Halloween horror trend: less gore is more

Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:51am EDT
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By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Once you get past the bombed-out subway station full of zombies, it is the loud blast of air hammering your leg in the apocalyptic cityscape that really makes you jump.

The invisible whoosh-bang effect in Austin's House of Torment haunted house, recently named one of the most innovative in the country, is one example of the rekindled love affair between modern audiences and psychological horror.

It is a simple puff of air, but the mind imagines all kinds of creeps.

"The less bells and whistles you have around your scare, oftentimes the more effective it is," said Jason Blum, one of the producers of the "Paranormal Activity" movies, the most recent of which, "Paranormal Activity 3" led the box offices when it opened last weekend.

As gluttons for terror flock to theaters and spooky attractions throughout the Halloween season, industry experts said that these days less gore is more.

Psychological torment is "really starting to come back," said New Hampshire-based horror fiction writer Kristi Peterson Schoonover, citing one of the fathers of science fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, whose writings included "The Raven" and "The Black Cat."

"It's the fear of the unknown, what's around the corner, what's waiting in the dark," she said.

Audiences and the industry that targets them said movies and haunted houses are trending toward mental thrills, realism and suspense to scare the bejeezus out of a society not necessarily frightened anymore by Frankenstein or a bowl of peeled grapes.   Continued...

<p>Creepy clowns and their crazy minions get ready to scare at the House of Torment haunted house in Austin, Texas on Oct. 24, 2011. REUTERS/Charlie L. Harper III</p>