" I think we should all write anti-racist stories featuring soul-searing tentacle monsters' How is that possible? I am asking that because I see horror as fundamentally conservative, grounded in fears of loss of property. Like you don't see zombie apocalypse movies in third-world nations? J. Hoberman noted that Lovecraft's horror hid the fact that his beloved New England had murdered Native Americans and that his work's true horror is "the return of a historical repressed."
First of all, horror is too broad and deep a category to be “fundamentally” driven by any one ideology. That’s like saying metal is fundamentally conservative just because Dave Mustaine says so. It’s absurd to suggest that zombie movies are inherently right-wing, because the standard-setting zombie movies–George Romero’s original Living Dead trilogy–were about the evils of racism, consumerism, and militarism, respectively.
Secondly, I’m not talking about a hypothetical. I’m talking about “weird fiction” as it’s actually being written, drawn, discussed, made and remade by us on a daily basis. You don’t think anti-racist Lovecraftian horror is possible? It already exists! Read Lovecraft Country, or The Ballad of Black Tom, or go to literally any relevant convention and talk to the women and POC who are taking Lovecraft’s sublime aesthetic and using it to tell stories (in all forms of media) about why his racist views were wrong and reprehensible. It’s a real movement within the genre, one I support wholeheartedly and which doesn’t deserve to be handwaved away like that.
Thirdly, I gotta say, this is a super ignorant statement: “you don’t see zombie apocalypse movies in third-world nations.” Stories about zombies and zombie-like creatures appear in oral traditions the world over. But making large-scale films and distributing them is incredibly expensive and requires access to resources, contacts, rarified expertise, and specialized equipment, all of which are guarded by gatekeepers who are themselves difficult to access, especially if you don’t already have resources (plus, racism and sexism are themselves powerful gatekeepers). Even to make your own, with no hope of distribution or high production values, you need the right camera, and many people can’t afford or access them. But when they can? They certainly make zombie movies! You just don’t see them, because they’re independent amateur films with no chance of ever making it into the global distribution market. They’re made for friends and family, or purely for the pleasure of making them. Assuming that the movies you see and know about represent the entirety of the medium, and drawing conclusions about how a genre works based on that, is folly. Why would you let capitalism set the boundaries of what is possible in art? Who are you to tell, say, a kid in Yemen who saw a scratchy VHS of Dawn of the Dead (again, a movie about how consumerism is analogous to zombification), fell in love, and dreams of making his own version that zombies can’t belong to him because they belong to the folks on the hill? Only Zack Snyder gets to remake that movie, because he is appropriately right-wing! Fuck that, and fuck the received wisdom about horror. May it die and never rise from the grave.