Now, just as it is difficult to imagine literature as separate from examinations of ethics (as I have mentioned before), it is equally difficult to think of horror as separate from ethics: since the crux of ethical discussion is determining the difference between right and wrong, and horror situations inevitably deal with something that just terribly wrong.
This is not to say that I think any horror story (for my purpose"story" will refer to both literature and cinema) is a good specimen for examination, just as any novel in general isn't a perfect choice for look at ethics. All contain ethics because pretty much every novel is about people and (in my view) ethics is a fundamental aspect of humanity. In the same way, just because horror always deals with things that are (for one reason or another) wrong, does not mean any example provides adequate fodder for the conversation.
For me, what makes the difference is an element of choice. What drives the study of ethics in the first place is that we still aren't sure 100% of the time when we're doing the right thing, and the truth is that dilemmas seldom divide cleanly into right and wrong options, anyway. Ethics is stil a topic of discussion because humans are still failing to uncover a formula to tell us exactly how to behave in any given situation. The really fascinating part of Kant's Categorical Imperative
A story about someone who is unequivocally evil is much less interesting (for my purposes) than a story about someone who is forced to make--or accidentally makes, or justifies making--a choice that most of humanity would find repulsive, unacceptable, unforgivable, but that we may possible be able to imagine ourselves choosing as well (and this relation to the protagonist is just as, if not more, revolting than our initial reaction). Horror is much more intriguing when it is directed at oneself (either on the part of the protagonist or the audience) than when the perpetrator is someone that no one in their right mind would identify with (Freddy Krueger; Indian Jones' Nazis).
A possible exception to this may be gore: brutal acts of torture etc can be just as repulsive when carried out by a familiar and unequivocally evil villain as by someone you don't expect it from (though I'd argue the acts are made worse when they come from someone we identify with), but here we find new qualifications. Excessive gore and violence needs to serve a purpose in these stories beyond the cringe/gross out factor for them to be valid specimens for ethical examination/. Of course it isn't right to [insert horrific physical act here] to anyone...so a grander, more macro purpose is desired. To quote the Romero article,
(which some people see as just such a formula) is not that there is a definitive answer to every dilemma but in determining the maxim by which the answer can be known--which is much harder.
“I don’t get the torture porn films,” Mr. Romero said. “They’re lacking metaphor. For me the gore is always a slap in the face saying: ‘Wait a minute. Look at this other thing.’ ”For Romero, that other thing is often commentary on society (social norms, race relations, necessary revolutions or their notable absence), and I believe gore can serve to highlight other concepts as well.
I'm trailing off here as this is as far as I've thought this through today and I have countless other things to get to. Hopefully pictures and maybe some Mexico updates later on.