Creating Your Villain: An Outline – Splatterpunk Articles

Creating Your Villain: An Outline
Excerpt from Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie.
© S.B. “LullaDIEs”

The following is meant to be used as a form. Just print this out or write down your answers to build your own personal villain. Even if the information is not used in your story, it will help build a back story, giving your character a more “real” persona.


Gender: ◻Male ◻Female ◻Not Relevant

◻Natural Disaster



Skin Tone:_______________________
Facial Shape:____________________
Hair Color:______________________
Hair Style:______________________
Eye Color:_______________________
◻Glasses ◻ Contacts


◻Antisocial ◻Bubbly ◻Childish ◻Clean ◻Confident ◻Confrontational ◻Controlling ◻Creative ◻Cunning ◻Depressed ◻Frugal ◻Generous ◻Hyper ◻Irrational ◻Logical ◻Messy ◻Meticulous ◻Obsessive ◻Optimistic ◻Passive ◻Responsible ◻Self Controlled ◻Selfish ◻Social ◻Spiritual ◻Spontaneous ◻Truthful ◻Other: ___________________________________________________________

Psychopathic Disorders: _______________________________________________________________________________________



Skills and Talents:_______________________________________________________________________________

Habits: ◻Smoker ◻Drinker ◻Gambler ◻Drug Addict ◻Nervous Tendencies


Relationship Building Skills:◻Good ◻Bad ◻Nonexistent


Notable Past Experiences That Changed The Character As A Person: _______________________________________________________________________________________

Why is your villain attacking? Is this mindless rage, or is there a goal?_______________________________________________________________________________________

Who is your villains primary target? _______________________________________________________________________________________


Crossing the Line: Boundaries and Limitations – excerpt from Splatterpunk Articles 

Crossing the Line: Boundaries and Limitations
© S.B. “LullaDIEs”

Why should not a writer be permitted to make use of the levers of fear, terror and horror because some feeble soul here and there finds it more than it can bear? Shall there be no strong meat at table because there happen to be some guests there whose stomachs are weak, or who have spoiled their own digestions?

E.T.A. Hoffmann an author of the “Serapion Brothers

I agree whole heartedly with this statement. If the goal of horror is to push the level of fear in the audience that much further, then aren’t unspoken boundaries limiting the potential of horror? This has been debated among the horror community before, but has been brought to my attention again in the form of baby killing.

It is true that some things are too emotionally intense for the general public to digest, murdering infants and extreme rape sequences being among them. For this reason, many horror authors and directors avoid doing such ghastly things. No one wants to loose a larger audience because of one scene that went “too far” and so they play it safe. My question is, should we?

Should horror have boundaries and limitations put in place? To do so almost seems like a crime to me.

In order to address this topic on a mature and professional level without becoming biased, I turned to my fellow Wattpaders for their opinions by asking everyone this question:

Should horror have boundaries and limitations? I’m referring to those unspoken rules about killing off infants, or extremely gruesome rape/torture scenes. Is there a line to be crossed, or is the purpose of horror to cross lines?

I received sixteen responses, and only two said that horror should have boundaries. The other fourteen were different versions of the same agreement; that horror has no bounds.

Horror is supposed to scare and frighten and disturb. The whole point of horror IS taking it to far. When you bring up horror you have already crossed the line. Kill the infant, torture the deformed, poison the children with cyanide in the grape juice (Law and Order: SVU episode). There is no line.

Spencer author of stories such as “The Asylum” and “Wrath

Spencer’s response to my question reflects the general agreement my followers had. It refers to the purpose of horror, which we covered earlier in the article “Defining Horror“. We expose ourselves to this genra to experience dread, to be terrified, and to feel disturbed. If these emotions are not stirred within the audience, then it simply isn’t horror, but something else entirely.

But can we induce such feelings without pushing the envelope so far?

I had a rather lengthy conversation with @gmartincook (author of the Stedphast and Dru series on Wattpad) on this topic and he had this to say:

Horror evolves. It has to. We simply aren’t scared by the same things our parents were, or our grandparents. That’s why horror cant have limits. If you limit it, it ceases to be horror and rapidly devolves into comedy…because it was once scary and now is not. Horror is fluid, as you pointed out, what scares one person will not scare another.

