HORROR MOVIES Horror movies started off as a demand for a simple scare but as the time went on the demand for horror movies grew which lead to more graphics and special effects to meet the expectations of their audience. We associate blood, gore, darkness, children and gravestones with the word ‘horror’ so film companies have to make sure these stereotypes are met. If we were to see a vampire sucking someone blood in pure daylight we would know this is not as believable because the horror genre has lead us to believe all these actions happen in darkness. Horace Walpole’s novel which was written in 1764 is where the term ‘horror’ comes from. The first great horror classic was called ‘Frankenstein’ which was written in 1818 GERMAN EXPRESSION
German Expression was largely confined to Germany because of the isolation in World War 1 which started in the trenches in 1914. The soldiers suffered through terrifying experiences which lead them to blame their superiors. These experiences they suffered inspired artists and producers. This is one of the main things that leads to ‘German expressionism’ Most German soldiers suffered through war were artists. They banned foreign movies in 1919. In 1914 there were 25 films in the production which then rose to 130 in 1918 due to the demand from theatres to generate films; this later challenged our traditional views. Some of the films that were first related to German expressionism was 'Nosferatu' and 'The cabinet of Dr caligari' Most of the German expressionism films were based around insanity or betrayal, this is most likely because all of the films were based on the soldiers experiences and this could have had a relation to that. EARLY START TO HORROR MOVIES (EARLY HORROR MOVIES) Pioneers started to examine terror which then lead to the horror genre. There are various stereotypical images and themes we expect when seeing a horror film, for example blood, darkness, suspense, shadows, little children, death and murder. Our expectations have changed a lot over the years as technology has advanced and more development has been made. In the early 1930s a typical horror would have been black and white and may have included one death, these are the types that created the codes and conventions that are identified today. Now in 2012 we expect at least several murders, blood and a twist. Horror movies have to constantly keep up to date with the decade in order to be a success. If a horror movie is about vampires, then we expect to see blood and gore and a child biting a human. This would stereotypically be done in the dark, so for an adult vampire to bite someone in the daytime seems slightly surreal as
this would not meet out typical expectations. Horror films can be based on a true story which is then exaggerated for the viewer’s entertainment or it can be completely fictional. Two of the most important expectations in a modern horror are darkness and shadows; these were impossible to show on film stock available at the time in Nosferatu.
THE GOLEM (1915/1920) We can tell how different horror movies are compared to how they were in the 1920's, technology has changed a vast amount in order to bring us to the special effects we have in this year (2012). There have been several versions to this movie. ‘The first monster movie’. Jewish Legend was set in a medieval Prague and was directed and starred in by Paul Wegener. ) A golem ‘is fashioned to save the ghetto, but when his job is done he refuses to cease existing, and runs amok through expressionist sets, eventually to be confronted and defeated by a little girl’ (http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=1920s ) THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI (1919) This film is known as the ‘Granddaddy of all horror films’ through the development of modern technology and by using various media techniques we are unsure of who is mad and who is sane. The film is about an evil doctor facing a hero who has been falsely put in a lunatic asylum. What makes this film more disturbing and unpredictable falls mainly in the ‘mise-en-scene’ category. Due to how fast the pace has developed to in modern day horror some viewers may find that the pace in this movie is quite slow. There are cutting scenes between ‘The cabinet’ can be classed as ‘stylish, imaginative and never less than haunting’. This film is a lot different to modern day horror techniques. In this film the audience portrays the film through the narrator therefore the storyline is in his/her hands. This is not reality but the various techniques being used in it lead us to believe it is. Mise-en-scene was the most important media technique at this time period as it was the only thing they were able to elaborate on. The shocking makeup adds to the dream like and surreal setting. Over the years, technology has been able to change a vast amount which has lead in horror movies today such as 'The possession' to be a lot scarier than the horror films back in the 1920's. It was hard for them to achieve certain angles of lighting in order to make their movies scarier as they didn’t have the technological equipment to do so. Dark lighting was hard to be achieved and this is what later lead to Nosferatu. NOSFERATU (1922) Due to the technological struggles in 1920's it made it difficult to film dark lighting movies, this is what later lead to light horror films such as Nosferatu. This film used bright lighting in order to produce its horror film. Bright lighting has now faded out in the horror genre which is why we now, as an audience recognize 'dark lighting' as one of the most important components to a horror film. Because of how much technology
