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May 28, 2006


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Andy Havens

I don't think the point that Chuck is making is that certain types of horror films "punish" characters, or that a particular cycle may be broken or unbroken, small, large, personal or societal. The point is that because we are in our *own* real cycles -- most particularly mortality -- we find comfort in being able to be the observer in another's. If the cycle is more complex, as in "War of the Worlds," that's fine. Then we may contemplate a more nuanced version of our own life's place in a great cycle. If it's a simple, "one villain, one murder" story... but where we get the feeling that it might repeat... we still feel comforted by the fact that we have seen through the frame.

The father of modern horror, Poe, was an expert in setting up and breaking frames within stories. "Fall of the House of Usher" being the most obvious example. It doesn't make it any less scary that we can see his hand in the work, or the devices he uses.

It doesn't make the roller coaster any less thrilling that we can see all the brakes and gears and safety harnesses. It still goes wicked fast. And we still feel more alive when we contemplate that we have experienced something that, were it not for our human craft, would kill us. Coasters are safe because of engineering. Horror stories are safe because they're not real. Either way, we get to experience the "cycle" without the grim, red ruin at the end. And that's always a comfort.

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