It is true that newer generations are more desensitized than others, as well as individual people. The black and white film, “King of the Zombies” (personal favorite) was considered terrifying to it’s generation. However today it’s simply hilarious because we’re exposed to more intense terror as time passes. Therefore horror must continue pushing the envelope in order to continue being received as horrifying.

The purpose of ‘Horror Fiction’ is to instill: horror/ fear/ terror/discomfort/unease -et al. To successfully achieve these feelings in the reader/viewer, the writer has to walk right up to the edge, then use their talent/skill to ensure crossing it enhances the horror/narrative and isn’t gratuitous or titillating to the ‘wrong’ audience.

Interestingly, you mention the ‘killing of infants’ as a potential boundary. I’ve always found the most horrific of literary monsters to be Susan Hill’s ‘Woman in Black’, a female protagonist who is a most prolific child killer (sorry for the spoiler.) Yet, this book is on our (UK) high school educational curriculum.

So, in answer to your question: I think Horror’s purpose is to ‘cross lines’ but it’s the responsibility of the writer to jump over them with good narrative reason.

@francisxyzk (Wattpad) author of titles such as “The Surgeon” and “I Am Kirk

This response I found particularly interesting because, while Francis agrees horror shouldn’t be limited by unspoken boundaries, he mentions the responsibility of the author to “cross the line” with a good reason. I find myself agreeing with him.

An author should have some premise as to why they decided to kill off the infant, or have a woman brutally raped and beaten to death. The event should be significant to the story being told. You cannot simply jump into something as disturbing as molesting a child without a reason, because horror should have a purpose. I know I’ve said it a hundred times, but I’ll probably say it a hundred more because it’s the truth. Horror (especially of this caliber) should have a purpose.

To explain how an author can do such ghastly things while maintaining a purpose within the story, you need not look any further than the Wattpad poet, @DaggerDarkStarMaster. His writings are often accused of “crossing a line” with such topics as necrophilia, child abuse, molestation, and hate crimes against minorities. However, he describes such scenes to raise awareness and shed light on taboo topics many people would rather ignore, or worse yet, even deny the existence of.

Are the scenes terrifying and brutal? Yes.

Is there a reason for it? Yes.

Isn’t this the point of horror? YES.

Mr. Master also responded to my question, and he had this to say:

In my opinion, there are no limitations to creativity. That includes writing of all forms. I always talk about pushing the bounderies of “social taboos” but in all actuality there are no bounderies. I play off freedom of speech. So to sum that up, there are no lines that can be crossed but instead everything is fair game, and remember to never allow anyone to tell you anything different.

– @DaggerDarkStarMaster author of titles such as the “Dirty” series and the series “Cold Love

Many of the individuals who responded to my inquiry also pointed out that these disturbing and taboo topics do indeed happen and are part of our reality. These horror fans feel that crossing the line is acceptable because people cross them all the time within the real world. The idea that a truly disturbing concept is actually happening to someone somewhere is part of the overall horror, adding to the feeling of terror. Because these topics are true, most feel that these concepts not only should be included, but that they must be in order to truly achieve the desired outcome.

These opinions also coincide with @francisxyzk’s earlier comment, as depicting these scenes and events brings awareness to the realities of evil intentions within our world and forces individuals to recognize them even if they’d rather not.

My philosophy is that you can never go too far if it is fiction. There should be no limits and no boundaries, simply because it is not real (within the particular story). If you are going to write about something, then write about it. Don’t imply it or censor something; be detailed. And no one is forced to read it if they think it is too far.

Shane Chowdery author of titles such as “Schizophrenia” and “Guilty

Shane’s comment points out that, even if a story is based off actual issues, it is only a story. If someone finds a tale of horror particularly disturbing their is nothing keeping them reading or watching. The audience, at any given point, can indeed walk away and never go back to it.

Which brings us to the other side of the debate; that horror can go too far. Unfortunately, I only heard from two individuals who shared this viewpoint and neither were able to provide a decent argument as to why they felt that way. For the sake of this article, I will try to express their feelings.

One of these people referenced the idea that forcing a person to experience their greatest fears, or a terror they aren’t psychologically equipped to deal with, could cause severe psychological damage. While this opinion is valid (all opinions are), I can’t help but feel mixed emotions towards it and here’s why:

1) The commenter referenced the phobia of clowns as a possible fear that could cause psychological damage if forced to experience it. However, if you truly have a phobia and aren’t just creeped out by the colorful beings, a clown in a horror story will be just as terrifying as a clown in a cutesy children’s cartoon.