has changed it would be difficult to make a successful film with just bright lighting, but in the 1920s this was there only option. One of the first vampire movies was called ‘Nosferatu’. One of the most wellknown characteristics of this genre started by the ‘curling of long fingernails’. GOTHIC FICTION In the 1920s Gothic Fiction was introduced, this was a combination of horror and romance. This was horror literature which came together to make 'Gothic fiction' also known as gothic horror. Some of the films that used this were Dracula and Mr Hyde. These classics then gave producers inspiration to go and make them into black and white films. Frankenstein was the first horror film that was a black and white film, this later turned into sequels, these included 'Frankenstein's bride' and ' Young Frankenstein'. And this is how the horror sequels began. Frankenstein was also a classic example of mad scientists and monsters because all of these key elements were included in the film. This film became very memorable and successful; this proves to us at how simple the technology was back then because due to producers adding in 'monsters' and sound effect made it become so popular. The use of these elements, such as sound, made the audience associate themselves more to the 1930's than the 1920's. THE START OF HORROR- 1930S Horror made a comeback in 1930’s. This was the birth of monsters and mad scientists. Mad scientists were also a main key feature in the horror genre. This technique has been used in various films including, Dr Moreau which was in the island of the lost souls 1933. Monsters and madness became a new key element for the audience to expect when they went to see one, because it was such a fresh idea it brought masses of people to come and see films such as 'The mummy' included these elements. - The range of special effects modernized and therefore became more successful as technology developed; this resulted in films such as 'Dracula' to become very popular, even to this day. Dr Griffin who planned in the invisible man in 1933 and Dr Miracle who starred in the murders in rue morgue in 1932. There was a rise in the mad scientist theme when Hitler came into power. Sound became one of the most important elements in the horror genre as well as the cinema which made this grow even more. Music became a way of creating suspense. Ghost and gruesome deaths slowly started to become the connotations of ‘horror’ these later were replaced with monsters that screamed in a menacing way.
THE MUMMY (1930s) The mummy was based on the Tutankhamen exhibition which was toured the world in the 1920a and 1930s. Audience found it fascinating how producers were able to make a film using 3000 year old remains. This later created the 'immortality' side to the horror genre. Some audiences may have found the pace quite
slow at the time, but this was all to develop suspense. The mummy was based on a desert island which helped to develop this 'secluded' atmosphere and helped to set the surroundings for later horror films to come. The mummy carried a curse and brought up all of the Egyptian culture with is, this is also what later started to help develop the horror genre. By placing some realistic artifacts the producers of the mummy believed it would make it scarier as it was more relatable. DRACULA (1931) started from a stage play opposed to the novel this means it is very theatrical. Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle. Dracula then decides to travel to the nearest city and then uses Harkers fiancés family as his next victim. Dr.Can Helsining and Harkers friend are the only ones that able to protect the family by destroying Dracula which is what they all want to do. Mise-en-scene helped to develop the 'scare factor' in Dracula with the pale face and black cloak; these connotations are still used in today’s horror movies as signifiers for vampires. Wolves have also become an important signifier it is going to be a vampire movie. FRANKENSTEIN (1931) James whale was amongst the best horror directors of all time. Frankenstein follows the 'scientific horror' genre. This film is about an inventor named Frankenstein who creates a monster. Frankenstein had been trying to create something which was more intelligent and a step up from the human body. When he creates his monster this isn’t quite what he expected he would invent, he later abandons the monster. The monster wanted to experience love and friendship but due to his image this is found most difficult. The monster soon finds out these are two very hard concepts to find and grasp and we later see his downfall. BIRTH OF 1940'S: The 1940's took a new approach to horror by going away from the idea of 'mad scientists and monsters' and started to go for a new connotation which would be 'primal animal within' This made the horror genre change completely, by introducing animals into the movies it changes people’s perception on how they saw everything. Some of the classic films that were based around the 'primal animal within' were 'cat women' (which I have explained below) and 'The Wolfman. CAT PEOPLE- 1942 Cat people is about a young woman who goes by the name Irena who believes that she is cursed and will turn into a cat if she consummates her marriage. Cat people is a psychological thriller which leaves the audience to draw to conclusions what they think is going to happen. This film was very successful and earns up to 4 million pounds. DR JEKYL AND MR HYDEThis horror stars Doctor Jekyll who is a well-educated man and believes that every
