Horribly Good: The Importance of Horror and How To Do It Right

“Before I kill you, I’d like have a serious conversation about the importance of fear in human society…”
Source: Comic Vine

Summer has only just started and my mind is already on Halloween – mostly due to the happy news that my cousin is getting married on All Hallows Eve and everyone is going to be in full costume.

Of course, when my mind goes to Halloween, it also extends into thinking on horror stories. As such, I’ve been enjoying some campy horror films and playthroughs of horror-themed games and pondering the nature of the scariest form of entertainment.

You see, back in my day (or at least among my circle of childhood authorities), horror had a bad reputation owed to the quickly improving field of special effects in films making for more realistic violence and the stories becoming more brutal in their subject matter to compensate. This always struck me as an odd reaction that some people had. It left me asking, “Why are so offended by a horror story that manages to ACTUALLY be horrifying?”

Because, my beloved Field Operatives, that is the point of horror stories; to put a less than savory aspect of life on display and make you understand why you need to be afraid of and/or despise it.

Every good horror story, or at least the best remembered, works by making a monster out of a major aspect of daily life that the creator feels needs to change or a social issue that they feel needs addressing. For example, there are plenty of propaganda films from the Cold War era that attempted to be direct about “The Red Scare” taking over the world, but most were quickly forgotten at best and laughed off at worse. But do you know what story inspired by the fear of the loss of self in that era has survived the test of time? That’s right, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

All good horror stories employ this philosophical symbolism; Eraserhead‘s mutant baby and the fears of parenthood, The Cenobites from Hellraiser being the manifestations of human vices, Jason Voorhees and the debate on premarital sex, and so on.

Sadly, it’s this formula that also causes a lot of tension with detractors of the genre. These films have to hit very close to a cultural nerve to be effective – so close that they are often accused of being guilty of the very evils that they preach against. This was the case with the 1978 film Day of the Woman (better known as I Spit On Your Grave) which was meant to be an accusatory finger pointing at male chauvinism and rape culture but was criticized for being chauvinistic itself.

Of course, even the films and games that lack this sort of philosophical storytelling, though terrible for the most part, can still have some merit for the creator if not for the audience. Movies like Street Trash may just be a parade of melting bodies, but it was a chance for the creator to explore new special effects. Games like Five Nights at Freddy’s may just be a string of jump scares, but it was a successful experiment in using the Uncanny Valley effect to create unsettling character designs and audio.

So, if you’re an aspiring horror film/game maker, here’s my advice to you; find something you care about, something that you think is a serious problem in the world today, and build a Frankenstein Monster out of all of the worst parts of it to show your audience how terrible it is and make sure it stays in their minds for the rest of their lives. Not only will you create a memorable story, but it will be a story that helps guide your audience against the evil it represents.

The Agent’s Guide to Ethical Pranking


Whoever did this, for example, is a total slime ball.
Source:Fun On The Net

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!

Even though I haven’t engaged in any tomfoolery in years, I still find some pleasure in the mischief of others.

The only problem I have – no one knows how to be an ETHICAL prankster anymore.

I remember back in my day that a good prank was something that everyone could laugh at, fool and fooled alike. These days, it seems that a lot of pranks are just unwarranted acts of maliciously calculated schadenfreude.

So, on this most glorious day of playful misconduct and joyous shenanigans, I will detail for you my code of morals when trying to flummox those unfortunate enough to be called my friends.

Like A Doctor; Do No Harm

A well crafted prank should never result in any kind of damage to property or person. For instance, on paper, greasing the floor so your friend will face plant may seem funny, but it’s also a good way to hurt someone you care about.

Also, destroying other people’s stuff is a bad idea as well. Your victim will be less likely to join in the joke if he has to replace his windshield because of your jackass-ery.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be laughing if your buddy cracked his head open on his wide-screen TV that broke as it fell him and had to be rushed to the hospital (If you would, why are you even here. This is a happy place). So ask yourself before you prank if this could have any potential for destruction or dismemberment.

No One Likes A Bully

This one should go without saying which is why it’s being said.

The prank stops being fun when it starts being about spite and the target of your ire is undeserving of shame and/or is unable to defend themselves.

Let me put it this way; remember that creep in grade school with the triple-digit body weight and double-digit IQ that would stuff you in your locker and hang your underwear on the flag pole? Yeah, that’s what you are doing when you prank that 12-year old kid.

Anyone can pull a prank on a single person less fortunate then themselves. A true master of roguish merriment can baffle a whole army of people greater then themselves.

Strive For Greatness

If you must prank someone, don’t just do some lame gag that anyone can do. Take a look around for inspiration and do something amazing.

Not only did no one become famous putting a ‘kick me’ sign on someone, but the more amazing your prank is, the more likely they’ll be to laugh with you and – by extension – the less likely you’ll be to get in trouble for your deviltry.

Don’t just give someone a wedgie. Go the extra mile; place posters declaring National Wedgie Day in front of the Victoria’s Secret.

Have Fun

Above all else, this is a day for fun and frivolity. Let loose and share some laughs with the people you love and cherish. Keep these pointers in mind and you and your targets will be sure to have a memorable day.