2) Many people with phobias who seek out professional medical help to manage the extreme fears are told to face the phobia. The concept is that once the patient sees the fear is only in their mind they can begin the process of recovery. Individuals with phobias are also told to research the thing that brings them terror because understanding the topic is thought to help limit the level of scariness due to misconception.

In conclusion, it seems that most die hard horror fans are in agreement that the purpose, and even the responsibility of horror, is to go too far and that these unspoken boundaries are uncalled for. The horror genra shouldn’t be considered acceptable just as the mundane and accepted isn’t considered horrific.

I’m sorry this isn’t exactly complete but I’m hoping that, after reading this, some of you can bring new viewpoints to my attention so improvements can be made. This is, after all, a group project and your opinions matter.

Describing Gore: A Guide For Aspiring Horror Authors – Splatterpunk Articles

Describing Gore: A Guide For Aspiring Horror Authors
© S.B. “LullaDIEs”

That was so descriptive I actually felt nauseous! How do you do that? Amazing!”

Comment from a reader of my book, “101 Psychos“.


That one simple word causes images of the most horrific, bloody scenes the mind can fabricate to surface in your imagination. You can see it there, but when you try to describe it … blood, blood, guts, blood, gore, blood… you find yourself in repetition, repeating the same words over and over again. Blood, blood, guts, blood, gore, blood….

How do you describe the gore without falling into such bland explanations?

It’s not always easy. The key is to pay attention to your word usage. If you’ve already used the word “blood” in the paragraph (or if it’s a long paragraph, lets say five sentences) then refrain from using it again. There are other ways to describe such ghastly images without sounding like a broken record.

Let’s start with blood, as it’s often the most difficult to describe uniquely. The word “hemoglobin” isn’t exactly preferred among horror authors (we’re not writing a medical text after all), but there are very few other synonyms. This means you need to get creative and break down what blood is based on it’s properties.

Red, Crimson, Sanguine, Scarlet

Fluid, Goopy, Juice, Liquid, Sticky, Warm, Wet

What Blood Does:
Dribble, Drip, Drizzle, Flow, Pool, Puddle, Seep, Spew, Spurt, Splash, Spray, Stain, Squirt, Ooze

Here’s an example:

First, I’m going to write a scene using the generic word “blood” that everyone’s so fond of.

The blood spewed from his cut, dripping to the floor below and staining the carpet with blood. The blood felt warm and sticky between my fingers as I clutched the knife’s bloody handle. Once the man’s body fell to the floor, his blood began to pool all around, seeping from the wound at an alarming rate.

Repetitive right? It wasn’t bad, but the reoccurring word is distracting to the story, making it difficult to follow. Now, using only the words provided, I’m going to describe blood without actually saying the word.

The crimson liquid spewed from his cut, dripping to the floor below and staining the carpet with red. The fluid felt warm and sticky between my fingers as I clutched the knife’s dripping handle. Once the man’s body fell to the floor, his life juice began to pool all around, seeping from the wound at an alarming rate.”

See? Wasn’t that better than using the word “blood” all the time?

I’m not saying, “don’t use the word blood“. Blood is great! It jumps the readers mind straight to the image desired. I’m merely using it as an example of how words can be overused and make a great concept bland to read.

You can use this technique for just about anything you’re trying to describe (even if it’s not a horror story).

Guts: Brain Matter, Grit, Intestines, Membranes, Muscle Tissue, Organs, Skull Fragments, Stomach Acid, etc.

Gore: Carnage, Ghastly, Grisly, Grotesque, Gruesome, Hideous, Putrid, Revolting, Vile, etc.

Pain: Ache, Agony, Anguish, Misery, Suffer, Torment, Torture, Writhing, etc.

Die or Kill: Annihilate, Demise, Eradicate, Execute, Expire, Exterminate, Massacre, Murder, Obliterate, Slaughter, Slay, Terminate, etc.

Bodies: Cadaver, Carcass, Corpse, Dead, Deceased, Lifeless Form, etc.

I could go on and on with examples but repetition of words isn’t the only way to muck up a good gore scene. The length of the scene is also of vital importance.

How long should a gore scene be?

It really depends on the targeted audience.

If you’re writing a Teen Horror (or any other genra not regarded as gore based), I’d say anywhere from 3-5 descriptive sentences are sufficient. Fans of certain subgenras don’t need or want to be marinated in every detail. A few observations will satisfy them. Keeping it basic also allows the audience to use their imagination to fill in the details with visuals they find most disturbing.


