And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one the primitive impulses of the human heart--one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a stupid action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such?From Stephen King's essay "Why We Crave Horror Movies"
I think that we're all mentally ill; those of outside the asylums only hide it a little better--and maybe not all that much better, after all.
If we share a brotherhood of man, then we also share an insanity of man. None of which is intended as a defense of either the sick joke or insanity but merely as an explanation of why the best horror films, like the best fairy tales, manage to be reactionary, anarchistic, and revolutionary all at the same time.
The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark. For myself, I like to see the most aggressive of them--Dawn of the Dead, for instance--as lifting a trap door in the civilized forebrain and throwing a basket of raw meat to the hungry alligators swimming around in that subterranean river beneath.
Notes for "The Cask of Amontillado" (The notes in Fiction 100 have these definitions.)
Amontillado--pale, dry wine, much esteemed, from Montilla, Spain
roquelaire--a short cloak
Medoc--a claret that is usually not a connoisseur's wine
Nemo me impune lacessit ("No one attacks me with impunity.")
De Grâve--a light wine from the Bordeaux
The coat of arms--golden foot on a azure field/"rampart"--rearing up
In pace requiescat! ("May he rest in peace.")