What Creates Fear In Horror Movies Film Studies Essay

Why I am frightened? With my thesis, I do n’t desire to explicate the full horror film narrative, nor reference all the of import managers or the really best films in this genre. My purpose is to cognize what makes the people scary in a film, what are the elements that truly creates a feeling of anxiousness and emphasis.

To accomplish this end, foremost of all I will analyze the beginning of the film ( the silent films ) in order to cognize which is the land of our current horror film civilization. I think before seeking to analyze any subject oneself must cognize the beginnings of this specific subject, the world because this subject it ‘s like it presently is. After that, I will do a speedy reappraisal of the horror movies of each decennary until the appearance of the first horror movie in first-person position.

This is because I think that the first-person position horror movies are the apogee of our research to frighten the populace, I think that sort of films are our current best stake in this issue.So with the aid of the analysis of this sort of films together with the analysis of the beginnings of the horror movie genre, I expect to cognize how and what truly makes us chilling.

Before first-person position horror

The horror movie genre born at the same clip than the film, although did it accidentally. “ L’arrivee d’un train a La Ciotat ” ( Arrival of a train at the Ciotat ) recorded by Lumiere Brothers at 1986, showed merely the reaching of a train in a platform at a railroad station. Despite of it, the populace who went for the first clip to see the movie, became scared and ran out of the room believing that the train would come out of the screen and run over them ( Martin Loiperdinger and Bernd Elzer, 2004 ) .

That first feeling of panic utilizing a cinematography was because the viewing audiences in those yearss did n’t cognize anything about film, camera shootings and audiovisual linguistic communication in general. So, from so on, it would be necessary to happen new ways to frighten and emphasize the populace, more calculated ways. This consequence in the birth of the horror movie genre, whose aim is to do experience the populace in danger, scared, frightened, like the audience who was watching the train arriving in the Lumiere ‘s movie.

Silent Movies, the beginning

Logically, the first horror films were in the field of soundless movies. Therefore, the first horror films were soundless, in black-and-white, and they used to be closely linked to the phantasy genre, predominating fabulous or legendary characters who lived among the society. Here are some outstanding illustrations:

Frankenstein ( 1910 )

Director: J. Searle Dawley Country: United States Duration: 12 min.

Plot: Film adaptation of Mary Shelley ‘s fresh “ Frankenstein ” or besides called ” The modern Prometheus ” , published in 1818. Victor Frankenstein is a immature pupil of 35 old ages old who is seeking to make the ultimate creature.A However, his experiments led him to make a awful monster, deformed, which invariably attacks the people around it.A But the animal disappears when Victor Frankenstein falls in love.

The movie was recorded in fixed camera and utilizing long shootings during all its continuance.

“ Der Golem ” ( The Golem ) ( 1915 )

Director: Paul Wagener Country: Germany Duration: 84 min.

Plot: Film adaptation of Gustav Meyrink ‘s novel with the same name. The rabbi Loew sees in the stars a mark of that a calamity will steep the Judaic people. Meanwhile, the emperor of Prague gives a bid to throw out the Jews of the city.A The rabbi decides to make a clay figure, the Golem, which what will salvage the Jews ‘ ghetto.

This production is divided into five chapters and has two subsequences, “ The Golem and the Dancing Girl ” and “ The Golem: How He Came Into the World ” . Both are besides inspired in the mediaeval Prague but they do n’t belong to the same genre as the original 1.

“ Das Kabinett des DoktorCaligari ” ( The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ) ( 1919 )

Director: Robert Wiene Country: Germany Duration: 51 min.

Plot: Two friends, Francis and Alan, visit a just in Holstenwall town ( North of Germany ) .A Once at that place, the huffy Dr. Caligari and his faithful sleepwalker friend Cesare announcesthat they are able to divine the future.A Alan asks how long he has to populate. To which inquiry Cesare replied that he will decease before morning tomorrow, a prognostication which is fulfilled. After that his friend, Francis, begins to look into the visionary ( Cesare ) and the sinister physician to happen out the truth about what happened.

In this movie most of the secret plan is presented like a flashback told by Francis, the friend of Alan. “ TheA movie it is a radiating illustration of German Expressionist Cinema ‘s foremost raids into the genre of psychological horror and is besides one of the first movies to include an anti-climatic turn at the terminal of the narrative ” ( BrokenProjector.com, 2007, n.p. ) .

Nosferatu ( 1922 )

Director: F.W. Murnay State: Germany Duration: 94 min.