[You can focus on the common gross.]

They opened the closet door and the stench watered their eyes; something died in there and it was bottled inside small room for weeks.

[Then you could start describing the found body.]

The body was a human; that was common sense speaking but what was found looked less human; it had decayed and parts of the flesh was eaten by maggots.

[Then adding more details]

There were fat over-sized maggots on the face of the dead body.

[Then if you want to get really gross]

The dead body opened it’s eyes and moaned; maggots, roaches and creepy bugs oozed from the creatures lips. It grabbed the first person with it’s rotten fingers, pulled out the victim’s heart and ate it.

Richard Staschy, author of titles such as “HIM” and “The Bear Trap

If your targeted audience is Hardcore Slasher fans, at least two paragraphs should be written. Hardcore horror readers simply require more of the gore aspect than others, and we truly appreciate the extra effort.


He was growing weaker, the diseases were starting to take over his skinless form. Some discoloration could be seen in his tissue as well as a multitude of sores that seeped a yellowish white puss. The eye left without an eyelid had long dried out. Now it protruded from his face and had a dark bluish green color. There was a sour smell to him as well, a mixture of dried urine and rotting flesh.

The odor attracted all sorts of insects to the man. Flies, gnats, and mosquitoes alike flocked to his dangling body, both feeding on the decaying tissue and laying eggs in the warm gore. I watched in fascination as his flesh seemed to crawl and wriggle with the bugs devouring him slowly from the inside out.

Excerpt from my “101 Psychos” collection.

Again, the amount of gore you decide to describe should be based off of who your targeted audience is. Basic or extensive; both are very powerful tools.

What should be described in a gore scene?

Remember; repetition doesn’t only pertain to words but sentences as well. If you’re writing a hardcore horror story this is especially important for you, as there’s more gore to describe.

I’ve seen it a hundred times, people describing the same exact aspect of gore, sometimes for paragraphs. It makes a reader become bored easily as they don’t need to be continuously reminded that the victim is in fact bleeding. Once the description of blood has been established, it’s time to move on. There are plenty of other aspects to the gore scene you can utilize to create something epic.

The best way I can explain this is to tell you to remember your senses:

Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste, and Touch.

Pause the scene in your mind and describe everything your character sees, smells, hears, tastes (not always applicable), and feels (emotional and physical). Using this technique should help keep the scene from becoming repetitive, even if you’re trying to draw it out for as possible.

Here’s a quick lists of other things you could describe, depending on the cause of your stories gore:


Is it gushing out? Flowing steadily? What’s the shade of red; bright, dark?

Bodily Functions:

Is there vomit? Did they soil themselves? Urinate? Excessive snot from crying?

NOTE: This detail is often forgotten, but when it is included it’s a powerful addition to the general horror.


Is anything broken? What? Bone protruding and exposed? Bent at an odd angle?


Is it calm? Panicked? Shallow? Choking? Gasping? Quick? Slow?

Facial Expressions:

Is the face scrunched up? Mouth gaping? Nostrils flared? Eyes widened or narrowed? Lip quivering?

Food Analogies:

Food is a part of human survival, so connecting it to gore can be very potent. Examples as followed:

As if it were a bowl of rice, the maggots filled the otherwise vacant skull cavity.”


His mutilated stump looked like spoiled ground beef.” – Hardcore Horror author Tim Miller.


Is it matted? Tangled? Flawless? Has blood stained it? Covering the face? Fanning out around them?

Insects and Rodents:

Are there maggots? Flies? Cockroaches? Where? How many? Rats nesting in the hair?


Is it pale? Burnt? Blue from blood loss or freezing temperatures? Cold? Hot? Sweaty? Bruised? Plastic texture?

Here’s some closing advice from Shane Chowdery, author of titles such as “Schizophrenia” and “Homeless:

You can imagine any scene, and no matter how bright and happy it may be, just splatter it with blood. Notice the difference it makes, and that shows how big of an impact blood has in horror.”

I truly hope you found this short guide to gore useful. If you have anything to add then please don’t hesitate to contact me either by commenting here, or sending me a private message.

