Monday, July 30, 2012

TOP 10 MIND-BENDING HORROR vs. THRILLER



THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 
HORROR & THRILLER


Let's start by agreeing, HORROR is a very broad genre. My novel, WISHBONE, is listed as Horror on Amazon.com, but I am often asked why, and encouraged by readers to list WISHBONE as a Thriller. 

Many readers suggest the word HORROR incites memories of teen slasher films and is a could be deterrent for many more mature readers seeking something with a bit more story-meat to curb their reading/viewing appetites.

On this note, Thriller is also a very broad category; perhaps even more broad than Horror.

In my humble opinion, and for what it’s worth, I differentiate Horror and Thriller by specific, though sometimes subtle, content within a story.

UNFAITHFUL (Unmistakably, A Thriller) 

If a story is THRILLING and the proverbial “monsters” are REAL (Serial killers, A broken down elevator trapping the lead, an earthquake, a disease plague, A SCORNED SPOUSE/LOVER, and so on), I consider a book/film to be a THRILLER.


When the “monsters” become decidedly unbelievable (witches, zombies, supernatural experiences, ghosts, paranormal entities, inanimate objects brought to life by magic or spirits, murderers raised from the dead, the dead coming back to warn us, and so on) I consider the book/film to fall into the HORROR category.

So, to sum, Thrillers are Real Life Monsters that any one of us could possibly face in real life, while Horror is based on less believable forces which the majority of the public would argue can not (or probably won't) happen in real lifeI'm sure I'll get a few protesting letters from ghost chasers.

And this explains why WISHBONE, with its supernatural premise of WISHES coming true and Jerome (the protagonists father) making periodic (and horrifically painful) visits, would fall under the HORROR category... More Specifically, The Mind-Bending Horror category - My personal favorite sub-genre of Horror.

These are books or films that take an Average Joe kind of character, with a strongly BELIEVABLE and dramatic back story (death of a loved one, a tragic experience, a major life-change) and sprinkle it with a peppering of the supernatural…often with a Mind-Blowing Twist at the end.


One of the most famous and respected Mind-Blowing Horror examples is M. Night Shyamalan's brilliant blockbuster, THE SIXTH SENSE. Who can forget those last moments of the film when you suddenly realize NO ONE ever interacts directly with Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) except for the troubled little boy, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Or that something RED always appears just before a supernatural momentSheer Brilliance!

As an author and screenwriter, this is my preferred genre. That jaw-dropping, mind-bending, “Wait…I need to go back and read/see this again”, ending is what I hope to deliver with my writing. I’m told I accomplished this petty well with WISHBONE, and I'm proud and excited each time a reader tells me so.

 Mind-Bending Horror is written for the mature mind. It is Horror's AGED WINE versus KEG BEER. You're not likely to find naked co-eds popping up throughout these books/films; the protagonist is often of middle-age, and while there are usually a few good jump out of your seat scares, they rarely contain gratuitous blood & guts. Sex scenes, if included at all, are purposeful and poignant. They have a strong backstory and rich character development to aid you in believing the unbelievable woven throughout the journey.


To follow are some of my favorite MIND-BENDING HORROR Films…









1. 
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

 A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. 




...Quite Possibly my favorite ending of all time.















2.
THE OTHERS (2001)

A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted. 




















3.
WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000)

The wife of a university research scientist believes that her lakeside Vermont home is haunted by a ghost - or that she's losing her mind. 













4.
JACOB'S LADDER (1990)

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam vet attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of disassociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death. 












5.
SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)

Drama set in 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is presumed to be hiding nearby.
 












6.
STIR OF ECHOES (1999) 

After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her. 











7.
CASE 39 (2009) 


A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected. 

















8.
SESSION 9 (2001) 

Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back. 















9.
THE JACKET (2005)

 
A Gulf war veteran is wrongly sent to a mental institution for insane criminals, where he becomes the object of a Doctor's experiments, and his life is completely affected by them. 


















10.
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

A young man blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life. 














...And One for Nostalgia's Sake







11. FLATLINERS (1990) 

Medical students bring themselves near death; their experiment begins to go awry. 













...Which have I forgotten? 
...Which are your favorites?


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Saturday, July 21, 2012

SHOOTING IN AURORA, COLORADO - IS BATMAN TO BLAME?




With regard to the BATMAN shooting in Aurora, Colorado...

I'm hearing so many blame the film for this massacre.

