I must have started writing this post over a dozen times. There’s something so personally impersonal about an introduction post. You want to share what drew you to create this little corner of the internet, yet you don’t want to get so terrifyingly intimate that you scare people away. It’s a difficult balancing act to perform, particularly for a newer blogger.
That said, this is Shock and Aww, so named for my combined love of the grotesque and the adorable, all wrapped up into one little spot on the world wide web. The goal of this blog is to combine my love of horror with my love of writing, particularly academic writing, and create some sort of conversations around horror that either haven’t been had before or have been limited in scope.
My love of horror grew from trauma, as many things grow. I was bullied a lot as a kid, in ways I won’t get into, and horror was a good retreat into that. My first horror movie was the children’s horror comedy Ernest Scared Stupid, one of a lengthy series of largely regional, mostly direct-to-video comedies. They starred Shakespearean actor Jim Varney as the titular Ernest P. Worrell, a loveable redneck with a heart of gold who consistently got into outlandish shenanigans.
Rumor has it that the character of Ernest, a cap-wearing, catchphrase spewing Southerner, was based on a hitchhiker Varney picked in in Paducah, Kentucky.
Rumor also has it that that hitchhiker was my great-uncle Billy.
Who knows though.
What I do know is that I latched onto to everything horror that my parents would let me watch. It wasn’t much to be honest, and it was all more-or-less child friendly. Movies from Jim Henson Studios like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth got viewed so much that the tapes wore out. The Witches, Hocus Pocus, and Something Wicked This Way Comes scared me much more, but I loved them. Shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? became must-see TV, as did the annual Halloween Disney Channel original movies. I missed more than one fall festival night out of a desire to stay home to see Nightmare Before Christmas or Beetlejuice.
I also liked more traditional adult horror fare–at least what my very mindful mom let me watch with my dad. The Universal monster movies were perpetual favorites every year, as was an edited for televsion version of Young Frankenstein. A lot of my first forays into adult horror were in the edited-for-tv versions on AMC and Turner Classic Movies. TV Land became a good source of year round entertainment with shows like The Addams Family and The Munsters.
As I grew, I branched out into more adult horror. My very first PG-13 movie was–well, it was Spiderman directed by Sam Raimi, actually–but the second one was The Ring. I was, like many nerdy kids in the early 2000s, obsessed with anime and all things Japan, and that transferred over to horror. I saw The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye, and several other remakes from Japan.
The video store in my hometown saw me frequently, especially after I learned how to drive. Not only did they have all of the subtitled, original Japanese films I adored in my early teens, they also weren’t very particular as to whether or not I was old enough to see an R film. While I strictly avoided films that looked too lurid, the more violent horror films definitely caught my eye. I also was able to see a few classics, though I largely avoided the slasher genre due to the conflation of violence with sex. I didn’t see Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th until I was much older. I did, however, see Hellraiser at 18. In retrospect, this was a strange dichotomy, I’ll admit, but it seemed like a good idea the time.
As I grew more, so did my love of horror. I started going to conventions, I started getting rarer cuts of movies, and I started testing to see how extreme of films I could watch before I grossed myself out too much. While plenty of movies have the ability to disturb, scare, and upset me, one of the only films I remember turning off because it was too gross was Mimic. I couldn’t take all the scenes in the sewers.
I had always loved to read, so I turned to books for analysis. I read every academic book about horror I could get my hands on.
There weren’t many.
Ever since then, a part of me has wanted to write about horror from a more academic bent. Not necessarily in the objective, pure academic sense, but in a way that interrogates films and subgenres based on concepts often not talked about seriously in relation to the genre.
And thus, Shock and Aww was talked about and eventually born.
I truly hope you enjoy the posts I create and the subjects that I write about. I currently have a backlogged list of topics, but feel free to comment with things you would like to see on the blog. I appreciate every single person who reads this and has decided to go along on this journey with me.