Horror is an ancient art form. For as long as we have told stories we have spoken of forbidden, strange and alarming events in order to terrify those around us, while captivating and entertaining. Horror films effectively centre on the dark side of life dealing with our most primal nature and its fears.
Over the years the stories have changed revealing a mirror image of the anxieties of the time, the echoes of wars and sickness, disasters and depression, and presently, creating our own demise and the fear of the unknown. They are reinforcing the rules and taboos of our society as well as showing the macabre fate of those who transgress. For example one of the first horror films Nosferatu ...view middle of the document...
The development from local to national to global
Horror films originated in Universal Studios, Hollywood. These films were screened at local cinemas across the state. The films appealed to those in a time when everyone was at war and burdened by death, loss and disease. The films quickly became popular and branched out to all over America and then went worldwide.
The widespread access of consumers
Originally cinemas and theatres were the only places horror films could be accessed, however, as technology has progressed, consumers of the popular culture have been able to access horror movies through television, VCRs, DVDs, computers, internet downloading IPhone’s, IPod’s and Ipad’s. This is an example of continuity within change. The media has continued to provide constant attention to the newest trend through advertisement in magazines and on television.
The ongoing change and evolution
Horror films have changed. In the 1920s it was silent terror reflecting the visual style of the expressionist painters of the time. The 1930’s introduced talking pictures and sound, movies like Frankenstein (1931) were created with echoes of the Great Depression. Extensive news coverage of the Vietnam war had brought graphic images into the home in the 1960’s and 70’s, redefining the nature of screen horror, reflecting an era when society believed science might be out of control. In the 1980s and 90’s, technology began to catch up with vision, introducing advanced special effects. Producers now create movies that the consumers want, scripting movies in order to satisfy society’s changing trends and preferences. In a post 9/11 world, horror has again come to reflect our societal fears and world view.
Creation of the Popular Culture
Literature in the 18th century introduced the gothic revival. Novels such as Frankenstein (1818), highlighted the troubles facing the day’s society through grotesquery and a gloomy atmosphere. In the early 20th century the iconography of Gothic entered popular culture and was a big influence on the early horror films.
At the time Germany was in political turmoil; the rise of Nazism caused many architects and filmmakers to flee from Germany. One was Carl Laemmle who founded Universal Pictures. With him he brought German expressionism which was an artistic movement that was characteristic of German architecture, painting and theatre.
In the 1930s Universal Pictures produced a series horror films which established the thematic preoccupations and iconography of the genre. Expressionism is evident in the use of shadows, black and white makeup, the use of exaggeration and distortion, low tilted camera angles and movements, and high-ceiling sets. Many of the horror genre’s best-known conventions (the creaking staircases, the ruined castles and the mobs of peasants pursuing monsters with torches) originated in these films.
The success of the early horror films depended on a fascination with grotesquery. This fascination with...