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Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

Horror Genre

For this assignment I am going to discuss the movement of genre and the horror genre
and how it was formed; bringing up the question, Are genres really 'out there' in the
world, or are they merely the constructions of analysts? (fn.1)
Like all subjects and interests of the human race, we have files that become mini files to
help us classify subjects and keep a system in order. When film was first presented to us
we simply classified the subject of the film in simple genres, such as, romance, comedy,
horror. But as equipment and technology became more complicated, so did our system
of genre as we began adding sub genres and interweaving genres called, hybrid

History, Movement and new Forms of the Horror Genre

Horror is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers
by playing on the audience's primal fears (fn.2) - the horror genre comes from a long
line of literature and art that we as humans have captivated to seek out reactions from
an audience; creating fear and suspense that would have an influential movement in the
film world. Since the dawn of time we humans enjoyed the thrill of fear, as adrenaline
rushes through our veins. But where did horror originate? Monsters, murderers,
demons and beasts have been around since antiquity, ghost stories told round camp
fires since we learned how to talk (fn.3)- before written text, stories and tales of evil
forces were passed through generations, creating monsters and demons for our own
thrills; as murderers captured real life horror, becoming beasts of the night and real life
The gothic horror genre was first captivated in books such as, Dracula- by Bram
Stoker or Frankenstein- by Mary Shelley. These books are just two examples of many
books of their time to capture a monster and set them in our surroundings. In the 1800s
a movement of gothic style, such as gothic buildings, fashion began to spill over into
literature and film; enhancing the movement of the horror genre.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

The first horror classified film was made in 1895, named Spook Tale, by the Lumiere
Brothers. The film consisted of a skeleton dancing with rhythm and life on screen, a
shocking revelation that brought in audiences as they shuddered in fear; that a dead
human being could be moving with life.

Spook Tale (1895)

In 1896, Georges Melies directed and acted in the film, The Haunted Castle. With its
use of bats, castles, trolls, ghosts, and a demon (fn4)- this film ultimately captured
gothic horror of its time, making audiences shudder in fear as they became involved
with the silent black and white characters on screen.
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

The Haunted Castle (1896)

As film was an art only taking off, Silent films in the teens and 20s were still
exploring the possibilities of this new filmmaking medium (fn.5)- film makers began
capturing and experimenting literature in films such as, Frankenstein made in 1910
and directed by Thomas Edison; becoming the first ever Frankenstein film. Also,
Dantes Inferno made in 1911 and directed Giuseppe de Liguoro; the first feature
horror film that shows the tale of man caught in the raptures of hell.

German Expressionism in the Horror Genre
The horror captured in silent films wouldnt come into greater light until after the First
World War, when the movement of German Expressionism began.
German Expressionism- an artistic movement (encompassing film, theatre,
painting, and other arts) that sought to give shape to psychological states through
highly stylized visual (fn.6). German Expressionism was a highly exaggerated surreal
movement of its time, a movement that began in Germany after World War One when
Germany fell underneath economic crisis and a real life horror of their own.
In 1919, an influential movement of horror film began as a German director named,
Robert Weine directed the well known, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This was an
inspiring film for horror; that went on to be known as the, Granddaddy of all horror
films (fn.7). Robert Weine fully expressed the use of German Expressionism with its
obscure costumes, performances, characters, mis en scene and of course
cinematography. At the time of making this film, Germany only had a limited amount of
electricity that they could use; when it came to making the film there was no light
source, leading to Robert Weine having to paint obscure shadows on boards, to where
he wanted light and dark to be. This became the ultimate beginning of the surreal, over
exaggerated German Expressionism movement in the horror genre.
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
This momentous film went on to inspire many other directors of its time; such as, The
Golem- how he came into the world 1920, co- directed by and starring Paul Wegener
and Carl Boese. Karl Freund's camera work and Hans Poelzig's strange, twisted sets
had a lasting impact on the genre (fn8) - thus making The Golem a film to be seen as
a horror film of high impact for directors in the future.

The Golem (1920)

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
A film that was also highly influenced by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with grotesque and
horrifying, obscure shapes and movement was the first ever vampire film made; telling
the tale of Bram Stokers book, Dracula, through the eye of the camera- Nosferatu
1922, directed by F.W.Muranu and also shot by Karl Freund. This film would go on to
impact the movement of
the vampire horror genre,
from vampires that glitter
in light to vampires that
slither in the dark corners
of evil in the night.

