with Kevin Lucia
I’ll begin by approaching four branches of the horror tale: The House, the Gothic & the Bad Place; The Ghost; The Beast & the Monster; and The Weird. These by no means encompass everything considered to be horror. It’s merely somewhere to start.
The House and the Gothic
The strength of the haunted house or “The Bad Place” tale is psychological in nature. Abandoned places–houses, schools, warehouses, even playgrounds–invite us to speculate about those who spent time there. We’re curious. We wonder who lived in that old house, who played on that playground, who spent their school days in that old elementary school?
The Ghost and the Ghostly
Humans are blessed (or afflicted) with memory. We all harbor “ghosts” from our past. Former selves at key points in our lives. Family members long gone. Loves cherished or now despised, depending on the “fingerprints” they left behind on our memory. Victories, defeats, snapshots of nostalgia or despair. Every place we live, used to live, or frequent is populated with the ghosts of who we were. To greater or lesser degree, depending on the individual, we’re all haunted, because we all have memories. Ghost stories fueled by the power of memory are powerful examinations of the human psyche, examining the hold history has over us. The well-told ghost story confirms the fears we probably all struggle with, on some level; the past isn’t dead and gone, it isn’t resolved. It’s still there, waiting in the darkness for the right time to rear its head.
The Monster and the Monstrous
Yes, shambling mud-monster-thing is pretty much a monster. But thinking it used to be a human, and now it’s powered by hate and revenge? Maybe not as monstrous as good old Hector from Saturn 3, but still wrong. And those eyes from that Bloody Valentine poster. Human eyes, yes. But they’re wide, staring, shining…and something is missing. Something is wrong with those eyes. They’re not natural.
The Horror, The Cosmic Horror
This fear is one of the core principles of Cosmic Horror (and, really, all horror worth reading). When you cut past dread tomes of ancient and forbidden rites, eldritch incantations mumbled in unpronounceable alien languages by wide-eyed lunatic supplicants, slimy tentacles (*shudder* so many tentacles), and protagonists who go mad because of some unutterable horror which shatters their minds because it’s so beyond human comprehension; when you cut past ALL of that, you get to one of the core aspects of Cosmic Horror: something alien and outside our experiences looms over us, ready to squash us like the little bugs we are.
Read the article in LampLight, Vol 4 Issue 4
Kevin Lucia – Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and he writes a quarterly column “Horror 101” for Lamplight Magazine. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, the short story collection Things Slip Through, the novella duet Devourer of Souls, and the novella quartet Through A Mirror, Darkly.
He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children.