Fear is easy to define I don’t even need to look it up. Fear is simply a human response to danger. If I am wrong in that definition I am not far off, for I am human which means I myself am a good enough resource to define a human quality. What is going to take a little more effort to define, however, is what exactly “horror” is.
Horror is the emulation of fear without being in danger. (Wow, perhaps that was too quick of a definition, let me elaborate) Fear is only fear when an individual is in fact in danger. Otherwise why be afraid? However, the sensation of being afraid without actually being in danger is what makes up horror. When someone watches a scary movie or plays a frightening game they aren’t actually “afraid” of it, they are “horrified” by it. When someone from New Jersey reads a news article about a serial killer in California that skins peoples faces off, that isn’t anything to be afraid of for them, because the individual is not in danger, but it can be horrifying.
So yes, horror is a similar sensation as fear, but it isn’t fear (that’s why it is a different word). I would personally view horror as a totally different state of mind from fear. Since being afraid involves the instincts to fight and survive and horror is simply sitting on a couch. When watching a horror film, there is no urge to destroy the TV or run away from it, because the TV isn’t putting you in actual danger. Therefore, it is a different response than fear. Actually, horror is something an individual yearns for. Why else would people buy the movie and put it on the TV in the first place? Being in a situation that causes fear is something that everyone avoids entirely.
Thus, it can be deduced that horror is all the benefits of fear extracted into a marketable consumable medium. It allows people to cheat the system of their internal responses to emulate and exploit the reflexes and hormones associated with being in danger without being in actual danger. The result is a cognitively stimulating and reasonably enjoyable experience, separate from that of the life threatening reality of raw fear.
Also, such as films, literature, painting and music can be satirical, philosophical, and autobiographical, they can also be horrifying (ask Evard Munch). Horror has a sort of sub-definition; it is a genre that spans multiple media. An artist can set out to make something comical just as much as they can make something horrifying; and just as well, no one is going to “fear” for their life from a painting…
Horror, however, unlike most genres, is in high demand. People actively pursue and consume horror as a product. If it was only just a novelty it wouldn’t be as popular as it is now. People do not love being afraid but people do love horror.
Horror is its own art-form as well as its own state of mind.