Yes, Virginia, "Silence of the Lambs" is a horror movie!


I was listening to a great new horror podcast this weekend, “Horror Movies Weekly” and one of the co-hosts decried those who consider “Silence of the Lambs” or “Seven,” etc. to be true horror movies and if those who call them so are really horror fans. Well, count me as a lifelong horror fan that considers these films (and many others like “Citizen X", “The Deliberate Stranger,” “Helter Skelter” etc) to be horror films.

Hear me out.

First, I’m in pretty good company. Podcaster and horror filmmaker Christopher G. Moore considers “Silence of the Lambs” to be a horror movie. Bryan Fuller the creator of “Hannibal” and life long genre fan considers all of the above to be horror movies as he stated in the “Eli Roth History of Horror” podcast. Dr. Rebekah McKendry who co-hosts “Shockwaves” and teaches horror filmmaking at USC Film School also considers these to be horror films. The website Bloody Digusting also called it a horror movie!

Second, this tendency to label and sub-label these films really did not arise until the 1990’s when distributors insisted on a “thriller” section that was separated from the “horror” section in video stores out of the belief that it would increase rentals. So, its basically a marketing strategy to try to divide these into various subgenres.

Third, “Silence of the Lambs” and many more of these films were featured in Fangoria!

Fourth, these films are frightening to a lot of people. Hannibal Lector has become a horror icon for a reason—he’s a mass murdering cannibal! And what about John Doe? He was Jigsaw before Jigsaw!

I think breaking down movies into so many genres and sub-genres just leads to unnecessary debates and also leads fans to unnecessarily dismiss others because they don’t think the same way you do about the genre. I personally take a pretty liberal view of what constitutes horror. I understand there is a limit but I think too many horror critics are too harsh on what they believe constitutes horror.

Dr. Rebecca McKendry on her podcast “Nightmare University” for the Fangoria network stated that she has come to believe that horror is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t want to agree but I must at this time.

So, fellow horror fans, please don’t rag on people who feel like films you see as thrillers are horror flicks. None of us our king or queen of the internet and.or the horror genre. When you hear someone call a movie or TV show “scary” or “horror,” don’t roll your eyes but just sit back, relax your crack and deal with it. A lot of leaders in the realm of horror disagree with you and they have the right to…debate, sure but divide? Please don’t. We need to stick together because the majority of film goers see us as weirdos and we weirdos need to stick together!

Matthew Rawlings