We have always thought we were different from the rest. We, as in lovers of all things horror, just couldn’t explain our fascination with the macabre. Sure there have been blogs, books and film reviews written. There are even conventions hosted throughout the world that dutifully pay homage to the horror genre and why “we” love it. But, nonetheless, it was pretty obvious that there had to be more behind our passion. There has to be more to it than just the love of watching somebody meet their bloody demise or identifying with the “spook” that will remain eternal in order to seal everyone’s fate.
Nonbelievers (or outsiders as I like to call them), have looked down upon our love of horror as something to be considered as mere child’s play. As the great John Carpenter once said, “We have all been beaten up in our careers, because horror is viewed as a low-rent genre, just a notch or two above p*rnography.” .Although they have admired our fearlessness on the ability to watch or read such filth, we in turn couldn’t understand why they couldn’t hack it. However, recent scientific findings might just be the ticket to understanding the reason why some people love horror so much and how others simply detest it.
About two years ago, a study regarding the “anxiety” gene was published in the journal of Behavioural Neuroscience. Scientists found that “different versions of a single gene linked to feelings of anxiety can explain the way in which some people simply cannot abide such movies, while others enjoy the suspense and gore” (Adams). The gene, known as COMT, is broken up into two versions; Val158 and Met158. The subjects and/or volunteers of the study were shown both pleasant and disturbing images, while their reactions were recorded. The end result found, was that people who carried two copies of the Met158 gene were “significantly more startled” than those who had two copies of the Val158 gene or one of each.
So, we really are different? Genetically speaking, of course.
Although this scientific finding is not necessarily “black and white” regarding the reasons why we love horror so much, it does shed some light on how we are better able to tolerate it in regards to others. So now your family, friends and/or significant others will know why you’re smiling when you’re sitting in a dark theater watching a slasher flick. They’ll finally get it. They will now know how you can laugh at a ‘burned up man who uses razor blades as fingers’ to torment his victims. They’ll understand why you collect horror figures and why Halloween is not just a holiday to you. They might not completely understand just how truly demented you are, but they will know that it’s not your fault. It’s in your genes for crying out loud. A trait you were born with!
In return, we shall be more forgiving of our fellow friends and family who bulge their eyes and gag their throat at the horror genre. We will now understand that it’s their genetic makeup that makes them susceptible to fear and that they are not just wusses after all. Heck, we might even stop dragging them to all those haunted hayrides and mazes during Halloween. Most importantly, we will stop trying to convince them to watch a scary movie with us. We promise we won’t even plead, “but, it’s not even scary” to them when we know damn well that they are going to be scared to their wits.
A victory for the dark side!
We should have known all along what these scientists found out through their study. We are a special breed of specimens and we have been since birth. We always thought horror was in our blood and we were right! We don’t have to feel guilty about how our childhood was filled with campy, slasher flicks. We don’t have to be embarrassed because we have old horror knick knacks like a Norman Bates night light that we refuse to get rid of. No, not anymore. This truly is a victory for the dark side.
Adams, Stephen. “Horror film gene that makes some scream while others
laugh.” Telegraph.co.uk. Published, August 10, 2008.