This is part V in the categorical explanation for THE SUB-GENRES OF HORROR.
For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-I
PART II is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-II
PART III is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-III
PART IV is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-IV
Part V is below!
The use of Psychic Abilities (also known as extrasensory perception or sixth sense) are familiar storylines in horror fiction. Such abilities include: Telepathy (mind reading), Precognition or Postcognition (seeing events in the future or the past), Mind Control (forcing someone to act against their will), Telekinesis (ability to move objects by willpower), or any other power credited to the brain which is generally not considered possible in humans. Elements of witchery or paranormal may also share in this category.
These powers are not always portrayed with the intent to cause fright, but frequently are used by the protagonist to overcome a seemingly undefeatable opponent. Naturally the element of “evil” in psychic abilities is also abundant, and often multiple characters may have powers which they use to battle each other. Often, children are seen as the wielders of strange faculties. Psychic abilities may be explained by genetics, learned behavior, sorcery, or technological/medical experimentation (including comic-favorite ‘side-effects of radiation’).
Firestarter by Stephen King
False Memory by Dean Koontz
Darkest Powers (series of books) by Kelley Armstrong
Psychological Horror is best characterized by the fears that come from within our psyche, rather than from external sources such as monsters or serial killers. It’s a form of narrative that builds tension through the character’s perception of events, causing them (and the reader) terror or mental/ emotional instability. Often this subgenre is considered successful by what isn’t revealed rather than by what is told, and is generally considered to be more complex than those forms of horror which rely on violence or gore. Affects of the human psyche include such undesirable elements as: mental conflict, doubt, guilt, phobia, insanity, suspicion, distrust, etc.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Unloved by John Saul
Religious Horror (including: Demons and Possession)
One of the oldest themes of horror draws upon the fears, consequences, and manifestations of evil found in religion. Although organized religion may be a focal point in the story, any belief system can be utilized such as Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Tribal Worship, or rites, mythology, or doctrine of any of the other countless world denominations. Most commonly, these tales will portray a variation of Satan as the ultimate evil/ villainous antagonist which corrupts or outright attacks an unsuspecting innocent. Other unsettling considerations include demon possession and exorcism, spirit worship, witchcraft, or any communion with evil spirits, including agreements, willing habitation, or general relationship. Even stories revolving around fictional religion (i.e. invented strictly for purposes of the plot) may also fall into this category. The worship of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is an example of this.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Omen by David Seltzer
Some of the most compelling stories are those dealing with well-deserved retribution. The vengeance may be as righteous as bloodletting of a supernatural deity (demons, monsters, aliens) or as mundane as rallying against a corrupt financial institution. Revenge can haunt some people and it can heal others, but either way it is cause for vigorous emotion. After all, ‘Getting even’ is one of man’s most basic desires. Most people do not regularly act on it, especially in grand scale, but the satisfaction of relating to someone who does is often a thrilling, if not guilty, pleasure. Whether blood-spattered torture, psychological trauma, financial ruin, or simple dismissal, tales of revenge is a notion that every reader can empathize with in some form.
Carrie by Stephen King
Red by Jack Ketchum
Death Wish by Brian Garfield
MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART VI
Part I Describes: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)
Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:
Eric J. Guignard
Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy Magazine, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.