Some friends were discussing the use of poop in horror fiction today. They had different ideas on why an author would include bodily functions and waste in a horror story, when such things are rarely mentioned in most other forms of fiction. So one of them asked me about it. But first, a romantic interlude …
Sally’s bosom heaved. Her skin was flushed with desire. She wanted him, and she could tell that Julio wanted her, too. But first, there were other matters to attend to.
“Julio, my love, I want you to ravish me,” she said. “But first I need to take a big hairy dump.”
Yeah, that probably wouldn’t make it past the editors at Harlequin. So, why do characters crap in horror? This friend referred to a scene in my as-yet unpublished book, The Prometheus Syndrome, where Josh, the main character, presses his butt against the bars of the cell where he’s being held captive and pinches a loaf onto the floor. He then goes to sleep and wakes up to find that dinner has been served … adorned with his chocolate offerings. Here was my response:
Horror fiction strives to make people think about things they don’t like to think about. Josh pooping through his cell door, then finding his own waste in his food, did show his character, but it also tells the reader (I hope) that she is in for a series of events that she may not want to think about happening in real life — being an unwilling subject in a science experiment, rape (being raped and not being able to control your own urges), reanimation of corpses and being hunted by the decaying product of your own rage.
Have you seen the old movie “The Legend of Bogey Creek?” I saw it as a kid and it scared me pretty good because of one scene in particular, and that’s the one scene people are first to mention. It’s the scene where the guy is sitting on the toilet and the monster shoves an arm through the bathroom window. On one level, it’s funny. haha, he was caught with his pants down. But on a deeper level, we’re seldom more vulnerable than we are when we’re taking a dump. Horror fiction reminds us of that.
What do you think? Why do horror writers like to wallow in the poop?