Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Changing Face of High Street Horror

While I was back home for the Christmas holidays I paid a visit to my local Waterstones to see what was lurking on the horror shelves.

Paranormal Romance is still very much the ‘in’ trend. So much so there was a whole rack of shelf space given over to ‘Dark Fantasy’. Love 'em or loathe ‘em, it doesn’t look like the hunky dudes with fangs and the hunky dudes with fur and fangs are going away any time soon.

In the actual ‘horror’ section proper—Waterstone’s labelling, don’t look at me like that!—Monster Mash’em’ups are the other bandwagon rolling down the hill. I haven’t read them and sort of suspect they’re a one-punchline joke stretched far beyond its use-by date.

Of course, it’s because of this kind of nonsense Christopher Fowler (I wish I had a blog like his—he must type like a zillion words a minute or something) and Maura McHugh kicked off the Campaign for Real Fear.

Me, I’m kind of ambivalent. These are not the horror books I want to be reading, but they are for a lot of other people and they enjoy them enough to buy them by the truckload. Few things piss me off more than the whole snobbish ‘your taste is rubbish, you should read/watch/listen to what I’m reading/watching/listening to’ attitude, so I’m not going there. Even if it means I must accept the existence of true horrors like Eastenders, Friends and X-Factor.

Trends are cyclical anyway. Someone’s going to write the book where the shy but pretty heroine falls for the tall, dark and handsome vampire...who then tortures her relentlessly over the next couple of hundred pages by making her watch while he kills everyone she ever cared about, and we'll remember that vampires are actually really fucking scary.

Next year it will be...well, probably no Waterstones and its slot taken by a shop selling iPhone cases and other tat, I reckon.

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