“Supernatural, perhaps; baloney, perhaps not.”
--Bela Lugosi in The Black Cat, written by Edgar G. Ulmer
Don’t go in that closet! A popular sentiment for fans of scary films, the urge to yell at the screen and steer a protagonist from danger is a must-have for any great horror film! Good versus evil. Innocence versus corruption. Slobbering monster versus cute high school cheerleader. These are the epic themes of horror films. Often moralistic in their message, horror films are meant to cause dread and panic by playing on our innermost fears and vulnerabilities. In their attempt to evoke a deep-down visceral response from audiences, no sight is too ghastly or liquid too precious—be it blood, pus, drool or general goo!Usually a normal Joe or Jane, horror film heroes are plucked from their everyday lives and forced to confront a horrible, and often demented antagonist. Whether it’s a ten-year-old with a penchant for sharp objects, a talking doll or a serpent of the netherworld, the horror film villain is irrationally obsessed with doing harm, and is quite often a more interesting character than the protagonist. Caught in an all-out contest for life and loved ones, the horror-film hero’s last hope for outside help is usually caught or killed in the beginning of Act Three. Forced to go it alone in a final, one-on-one battle with a now-more-powerful-than-ever monster, the protagonist realizes they are outmatched physically, and must instead outsmart or outmaneuver their aggressor. Against all odds, horror movies END when evil is vanquished and normalcy is restored—or so we think!
Horror movies to watch: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version), The Exorcist, Halloween, Jaws, The Blair Witch Project, The Night of the Living Dead, Saw
Genre hybrids: The Shining (Thriller Horror), Rosemary’s Baby (Sci-Fi Horror), The City of Lost Children (Fantasy Horror), The Cat People (Psychological Horror)