Desensitization – Splatterpunk Articles

© S.B. “LullaDIEs”

We’ve mentioned this a few times in previous articles but haven’t gone into exactly what it is. If you’re following me, you might have noticed my slight obsession with the phrase “desensitized audience“, as that is who I primarily write for. While many have proudly taken the label of a desensitized horror fan, what exactly does it entail?

Wikipedia defines desensitization as:

the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.

Basically this means that the first time you see someone get shot you’d probably have a strong emotional reaction (fear, discomfort, disgust, etc.) as well as a physical one (increased heart rate, perspiration, or nausea). After the hundredth time however, you would most likely become desensitized to it and may not have any response at all.

Desensitization comes from many places; war, criminal lifestyles, and it’s debated to arise from different media sources as well, including TV, video games, and movies. Scientists generally agree that the media does perform an unknown degree of desensitization, but some argue as to wether media violence desensitization transfers over to real-life violence desensitization.

When used within the horror community, the term is used to reference media violence desensitization, and those who fall under this category of horror fan are known as Splatterpunks. It refers to the ability to view, read, or listen to a horror story and not feel the fear, disgust, or dread it’s meant to inflict. Some desensitized fans enjoy their form of media violence and simply go, “yup.” Others laugh.

Either way if it didn’t cause some feeling of discomfort to stir within you, then it wasn’t horrific enough to be considered horror. If it’s as horrible as it gets, you’re probably a Splatterpunk.

Thanks for reading!  As always, if I left anything out OR if you disagree with me, then please make your knowledge/opinions known. These articles cannot be helpful unless made complete, and it can’t be complete without ALL viewpoints included!

Overview of Horror Subgenras – excerpt from Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie

© Sitarra “LullaDIEs” Sefton

There are no definitive subgenras to horror, although many people have tried to categorize the various types. After reading article upon article on the topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that their definitions are broad and obscure at best.

An example of this would be the well heard of categorization, Supernatural Horror. This clunks together everything from alien invasions, to haunted houses, to fantastic monsters. Most authors tossed into this category don’t even agree with it, feeling the title is misleading. Those individuals tend to prefer titles such as “Dark Fantasy“, “Paranormal” or “Supernatural Thriller” I agree that mixing these all together is unfair, and that better subgenras can be achieved.

So, here is my version of the subcategories. This will probably help you understand what I’m talking about later on in this book as well, as it is the terminology I use.


Creepy Kids Horror –

Includes evil children.

Examples: Bloody Birthday / Children of the Corn / The Good Son / The Omen / Orphan

Psycho Horror –

Usually has a fixed viewpoint through a tormented psychopathic killer. It can also be done with the viewpoint of an individual trying to decide if something is really after them, or if they’re just going insane.

Examples: Joshua / Last House on the Left / Psycho / Saw / Silence of the Lambs

Slasher Horror –

Classic killer killing people. Focuses more on the violence and murders rather than the characters themselves. Gore is key here. Very popular in the ’70s and ’80s.

AKA: Gorror

Examples: A Nightmare on Elm St. / Chucky / Friday the 13th / Halloween / Hellraiser

—– Hardcore Horror –

Subcategory of Slasher Horror. In your face gore that doesn’t stop. Often believed to “cross the line”. Not recommended for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach.

AKA: Splatterpunk / Viceral Horror

Examples: 7 Days / Carver / The Devils Rejects / Grotesque / Hostel

Soft Horror –

This category is preferred by those who aren’t usually among the horror audience, as the horror concepts are provided in a comfortable way.

AKA: Quiet Horror

Examples: 9 (animated) / The Addams Family / Coraline (animated) / Corpse Bride (animated) / The Munsters

Teen Horror –

Revolves around one teen or a group of teens. Often stimulated by generic teen issues such as dating and schoolwork.

Examples: Final Destination / The Hole / House of Wax / Prom Night / Scream


Dark Fantasy –

Usually doesn’t include an actual antagonist, but focuses on the evil within everyone. Includes fantasy aspects, sometimes as subtle as vivid dreams, a mental breakdown that causes reality to crack, or hallucinations.

Examples: The Butterfly Effect / Donnie Darko / Pans Labyrinth / The Skeleton Key / Shrooms

Monster Horror –

Horrific creatures serve as the villain. The monster’s usually slain by some hero or heroin who saves the day.

NOTE: This is also a science fiction based category, depending on story line.

Examples: Dracula / Frankenstein / Godzilla / Gremlins / Ginger Snaps

Paranormal –

Includes Ghosts, Hauntings, Demonic topics, and other paranormal occurrences.

