This Genre is for Everyone: Understanding the Importance of Introductory Horror

Krampus Pg-13

At the time of writing this, we’re just a few short days away from the release of Michael Dougherty’s Krampus, and I can’t imagine being a horror fan and not being incredibly excited right now. When it comes to holiday horror, in particular, there are no better hands to be in than Dougherty’s, and if you don’t know what I mean when I say that, I advise you to go back and revisit Trick ‘r Treat. Immediately.

Of course, fans will always find something to bitch and complain about, and though excitement was at a fever pitch when the Krampus trailer “dropped,” there has been a lot of grumbling in the community in regards to the MPAA’s rating of the film. As announced a couple weeks back, Krampus is rated PG-13, meaning, in so many words, that there won’t be boobs, a multitude of f-bombs, or extreme violence.

What’s the problem? Well, horror fans have a nasty habit of reacting to PG-13 ratings in the same way that vegetarians react to giant slabs of glistening meat. We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe horror movies need to be rated R in order to be good, and even when confronted with a long list of exceptional films that were not – Poltergeist, Jaws, Insidious, etc. – we can’t seem to let go of this misinformed belief.

After all, if teenagers can go see a horror movie, it must be crap… right?

The problem with this way of thinking is that it perpetuates the idea that horror movies are exclusive to one core group – hardcore, lifelong fans like ourselves. It’s only natural for us to feel like we have some sort of ownership over the genre – and that’s probably why we get annoyed when a show like The Walking Dead becomes so mainstream – but we mustn’t forget that not everything is made for us and only us.

There was a time in each of our lives where we were first being introduced to the world of horror, whether it was by our parents, our friends, or that uncle who was showing us movies he probably shouldn’t have been. And I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this right now didn’t go straight to the hard stuff, so to speak. We all need that gateway drug, and that’s what PG/PG-13 horror is really for.

I have fond memories of reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? as a kid, and I credit both of them for igniting a love for the genre in my heart. They may have been a little scary for me back then but they were safe, and they were just what I needed at that time. As I got older, I headed into more treacherous waters, never forgetting what brought me to the dance.

I’m now almost 30 years old, and most of the fans bemoaning Krampus‘ MPAA rating are likely right around that same age, but we need to keep in mind that the horror genre only lives on if new fans are being created. Right now, inside of thousands of homes across America, there are budding horror fans who can’t wait to go see Krampus this weekend, and that’s a beautiful thing when you think about it.

Rather than appealing only to hardened fans like ourselves, a PG-13 horror movie like Krampus opens up the doors for everyone, and I’m willing to bet that it will be the movie that many young kids of today eventually look back on and cite as their very own gateway drug. Krampus could very well be their Gremlins (which was rated PG, by the way), and the genre, more than anything, NEEDS those movies.

Family-friendly horror films have in many ways fallen by the wayside in recent years, and it’s troubling to me that so many fans intend on making the genre into an exclusive club that only adults are allowed to enter. There’s no shortage of adult-oriented horror out there, loaded with all the gore you can handle, but if younger fans aren’t being invited in, then who will keep the genre kicking in the years to come?

Kids need horror too. And if a movie like Krampus can give us older fans what we need while at the same time showing budding fans how much fun it is to be scared, then what’s so bad about that? Besides, does a horror movie really need nudity, curse words, and bloody violence in order to be good? I’ve been watching horror movies my whole life, and the best ones often have none of those qualities.

So yea. Krampus is rated PG-13. And that’s a wonderful thing for the genre. Bring the whole family.

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