Note from Connor: Andrew Terech is a horror writer, so this post contains grown-up words and imagery. As you might (read should) expect.
3 Realities of Being a Hardcore Horror Fan Turned Writer
For most of my life I’ve been a massive fan of the horror genre. Recently, I’ve thrown my hat into the ring and began to contribute by writing my own horror stories. Although the genre has grown in popularity over the past decade, surprisingly some people don’t know what real or good horror even is. These days PG-13, found footage films about sexed up teenagers filming random shit as it jumps into frame constitutes as a “good” horror film. As a horror fanatic, I can’t resist tormenting myself to watch these dog turds that Hollywood continues to churn out, in the hopes that I’m going to stumble upon a diamond in rough like Paranormal Activity or Insidious.
However, talking to people about my love of horror often leads to a mutually confused outcome. The casual horror fan thinks I’m talking about the aforementioned Paranormal Activity or Insidious when I say that I love horror movies. Then, when they hear I’m a writer they express interest in reading my stories or novel, stating, “I like scary stories.” Then, I peel back the curtain to expose what I mean by “I love horror movies” and “I write horror stories.” Their reactions have led me to look inward and discover some interesting realities about my favorite pastime.
Once I discovered how terrifying a truly disturbing horror film could be, I fell in love… but most people don’t get it.
I always liked scary movies, but I had no idea there were movies out there that were so disturbing that they’d leave me yearning for a Silkwood shower and a good cuddle. I’ve seen a lot of really fucked up films. I’ve seen things that can’t be unseen. Where does this obsession of mine come from? I haven’t the slightest clue, but I know when it started.
My first introduction to the world of disturbing cinema was a film class I took during my undergrad. My teacher was a tatted up, Henry Rollins super fan who would show us horribly disturbing films that fell somewhere north of pornography and snuff, and then openly admit how much he reveled in watching all of our faces as we succumbed to his unique brand of cruelty. For the sake of anonymity we’ll call him “Henry.”
I still remember one of the first things Henry said to us in class: “We’re going to watch a lot of important and interesting films. Most of them are going to be incredibly disturbing, so please withdraw from this class if you’ve got a weak stomach. Although, I won’t lie, watching all of you pussies squirm in your seats is an incredible form of self-masturbation for me.” Yes, he actually said this. Yes, I took two more of his classes. No, this was not some off-the-wall art school; it was a legit, liberal arts, State University. Yes, I realize the term “self-masturbation” is redundant, but I’m not the one who said it so don’t ask me what the hell it means, although I will be using it later in this blog.
For me, the most memorable modality of torture Henry inflicted upon us was a lovely little French film called Trouble Every Day. It’s about a woman who’s addicted to sex… and eating people. If you think that sounds pretty tame given your recent viewing of Hostel, then go ahead and watch it… I’ll wait…
Welcome back. I’m sorry I had to do that to you, but now you understand what I’m talking about. And that was just one of many films I was exposed to by that sick bastard.
But, from then on, I made it my mission to see just about every disturbing horror film I could get my hands on—my wife affectionately refers to these films as “Andrew Movies.” This is how that looks:
Wife: “Hey honey this movie sounds scary. Have you seen it?”
Me: “Yes. Trust me though, you don’t want to see that.”
Wife: “Oh, is this an Andrew Movie?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s about a crazy German guy who sews three people together, ass to mouth, to create a human centip…”
Wife: “Please stop.”
Now, my wife does understand and accept that I enjoy these films; that I wear them like some kind of twisted badge of honor. She understands that I’m actually a normal, down-to-earth, non-violent, caring human being. And she really likes horror movies too, just not Andrew Movies. She gets it. However, this brings me to…
Because I love horror movies, some people think I’m secretly a sadistic maniac:
I have a master’s degree in psychology. I’m working on a second master’s in professional counseling, and I’m a successful professional in the field of mental health treatment. I love to help people in need, and genuinely care about the wellbeing of those who suffer from mental illness. I don’t have much of a temper. I have six cats (and I haven’t tortured a single one of them, I swear). And, I’m pretty much an all-around wuss who cries during sappy romances and proudly owns all five seasons of Dawson’s Creek. However, none of these facts have swayed certain people who learn of my interest in macabre cinema from assuming that I secretly enjoy eating the flesh of my innocent victims.
My ex-girlfriend, the one I
killed dumped before I met my latest victim wife actually sat me down one day and had a serious conversation after I made her watch my then favorite three movies: The Devil’s Rejects, Frailty, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). It went something like this:
Idiot: “I’m really worried about you.”
Me: “Why? What’s wrong?”
Idiot: “I think you may be sick.”
Me: “What? I feel fine.”
Idiot: “No. I mean those movies you like. You scare me.”
Me: “Oh…really? They’re just movies.”
Idiot: “I know, but if you like watching that kind of stuff it makes me think you actually want to do those things. Have you considered getting evaluated?”