Examples: 13 Ghosts / The Exorcist / Haunting in Connecticut / Mirrors / The Ring

—– Demonic Horror –

Debatable subcategory of Paranormal. The main focus is on dark religious aspects. Often regards demonic possession, deals with the devil, and satanic worshippers.

AKA: Satanic Horror

Examples: The Evil Dead / The Exorcist / Insidious / Legion / The Order


Disaster Horror –

Focuses on natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, massive climate change, etc. Depicts the crumbling of society and conveys a sense of hopelessness.

Examples: Absolute Zero / The Core / The Day After Tomorrow / Perfect Storm / Twister

Invasion Horror –

Typically depicted as an alien invasion, but has also been approached as extinct creatures suddenly reappearing.

Examples: Aliens / Cloverfield / The Day the Earth Stood Still / The Faculty / Phantoms

Mind Control Horror –

General theme is something else controlling peoples actions or thoughts. This is often depicted as a parasite, or through hypnosis.

Note: This is also a fantasy based category, depending on story line.

AKA: Host Horror

Examples: Empire of the Ants / The Faculty / The Signal / The Tingler / Village of the Damned

Rampant Horror –

Takes on one of two basic concepts. Either animals turned crazed and attacking people, or human technology going too far and attacking people.

Examples: Birds / Christine / Cujo / Deadly Friend / Jaws

Viral Horror –

Describing an apocalyptic event via a virus that wipes out humanity. Most commonly depicted as Zombies.

Examples: 28 Days Later / The Crazies / Night of the Living Dead / Pulse / Resident Evil


Comedy Horror –

The goal is still to scare the audience, but also provides frequent comical relief. This allows the audience to laugh at their fears.

Examples: Beetlejuice / Eight Legged Freaks / The Mummy / Tremors / Zombieland

—–Black Comedy Horror –

A subcategory of comedy horror that pushes humor to a darker place.

Examples: Feast / Idol Hands / Jack Frost / The Lost Boys / Sweeney Todd

Thriller Horror –

Often very realistic, and includes action aspects. Usually the villain remains unknown as a hidden individual, but the threat is continuously growing.

AKA: Suspenseful Horror

Examples: Brick / Cry Wolf / Disturbia / Number 23 / Secret Window

Erotica Horror –

Many sexual scenes included. Often includes a stalker or kidnapper. Common themes are rape and snuff style torture, but can include an “alluring” individual who kills during or after sex.

AKA: Snuff (only when taken to extremes. Also, true Snuff is illegal in most countries.)

Examples: Antichrist / Dead Doll / Devil in the Flesh / They Came From Within / Vampyros Lesbos

Gothic Horror –

Early horror, usually includes strong influences in Romanticism. Often coupled with poetry. Limited to literature, as that’s where horror began.

AKA: Classic Horror / Dark Poetry

Examples: Ann Radcliffe / Bram Stoker / Edgar Allen Poe / Oscar Wilde / William Shakespeare

I feel like I’m leaving something out somewhere. If you can pinpoint what, please tell me.

Defining Horror – excerpt from Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie


By Sitarra “Lulladies” Sefton


Dictionary Definition:

hor·ror /hôrr/


1. An intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.

2. A thing causing such a feeling.

Synonyms for Horror:

abhorrence, abomination, alarm, antipathy, anxious, apprehension, aversion, awe, chiller, consternation, creepy, detestation, disgust, dislike, dismay, despair, distress, disturb, dread, fright, hate, hatred, heinous, hideous, loathing, monstrosity, morbid, nightmare, panic, repugnance, revulsion, scare, terror, traumatize, trepidation, unease, ville.

All horror has one thing in common; the desire to instill fear or disgust within the audience. At the very least you should feel disturbed after being exposed to it. But, what is horror beyond the tidy definition?

In order to answer this question, we must first ask more specific questions, and explore the minds of some of the greatest horror creators of all time to find answers.

Q#1 – Why are people attracted to horror?

The following paragraph is an excerpt from Elizabeth Barrett’s essay, “Elements of Aversion”. Here she explains why the modern world needs horror.