Plot: An unauthorised version of Bram Stoker ‘s “ Dracula ” novel. Year 1981, the German estate agent Thomas Hutter goes to Transylvania to see the count Orlok in him castle to shut a trade on the land purchase. During the visit happens a series of cryptic events that makes Thomas suggest that the count is a lamia. Unfortunately, in that minute the contract is already signed and Orlok is traveling to him new sign of the zodiac in Wismark ( Germany ) . Thomas Hutter fears the worst about Ellen, him married woman.

Nosferatu it ‘s besides considered a German expressionism movie. Despite of is non the first lamia film. Nosferatu is possibly “ one of the most influential lamia movies of all clip ” ( Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc, 2010, p.13 ) .

In this early age of the film, the silenthorror movies get used to narrate a history about a fabulous, legendary or non-natural character. The golem for illustration, is non merely a fiction character created by Gustav Meyrink in his novel ; the golem is besides a medieval folklore and an old Judaic fable. The first narratives obaut golems day of the month back to the beginning of Judaism and they say that the golem is created from clay and a Godhead flicker that gives life ( Karina Garcia, 2007 ) . So, the golem is a fabulous character of popular civilization since centuries, in the same manner that the figure of the lamia, myth in the folklore of many civilizations since immemorial times. Despite of it, the word “ lamia ” ( in their different linguistic communication signifiers ) began to be used in the medieval epoch being associated, for illustration, as a victim and, even, the cause of the many epidemics and diseases occurred in the eighteenth-century Europe ( Carol Senf, 1988 ) . In the other manus, characters as Frankenstein are more recent and, although nowadays it ‘s a character of the popular civilization, originally were merely a fictional character created in 1818 by Mary Shelley ‘s.

In any instance, all these characters are characterized by non merely be fictional characters, but because they are fabulous and legendary animals ( Frankenstein possibly non precisely ) nowadays in popular civilization for centuries.A So much so that, for illustration, until the early 20th century there were killing lamia kits which were given to travellers to protect themselves from lamia onslaughts ( UsaToday.com, 2003 ) . That ‘s it, A the people of that clip truly believed that they could be attacked by a lamia or see a golem following to a rabbi.A In the instance of Frankenstein, the belief was non in that peculiar character, but in the possibility of the being of similar monsters in the world due to progresss in scientific discipline and, above all, the engineering in the 19th century.

In the instance of Caesar, the sleepwalker of Dr. Caligari, is non precisely the same instance but the footing are the same. Caesar although is non a monster acts as one. He sleeps in a casket, him look is supernatural and terrorization, he does n’t hold volitionally and, above all, he can foretell the hereafter. Possibly Caesar is like a pythoness or a enchantress, plenty to scary the superstitious people of that clip.

In decision, the fright generated by these movies was due the superstitious of the people and, more by and large, because that movies besides provide a disclosure mirror image of the anxiousnesss of their clip. “ NosferatuA ( 1922 ) is non merely a narrative of vampirism, but offers heart-rending images of a town beleaguered by premature and random deceases, reverberations of the Great War and the Great Flu Epidemic human deaths ” ( Karina Wilson, 2005, n.p. )

Sing technological facets of these films, they are strongly motivated by the theatre. Therefore, they were seeking to plunge the spectator into the narrative through the usage of different tunes ( ever show throughout the movie, there were no voices ) with different intents. On one manus, there were the atmosphere tunes, used most of the clip as a resource that remained in the background to make the coveted feeling depending of the location or the type of action that is described in the movie. In the other manus, there were the enigma tunes, used to fascinate the spectator or stressed in the chief scenes of the film.

Mentioning the camera, the shootings were prone to be quiet long and statics, merely interposed by close-ups shootings of the characters but seldom by close-ups shootings of the actions. Possibly the influence of the theatre was still rather strong on this facet.

Sound movies, born the shriek

Opposed to the soundless movie, a sound movie ( or talking pictures ) is a gesture image with synchronized sound which appearedin the mid- to late 1920s, although it was non until the early 1930s when this technique turned accustomed. Movies such as “ Dracula ” ( 1931 ) , “ Freaks ” ( 1932 ) , “ King Kong ” ( 1933 ) , “ The Wolf Man ” ( 1941 ) , “ Cat Peoples ” ( 1942 ) or some of the adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson ‘s novels, like “ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ” ( 1931 ) , ” The Invisible Man ” ( 1933 ) or “ The Body Snatcher ” ( 1945 ) are good illustrations of the horror movies which the people used to watch in that clip. These movies maintained the base of the soundless films but giving now much more importance to the human-monster of the narrative, which is now its incontestable supporter. Now these characters were, in most of the times, strictly fictional, and the manner that used to acquire terrorise the populace was merely thanks to their visual aspect and their shrieks or, merely, their hideous sounds. The usage of close-ups shootings was increasing, in these yearss the existent claim were the monster itself, so the events of the movies was far removed from the mundane worlds and the coming war.

