Here is an excerpt from my wonderful interview with SUPER VILLAINS NETWORK. Thank you Linda Covello!
Hoffine’s entire photographic oeuvre is a bullet list of our most terrifying and horrific fairytales, fantasies, and true crimes of history, all created with the same level of artistry and execution of a big-budget horror film. His sometimes-controversial subject matter ranges from the Big, Bad Wolf as werewolf pedophile, to Jack The Ripper. Hoffine has parlayed his fascination and skill for recreating the most horrific phantasms of the subconscious into a commercial enterprise, but the Lovecraft homage is being underwritten by a successful Kickstarter campaign. The photographer has a philosophical and, at times, academic outlook on the psychology of the horror genre, and can be very eloquent and informative about what haunts us and why when discussing his art and inspiration.
Hoffine explained, “I think you see a lot of people all at once warming up to horror because they’re being exposed to it more, and it’s not so shocking after a while. You start to see, in a weird way, the fun in it. It’s like drinking beer, the first one tastes awful, but you keep sipping and after a while you are enjoying it.”
This may partly explain the success of The Talking Dead, a talk show follow up to The Walking Dead, wherein celebrity guests and at-home viewers riff at times comically on the night’s episode, and bond in a sort of group therapy session.
Continuing with the analogy, Hoffine says, “The more you do it, the less it upsets you – and you are getting more enjoyment out of it. And the desensitization to violence in the media definitely is part of what is making horror more acceptable now, and more popular than it’s ever been. Maybe we’ve hit a certain peak point of saturation with violence in media where now we can handle a Bates or a Hannibal, or something like that, as a protagonist in a mainstream show … The movie monster focuses your real world concerns into something tight and manageable. In that sense, it’s a comfort. Unlike other genres, horror fulfills a genuine sociological function.”
Hoffine maintains that the horror genre pre-dates the horror genre as we now know it, and that these themes were extant in the silent film era, and they were staples in gothic literature and in the myths of all cultures, particularly Greek mythology, as well as in the Bible. He says, “You have these stories throughout history, so it’s definitely something that we’re hardwired for. Those are stories that we understand at our core.” Hoffine recognizes that we are born with an inherent sense of danger, a built-in fear response. “That’s why we’re afraid of the dark; we’re afraid something might come that our senses can’t pick up on … We’re afraid of losing our parents, of pain, of our own mortality. And so these fears are embedded in our very systems, and as we grow older those fears change to reflect more the things that we are actually dealing with.
“Regarding a monster hiding under the bed, my mind recognizes the fact that I’ve slept in this bed so many times and nothing has happened – that the fear eventually gets filed away in the subconscious, but then new, more practical fears start to take over – fears about real things – like losing a girlfriend, or a job, is that mole turning into cancer, could something happen to my kids, injury, getting mugged, your house getting robbed: those fears are valid fears and they can become a preoccupation. But no matter what you do, unless you’re some Buddhist monk who has trained to deal with these kinds of concerns, you’re going to have to grapple with them, on some level, every day.”
Hoffine explains that a lot of those fears are pushed off to the side, or pushed down into the subconscious, but they don’t go away. “You don’t think about nuclear holocaust while you’re trying to do your job every day. But if something comes along that reminds you of nuclear holocaust, you start thinking and worrying about nuclear holocaust. You start thinking about your own mortality. I’m afraid we are the only species on the planet that has to contend with our mortality on a conscious level; it hangs over us.”
Hoffine sees the horror genre as a stand-in for these daily fears, a sort of scapegoat to handle the brunt of the existential crisis of mortality. “With the horror genre, we have some concrete monster, we have a face for our fear; it might have horns, or a hockey mask, it might have pins in its head, it might be the living dead, but always that monster represents the force of chaos that’s going to come in and wreck your life, hurt your body, or end your existence … The movie or the horror story gives you a moment to sort of walk through those fears in a very pointed, albeit artificial, way that helps you grapple with the deeper underlying fears. And those underlying fears are always there. Because you are going to die.” Hoffine makes this last statement with serious emphasis.
“The horror film is sort of like boot camp for the psyche. It’s a rehearsal for your own death. We gravitate to these stories over and over because those concerns are universal. They transcend culture, they transcend age, they simply are there. It’s part of the human condition. So, suddenly, people realize that if you put a story around it on TV, and you don’t really pull back your punches too much on what people need to see to get rattled, then you have something that can really be marketed.” Hoffine adds, “And like all horror fans, the more you spend time with it, the less frightening it is, the more enjoyable it becomes.”
You can find the article in it’s entirety here: