Every genre has stereotypes, but perhaps classic horror has more than most… Remember the outcry about sparkly vampires? Did you think it was an interesting twist, or a tad cheesy – do you prefer your vamps more fangy than blingy? Stake-able or solid as a rock?
I’m a bit of a mixed bag, if I’m honest. I love classics like Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula – imagine writing a book that establishes, such powerful and enduring characters? That people would write and re-write over and over again, re-imaginging them in new settings… I can’t imagine any author not wanting that.
And that’s the next part – as much as I like the classics, where the core themes of the genre appear, I also like it when people twist them. I might not buy in to sparkly vegetarian vampires, as much as I do their blood-thirsty, monstrous cousins – but I like how Meyer twisted the genre. Vampires that sparkle, is a good excuse to stay out of the sun, whilst not ruining the romantic / attractive bits the author was aiming for.
I think the biggest challenge when you’re twisting something is striking the right balance – I read the Sookie Stackhouse books, and then moved on to True Blood on TV – the gore, sex, and rather heartless predators were all what I would expect, but the twists were good: synthetic blood (vampire sci-fi), vampire blood as an illegal drug, vampire integration into society…
No one will have missed that the undead have been very popular over the last few years, particularly in the YA world – Being Human was one of the good ones I came across, which gave a very personal view of becoming a vampire and how that changes you as a person, others I think didn’t hold together as well, (review here) perhaps going so far away from the genre that they weren’t plausible. (Blood cola, anyone? C’mon – at least pretend you want to bite someone and not just fill up on blood related junk food!)
Some of my favourite books play on genre expectations and twist them, either poking fun at your expectations, or using them to give a whole new view on a topic. Zed was a neat twist on the zombie genre – told from the perspective of a ‘thinking’ zombie with a brain. I liked the way the author integrated zombies back into society with zombie-treat dispensing headsets, that helped them work in fast food outlets or rounding up shopping trollies.
So how do you like your horror, straight up, with a twist, or something else entirely?