Friday, 14 May 2010

Why So Serious?

Dark stories.

The darker the better.

They have always had a special place in my heart. Stories that shroud themselves in misery, stories that are unapologetically harsh, stories that are brutal, uncompromising and sometimes downright shocking.

Recently, I have been asking myself, why? Why am I drawn to such dark material?

Answer? The Lost Boys.

No. Scratch that. Let's journey further back.

Answer? Freddy Krueger.

I'd never seen any character quite like Freddy Krueger.

For a young impressionable male discovering cinema, ol' Freddy was like a shot of adrenaline to the system. Here was a guy who couldn't give a fuck about nothing. He'd giggle himself stupid, straighten his fedora (with that deliciously twisted sense of style) then slash you to pieces and dance in your blood. He was, quite simply, a cinematic slap in the face.

I had, indeed, never seen a character quite like Freddy Krueger.

And I have yet to come across a character quite like him since. (He's still gets my vote for the most devilishly original fictional character in history. Just please don't mention that fucking remake!)

And yet, despite Krueger's brutality, despite his evil nature, there, lurking not too far beneath the surface, was humour. Granted, in the early days, it was a humour only Fred himself found amusing, but the message was clear; to really shock, you had to laugh while you did something shocking (check the rape scene from A Clockwork Orange or the ear slicing scene from Reservoir Dogs for further evidence). The Lost Boys, Fright Night, An American Werewolf In London and a dozen others followed to cement the theory.

So why does often the humour get lost along the way?

I've been thinking (a lot) about my second novel as it worms it's way from my brain to the page (or the computer screen if you prefer). Why couldn't my second book have a slightly comedic tone? Or even out and out comedic?

I'm not talking Monty Python territory here. Just something black, really black, like laughing at someone throwing up till you realise they are suddenly choking to death. Like watching a dog chew it's own leg and laughing, till it's fangs cut through the bone. Like watching a father throw a child up in to the air and catch repeatedly, till inevitably missing.....

Uncomfortable isn't it?

I want to write a comedy vampire story.

A story that retains violence yet makes you laugh, whether you want to or not. My publisher will tell you I've already dabbled a bit with this and I hope the results were fairly successful. Hell, my first novella was a comedy. Should I give it another whirl?

(Note: At this time of writing, Blackstone Publishers are considering my first novella for publication)

It's hard to do horror and comedy. Many have failed. Jesus, HUNDREDS have failed!

Do we gravitate towards seriousness and 'end of the world' tone because it's easier? Have we become lazier as writers, to try and blend tones?

Why don't we want our readers to laugh, just before they scream?

Curious thoughts.

For clarification, I travelled to a galaxy far far away and sought the advice of a 900 year old green midget. (For the sheer hell of it).

LUKE : Is the dark side stronger?
YODA : No, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

So there you have it. We're bloody lazy.

Make 'em laugh people.

Then cut their throats.

(Sorry, Freddy insisted on that last part)


  1. You're right, many have tried and failed. But, I always think of John Cusack's Grosse Pointe Blank (darkly hilarious movie) and think why the hell not?

    It could happen, and be humorous, until it isn't. The hard part is knowing when to quit.


  2. Good points Dottie, and yes Grosse Point Blank nailed it, as did American Psycho (though that film dissapointed me, dunno why).

    The Lost Boys, I still think, is the perfect blend of comedy and horror. I think (think) that An American Werewolf in London may have been the first film to try it and make it work.

  3. Funny you should blog this, because I just re-watched Lost Boys and Fright Night with a group of girlfriends last night, some of whom were, ahem, mature enough to have seen the movies when they debuted in the theaters. We agreed that it seems like several 80's movies perfectly blended horror and comedy, something that seems to be a bit missing today.

  4. It's so true. I dunno, maybe it is our age but didn't directors seem to care a little more about their art back then? I don't know.

    On a completely unrelated topic, saw Shutter Island last night and it blew me away. I highly recommend it!