human has a good self and a bad self. The good self, who tries there hardest at all times in order to succeed. The bad self is aggressive and urges that we 'try to oppress' at all times. To prove his theory Jekyll makes a potion which evidently separates these two selves and he becomes two people. He becomes cruel when he first takes his potion and Mr. Hyde but then Mr. Hyde stats to medicate himself in order to take over Jekyll. Hyde becomes the villain by terrifying to hunt everyone down while Jekyll becomes more anxious and scared. The lawyer is constantly trying to work out whatâ€™s happening by playing detective. BIRTH OF 1950'S The 1950's introduced the mutant creatures and alien invaders era. This new era was good because it attracted a different audience and was unexpected so it then attracted a bigger audience. The 1950 was also based on a literature which was getting more and more advanced due to low film budgets. What made them more popular was the fact that nothing was able to stop these creatures except a stereotypical 'hero' The fact that this hero could get killed and then the monsters would take over, appealed to the audience. The idea that there was a monster could act in the same way a human could, scared the nation. This 'scare' element is what made it so powerful. Along with the mutant creatures/alien invaders came the sci-fi era. Alien invaders followed a basic story line that a species on another planet would come and take over earth. A good example of an alien invaders film was 'The day the earth stood still' which surprised the horror audience yet again because there was a new element to horror every 10 years. The sci-fi era was when things that were unexplained would take over. A classic example of this was 'The blob' which was made in 1958. The blob is about a large mass that slithers over the world taking everything in its way. Taking over towns and destroying them as it goes, this also links in with 'communism' the word communism means a form of dictatorship which you had to abide by i.e. in Russia today. It also meant this idea that everyone was equal. The blob was made to represent the fear of communism during the 1950's because people were able to relate to this, this made it more popular. THE WASP WOMEN- (1950s) This film is about a scientist who is trying to teleport solid matter which had been mixed with particles of a fly which concludes in a horrific ending. Roger Corman decides to do the same thing but by mixing human particles with fly particles. Jan decides to go on a hunt for a cosmetic product that will help her with her ageing insecurities. Jan later meets Zinthrop who has been experimenting with was royal jelly and she thinks it would be a good idea to try his new product on her face as she is desperate for quick fast results. As time is becoming an important element in her life she decides that she will make sure she takes an extra dosage of this in order for her to see fast effective results, the next morning Jan looks about 18. Later there are serious consequences to the treatment she has received and Starlin and her scientist friend must be punished for what has
happened. Zinthrop is knocked over by a truck which puts him in hospital suffering from a coma meaning he is unable to watch his latest experiment. Starlins friend’s secretary friends start looking around because they are suspicious that Zinthrop is trying to rip her off. She develops a state for ripping off heads of innocent snoopers, unfortunately the high dose of was jelly had turned her into ‘the wasp women’. BIRTH OF THE 1960'S In the 1960s they started to use humans as the main villain in horror films, they decided to do this because it broke away from all the other horror conversions and brought something different to horror. This was also the birth of 'hammer films '. Making humans a main threat in horror films also lifted the 'scare' element because people were able to relate to this and because it brought a 'realistic' view to it. This also made the audience more involved, they were no longer scared of 'unrealistic monsters' but of themselves. This is when the paranormal was also included. When ghosts and the fear of the 'unknown' became the most important element, we have evidence that this has stayed at one of the most powerful elements due to it being used still to this day. For example Paranormal activity 4. An example of a hammer film is 'blood feast' which I have explained below.
