Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir Horror? [long]

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 05 Feb 2000

Actually, this is a subject I'm very interested in. I've read a lot of horror in the past and will probably revisit the genre again sometime. My take on the subject, for what it's worth:

1. There's no reason, theoretically, that there couldn't be "noir horror" or "hardboiled horror".

2. Other writers have consciously tried to blend the two genres, with middling success in my opinion. I remember reading an interview with Dean Koontz where he said that some of his early books were an attempt to blend the two. I think, though, that what he basically came up with were mainstream suspense stories with a touch of the fantastic.

3. Some of David Schow's and Joe R. Lansdale's stories have blending the two genres effectively. I'm particularly thinking of Lansdale's "Night They Missed the Horror Show", one of the finest horror short stories published in the last twenty years, in my opinion.

4. Although what you say about Brite, Barker, etc. is true (that the scenarios these authors come up have some things in common with hardboiled/noir scenarios), I think that the florid, Gothic-styled language these writers use sort of eliminates them from consideration here. People can (and will!) use whatever criteria they want for defining the "hardboiled" or "noir" approach, but for me language and diction is a key element of it. Personally, I don't think you can really say that a work blends in aspects of the hardboiled style without some of this "tough" (for lack of a better term) language.

5. Your point about Lovecraft and Woolrich is excellent! I'd never thought of the two together before, but you're right, there are many similarities. I, however, draw different conclusions from this. Rather than edging Lovecraft into the noir world, I think it tends to edge Woolrich into the fantasy world. Perhaps Woolrich is best appreciated as a kind of surrealist? (I've noticed that many of Woolrich's admirers -- Ray Bradbury comes to mind -- are fantasy writers, not hardboiled writers.)

Thanks for such a thought-provoking post! doug

--- John & Carrie <> wrote:
> I think there is also some sort of general consensus
> that "noir" sort of
> transcends genres (assuming that "noir" is a style,
> as opposed to genre
> yadda yadda yadda.)
> Starting from there, does anyone have any thoughts
> on "noir horror?"

===== Doug Bassett
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