Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.
In this installment, Matt Hersh of No Room In Hell reveals the deep dark truth of good horror: it's all about the high from fear.
I lay in my dark bedroom, paralyzed with fear and certain that Jason Voorhees was going to climb up the stairs at any moment and throw me out the window to my death. I was 10 - old enough to rationalize that this couldn't really happen but young enough to still hold on to my childhood fears. Maybe I shouldn't have watched Friday the 13th: Part V that day. But that was pretty typical for me back then. I was both fascinated with and terrified by horror films for as long as I could remember. I played a game of limbo with them, avoiding them like the plague for fear of nightmares but also sneaking a peak with morbid curiosity whenever one was on television.
I remember dreading October, when our local TV stations played horror classics on a loop throughout the month. Halloween, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Night of the Creeps, Deadly Friend, The Shining. These were some of the titles I had come to fear and went at great length to avoid. I would go through the TV Guide and plot out which nights to not watch Channel 11, which nights to omit Channel 4. But still, even armed with that knowledge, those nights would come and I would find myself watching those channels if only for a few seconds to get a glimpse as Jason impaled some poor bastard.
I was the only one in my group of friends who harbored such irrational fear and of course, I would vehemently deny it. To prove that I was over my fear, I suggested to a friend that we rent Candyman one mid-winter night that same year. During a sleepover, we popped in the VHS tape. To say that I was literally traumatized would not be a stretch. Halfway through the movie, I was still holding it together but when Virginia Madsen has her first encounter with Candyman and wakes up in a pool of blood next to a decapitated Rottweiler, I lost it. My stomach started to churn with anxiety and I pulled my sleeping bag tight around my body. Though I made it through the rest of the film, I became physically ill with anxiety, spending the rest of the night in the bathroom until I convinced my mother to come pick me up at 4am. For years afterward, I would purposely avoid looking into mirrors at length, afraid that in a fit of insanity I would summon Candyman.
So you could say that from an early age, I had a love-hate relationship with the horror genre. But something changed around the time I turned 14. The panic-inducing fear that once accompanied my viewings had departed but my fascination had not dissipated. Rather, I began to watch every horror movie I could get my hands on. I'd drag my father to the theater every time one came out and there were some real duds during that time period - Urban Legend, The Faculty, and Bride of Chucky come to mind.
In a way, I guess I was (and still am) trying to recapture that initial fear I felt as a child. Read into that however you want, but to me its explanation is simple. I think we're all inherently fascinated by fear and the feeling it gives us. A psychology professor I once had used to talk about how we're always seeking to alter our consciousness, to get "high". That's what fear is. It changes our body and mental chemistry for a brief period of time. Good horror gives us a brief high.
With a love for writing nurtured by my parents' encouragement, I majored in journalism in college and worked as a reporter for a couple of papers in New Hampshire before moving back to New Jersey to work in interactive media. After a few years of writing news stories and now more technical documents, I needed an outlet for creativity. It was only logical to combine my love of horror with my passion for writing and news.
No Room In Hell started as my own personal blog on Matthersh.net before I decided to get serious about promoting it. I recently partnered with my friend Chris Oatis, who now co-authors No Room In Hell. Knowing that I have a place to collect my thoughts, where other genre fans will appreciate them, has made this a rewarding venture for me. Though it's still in its early stages, Chris and I look forward to continuing to improve No Room In Hell. Thank you for reading it.
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