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Juhi Bakhshi

Why does horror appeal to us?

[H]orror movies, with their emphasis on the anti-God and the other side of the coin, satisfy the curiosity motive. Thus, writes Noel Carroll in his noted work Philosophy of Horror, while watching a horror flick the audience does not really take pleasure in art-horror (he differentiates between a feeling of horror arising from a real-life scenario and that arising from a work of fiction, say a horror movie or a ghost story).The enjoyment, on the contrary, comes from the structure of the plot, which inevitably revolves around a process of disclosure and confirmation that is cognitively satisfying. "The emotion of art-horror is not our absolutely primary aim in the consuming of horror fictions. Rather, -horror is the price we are willing to pay for the revelation of that which is impossible and unknown, of that which violates our conceptual schema," writes Carroll. Thus, according to Carroll, only those horror movies will truly succeed in holding our attention and arousing our pleasure which are cognitively satisfying. A horror flick which fails to play with our curiosity also fails to provide us with pleasure.

[H].P Lovecraft, generally regarded as the father of modern horror fiction, describes fear as "the oldest and the strongest emotion" experienced by mankind. Thus opine some philosophers and psychologists that the appeal of horror films may lie solely in the fact that they address the darker aspects of our emotive psyche.

-- http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030823/windows/main2.htm

The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart (1990) - Noel Carroll

  1. The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart (1990) - Noel Carroll [Amazon.com]

    How can we be genuinely frightened of vampires, though we know they don't exist? How is it that people find pleasure in being scared out of their wits? Carroll presents the first philosophical and aesthetic analysis of the horror genre. This book should be of interest to advanced students in philosophy, media and cultural studies and literary criticism.

    Noel Carroll, film scholar and philosopher, offers the first serious look at the aesthetics of horror. In this book he discusses the nature and narrative structures of the genre, dealing with horror as a "transmedia" phenomenon. A fan and serious student of the horror genre, Carroll brings to bear his comprehensive knowledge of obscure and forgotten works, as well as of the horror masterpieces. Working from a philosophical perspective, he tries to account for how people can find pleasure in having their wits scared out of them. What, after all, are those "paradoxes of the heart" that make us want to be horrified?

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