I am sick to death of defending Extreme Horror. I am sick of all the pompous, self-righteous, self-proclaimed guardians of the genre making broad generalizations like, "Extreme horror is just gore for the sake of gore." or, "I don't think horror is just about the gross-out." "Horror is about dread and fear not about shock value." or "You need good characterization not just page after page of mutilation, rape, and torture." No shit, Sherlock. Did you figure that out all by yourself? Horror is dread and fear and suspense AND shock-value. It is a story that raises goosebumps and one that makes your skin crawl and your stomach turn. It is that creeping fear that leads up to that moment of extreme terror when we see the monster and it pulls your guts out through your asshole, when see the violence and the mayhem in all it's raw un-edited glory! Dread is the build-up. Shock is the pay off. A horror story is like a symphony and shock is the crescendo. That's what it is to ME, but it may not be that for everyone and that's okay. It doesn't have to be. Some people will take the dread and the suspense without the shock and some are happy with the shock and don't need the slow buildup. That's cool. To each his own. Who has the right to dictate what others should or should not enjoy?
Suspense, dread, shock, that eerie creepy feeling, that feeling of revulsion, these are all part and parcel of that thing we call horror. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. Sometimes a few good shocks help create that fear and dread as you wait on pins and needles waiting to jump and shriek, wondering what's about to be thrown at you next. Every good Halloween haunted house creator knows this much. Horror is not one thing or the other. It is the most all-inclusive genre of all! Where there is fear there is horror and who is to say what is or is not scary and what should or should not be terrifying? Gross things do scare me and a lot of people. A lot of people do have nightmares when they see something utterly disgusting happen to another human being just as people have nightmares when they see something sad or violent happen to a fellow human. People who try to dictate the limits and boundaries of fear are just assholes. If you're one of them then fuck you.
If you write a story where the characters have no depth and are just one dimensional caricatures then that's a bad story whether there's gore in it or not. If you write a story with no shock value at all but just a bunch of eerie goings on and creepy suspenseful moments but there's no character development than that sucks just as much as the story that's all shock value. If you write a story that has no discernible plot, no sympathetic characters, but has some eerie moments that's a bad story. Adding or subtracting gore won't change that. Bad writing is not the sole property of Extreme Horror. If you don't like horror that goes for the jugular and the nutsack at the same time and prefer a chill over a shriek then go read that but don't jump up on a soap box and start telling everyone else that stories with extreme sex or violence are not horror. Fuck yeah they are! They terrify a lot of people and always have. Most of the people these guys canonize were not trying to write safe sanitary tales that creep you out without disturbing you too much. They were trying to push the envelope and most of them did in their time. Robert Bloch, William Peter Blatty, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, they were all extreme in their day. I am as sick of repeating this as I am of hearing the "gore-for-the-sake-of-gore-shock-value-no-characterization" refrain repeated ad nauseum on thread after thread whenever Extreme Horror is mentioned. I am sick of pointing out how some of the best horror authors today have written extreme horror. I am sick of pointing them in the direction of classic genre literature that fits in the category of Extreme Horror. I am sick of reminding them that bad writing exists in every genre. I am sick of pointing out that shock value is as much a part of horror as dread and suspense. I am sick of pointing out that they ain't the authority on what horror is. I want to just tell them to shut the fuck up and go read their creepy little stories and leave the big scares to those who can handle them, those who love and appreciate them. But I'm far too nice a guy for that. I'm too diplomatic. Better to just eviscerate their arrogant insipid asses in a short story loaded with gore, shocking as fuck, with all the character development you could want.