Nosferatu (1922)

Horror Gets a Voice

In the times of the treaty Versailles, Germany done well to captivate their audiences in
the horror world, bringing in punters of film; building the film industry and impacting
on young to old film directors to create new ways to perform the act of horror in this
new moving picture. In the times of the Dawes plan in the 1920s, Germany fell under
difficulties as industries of all kind, including filmmakers lost their power and money;
meaning they could not export their creations, but they could not make them. This was,
a good opportunity for Hollywood to swallow up a once powerful foreign
competitor (fn.9); giving America power in the film industry once again. With this
change in history and industry, many German artists and directors moved to America to
make their films- the German Immigrant contribution would leave a lasting mark
on the style of films in the coming years (fn.10).
In the horror film world sound has a high impact to the emotional trauma and state that
the director wants us as an audience to experience, enhancing the fear we feel during
our favourite horror film.
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
In the 1930s Hollywood had a tightly controlled studio system (fn.11) known as
Universal Pictures. Universal Pictures are credited for making the few achievements
in American horror (fn.12), such as The Phantom of the Opera- 1925 and
Hunchback of Notre Dame- 1923; both starring Lon Chaney. In the 30s, Universal
really sunk their teeth into horror (fn.13) - therefore really embracing the gothic
horror style and bringing it to life; one example of this is, Dracula, directed by Tod
Browning in 1931. Tod Browning continued this new gothic horror style by making,
Frankenstein in 1931. The use of monstrous gothic characters from old literature led
to many more horror films moving in the 1930s, the difference was that sound was a
new compound added to the moving images on screen and this was a radical artistic
leap (fn.14), for the movement of the horror genre. Films that impacted the movement
of sound in the horror genre were:

The Mummy (1932)

The Invisible Man (1933)

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

Werewolf in London (1935)

Draculas Daughter (1936)

After 1936, Universal Pictures began to to lose steam and fall into the pit of self-
parody (fn.15), as they made sequels such as, The Invisible Man Returns 1940, The
Mummies Hand 1940 and Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man in 1943. This was the
first time in the horror genre world that sequels began to become more frequent, but
would this change the horror genre world forever?

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
In the mid-1940s, Universal Pictures began to combine horror characters together into
one series or multiple series of events, almost as if they were bringing all the villains
together in, The House of Frankenstein 1944 and in 1945, House of Dracula. In 1948
Universal Pictures blend comedy into horror characters- this could be seen as the first
time horror began to collaborate genres, becoming a sub-genre. This can be seen in,
Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein in 1948- this was a, a surprising popular
comedy outing (fn.16), this takes the serious monstrous horrors in previous years and
made it into a comic effect, to where we dont take the gothic characters too seriously.

Abbott and Costello meet
Frankenstein (1948)

As Universal began slipping from, Horror to formula (fn.17), a small studio named
RKO began to lay a stylistic foundation for low budget horror films (fn.18) to
emerge in the coming years. A man named Val Lewton- known for his journalism,
poems, novels and turned story editor- was given the opportunity to help create low
budget films. The only catch was that he was given the title and had to write the stories.
In 1942 Cat People- directed by Jacque Tourneur- was seen as the first of
psychological horrors as it was the first in a series of chillingly suggestive films in
which Lewton would play upon unseen horrors and draw upon viewers'
imaginations(fn.19). In the film Cat People 1942, Lewton used leftover sets, to set
the mood and shadows of the eerie psychological effect that this film would have on
people and one factor of this was the se of sound to create a sinister feeling in the guts
of the audiences. This would go on to change the movement of the horror genre.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

Cat People (1942)

Mutated Monsters of Horror
In the period of the 1950s, post-world war two, Hollywood went through a difficult time
in the film industry as most classic Hollywood studio systems seen an end to their
timeline. This saw an increase in Hollywood to stay in the modern times of the
contemporary movement. Horror films were now seen as B listed films, whereas lavish,
higher quality films were seen as the A list films. In the 1950s, teens wanted thrills
(fn.20), at this time young people wanted the thrill of a horror story that didnt
necessary need to be scripted well. At the time of the 1950s, the Soviet-American race
caused great fear, almost as if they were the real l life, Boogieman (fn.21).
With this fear of the Soviet-Americans, the horror genre began to see an increase in the
sci-fi side of the genre, where monsters were deformed or came from strange places;
like the horror of the soviets at the time to the American to which they were strange and
seen as aliens almost. Films that first made it into this new hype of a sub-genre were:,
Day the Earth Stood Still 1951, Forbidden Planet 1956, Invasion of the Body
Snatchers 1956, Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954 and Godzilla 1954.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

These films would go on to inspire many remakes in the years to come. This would
move the horror genre into the world of the unknown.
Producer and Director William Castle moved away from the typical sci-fi horror genre,
into horror gimmicks to sell tickets to low rent horror outings (fn.22). In Macabre
1958, Castle promised every customer a $1,000 life insurance policy should they die
of fright (fn.23) - this brought in audiences, as Castle had hyped up a sense of fear but
also a bribe to the audience; almost a promise that they would receive this money. In
theatres that were viewing House of the Haunted Hill in 1959, a skeleton was placed
on wires and set to float around the cinema, this brought in more viewers to witnesses
this new gimmick of the horror genre. In the 1959 screening of The Tingler seats were
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
wired up with buzzers, to which this would encourage the audience to scream as a way
to enhance the performance of what was happening on screen.

