Like a lot of fans of Horror, my fascination with the unreal, the supernatural, and the bizarre began early in life. It started with Japanese kaiju movies and King Kong (1933), the great movie of my childhood. Initially, even the Universal monsters were too terrifying for me, but around ten or eleven, I gained enough courage to begin absorbing those classics.
Moving out from that familar base, in my teen years I discovered, in short order, H.P. Lovecraft, Victorian ghost stories, Poe, and High Fantasy. At about the same time, I began staying up late Saturday nights to watch Nightmare Theatre, hosted by Dr. Cadavarino out of Milwaukee. Due to the later hours, Dr. Cadavarino was able to offer stronger fare than the old Universal greats. I discovered Hammer movies, dubbed Italian shockers, and a tasty variety of near bottom level programmers.
But most important, I discovered Arthouse cinema, thanks to Public Television. Using Ivan Butler’s Horror in the Cinema as a guidebook, I devoured with relish: Les Diaboliques (1955), Los Olvidados (1950), and Kwaidan (1964), as well as silent classics like Nosferatu (1922) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). This helped link in my mind the tradition of classic literary horror with the possibilities of filmic horror.
At about the same time, I developed an interest in art history, due mainly to my brief hopes of pursuing a career as a comic book artist. I was drawn to works of art that were strange, macabre, and compelling; finding an abundance of strange works among the masters provided a yet broader view of the role of horror in art.
From there, into adulthood, along with other Horror fans, I followed along with the progression of horror films from fright and fear into gore and splatter; the rise of Steven King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker; and the expansion of Horror into just about every medium, including video games and rock and roll.
As much as I enjoy a good gore fest, however, my heart is still closest to artists who prefer quieter, more unsettling effects. There is no shortage of fanboy blogs and sites devoted to the latest sequel to Nightmare on Elm Street. Thus The Morbid Imagination, which will focus mainly on films, books, art, and other media which rely on pyschological depth and atmospherics for their power, rather than shock or revulsion.
The Morbid Imagination