Thursday, March 5, 2009
Hail And Welcome
Welcome to The WGON Helicopter, a blog which I hope will take off and be read by more than a few people, but will serve as a place for me to explore the horror genre even if it isn't. As it stands, I plan on putting my view out there regarding horror in its many media: films, television, books, video games, comics, music...and any that I didn't name or have not yet been invented.
Horror is the genre that rings a visceral bell for all of us. When I first started taking writing seriously (albeit I should take it even more seriously), I was told that the hardest genres to write were comedy and horror. They were the most base stimulators of emotion: laughter and terror. One could argue love or sadness or anger in there, too, but for the sake of this blog, let's just roll with those first two for now. I gravitated towards horror fiction at a young age, after initially being frightened by the now-innocuous images of Jerry Lewis transforming in "The Nutty Professor" and when Boris Karloff first shows up in "The Mummy." The television trailer for "The Exorcist" terrified me, as did pretty much any episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." I remember seeing the trailer for "Dawn of the Dead" late one night in 1978 at a friend's house. For years, I couldn't shake that image of the undead bursting into the elevator, lunging for the first-person camera (at about the 0:48 mark in the trailer below).
Along the way through my preteen and teenage years, horror turned from something to avoid (Heaven forbid I should be in the same room when "The Exorcist" was on network TV) to something exciting. The insurmountable evil that the characters faced. The will and strength to battle back against it. The terrifying guises that the antagonists took. What would they (and we) have to go through in order to win, much less survive, against a horrible foe?
Stephen King was the gateway drug. Mustering up my 13-year-old strength one summer, I checked "The Shining" out from the library. I turned to page one and dove right in. Two days later, it was finished and I had learned to embrace the excitement of the horror genre. Yes, two days. Hey, I was 13, it was the summer of 1980, and it wasn't like we had the Internet or fancy video games to deter me from books and the outdoors. Not long after that came a book that took a bit longer to read, but made me focus my own writing: "The Stand." It still remains as my favorite book of all time, having been read four times in my life. From there, horror became my genre of choice when it came to books and movies.
For years, I had been afraid to watch "Dawn of the Dead." Would it be too much for me? Gore in film hadn't done much to make me queasy before, so why would it now? It had a mystique, but one I wanted to conquer. I'm glad I did. I was amazed at everything about it. Yes, there was gore. Oh, and plenty of it. Tom Savini is a visual effects god of the highest order, of that there is no doubt. But it was the story of the survivors, and that's what drew me, and continues to draw me, to the zombie horror/survival horror genre. Each survivor is a fingerprint representation of us, society, as a whole. I was mesmerized by this tiny band of survivors coming together, building a home, only to see greed on all sides tear it down. The zombies were secondary characters. It became my favorite horror film. On the long list of horror films I love, it remains in the top spot.
So that's why this blog is named "The WGON Helicopter." It's the chopper in which our heroes escape Philadelphia, and in which the remaining survivors leave the mall at the end of the film (what, spoilers? come on!). WGON is the fictional TV station for which the chopper reports traffic.
In this blog, I'll talk about horror "across the curriculum" and not just about zombie horror, despite the theme. I'll throw links on here if I find some interesting news, or maybe video once in a while. You never know. I just want to have fun with this thing and talk about the genre I love. Over on the right, you'll find a list of links. I highly recommend all of them. You'll find links to urban exploration, some great horror sites (like Bloody Disgusting and Kindertrauma), even a couple comic book sites. On some of those sites, you'll find even more links and news and...well, just discover for yourself. For now, though, I hope you enjoy whatever I post here.
Until later, this is me signing off, high in the sky, from the WGON traffic chopper --