Friday Feature: What Happened To Horror? by @destroytheearth

Why do we love being scared? Horror films have always been some of the most lucrative and memorable of movies, despite being about some truly terrible things and often being of truly terrible quality.

This week saw the release of Piranha 3D, an intentionally-classless video nasty wannabe that's looking like it's going to make an awful lot of money. So what is it in us that wants to see a bunch of bikini'd teens eaten by mutant piranhas? Hit the jump to find out:

Many people have theorised that what is so good about horror films is the catharsis, that we get a little thrill out of being scared. The heart races, the adrenaline pumps and we feel lucky not to have been caught by the murderer ourselves.

So how come we go in our droves to see Hostel when we could be seeing scarier, less-gorey stuff like The Exorcist or Halloween? We obviously enjoy the gore. Another theory is that perhaps we watch people who are being bad getting brutally killed and we feel less guilty for being naughty little boys and girls.

It would explain the over-riding popularity of Friday 13th; a film series that I, among many people, adore, despite most of the films being plotless, characterless and slow. Could it be that every time that overall-wearing, faceless, father-figure Jason disembowels a young darling for skinny-dipping, he is actually giving the audience a spanking for perving over her... only with a machete.... It also shows us why the virginal heroine always survives and any fornicators or drug-takers are doomed.

The fact that the most popular horror films of recent years have been the instalments of the Saw franchise adds further fuel to this fire. Every one of Jigsaw's victims has their own little foible that illustrates their casual disregard for their own health and life in general, one that is exploited to by the ingeniously-devised trap that is set for them.

Nonetheless, this does not explain why the notorious film Demons sees one of the eponymous villains clawing out the eyes of a blind person, nor why Jason takes particular joy in introducing a wheelchair-bound jock to "Mr Sharp and Shiny TM".

The theory behind this one is that, rather than all being misbehaving masochists, we are in fact sadists and love seeing the disabled get their comeuppance for already being unfortunate.

So, could the truth be that we are all bastards who enjoy seeing drug-taking, horny teenagers ripped to shreds? Is this how we get our kicks? Perhaps so. Apocryphal stories tell us that Japanese audiences in the 50s cheered Godzilla as he stomped down Tokyo, particularly when he mashed the government tax office in one adventure....

Still, a little sadism doesn't make us bad people; the bad ones are those out there actually killing people, not the ones at home indulging their dark side without hurting anything more than their square eyes. So don't feel too bad for cheering Jason on as he fillets a poor naked actress in the middle of copulation. You're only human.

So come on, loud and proud, are you horror fans out there sadists, masochists or thrill seekers? Comment below.

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