience begins to identify with the character shown most on the screen, so showing the "bad guy" doing bad stuff becomes progressively less scary. But there are plenty of dark comedies from the perspective of the bad guy.

We need a Frankenstein movie doing this.