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Film Reviews

Hardly Horror – An Introduction: Beware, You Are in for No Scares

There’s a chill in the air; the leaves on the trees are turning all shades of oranges and reds; lighted pumpkins are gracing doorways; retail executives are starting to salivate over the thought of increased sales: it’s Halloween season.  During the month of October, our DVRs are going to be filled with horror classics, and the shelves of the horror section of the remaining video rentals will be empty. But there are those who don’t want to join in on the scary fun.  Some people just don’t like horror movies. Whether they don’t like to be scared, or they think that horror is nothing but mindless drivel, all this focus on monsters and maniacs leave them cold. But have no fear fear-haters, you can still join us in the holiday spirit, for I’ve procured four films that feature all manner of night creatures, but without the horror. Welcome to the world of Hardly Horror.

What exactly is a “Hardly Horror” film? As the name implies, it is a film that uses aspects from horror films, but not be a horror film.  As with any genres, the lines between ‘horror’ and ‘hardly horror’ can definitely blend, and there are a lot of gray areas. To help qualify, I will provide some ground rules.

The Company of Wolves (1984)

1.    Must have a ‘monster’ typically found in a horror movie.
Monsters are obviously not often found outside of the horror genre, but they can definitely add some variety and spice to another genre. Any type of monster can be used, though some monsters lend themselves to hardly horror movies better than others. Vampires are the go-to monsters for Hardly Horror for quite a few reasons: first off, they don’t require a lot of special effects, so a vampire film is cheap to produce; they have the same emotions as humans, so you can easily mine non-bloodsucking drama from them; and finally, people think that walking bloodsuckers are sexy for some reason.  Serial killers also count as monsters, however, they must act like a serial killer in a slasher (masked, kills indiscriminately, supernatural powers etc) to be counted as such.

Ganja and Hess (1973)

2.    The main objective of the film is not to scare.
While the occasional scare or two will not disqualify a film as a Hardly Horror film, the main theme of the film should take the focus away from the fear of the situation.  The film can be any genre: drama, action, romance, etc. Comedies are also fine, however, I am not counting parodies of horror movies; the films should not feel like horror movies at all, despite using the tropes of a horror film.

So if you’re not a fan of horror films, I hope this will give you something to share with your friends who are. Even if you are a fear fan, you may still enjoy these films. In any case, they’ll help you save on your electricity bill, since you won’t be sleeping with the lights on after you watch these movies.

Marshall Oliver Estes  10/16/2011

For more like this:
Hardly Horror Part 1 — The Vampire: Ganja and Hess (1973)
Hardly Horror Part 2 — The Slasher: Baghead (2008)
Hardly Horror Part 3 — The Werewolf: The Company of Wolves (1984)
Hardly Horror Part 4 – The Zombie: Fido (2006)


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