PSYCHO- (1960) Psycho made us become familiar with the idea that a monsters can be close to normal, and the film reveals how monstrous a man could be. Psycho was based on a real life story of Ed Gein which proved successful for later films to come, for example ‘Silence of the lambs’ and ‘The Texas chainsaw massacre’. One of the most memorable scenes in this horror movie was the soundtrack and the flashing of the knife; these techniques are still used in horror films today. The film cost £800,000 to produce and make and was has one of the best reputations for a good horror movie. BLOOD FEAST- (1963) Blood feast was the first ever ‘splatter movie’ and this film has been proved to be very influential. For this film the budget was $24,500 and was directed by pornographer. Psycho scared audiences with their knife scene just 3 years previously whereas Blood feast did it slightly differently using, violent ‘bloody murder up on a well-lit plate’. Blood feast started the ‘gore factor’ and this was one of the reasons it attracted an audience of over 4 million. The gore factor is what made this film so popular and is why people still watch it today. This film helped project john carpenter and We Cravens producing careers in the 1970’s. BIRTH OF THE 1970'S Most of the films in the 70's represented what was happening in the society at the time. Using this 'relatable' elements, in which made audiences feel more obliged to watch it because it represents what’s happening in there world, this was the key to
making them successful as previously stated. In the 70's the Beatles split and Glam rock was adapted into horror films to represent what was happening. This genre also played on physiological thoughts, and how the mind can be a powerful element. It also represented a negative view towards women and how they are only saw as 'sex objects' You had to look a certain way to be classed as attractive and these are the pressures that were adapted into horror movies. These key events are still used to this day, due to the success rate. It also brought this idea that women were always seen as the weaker (victim) and had to be saved by a male (hero). The fact that women were being perceived in a negative way brought the second serge of 'feminism' into play. Feminism is the fight for woman's rights and for men and women to be seen as equal. The exorcist could be argued to be a key film to this genre; this film brought seriousness to the horror genre and also changed people’s views and what they expect. In the 1960s the girl was always seen as the victim, this view changed in the exorcist because even thought she was the victim because she was possessed she managed to overcome it, which made her a 'final girl'. The exorcist was said to have created a shift in the genre due to some of the reasons I have explained above. I also believe that 'The Texas chainsaw massacre' supports this decade as well by bringing in the 'gore element' and the 'suspense' element. THE EXCORCIST – (1973) The Exorcist has been given the title ‘The scariest movie of all time’ It is said that the movie has brought back ‘Intellectual respectability’ and a lot of people back to church. The film the exorcist follows the adventure of a little girl that is possessed by an evil spirit. In desperation her family seeks help to try and help her by trying numerous methods, including an exorcism which is performed by the church. Due to these religious beliefs after the film was aired it was said that a lot of people started going back to church. The exorcist took the subject of the ‘paranormal’ very seriously which made it believable and this was the element which helped to make it so successful. The Exorcist was made for adults as very little humor is used in it; this is what started a new side to ‘horror’. The exorcist was banned from video release in UK until 1999 because it caused so many disputes and people had mixed views on this. The daily mail described the movie as ‘The most shocking, sick and soul destroying work ever to emerge from film land’ despite how much negative feedback from the paper it still managed to get nominated for 10 Oscars. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSCACRE – (1974) The Texas Chainsaw massacre was made in 1974 and carried on the element of ‘gore’. The Texas Chainsaw' was seen as the godfather of all slasher films' giving it this title made it more appealing for people to go and watch it. This film follows the Sawyer family where lots of domestic abuse is carried out. This film has very slow pace and we watch very gruesome attacks carried out. A group of people go to investigate the aforementioned graverobbings to see if grandfather has been affected, on the way