“The old “fight or flight” reaction of our evolutionary heritage once played a major role in the life of every human. Our ancestors lived and died by it. Then someone invented the fascinating game of civilization, and things began to calm down. Development pushed wilderness back from settled lands. War, crime, and other forms of social violence came with civilization and humans started preying on each other, but by and large daily life calmed down. We began to feel restless, to feel something missing: the excitement of living on the edge, the tension between hunter and hunted. So we told each other stories through the long, dark nights…when the fires burned low, we did our best to scare the daylights out of each other. The rush of adrenaline feels good. Our hearts pound, our breath quickens, and we can imagine ourselves on the edge. Yet we also appreciate the insightful aspects of horror. Sometimes a story intends to shock and disgust, but the best horror intends to rattle our cages and shake us out of our complacency. It makes us think, forces us to confront ideas we might rather ignore, and challenges preconceptions of all kinds. Horror reminds us that the world is not always as safe as it seems, which exercises our mental muscles and reminds us to keep a little healthy caution close at hand.”

This statement suggests that the need to feel terror or fear is embedded deep in the human psyche. In a very distant part of our history, these emotions were necessary and used as a survival mechanism. Our ancient ancestors recognized this as a negative emotion, and with the birth of civilization also came the desire to make life a little less scary.

Once the comforts of a more modern world settled in, humanity began longing for the distant emotion of pure terror they once felt daily. In their desire to feel the adrenaline rush and fear that was at one point so familiar, horror as entertainment was born.

Elizabeth Barrett wasn’t the only one to make this connection.

“Horror is the natural reaction to the last 5,000 years of history.” – Robert Anton Wilson

“Evil hiding among us is an ancient theme.” – John Carpenter

Q#2 – What makes horror so horrifying?

The first sentence from H.P. Lovecraft’s seminal essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, says that:

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

This is of course true. Our first question has already explained that fear was once fundamental to humanity, but this also takes us to a new topic:

The Unknown.

Why do we fear death?

Because we don’t know what’s on the other side.

Why do we fear ghosts?

Because their actual existence is unknown.

Why do we fear monsters?

Because we don’t understand them.

Why do we fear serial killers?

Because where and who they are is unknown.

Why do we fear catastrophe and disaster?

Because when it will strike is unknown.

Q#3 – What are the fundamentals of horror?

It was gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe who first distinguished the two main elements of horror as “Terror” and “Horror”.

In 1826 she published an essay describing both. Radcliffe explained “Terror” as that which “expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life,”. The “Horror” aspect was described as that which “freezes and nearly annihilates them.”

This suggests that terror is the feeling of dread and foreboding that takes place before an event happens, and horror is the feeling of revulsion or disgust after the event has happened.

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it.”

This comment perfectly mirrors Ann Radcliffe’s essay, but it was Stephen King who explained horror as having a third aspect. His statement is as followed:

“The 3 types of terror:

The Gross-out:

The sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm.

The Horror:

The unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm.

And the last and worse one: Terror:

When you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

The new aspect is The Gross-out. This element of horror was made popular by the subgenra Slasher Horror, which focuses more on the violence and gore than anything else. These images are effective to instill both shock and disgust within an audience.

Horror also must have a villain, monster, or life threatening disaster. It was Noël Carroll who came to the conclusion that these menacing characters must exhibit one of two traits. The concept was published in Carroll’s book, “Philosophy of Horror”. It reads as followed:

“A menace that is threatening -either physically, psychologically, socially, morally, spiritually, or some combination of the aforementioned.

A menace that is impure – that violates the generally accepted schemes of cultural categorization.”

It is possible to create a horror without a menacing character, but the antagonist must then be replaced by the unknown; most commonly depicted through insanity and uncertainty. An example of the alternative would be a tale about a schizophrenic fighting to distinguish reality from hallucinations; a victim to their own mind.

“The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself.” -Wes Craven

Q#4 – What is the deeper meaning behind horror?

This could be the most debated topic when trying to define horror, and there are many different concepts floating around trying to answer the simple question. Here’s the most popular ones.

“Horror itself is a bit of a bullied genre, the antagonist being literary snobbery and public misconception. And I think good horror tackles our darkest fears, whatever they may be. It takes us into the minds of the victims, explores the threats, disseminates fear, studies how it changes us. It pulls back the curtain on the ugly underbelly of society, tears away the masks the monsters wear out in the world, shows us the potential truth of the human condition. Horror is truth, unflinching and honest. Not everybody wants to see that, but good horror ensures that it’s there to be seen.” – Kealan Patrick Burke

This statement suggests that horror is meant to reflect on an ugly truth behind humanity itself. The dark desires and sinister urges hidden deep within the human condition. Your anger, greed, lust, etc, forcing you to recognize it even if you’d rather pretend it’s not there.