Psychological Horror, Sex and Gore

From the 1960s onwards, the horror genre began to see a new face of stylised genre.
This brings us back to the question, Are genres really 'out there' in the world, or are
they merely the constructions of analysts? (fn.23)- As new directors developed new
artistic ideas in the film world, did genre change? Or did analysts conform to an idea of
having to file everything systematically? With the new movement of the horror genre
and new artistic endeavours, genre became a wider range of new ideas, to which
audiences could decide whether they liked the idea of a sci-fi genre or a classical gothic
A new rising star of the thrilling horror world was director Alfred Hitchcock, a man seen
to change the movement of the horror genre for the better good. Hitchcock was a well-
known man that played his audiences like an instrument (fn.24). Hitchcocks
Psycho in 1960 and The Birds 1963 convinced the audiences that horror films could
be a lot more than B listed films; this brought the horror genre back to life. In Psycho,
the main character Norman Bates is seen as a normal being of society, but the audience
quickly come to realise that he a monster. With this psychological thrill the audience
were captivated that this character is a real life monster of their society. With the film
the birds, Hitchcock would add a nature horror to the growing genre.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
In the UK Hammer Film Productions began reshooting old Universal classic, but with a
twist of sex and gore. Hammer Film Productions first well known remake of the film
Frankenstein- The Curse of Frankenstein 1957 was shot in colour- the first time
blood was seen onscreen red. This was a new movement for the horror genre as artists
of this form could begin to add spine tingling effects of gore and blood. Between the
years of 1954-74, Hammer Productions made 27 remakes of Universal originals. In the
US the inspiration of the gore horror genre went on to inspire films such as, Little Shop
of Horrors 1960 and Buckets of Blood 1959.

The release of Hammer Film Productions, Rocky
Horror Picture Show in 1975- directed by Jim
Sharman- seen the new combination of sub-genres in
horror. The film contained the genres of horror,
comedy and a new ingredient of musical. This
horror/comedy/musical also brought in the on-going
use of sex and sexual orientation throughout. It was a
film that you have to use a lot of hyphens to
explain; a horror-rock-transvestite-camp-
omnisexual-musical parody (fn.25). This over use
of genres seems to be unnecessary at times, as it
could be simply seen as a horror/ comedy/ musical.

In the 70s the horror genre began to be taken seriously; therefore setting the stage for
important horror films sub-genres that come in the following decades (fn.26).

Occult Horror Genre
In the late 60s and into the 70s, the horror world was hit by a new force of monstrous
evil- the occult genre. This involved a great deal of the supernatural world of Satan and
his demons. Films that were born into this new sub-genre were the likes of,
Rosemarys Baby directed by William Castle and released in 1968; The Exorcist
released in 1973 and directed by William Friedkin- which was seen the scariest movie
ever made for the very first time (fn.27); and also The Omen directed by Richard
Donners and released in 1976.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

Creature Horror Films
In the mid-70s, the horror films began to see a boost in
the creature horror films after the release of Steven
Spielbergs "Jaws" in 1975. This influence first originated
from Hitchcocks Birds in 1963.

Teen Horror Films
In the late 70s, a new sub-genre of teen cult films began
to build after the release of 1976 Carrie, a book by
Stephen King, which was turned into a box office hit.
The release of this film had set the stage for teen
horror cycle (fn.28), in years to come.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

At the time of the new found teen horror cycle, Kubricks,
The Shining in 1980 would be seen as a defying the
categories and limitations of the horror genre. With its
psychological gore, the film would go on to become an
absolute must watch for any student of horror (fn.29).

Independent Horror and the Slasher Genre
The independent and slasher sub-genres of horror would fall under the thumb of low
budget productions. When production and technology moved forward, the rise of
independent filmmakers (fn.30) moved forward also; having a mass impact on the
genre definition of horror as a new generation of filmmakers began creating a new side
of the horror genre.

