This question of “Why horror?” has been occurring to me myself lately. I have all kinds of answers. For one thing, these dark tastes seem to come ingrained in us. From the time I could read I was always reaching for the books with the spooky covers and looking longingly at the scary movie posters. My Dad had a huge collection of SFF, horror, and mystery, so it was always around for me to reach for.
It may be partly chemical! One theory I’ve heard is that some people are wired to overstimulate very easily, and those people tend to avoid scary movies and high-adrenaline experiences because of the too-muchness. On the other hand, people who are less sensitized crave over-stimulation and that rush of adrenaline – guess which one I am? I do gravitate toward thrillers and horror for the adrenaline rush. Unfortunately that tends to translate to my love life as well.
But also I think from a very early age I was aware of horrific things going on in real life that adults around me tended not to acknowledge. Growing up in Berkeley I was infused with all kinds of political ideas like “Silence = complicity”. So writing horror is partly my way of venting this outrage – of saying – “This stuff HAPPENS. Why aren’t we doing anything about it?”
I’ve said this before: women know what it is to be raped, battered, prostituted, enslaved, disenfranchised, underpaid, demeaned, harassed; we know what it’s like to live in fear of a simple walk out to the parking lot at night. We live horror on a much more intimate basis than most men in non-warring countries ever do. So I write horror, thrillers, the supernatural, the paranormal, whatever you want to call it, from a specifically feminine point of view, and that’s a very conscious effort. Women know a lot about horror. I have a lot to say about it.
[Note: There's a movie called Spliced/The Wisher with a main character, Mary, who watches scary movies who craves the scariness, almost to the point of eroticism. However, she tends to "sleepwalk" after watching some of the scary films. This is just one aspect of the story, though. I discussed this movie in October 2010.
Or, check out it's page on IMDB.]