It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Dirty)
by Eric J Baker
I’ve seen the future of horror, and its name is Television.
I’m paraphrasing Stephen King, who once said that about author Clive Barker (and was wrong). Consider the recent slate of theatrical horrors: Colin Farrell couldn’t get people to shell out 10 bucks for the tepid Fright Night remake. Daniel Craig scared up even fewer ticket sales for Dream House, and Sarah Jessica Parker, though terrifying to look at, did not draw a crowd for I Don’t Know How She Does It. I mean, why go to the movies for horror when you can see more intense stuff in The Walking Dead and American Horror Story right from your couch?
I’m not sure when it became acceptable to show disembowelment, beheadings, and flesh eating on primetime television, which are acts that would earn most theatrical movies an NC-17 rating. Perhaps the immense popularity of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the culprit. Cop shows – the only network shows where weekly killings have long been tolerated and expected – used to depict the vic crumpled in a corner with maybe a red spot for a gunshot wound. Then CSI came along with its slow-mo, 360-degree sequences of bullets exploding inside people’s brains and child autopsies and time-lapse decompositions and – voilá! – cannibalism is now kosher for TV. I never actually watched CSI until this season, and that’s only because they just cast Elisabeth Harnois, above.* Don’t tell my wife. She thinks I’ve taken a sudden interest in law enforcement and test tubes.