Recently, I disagreed with a series of essays Jason Zinoman presented in Slate magazine, and Zinoman took me to task for what he said were misinterpretations and mistakes in my critique. He and I engaged in a constructive dialogue last weekend, and I am happy to report that while we still disagree on several issues we have reached a better understanding of one another’s views.
In that spirit, I want to clarify some of the confusion that led to my blog posts. Slate said in its promotional copy that Zinoman was writing a “four part series on how to fix horror movies,” and Zinoman then wrote “every day this week I will offer a modest proposal to help build a better horror movie.” From this sentence, I erroneously assumed that the author meant each of his four points to be building blocks for a “better horror movie.” Zinoman clarified to me that instead he intended these to be four separate reflections on four issues in horror movies, not a unified program for reforming horror movies.
As a result, my conclusion that his four “issues”represented his ideal horror movie does not apply. As I told Zinoman, once this confusion was resolved, I had very little problem with what his views on horror films, especially since it appears that his views apply primarily to the slasher subgenre (or perhaps more accurately, the “10 Little Indians” type of horror film where characters are picked off one by one by a mysterious monster, slasher or otherwise). We still disagree on matters of interpretation, including the intentions and motivations of H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, but on the more fundamental issues, I have very little complaint.
Zinoman’s new book, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror,is now available at most major retailers.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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