All My Fellow Monsters and Me, AMERICAN HORROR STORIES, RICK & MORTY, And More!
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The Bite #168
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All My Fellow Monsters and Me, AMERICAN HORROR STORIES, RICK & MORTY, And More!

July 14, 2021

In this Issue:


All My Fellow Monsters and Me

By Dani Bethea

From a non-horror fan’s perspective, one may wonder how can such a bloody, frightening, and nightmare-inducing experience be cathartic? What sort of person enjoys the thrills and chills of jump-scares? How can all of those monsters feel like family? Why is that the genre where you feel comforted, and, dare I say, normal?

As a child and even more so now as an adult, I pondered the machinations of horror and what beautiful or diabolical depths humans are capable of. Horror has always been and still remains the training ground for all of the real-life terrors that exist in the world. The very concept of the genre emerged from the wellspring of the human mind, after all.

The genre can also be a form of self-care if you open yourself up to it. It is vast with endless opportunities to exorcise and heal. Therein, you can wield any survival tools you choose. It is a space where traumatic experiences can be translated into a Babadook, where you can find your creepy-kooky-spooky Addams family, and where you can always make yourself at home.

Childhood is the ideal priming stage for this exposure. Animated and G/PG-rated horror, for many, were the gateway. If you were a child of the 80s or 90s you were exposed to a cavalcade of television programs or movies that were abstract, dark, or bizarre. Many of them wouldn’t immediately send you down a spiralling corridor of no-return, but rather would gradually ease you into a frame of mind for your youthful imagination to affirm that, yeah, this kaleidoscope of zaniness totally checks out. Return to Oz (1985) with claymation gnome people and an evil Princess who has a room full of severed interchanges heads? Yup, gimme more of that please! Or Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), which has a legion of devotees to this day because of its horror premise and killer soundtrack.

You’re humming “It’s Terror Time Again” right now, aren’t you?

Films like this and many others primed us for the big-kid stuff or were consumed in conjunction with the same things our parents were watching. My parents introduced me to the classic Universal monster collection, Vincent Price’s entire catalogue, and all of the great creature-feature special effects extravaganzas from the 1980s. If they didn’t introduce me to it themselves, I made my acquaintance to them via Monstervision, Turner Classic Movies, and so on. One of our family’s favorite programs was HBO’s Tales from the Crypt (1989–1996). I can still do a mean Crypt Keeper impression and that theme song by Danny Elfman still slaps.

I was and still am a nerdy sponge. Beyond my parent’s prompting, I would actively seek out books, video games, science shows, or making-of documentaries just to sate my curiosity about how an idea could become a fully crafted piece of art. Exploring the nooks and crannies of the horror genre was the key to crafting all of my idiosyncrasies. Real or fake blood doesn’t turn my stomach. Skeletons and the like are just parts of nature (or movie props). I’m immune to everything these films can throw at me — except for spiders! But I and others like me revel in the experience of an expertly crafted popcorn flick.

Reality is far more frightening than fiction. The medium was constantly challenging so many real-world conventions and helping this queer little Black kid find their way in the world. For example, repeated sweaty-palmed, white-knuckled ventures into the oscillating foggy streets or bloody corridors of Silent Hill brought frequent revelations that monsters are what you make of them and facing your demons is integral to your mental well-being.

Experiencing the genre of horror in all of its vast permutations reveals a plethora of universal human experiences wherein we’re all trying to figure this life thing out.

Dani Bethea (she/they/them) is a Non-binary Grey-Asexual writer, weightlifter, and gardener from North Carolina. When they’re not acting as Editor in Chief of We Are Horror Magazine, find them across an expanse of Medium publicationsGayly DreadfulTransploitationUppercut Crit, and many more.


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