In the decennary of 1950s, the beginning of the post-war epoch and the cold war, the people lived continuously with the fright of war. In this epoch films like “ Godzilla ” ( 1954 ) , “ It Came From Beneath the Sea ” A ( 1955 ) , “ The Fly ” ( 1958 ) A or “ The Wasp Woman ” ( 1960 ) were the stars of the horror movie genre.All these movies tell the narrative about an animate being which is converted into a elephantine or abhorrent animal because of grounds such as radiation, technological progresss or advanced biological experiments. The relationship with atomic bombs and the anxiousnesss about atomic arms is clear, one of the most common frights in the people of the clip ( Marc Jancovich, 1996 ) . Furthermore, at the terminal of the decennary was the Born of the films about UFOs, foreigners and in general foreign signifiers of life menaces. So in 1947 occurred “ The Roswell Incident ” , born the acronym “ U.F.O ” and all of that possibly originated the fright of people about foreign invasions. Movies like “ Invasion of the Bodysnatchers ” ( 1956 ) or “ Plan 9 from Outer Space ” ( 1958 ) are good illustrations of that although there is another theory about the fright of foreign invasion in that clip that argues that is simply a codification for frights of Soviet Union aggression ( Marc Jancovich, 1996 ) . although this type of movies will raise through decennaries, with movies like “ Alien ” ( 1979 ) , “ Independence Day ” ( 1996 ) or even “ Extrasensory Activity ” ( 2007 ) , among many others. This is an illustration of a fright which is invariably frightening people during the decennaries, more or less intensively depending of the actuality.

Modern times, the fright became human

Teenss of the clip had n’t experienced the war, the societal stableness was a fact and the pop civilization had born, welcome to the sixtiess. Hitchcock was still alive and the movies “ Psycho ” ( 1960 ) and “ The Birds ” ( 1963 ) were cogent evidence of this. Horror movies and thrillers had intertwined by one of the maters of the film. The people were afraid of losing their stable life, but non because onslaughts ofthe monsters or failed experiments, but because people of flesh and bone. Some of the films of Alfred Hitchcock and other movies like “ Blood Feast ” ( 1963 ) are a cogent evidence of that.On the other manus, the movies about shade and life psyches grew in popularity, movies like “ Carnival of Souls ” ( 1962 ) or “ The Haunting ” ( 1963 ) . And non far from the shades were the living deads, “ Night of The Living Dead ” ( 1968 ) of George A. Romero, a authoritative of living deads and dead lifes movies.After the optimism of the sixtiess, the 1970 was marked by a certain defeat. The fear apparent in the horror movies of the 1970sis the fright of kids and the frequently fatal procedure of childbearing ; “ Eraserhead ” ( 1976 ) is a good illustration of that. Now the enemy was non in the infinite or in the Europe with the war. Now the fright was among us, inside our place, our Dendranthema grandifloruom, our pa or even our sister. Movies such as “ The Exorcist ” ( 1973 ) , “ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ” ( 1974 ) , “ Trembles ” ( 1975 ) ” , “ Halloween ” ( 1978 ) or “ The Shinning ” ( 1980 ) , narrates the narrative of slayings that occur in our vicinity or place for people more or less near to us. In that clip, there was a societal deep-rooted paranoia that the moral displacement of the sixtiess had creates a civilization of immature monsters without moral capable of killing.

And in the twelvemonth 1980 was when the first-person position horror movie appeared.

3. Panic in first-person position

After a century of horror movies, nowadays we are witnessing an of import measure of movies narrated in first-person position. Is non a craze, nor a tendency, but bit by bit this type of merchandises has grown in figure and, particularly, in popularity. “ The Blair Witch Project ” or, most late, “ Extrasensory Activity ” , are good illustrations of this state of affairs. Both movies were able to do experience the audience terrified when it comes out of the film. But this accomplishment was no thanks to a fantastic particular effects, or thanks to the presence of really good made monsters and nor thanks to a heartbreaking tunes. That was because the audience truly thought that the narrative was existent and that they could be a victim of a similar experience ( Manel E. Diaz, 2010 ) . They likely discussed the facts narrated in the film with a household member, a co-worker or a friend a few yearss after the screening. In fact, the film hit them profoundly, turning into an mundane fright during possibly a hebdomad after have watched the film.