back they slowly start running out of gas. Despite ignoring Franklin’s horoscope which states ‘A difficult and disturbing day’ they decide to go anyway. They then go to local station to fill up. Unfortunately there is no one there so they decide to wait in the abandoned house. Even after the gas station attendant said that going in that house will cause trouble they chose to ignore him and go in anyway. This has disastrous consequences which lead to a lot of blood, gore, torture and suspense. When the Texas chainsaw massacre was first released it got banned in the UK 1999, this was because the film targeted innocent people and went into graphic detail about how they were killed. Due to the disturbing images it was found not suitable for an audience hence why it was banned. BIRTH OF THE 1980'S/1990's The 1980’s were the birth of the slasher genre. This was when they took all the elements used in all the different years of horror and put them all into one film creating a new genre. Producers wanted to create something new which hadn’t ever been done before so that it could be successful. They had to make sure that the 'new' type of genre they were trying to create had been expected by the audiences before so it wasn’t much of a risk. However trying to achieve a new element did cause risks and the audience started to question whether they were scared because the produces imagination was so powerful it left them to draw there on conclusions on horror movies or was it because the gore was so repulsive it made it scary. The 'gore' element was argued that it could be later seen as humorous if there was too much of it or if it was done too often, producers had to take all these views into consideration to prevent viewing numbers to go down when they should be going up. I believe that 'A nightmare on Elms street' follows the birth of the 1980's very well and supports the hammer horror genre. The word 'video nasty’s came into play which was when horror films were criticized for their shocking images that were classed as 'too realistic' The fear that these horror films could accidentally be shown in front of young children was huge. This is what led to a lot of them being age restricted at '18' or even banned completely. An example of a 'video nasty' was 'I spit on your grave'. To try and give this genre a 'lighter' approach, producer’s decided to start making comedy horrors, which were movies which contained an element of gore/horror but to the extent it’s funny. This was done to try and find a balance in critic’s opinions. One of the classic films 'The exorcist' was then remade in a comedy version which was known as 'Repossessed'
THE SHINING- 1980
shining is based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel, featuring a haunted hotel. Although this film is based on the book there are very small changes. The film Shining’ features a dad and his son who are both caretakers at an abandoned hotel. The son, (Danny) starts see disturbing images which is because he has a telepathic power which is known as ‘The shining’ The dad is focusing on work when he slowly starts becoming insane due to cabin fever and the ghosts of the people that used to go there. Danny’s dad slowly becomes insane due to the spiritual activity and this causes disastrous consequences the family, the only thing that is able to save Danny and his family is ‘The Shining’
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET- 1984 Nightmare on Elm Street had a budget of $1.8 million. Nightmare on Elm Street features a man that targets people when they are asleep. He does this by trying to get into their dreams and by him doing this the persons dream who it is, are then in ‘Freddie’s world’. Freddie then tries to kill the person whose dream his is in unless they are able to fight him off. Freddie makes it out to be ‘suicide’ when he is able to murder his victims. The only person that is able to fight Freddie off is Nancy who pulls Freddie out of his ‘dream world’ and into reality. This means she is now stranger than she is. Nancy makes a typical final girl. SEVEN- 1995 This film features a serial killer that justifies his actions as ‘absolution for the worlds ignorance of the seven deadly sins’ Two detectives try and hunt him down. This film goes from featuring the tortured, to the sociopath. Scream (1996) Scream is about a group of school students who become victims killer. After the death of Campbell’s mother, Sidney's try and discover if her mother’s death and the death of two related. The serial killer decides to later target a teenager killing and stalking one of her classmates, we later develop a these killings. A news reported suspects that the person is terrorizing these teenagers is the same person that raped and killed Campbells mother a year earlier, he is determined to prove who it is. The first suspicion is Campbells boyfriend.
to a serial determined to teenagers are girl after pattern in who
TERMINAL TERROR: FINAL DESTINATION (2000) This mainly focuses on a teenager ability to see what’s about to happen, it is his/her job to try and stop it before it’s too late. If they are able to prevent the accident, fate will then later get them and he will have to hunt them down, body by body.
CONCLUSION Due to all of these shifts in the genre, they have led to the horror films we have in this day and age. The horror films in this day (2012) consist of 'torture porn' which are elements of porn with the same elements you would expect in a horror film, such as suspense. This also links in with carol clovers theory that there is a 'final girl' and she is normally the girl that doesn't participate in these pornographic events. A classic example of torture porn is 'Hostel' and 'Saw'. These films use the idea that the people that feature in it are a normal person, which then brings us onto the idea that it could happen to anyone without a reason. This is what makes the 'scare element so high. As time goes in on, it is getting harder and harder for audiences to be scared due to all of the elements being exhausted or criticized. Producers find it hard to distinguish what to do next and what to do that is different because everyoneâ€™s expectations are so high, so it is harder to scare them now.