Monday, February 3, 2014

Horror vs. Sci-fi: Genre and the Nature of Disbelief

In my opinion, Sci-fi/Horror is one of the greatest genre hybrids of all time. It reaches all the way back to Mary Shelley writing about Frankenstein's Monster, which was a defining work in both genres. They fit together so well in part because they inspire questions about the consequences we face as individual people, as a society, as creatures on a planet that may or may not be alone in time or space. They both deal in the unknown, or unexplained, but often in different ways. For example, science fiction looks into the vastness of space and sees possibility, advanced technology, the enlightenment of discovery and the awesome potential of meeting new intelligent life. Horror wants to show you why you should be very, very afraid of those things.

But that's a shallow reading of the potential of each genre. The truth is, they can reach and be so much more. They are not mutually exclusive, and sometimes they can even swap M.O.'s and really blow your mind. 

Merging science fiction and horror has resulted in some amazing films. The adaptations of FRANKENSTEIN should be mentioned, but two of the best and most successful examples are ALIEN and ALIENS. Other films worth mentioning include THE THING, SCANNERS, and VIDEODROME. Even the 1953 version of WAR OF THE WORLDS is considered to be a hybrid of the two genres. 

Thinking about this has made me wonder, though: Even if the two genres fit together well, do we experience them differently? Do I approach them differently? Do I expect more from science fiction than I do of horror?

And I'll tell you what made me even entertain the idea that there might be a difference: EVENT HORIZON.