In memoriam David Prothero, editor of Bloody Hell: The Flesh and Blood Fanzine with a Brain in Its Head. My roommate of old, Blake scholar, horror fan. Taught me everything.
My friend Donora and I were talking about horror. Margaret Thatcher had a good reaction when she saw her first copy of Fangoria: "Horrifying. It should be banned."
Horror is horrifying. When I cut you, you bleed. What is perhaps more horrifying is the vicarious use of horror as metaphor, and worse still, the cutting a censor does in the name of not wanting to corrupt the youth.
When in an action flick there is a stabbing, you don't see it. There is a cut away. It becomes metaphorical for the hero's machismo, or whatever. This is the true desensitization.
There is a literality in horror that is very precious. It gets lost when we see The Thing as a metaphor for AIDS or Alien as a metaphor for capitalism.
There is also the horror of inner space: how could someone--could someone--want to do that?
British censorship is worse than US censorship. With admirable pragmatism, the US has a list of actionable shots: add them up, assign a certificate.
The Brits get some appointed guy to sit in a room and wonder whether what he is seeing might deprave others. See the problem with that?
If you do then you have a little bit of the reason I am a horror fan.
At a time of maximum textuality, when bodies were metaphors for everything else, David Prothero stood for a kind of realism. Not the realism that kicks stones to make a point (even that is metaphor), but a weird realism that he called "the determinacy of the body." When I cut you, you bleed.
David said that to me in the Upper Reading Room of the Bodleian Library. (Appropriately known as The Bod.) In 1989. I can never forget it.