My Wattpad friend @AByronicHero best explained the connection between popular horror characters and the darker side of humanity when he made this comment:

“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein… It was the first novel in which a mortal committed an act believed only to be one achievable by God -creating a being artificially. The idea that a monster can come from our doing seems to be a foregoing idea of horror -though not necessarily the result of physical creation.

Candyman [African decent] man tied to tree, covered in honey, had his hand cut off and was stung to death by bees. He was killed due to the white mans discontent with the fact he impregnated a white woman. Candyman was essentially the creation of human prejudice…

To a lesser extent you also have A Nightmare on Elm Street wherein he was created by the inhabitants of elm street burning him alive due to him being a child killer. It could be said that Freddy Krueger is the embodiment of human brutality but also the biproduct of people trying to enact gods work, (essentially only god should have been allowed to kill what he created – I don’t believe in god I’m just using him because usually all things supernatural are relative to god and the devil).

Also you have Jason Vorhee’s who died as a result of the negligence and selfishness of others -he drowned whilst the counsellors that were supposed to watch over him had sex in the woods and talked.”

Another viewpoint when trying to distinguish the hidden meaning behind horror is that it should remind you of your own helplessness and mortality.

“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” – Clive Barker

This simple comment leaves us with the idea that horror should leave you contemplating death, and your own inevitable demise. We don’t know when the Reaper will come for us, and when it does we will be powerless to stop it. Believing you have any control over chaos or death is the greatest lie you can tell yourself. Many, like Barker, feel that good horror forces you to recognize that.

“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” – Stephen King

Horror used as a distraction from the issues within your own life is yet another debatable meaning behind the terrifying source of entertainment.

Say your short some cash and so a bill can’t be paid. After watching a horror where everyone died suddenly that need to pay bills seems slightly less dramatic. At least you’re not dead, right?

On the other hand, your nation could be at war, your leader an evil massacist, and everything’s going to hell around you. Experiencing a horror could provide the release from such realities by experiencing another breed of terror. Again, using horror as a distraction.

Obviously the effect isn’t permanent, only a momentary escape from the horrors of reality. It doesn’t solve the issues, but fictional terror you can walk away from (even if you don’t) is often preferred over the horrors endured daily.

Whatever you feel the greater meaning of horror might be, it is clear that horror does hold some purpose.

I hope this helped bring understanding and answered any questions you might have regarding the definition of horror.

If I left anything out, don’t hesitate to tell me.

Continue reading Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie here!

Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie – Authors Notes


By: Sitarra “Lulladies” Sefton


Welcome to Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie!

Splatterpunk –


Refers to fans of a horror genre characterized by the explicit description of horrific murders, violence, or pornographic scenes.

Phrase coined from the terms “Cyberpunk” and “Steampunk”.

Horror Junkie –


Refers to horror fans who are addicted to feeling terror, disgust, and other disturbing emotions. After finishing one horror book or movie, they quickly go back to searching for their next horror fix, never satisfied.


This is a non-fiction book. Contained within these virtual pages are the thoughts of a die hard horror addict; me.

Articles are inspired by interesting debates and questions that come my way regarding horror. It’s inevitable that some of these articles will be biased to my junkie needs, which is why I need your input. Such input can be given before the article is written (I broadcast questions through the Wattpad news feed for my followers to answer), or afterwards.

I don’t want this to become a rant book. I want it to be informative and helpful for both horror fans and creators alike. In order to achieve the desired outcome, I really must hear your opinions too so the viewpoint can be taken into account and added. You may get your feedback to me either by commenting below, posting on my message board, or sending me a private message.

Articles may be updated at any time, with new information as I receive it; either via feedback or my own personal research. I will comment on an article if it’s updated, so followers are notified.

Feel free to get ahold of me if you’d like to see a horror related topic addressed here.



All writings contained herein are by me. No part of these articles are stolen from anyone else.

Quotes and essay excerpts are included, to help explain the multiple influences on both horror as entertainment and as a philosophy. Credit is always given where the credit is due.

Cover created by @SammyGirlTheWeird. She’s awesome ^_^

Please, take a seat. Class is now in session.

Continue reading Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie here!