This woman was actually upset when I broke up with her a week later, and couldn’t understand why. And this isn’t the first instance of something like this happening to me. Millions of non-murderous people have watched the movies I mentioned above, but somehow when I declare that I consider them my absolute favorites, this makes me a monster. Let’s test this logic with some other movies
For those of you who consider Titanic your favorite movie: Should we all just assume you secretly want to drown in the frozen ocean, while whispering sweet nothings to some chick you just met and tricked into posing naked for your pre-internet porn spank bank?
For those of you who love The Terminator: If given the chance, would you run around town blowing up Best Buys with a bazookas in an attempt to stop the evil machines from taking over?
For those of you who enjoy Fast and Furious: Do you want to drive around like a maniac in your suped-up Honda Civic, challenging unwitting business men to races at red lights as you peel out in your inane piece-of-shit car that sounds louder than most motorcycles? Wait… that’s not a good illustration of my point. Scratch this one. And fuck you, all you Fast and Furious douchebags.
My point being, I love horror movies because I enjoy the thrill of being terrified, while sitting safely in my home with no actual threat of a man in a William Shatner mask watching me through my window… excuse me for a second…
OK, coast is clear.
And, if people are willing to jump to wild conclusions about my character because I love watching horror movies, then imagine my surprise when…
When people read my writing they question everything they’ve ever known about me:
In the tradition of loving everything weird, ghastly and awful in the movies I watch (and books I read), my writing tends to be a bit… disturbing. First off, when I’m writing, I fucking commit. I don’t pull punches or use lame metaphors. I love that there’re no MPAA ratings on literary fiction. When I write about something horrific happening, I’m going to do my absolute best to go balls to the wall—Yeah, this shit is happening, and you’re reading every detail of it.
Now, a lot of people—coworkers, family, friends, my mother’s friends—when they hear that I’m a writer, they want to read my stuff. Knowing that I wrote something rife with unspeakable carnage and depravity, I hesitate to share. However, I wrote something so people would read it, and if my mother’s friends don’t, who the fuck will? This leads to a never-ending cavalcade of interactions that look something like this:
Mildred: “I read your story. Wow. I had no idea you had such a sick mind.”
Me: “Yeah, I really like horror. I know that story’s kind of disturbing though.”
Mildred: “Right, but I had no idea you were so dark.”
Me: Attempting to not feel embarrassed. “I guess… I just had this idea and just tried to write it as I believed it would actually happen.”
Mildred: “Right, but I had no idea you worshiped Satan and preyed upon the innocent.”
Me: Wondering if they’ll notice as I reach for the ether rag in my pocket.
See, the trouble with being a boringly normal person, while also loving to entertain myself and others using the art of terror, is that people who know me are genuinely rendered in a haze of disbelief and shock when they read my writing.
But again, does that apply to all genres? Does that lady who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey have a bunch of people coming up to her saying: “I had no idea you were a sexual deviant who secretly enjoys being quasi-consensually raped by rich, narcissistic, sadistic, stalking assholes?” All right, I actually do think that about the bitch who wrote that garbage, so maybe I’m fighting a losing battle here.
The point is…
There’s a medium and a fan base for every genre out there. I’ve chosen to write horror fiction that I believe to be true to the horror genre and effectively terrifying. Some people will like it; some people will not; some people will think I’m a psychopath. I wish the latter weren’t true, but people are stupid. Not you, though. You’re one of the smart ones.
Furthermore, I like movies like Megan is Missing, Antichrist, Martyrs and Inside. Yes, they’re depraved and filled with images that no one should have to see, but I find them entertaining. And that doesn’t make me actually want to act out what I see in the movies.
Side note: I secretly hope someone attempts to watch one of the movies I just mentioned, and then send me an angry email that I can self-masturbate to (Thank you, Henry).
In conclusion, none of this makes me a bad person, or someone who’s covertly sneaking around killing young men and burying them in the crawlspace of my house… although, I don’t have a crawlspace… maybe I could melt them with acid or dump them on the side of the road. Anyway, what I’m saying is that I’m just a normal person who happens to find joy in the make-believe sadistic murder and ruthless torture of human beings. Damnit, that’s also not a good argument. There’s really no way to write this convincingly. I give up. Think whatever you want.
All that being said, buy my book… or else!
Just kidding, of course.
But seriously, you better fucking buy it.
About Andrew Terech
Andrew’s a horror fiction writer who is also a massive fan of the genre. He’s been writing short stories and working on his novel for over 5 years. He has several short stories published, as well as some editing credits. He moderates a writing workshop in Phoenix, AZ where he’s been exposed to many different forms of fiction, which have broadened his influences. He aims to write stories that creep out his readers, while offering well-developed, rich characters they can sink their teeth into. He’s also a fan of experimenting with form and structure to create something uniquely his own. Check out his blog.