As anyone can tell horror is down for the count. Only parodies are selling. The latest is "mash-ups" which is a traditional or literary out-of-copyright setting or characters set in a zombie, or sometimes vampire story. Jane Austen zombies and Abraham Lincoln vampires are two recent ones.
Zombies are hot. Most likely because we feel we live in a world that has become zombiefied. Our governments are inept, overtaken by their shadow counterparts. We are unemployed, and therefore just living-dead.
However, as a student of antiquarian horror, I can say that the next new horror will not be a rehash of what has come before. While the old saying, "People who do not know history are doomed to repeat it," is true, there is a corollary. We do not live the future in a rear-view mirror. We are a people who are influenced subliminally by our present.
Lovecraft's fiction was about his xenophobia. The Weird Tale circle was a means to deal with transition out of Poe influenced, and Gothic horror. They collided with a parallel fantasy movement, scientifiction. It dominated fantasy fiction for decades as science moved us from the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age. It was Modernism.
In that milieu, Robert Bloch, Shirley Jackson, and even Tom Harris came out with a blend of reality-noir-right-next-door horror.
We are now post-post-modern. The bizarro fantasy fiction wave has explored a number of avenues of that post-post-modern phase and is still doing so with great effect and success, though none of it has hit NYT best seller status.
When 9/11 changed the world, did you notice that ghost fiction and reality was everywhere? We wanted to understand our roots, and so we told ghost stories on TV and in small communities. Ghost stories are society's means of remembering history, and those who have lived before us. That all changed when the world economy went south. Zombies are now the rage.
But what's next?
I think the merger of Lovecraft-Mythos with Forteanism is one path. It is quite obvious in the movies.
The other wave is just beginning. Conspiratorial horror. Steve Alten and Whitley Strieber have pioneered that format. Alten's Grim Reaper and a few others of his tie together cabala, conspiratorialism, and well researched history. Streiber, long a believer of extra and ultraterrestrials has several books out now exploring what that might mean. His and Art Bell's Day After Tomorrow combined conspiratorial viewpoint with adventure.
Horror is down, but I'm enjoying new writers who are already percolating what will be the new-new thing.
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