Welcome to our series of horror subgenres, part two. We’re taking a look at some of the many flavors that encompass our beloved genre of horror.
If you missed it, here’s part one
Ghost stories are my favorite. I mean, my absolute top-tier favorite. It’s not a hard subgenre to define. Any story that involves a ghost is, duh, a ghost story.
These come in all sorts of varieties. Haunted house stories, haunted woods. Haunted highways, hospitals, insane asylums. Haunted objects like lockets and music boxes. Even haunted cars. Literally, anything can be haunted.
Do I even need to give examples of this one? Well, there’s mine, of course, Quiet Apocalypse. House on Haunted Hill, American Horror Story Murder House. Some of the best are urban legends, like the vanishing hitchhiker.
Then there are the real ghost stories that everyone seems to have. Most people haven’t seen a cryptid or run into a serial killer. But everyone’s got a ghost story.
This is an Italian subgenre, named for the color that the covers generally came in. Which is, if you don’t speak Italian, yellow.
A lot of horror from America was translated and put on these yellow covers, including Agatha Christie novels.
These stories tended to be a blend of horror and thriller with a little bit of romance. The cornerstone of this subgenre is that the killer would never be revealed until the last act.
Some examples of this subgenre are Eye in the Labyrinth and The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
Okay, this is a little funny and a little sad. And it’s got nothing to do with the comic ‘bluebooks’. Also called shilling shockers or sixpenny shockers, these were full-on plagiarized stories. A sleazy writer would condense a popular novel, telling the whole story in their own less talented words. Then they would sell the result for a fraction of the price.
As much as I would love to say this is a product of a bygone time, we see the descendants of these works today. Go into any dollar store and you’ll find crates of DVDs that look similar to but aren’t popular films. We used to call them grandma bait because we figured the only people who bought them were grandmothers looking for gifts for their grandkids who didn’t get popular culture.
I thought at first this subgenre was going to be about the goriest of the gory. But that’s not the case.
This is a term used to describe a blend of sci-fi and horror. It’s dark stuff, that’s got one tentacle in the world of reality while the other seven are waving in the wild.
Some authors who did well in this subgenre are Ambrose Bierce, Katherine Anne Porter, and H.P Lovecraft.
This is a subgenre that I’ve gone over a lot, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. Dark fantasy is anything that takes the fantasy genre and the horror genre and blends them. As I discussed here, this is easily done. Because of course, if there are good and friendly fantasy creatures, then there are horrifying ones as well.
Honestly, how does anyone read old stories about the fai and think they’re our friends?
Witcher is a great example of a recent dark fantasy that was a lot of fun.
Finally, this is kind of a blanket subgenre that most of the others could easily fit into. It is any horror story that contains a supernatural element. Ghosts, vampires, demons, werewolves. Any cryptid you could imagine.
This subgenre is kind of silly when it can be broken down so much more. But next time we’re going to be digging into some much more complicated stuff.
See you then.
My newest novel, Quiet Apocalypse, is available now for pre-order on Amazon and Smashwords!
Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi.