28 Comments
Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Cool read! I’m a fan of really any genre x with horror, it usually seems to work. I’ve been reading a lot of Cormac McCarthy lately, on Blood Meridian right now, and the way he blends western and horror is just incredible. Such a freaky, unsettling, yet perfect western journey… of hunting for scalps deep in Mexico of course.

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One of my favorite horror movies of all time is Ravenous, a tremendous western cannibal film. The supernatural element is highly understated, but it's there, and the movie has a bit of a cult following. I like those mix and match genres for horror as well, and it lends an additional layer of sophistication to it.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I'll have to check that out.

I'm guessing you've seen Bone Tomahawk? That's pretty wild too.

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I have! Although, that's about as gruesome as I can take it. The cave scene was a bit much for my delicate sensibilities. 😉

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Oh 💯 agreed haha

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

To me, horror is more effective when it's understated and leaves the reader to fill in the details from the darkest depths of his imagination. It's easier to do that with writing than in films, where you usually get to face the monster head on. Beowulf is probably one of the earliest horror stories and even now it makes me shudder. Back in the 50s and 60s, there were a lot of horror films on TV, such as The Fly, that we might laugh at today but they sure seemed creepy back then. Around 1960 I saw a film version of Jules Verne's The Time Machine, where the monsters were a devolved race of cannibalistic humans. Verne may have invented sci-fi/horror, as he wrote in the 1800s.

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Thanks for reading and commenting, Virginia! Understated is a good word for it, and I would add that to the unknown. There are some horror films that are much more "in your face", but they tend to work in conjunction with comedy, or are trying to build something bigger like a franchise. It's one reason why an epic fantasy horror might not work, but would be an interesting experiment.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Fun essay, lots more ideas to play with. Thanks.

I've been playing around with blending horror into fantasy and scifi but it often ends up a Lovecraftian, even my AI horror novella The Ghost in the Machine did. Perhaps because technology and knowledge are closely linked and so forbidden knowledge becomes forbidden tech and BANG you're in scifi lovecraft town.

You're right that there's a lot to delve into and I am going to keep at it and hope others do too. I don't read much horror outside of the few writers on SubStack but I am strongly intrigued by the epic fantasy x horror potential.

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Thanks for reading and commenting! I love cosmic horror, and I get what you're saying about how easy it is to land in that territory after beginning. I have a few ideas I'm playing around with for October and one of them is purposefully Lovecraftian. I'm excited to see what you come up with!

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

This was interesting. However, as a horror writer, I feel the need to point out that the genre is niche but very much alive!

Sci-fi horror is a pretty well established genre, but IMO it's very difficult to make fantasy horror work because the characters are usually special and super talented at fighting. (This applies less to low fantasy) Horror is typically a genre about ordinary people for a reason.

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Hi Leigh, thanks for the feedback! I don't think horror fiction is dying at all, but I also don't think that it enjoys the same level of popularity as it once did. It's morphed a bit as well as tastes have shifted. Although, science fiction and fantasy has done some of that as well, so it's not necessarily any commentary on the genre itself.

I would like to see more horror that embraces epic fantasy with regular folks. It's quite possible it wouldn't work for the reason you pointed out, as it's hard to identify with characters that have supernatural traits. That could be why fantasy horror still primarily involves creature features where the supernatural invades our regular world. Maybe we'll see someone give it a go in the near future. 😁

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I'm honestly okay with it being niche. Genres can sometimes get homogenized when they're too popular. I'm definitely a horror snob, though.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Always interested in this subject, as I’ve definitely veered towards giving my fantasy projects an edge of horror in the last few years.

I think it’s interesting to note that, even as horror remains a fairly niche genre, it seems to really be thriving in fiction podcasts. The Left Right Game and The Magnus Archives were both pretty popular, and both of them were very cosmic/Lovecraftian horror, which to me usually has some fantasy tones to it

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I just discovered/listened to the Left Right Game this last week!!

Any other recommendations?

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Have you listened at all to the No Sleep Podcast? I've found that it has tremendous variety, and the podcasts are constructed from submissions by writers. Horror on Reddit has a fairly large community as well, so it's thriving in various forms, and maybe just not via a single traditional path that previously took. Thanks for reading and commenting, H.A.!

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Thanks for this Brian

It’s an interesting idea. I guess King did kind of do it in The Dark Tower where there are robot trains, dark wizards and horrific monsters. Barker is still the master through Weaveworld, Galilee and Imajica

Interestingly this made me think of role playing campaigns from back in the day when there were no limits. We played one called Expedition to the Barrier Peaks which was set on a spaceship with robots, aliens but it had also been invaded by the usual fantastical monsters from D&D. You still played as your usual character so you fought these robots with magic etc but also weapons you found on board. It was great fun! Although not too much horror I suppose. Bottom line is, merging genre’s can work. Folks just need to let their imaginations go wild!

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Awesome examples, Daniel! I have a book that talks about writing speculative, and one of the authors in it mentions a novel he wrote about vampires in space. I thought it was out there, but so original in the way he described it. Sort of like your robots mixed with monsters via D&D. There's so many ideas for us to play with and I don't mind that blended genre and hope to encourage others to do some exploring.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

That sounds pretty great.

There's some decent dollops of horror-type stuff in Baldur's Gate 3, which I am slowly (never enough hours in the day!) working my way through and absolutely loving.

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I enjoyed this essay, Brian.

I've made efforts to blend horror and science fiction in my writing. One example is my second novel, Under a Fallen Sun. It grew out of a horror story I wrote in college and blends sci-fi elements with horror (think Under the Dome meets Island of Dr. Moreau). While Under a Fallen Sun has horror DNA, it is also a science fiction story. Specific plot elements and a specific major character from the narrative tie directly into my Alien People Chronicles trilogy.

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Thanks, John! I love the combination of horror and science fiction. It's a great blend of speculative elements. I'll have to check out Under a Fallen Sun. The premise sounds interesting.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Excellent piece, Brian. Lots to think on. I really should read some Barker. I don't know why I never have!

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Thanks, Nathan! I liked his earliest work best and stopped reading after The Thief of Always, but anything from that backward, I can recommend.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I'm going to download some samples onto my Kindle 😀

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

Very interesting read! I recently began reading some iconic horror novels and I’m excited to continue. This reminded me to pick up Clive Barker as well.

It’s strange, because while horror is still extremely popular, certain aspects of it have become less popular. For me it’s the slasher genre in film, although it has recently had a great resurgence. Perhaps the same could happen with some of the niche genres in novels as well!

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I'm not a big slasher fan, but it's possible that's because it's been done to death (excuse the pun). I much prefer horror with a supernatural/speculative bent. Clive Barker seems to have waned in recent years. I read everything up to The Thief of Always, and after that he hasn't been as prolific, although he had several more novels.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

I love this topic (See, also, Slipstream and Science Fantasy). And I'm working on short pieces in all of the above, including horror. Wish me luck (or providence or skills or enlightenment or salvation, depending... <g>)

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Good luck, Mark! I look forward to reading more.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Brian Reindel 👾⚔️

BTW, the photo you posted is a graphic representation of what's implied but not stated. Why should hands on a riverbank be horrific, and yet they appear gruesome.

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