Considering I make my living writing horror-thrillers, novels and screenplays, I feel compelled state my opinion. 

While this horrific event, which transpired in an Aurora,  Colorado movie theater, may have dozens of comparisons to the Batman franchise, it is the mind of a very sick individual who mimics these sequences. If we remove all film, television, and gaming violence, these sick individuals would continue to commit tragic and heinous crimes (because they're sick) and we would be forced to find something else to blame, when we should point blame solely at the assailant. 

Sick is sick. My heart goes out to those who were injured, terrorized, and especially to the families and friends of those who were lost that night. 


In the case of adults, no film, program, art, music, or book should ever be blamed for such a tragic event - period - or we would ALL be out there committing violent crimes. 


As for children and teens, it is up to the adult guardian to monitor their child's lives and looks for telltale signs of potential problems. MOST of us grew up watching great horror and action films without turning to violence in our adult years. We all have moments when we think about it, but the sane DO NOT ACT upon those thoughts.






I made a similar statement on Facebook and immediately, several commenting, turned blame on the political climate of our country; in turn doing exactly what I was condemning... seeking blame elsewhere rather than BLAME THE SHOOTER...They blame Government, America, Obama, Video Games, Batman - the list goes on. 

Who pulled the trigger?

I agree with some of the political statements that were being made, but regardless, a person does not open fire on unsuspecting, innocent people for any other reason than insanity! 

Crazy is as crazy does and stating that politics has something to do with this devastating crime is no different than stating that a Batman Film had something to do with it. 

Blame The Gunman! 

...not the games he played on Xbox 

...not the Government

...not his mother

...not his third grade coach who didn't put him in the game

...not an ex-boss who fired him

...and certainly not a film!


By the way...I don't watch superhero films...not my thing.




Sunday, July 8, 2012

Call It Spam or Call It Marketing…it Sells Books!



How many times have you been watching television when a McDonald’s commercial pops up, only to find yourself pulling into a drive-thru the very next day?


Complain as we may about the endless commercials that sometimes make us forget what we were watching in the first place, but marketing sells…visibility sells. 


People can’t buy what they don’t know exists. Unarguable success from hard-core marketing is why those prime commercial time slots (on both radio and television) are affordable only to the wealthiest and most successful of companies…and they’ve been buying’em up and bidding for the best spots through the decades.


If advertising and visibility didn’t work there would no longer be commercials airing today, and those primetime slots wouldn’t be fetching the millions they do. 

Lately, in self-publishing and on social networks, there is so much moaning about what some refer to as spamming - Gasp!
Back to McDonald’s (and countless other successful branding masters), they have commercials running on every channel, radio station, and thousands of billboards and magazines worldwide – are they spamming us? 

The most successful companies run multiple commercial each day because they know people come and go and they want to reach the widest audience possible. This is called marketing, and it’s how products are sold, trends are created, and viral phenomena are birthed.


My supernatural-thriller, WISHBONE, sells well. I post ads daily on several social networks. I tweet regularly throughout the day as few people scroll through an entire day’s tweet feed and I want to reach as many eyes each day as possible. 

Say what you want, but all that visibility sells my book.


It baffles me why those who complain about spamming (many are authors themselves) are so bothered by an artist promoting their work and trying to earn a living, yet they’ll blast 6 captioned pictures of Photoshopped kittens, one after the other, and not consider this spamming us? Do I blast them for it…NO. 

I simply scroll on by just as we would thumb through a magazine for the content we desire. Live and let live!

Did it ever dawn on them that there are many who enjoy good creative ads and benefit from them by finding great books and experiencing new music or topical blogs? 

THE HOPPER


Unfriend, unfollow, block, scroll on by, but don’t bash tried and true practices and techniques that have built the most successful and recognized companies today.


I would much rather see a news feed consisting of potential great reads and awesome music than those Photoshopped kittens, captioned “funny” babies, or blue-hued wolves baying at computer graphic generated moons. 

To me THAT is senseless posting and by far more spammy than an artist posting their purchasable work, making people aware of choices, and earning a living; but I don’t care if they post these senseless photos since I can simply choose to ignore them.


I put a lot of time into crafting creative, unique and hopefully interesting ads to draw eyes and sales to my work. 
These ads have proven successful for me. Of course, no amount of visibility will help a book with poor content. 

Live and let live and focus your attention on selling your books, rather than passive-aggressive commenting and self-designated policing of the behaviors and hard work of others.




And while we're on the subject...

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