First-person perspective horror movies

Here some illustrations of this sort of horror films, most of which are recorded as a mockumentary or besides called mock docudrama. Originally the mockumentarieswere used as a telecasting genre to analyse or notice current events becausethe pragmatism of the narratives were higher when this format was used.Soon the mockumentary wasalso used by the film, films as ” David HolzmanHYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Holzman’s_Diary ” ‘HYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Holzman’s_Diary ” s Diary ” A ( 1967 ) , “ The Rutles ” A ( 1978 ) or “ Man Bites Dog ” ( 1992 ) among many others, are a good illustration of that. Butit was exactly in the genre of horror films where their usage seemed to hold a greater impact on the populace.

Cannival Holocaust ( 1980 )

Director: RuggeroDeodato State: Italy Duration: 95 min.

Plot: The film tells the narrative of four documentarians who deep into the jungle ( Amazon Rainforest ) to movie the life of the autochthonal folks with cannibal wonts. Two month subsequently, after they fail to return, the anthropologist Harold Monroe travels to the topographic point to seek to deliver the documentarians. Unfortunately, Monroe and him squad discovers that the documentarians has been murdered and eaten by the autochthonal. Surprisingly, they could retrieve the doomed can of movies which reveals the losing documentarians destiny and all them experience into the jungle, including how they died. The supposed content of that can of movies is portion of the movie itself.

The movie was presented by the manager as whether all the length were existent ; everything you see in the film is existent, even the deceases of animate beings and people. That ‘s it, the documentarians are truly dead and were truly tortured and murdered by the autochthonal. These statements together with the content of the supposed rescued can of movies and the format in which the movie was presented ( like a documental, with an of import figure of camera-in-hand scenes ) achieved that the populace believed that the narrative truly happened. Despite all this, the whole content of the film is fiction, except possibly the carnal deceases ( Randy Malamud, 2010: 2-3 ) .

In the twelvemonth 1988 appeared a subsequence of the film called Cannibal Holocaust II ; this one was more truly like a “ Giallo ” instead than a docudrama.

Alien Abduction Incident in Lake County ( 1998 )

Director: Dean Alioto Country: United States

Duration: 93 min.

Plot: An American household is observing the dinner of thanksgiving when all of a sudden the fuses are gone and the house goes dark. Some of the members of the household decides to travel outside to look into the fuse box, but something cryptic happens: an unidentified winging object lands near them. This event will tag the beginning of a incubus dark when the foreigners will seek to kidnap the household.

The whole movie is presented as the recording of the household ‘s boy, who films all the events occurred during the dark with his new camera because he wants go a cinema manager. This fact makes that the public thinks that the cinematography is existent, although in the terminal of it they can see that all is fiction. Alternatively of the old movies, this one is non made like a docudrama ( although it has assorted elements typical of this sort of format ) , but it ‘s presented as a existent place picture.

The Blair Witch Project ( 1999 )

Directors: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez Country: United States

Duration: 86 min.

Plot: ” In October of 1994, three pupil movie shapers disappeared in the forests near Burkittesville, Maryland. One twelvemonth subsequently, their footage was found ” ( The Blair Witch Project, 1999: n.p. ) . With this statement the movie starts. So, the narrative is about those three pupils who were entering a documental about a local fable about the Blair Witch.

As in “ Cannibal Holocaust ” the movie was presented as whether all the footage were existent, as the pupils were truly dead in the terminal of the movie and the content of them footage was the movie itself ( but the whole movie is fiction ) . The technics resources used for this juncture were the same as in “ Cannibal Holocaust ” ( camera-in-hand scenes, narrative Tell in first individual position as the camera were the eyes of the character, documental signifier, low image quality to do the narrative more credible, aˆ¦ ) . Despite of it, unlike “ Cannibal Holocaust ” the movie “ The Blair Witch Project ” managed to be a truly commercial success being one of the most profitable movies in the narrative. Possibly the advanced viral selling run that succumbed before the release of the movie was one of the grounds of for its success.

In the twelvemonth 1988 appeared a subsequence of the film called “ The Blair Witch Project 2 ” which was merely a common horror movie.Apparently, it is already fixing a 2nd subsequence that would be more faithful to the original.

REC ( 2007 )

Director: JaumeBalaguero and Paco Plaza Country: Spain

Duration: 85 min.

Plot: Every dark Angela and her camera operator, who works for a local Television channel in Barcelona, have to do a study about the modus operandi of one collective of the metropolis. That dark they must travel along with the firemans of the metropolis to cover an seemingly minor incident in a edifice in the centre of Barcelona. Once they get at that place, they realize that the occupants of this edifice look to be infected and that the edifice has been quarantined, a dark of incubus has started. The whole content of the film is presented as the footage recorded by the camera operator who works with Angela.

