I came to this understanding while watching a movie I didn't much like -- which sort of follows, doesn't it? -- but which, to my knowledge, is not particuarly beloved by anyone: What Have You Done to Solange?, a film which is not only not very good, but also isn't even really a horror film. It's a suspense/mystery film, though it also falls under the very broad Italian giallo category, which encompasses films like this, but also horror, making the definition fairly vague. That's neither here nor there, and another thing that is neither here nor there is What Have You Done to Solange? itself, or its proper genre designation. What matters is that, while watching it, I thought about the fact that I don't much care for Italian horror films. There are exceptions -- while I may not adore Mario Bava's films like some do, I can certainly understand the appeal -- but by and large there is always a camp element and primary-color visual style to these films that pushes me right out the door. In my view, much of it is just plain clumsy -- the last few Argento films are almost models of incompetence, and in Solange, which as I said is primarily a murder mystery, the killer isn't even introduced as a character until the last twenty minutes -- with patches of visual bravado that nevertheless fail to carry me through the rest of it. How many self-proclaimed horror fans will admit to not much caring for Italian horror films? That's like saying you don't like Hammer films, or Val Lewton. And as a result of not being a fan of that subgenre, I don't often go out of my way to watch those films, which is not only cutting myself off from a great many films that are an important part of a genre I claim to love, but it also distances me from many of the films that have followed Italian horror's heyday, as the influence of those films on modern horror is going to be felt much more strongly than the influence of my beloved Hammer or Lewton, which at this point has been all but erased.
I'm very much in danger of repeating things I've said over and over again on this blog, so maybe I should cut this short. I'm just continually struck by my own lack of connection to horror, and certain important movements, for lack of a better word, within the genre. Italian horror, political horror, horror as satire (which is often claimed as an element after the fact). What I don't like about horror is an easy list to make; what I want from horror is harder to describe, though I suppose I come closest (-ish?) here and here. I want writers and filmmakers to look more squarely at what we're all scared of, and why we're scared of it, and why maybe we shouldn't be, if that's their angle (an often unexplored one). What we're afraid of at our core. Though I don't quite know why I would want this, I want something I can't shake off, and not because I saw a lot of entrails and brain matter. I want mortal dread.
UPDATE: Sort of. Anyway, what a mess this post is. Never write something that you haven't fully thought out when you know you're going to be interrupted a lot. But I'll let it stand as a testament to the fact that they can't all be winners.