One of many independent/ slasher films to arise was The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974- the film was based on
serial killer Ed Gein, who also was the inspiration for
Hitchcocks psycho and further on in the years Silence of
the lambs.

This film went on to inspire other slasher films, such as the the most successful
independent horror film ever made (fn.31), Halloween released in 1978 and
directed by John Carpenter. These films would go on to inspire new upcoming slashers
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
such as, Friday 13
in 1980 and Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984- both these films
would further the thickness of the new sub-genre by breaking the codes and
conventions of past horror by adding a backyard suburbia terror (fn.32).

The 90s and Modern Horror

In the 90s the teen horror slasher had run
course. Horror Films that had impact in the 90s
were: Dead Alive 1992- directed by Peter
Jackson- was brought out to be a comical blood
effect (fn.33), on The Evil Dead (1981). Other
films that were brought out around this slasher
sub-genre time were- Scream 1996, directed by
Wes Craven and I Know What You Did Last
Summer 1993.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

Monster films of the 90s began to focus on the use of CGI effects, such as, Species 1995
and Anaconda in 1997.
The increase of psychological horror films became increasingly popular in the 90s and
000s- with films like The Silence of the Lambs 1991, Sixth Sense 1999, The Others
2000 and The Ring 2002.

In the 90s we see that the horror genre has not changed but went back in time to
reconnect with the old horror genres. Although the 90s/000s horror genre moved back
in time, some young directors that began to think outside the box move the slasher sub-
genre to yet another link of torture porn.

This new sub-genre was almost a modern reboot of
splatter/slasher films going back to the Hammer
Horror era (fn.34). One of the first of these films was,
SAW 2004- directed by James Wan, followed by
Hostel in 2005.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
Found Footage Horror Genre
A popular genre that came into play late 90s was the found footage genre. The
inspiration of this genre came into play when Cannibal Holocaust was released in

The first big film of this genre was, The Blair Witch
Project 1999 directed by Eduardo Snchez and Daniel
Myrick. The Blair Witch Project went on to influence
multiple films of the early 2000s- such as, Paranormal
Activity series- 2007 and Cloverfield in 2008.

Overall is Genre useful?
Throughout the movement of a genre such as horror, we find that with technology and
creative ideas moving forward, so does the build-up of multiple sub genres. Carolyn
Miller suggests that the number of genres in any society depends on the complexity
and diversity of society (fn.35) - because our society has become so complicated and
caught up on the use of new film techniques and technology, we ourselves have
complicated the filing system of the genre. Over 100 years ago we started with a simple
skeleton on screen moving, but because we have moved vastly through contemporary
and modern ages, we end up with multiple sub-genres; such as, sci-fi horror, occult
horror, and psychological horror and so on.
I believe that genres are not discrete systems consisting of a fixed number of list
able items (fn.36) - throughout time genres will change and directors will break
boundaries. For example, Alfred Hitchcock broke away from the sci-fi horror genre of
alien monsters, and into a new movement of psychological horrors to where a normal
person on screen could be a real life monster in life- like in Psycho 1960. Breaking
these codes and conventions of the horror genre, Hitchcock opened up the flood gates
for future writers and film makers of the horror world.
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
Even though genres can be seen as fuzzy categories which cannot be defined by
necessary and sufficient conditions (fn.37) - I truly believe that having genres there
to classify a film are useful. Although the movement of horror has been a long line of
multiple sub genres, we can easily pick what type or form of horror we as an audience
enjoy. With multiple movements in the horror genre, directors can play around with a
mass amount of forms that were created over the past 100 years.
Overall I conclude that the use of genre has slowly faded out due to modern
technologies, at the beginning of the genre world in horror, directors were free to create
new genres and sub-genres but we have become entrapped in this idea that we must
follow a specific form of genre. Whereas its time for new upcoming film directors to
break out of this box and break the codes and conventions of genre.

Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean

1. The Problem of definition by Daniel Chandler
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_film
3. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
4. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
5. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
6. http://web.missouri.edu/~westn/courses/film1/handouts/09.13-lecture.html
7. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
8. http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=1920s
9. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
10. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
11. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
12. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
13. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
14. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
15. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
16. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
17. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
18. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
19. http://www.filmsite.org/catp.html
20. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
21. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
22. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
23. The Problem of definition by Daniel Chandler
24. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
25. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-rocky-horror-picture-show-1976
26. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
27. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070047/reviews
28. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
29. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
30. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
31. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
32. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
33. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
34. http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-horror/
35. The Problem of definition by Daniel Chandler
Assignment 1 Genre Megan Mc Clean
36. The Problem of definition by Daniel Chandler
37. The Problem of definition by Daniel Chandler