Friday, 8 June 2012

BellaOnlone on Popularity of Horror Films

From (BellaOnline "The Voice of Women")

BellaOnline's Horror Movies Editor

The Popularity of Horror Films

Scary, creepy, and downright disturbing images have existed in film as long as we have had the ability to invent them, perceive them, and construct them. People like to be scared, they crave it and seek it out. The need for fear is inherent within the human psyche. It’s our yin to the yang of feelings of security and acceptance. Fear has been part of our imagination since children, since we were scared to have the light turned off, or that something was under the bed. Horror can stem from our individual fears or the collective conscious, for example the fear of death. It is a fact that horror, and by extension horror movies, appeal to our most primitive state. Horror strips us down to our essence and takes us back to the caveman – the fight or flight.

Horror movies can, and have, helped many individuals through times of real horror within their own lives. Identifying with the protagonist who is trying to overcome the monster; a metaphor for the troubles we ourselves are trying to overcome in reality. Because horror is innate in the human mind, elements of horror are shown in every type of film genre. Horror movies cause us to ask the eternal question, “what if” and allow us to safely delve into our primal fears. A fear that has been there since childhood, a fear we are all born with in our body’s make-up.

Audience Expectations in the ‘Slasher’ Formula


Audience Expectations in the ‘Slasher’ Formula

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Friday the 13th (parts 1 and 5)
April Fools Day.
Halloween 3

Audience Expectations in the ‘Slasher’ Formula

How important is Audience Expectation in relation to Genre? This is a question with many variables. Different genres will attract different audiences, different films will attract different ages, races and cultures and each of these groups bringing attend a film with their own unique expectations. Consequently I will answer this question using the example of only one genre, the Slasher film. The reason I am using this genre is because it’s audience is made up almost entirely of teenagers. It is also one of the best examples of genre purism, meaning that the genre itself has barely changed since it was invented thirty years ago.

What is a ‘Slasher’ Film?

Slasher movies are a sub-genre of horror. Some critics refer to the genre as ‘dead teenager movies’ ‘slice and dice films’ or ‘gross out films’ (Wong, 2006). Films of the genre generally contain high levels of violence, blood and gore and almost always feature a group of teenagers as protagonists. The antagonist is a killer, often wearing a mask, who kills the protagonists one by one throughout the course of the film. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), while pre-dating the term, is considered by many to be a slasher movie (Bohusz 2007) as it matches the traditional narrative formula of the genre.
    Psycho (1960)
    A killer with a mysterious identity attacks an attractive young woman with a butcher knife. Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) certainly influenced the narrative structure of the contemporary slasher film.
Some of the first films to be defined as slasher movies came ten years later in the mid seventies. The first box office success was John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), a movie about a baby sitter and her friends who are stalked, and most of them killed, by an escaped killer named Michael Myers. The film cost only three-hundred-thousand dollars to create and made roughly fifty-million dollars. Similar films began to spring up including Friday the 13th (1980), a film with a narrative plot similar to Halloween but added much more gruesome death scenes. Prom Night (1980) was another release that kept a similar narrative structure, but added a ‘whodunit’ aspect to the film. This left the audience to guess the identity of the masked killer. Both films were made on a small budget and were financial successes. This convinced Hollywood studios to continue creating more and the slasher movie was born.

The Audience

When it comes to audience expectation one must consider who the audience is. The audience of Slasher movies is almost entirely made up of adolescents. There has been much speculation on why many teena