the horror movie experiment


One thing in these films, though, is rarely confusing. Despite the gore, the manipulative music, the pre-kill mouth-breathing, the ominous whisper-creep—or, a lot of the time, because of them—these movies are fun to watch. They are also, often, funny. In Susan Sontag’s treatise “Notes on ‘Camp,’” she defines camp as “a certain mode of aestheticism” that acknowledges, in campy objects and artifacts, “a large element of artifice,” exaggeration, or outlandishness. She goes on to make a valuable distinction between “naive and deliberate camp”: the former “rests on innocence” and ventures “a seriousness that fails,” while the latter is “wholly conscious” of itself as camp, can be said to be “camping” or trying on camp, and is usually, according to Sontag, “less satisfying.” A Nightmare on Elm Street is outwardly campy—the campiest of the five. It’s serious, yeah, but it’s also grotesque, in a silly, manic sort of way. Freddy’s a burn-unit case doing stand-up.

more from Adrian Van Young at The Believer here.