Reading over some of the other posts here on Carroll’s excerpt on horror and humor, it looks like several other people also found interest in the oscillation between horror and humor. Part of what makes both genres independently so engaging in my mind is the fact that they are on the surface so diametrically opposed to one another, yet have a great deal of overlap in their triggers:

The movement from horror to humor or vice versa that strikes us as so counterintuitive, then, can be explained in terms of what horror and at least one kind of humor – namely, incongruity humor – share….On the map of mental states, horror and incongruity amusement are adjacent and partially overlapping regions. Given this affinity, movement from one to the other should not be unexpected. (Carroll, p252)

While many of the examples provided pertain to cinema, I think this relationship can also be explored in other mediums. For example, the PC game Day-Z presents a number of situations for these genres to intermingle. There are two key elements to Day-Z that allow for this intersection to occur: first, player-to-player encounters are infrequent, with wide stretches of wilderness or abandoned buildings forming much of the experience. Second, because the game is essentially every person for themselves (as a zombie-survival genre game) and death is permanent, any player encounters always carry the risk of losing potentially hours of progress.

With these two things in mind, the following video represents an example of the genres of horror and humor intersecting (the video is really dark, but stick with it):


In this clip, we can observe a player entering an abandoned building, most likely to loot for supplies. When he reaches the top floor, he spots a player wielding a fire ax, in the process of killing another player. As he flees the building, Tiny Tim’s “Dancing in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight” plays, triggered via the in-game voice-chat mechanism by the man with the axe. As our main protagonist runs, he is slowly pursued, heightening the tension and absurdity as the music continues to play. Then, when an altercation seems imminent, the offending player suddenly disappears, appearing to log off. The intention of this action seems a deliberate, trolling behavior, and the relief on our protagonist’s voice is apparent.

While there are many examples of this type of behavior in Day-Z, the fact that it is all player generated, coupled with the game’s frequent visual bugs results in a unique combination of tension and absurdity. In Day-Z, the players are both monsters and clowns, one and the same.