There is an American movie called Quarantine which is a Hollywood remaking of the Spanish original film. In 2009 premiered the subsequence, REC 2, which replaces the thought of an infection by a expletive. Presently the managers of the original movie are working in the 3rd portion of the movie.

There are more horror filmthat uses the first-person position, movies as ” Diary of the Dead ” ( George A. Romero ) , “ The Last Broadcast ” ( Stefan Avalos ) , “ Cloverfield ” ( Matt Reeves ) or “ Extrasensory Activity ” and its subsequence ( Tod Williams ) .The most portion of the movies exposed used the documental or mockumentaries format, alternatively of some of them like “ Alien Abduction Incident in Lake County ” which uses the formatof a place picture or REC, which uses the format of a Television study.

4. Format & A ; Topic, the key for panic

As witnesss, we have ever felt protected from the dangers that are shown in the horror movies.A That is thanks to the boundary line of the diegesis, that all right line, the thickness of the screen.When we enter at the film we know that everything we will see is fiction, play, a fast one to frighten us in the instance of the horror movies. We can conceive of the camera and all the casting and the crew shooting every scene of this film. However, when we watch a docudrama for illustration, our feelings are wholly different so we are truly positive that every action showed in the screen truly happened and, in general, we are convinced that the whole world showed in this docudrama is the same world as ours. This fact makes us rapidly sympathize with the supporters of the docudrama because we already know that we can life and experience the same experiences that they are demoing on the screen. In the other manus, if the docudrama is in Africa and is about the danger of the serpent bites, is likely that a European witness does n’t experience every bit much empathy about the events showed as an Asiatic 1 for example.This is because be attacked for a deadly serpent is much more possible in Asia than in Europe. So there are two things that mark our degree of empathy with what we ‘re seeing on the screen, the type of ocular narrative or format used and the subject of the movie.

The most portion of the movies exposed in the old point have used the documental or mockumentaries format, alternatively of some of them like “ Alien Abduction Incident in Lake County ” which uses the formatof a place picture or REC, which uses the format of a Television study, it does n’t count. What is truly of import is the usage of a format that we associate with the world. Every twenty-four hours we see in the intelligence studies about local or international events and, for this ground, when we watch a movie narrated with that same format we feel that the narrative is existent. By opportunity, this type of formats ( these are usually used to state the world ) used to acquire the camera position to demo the information, as the place picture uses the same position to demo the everyday life of a household for illustration. Soin the instance of the horror movies in first-person point of position is non the position what makes us experience in danger, but the format.

About the subject, as happens in the soundless films, will do more or less fear depending on what degree it ‘s close to us. So nowadays a first-person position horror film about lamias wo n’t frighten us much as if was about the Flu A for illustration. In the other manus, there are some subjects which scare us during all our history as for illustration, foreign invasions. But inside every subject there are besides a broad assortment of manners of making the spectator. In the movie “ Alien Abduction Incident in Lake County ” for illustration, the people who is attacked unrecorded in a rural country off from the civilisation and, for this ground, they ca n’t inquire for aid. However, in the movie “ Extrasensory Activity ” the people is “ attacked ” by foreigners when they are kiping. So is sensible to state that “ Extrasensory Activity ” has potency for panic more many people than “ Abduction Incident in Lake County ” because non everyone lives in a rural country, nevertheless, everyone slumbers. The same illustration it ‘s attributable to the movie “ Cannibal Holocaust ” . The incubus lived for the documentarians happen in the Amazonsaˆ¦ How many of the witnesss have ne’er been in the viragos? A big minority of them, certainly. However, how many of the witnesss have been kiping during the dark in a wood like the pupils of “ The Blair Witch Project ” ? Surely a batch of them, possibly households with them kids or friends doing a field day or a camp during the summer. Although the movie could hold been even scarier if for illustration it had occurred in a vicinity in the outskirts of large metropolis. So a truly big portion of the audience would experience identified with it and, possibly, when they would return place they would be a small spot afraid at least.

So, in the same manner that throughout the history of horror films, nowadays we are scared about those subjects whose are close to us. But non merely nearby subjects, besides films with characters wholived state of affairss that we can populate in our everyday lives. During the history of the horror movie we have seena big sum of movies about issues of concern to the full population, planetary issues. Alternatively, to truly frighten the populace it ‘s better to happen closer subjects, more personal, all this bearing in head that a film is a commercial merchandise that should appeal to 1000000s of people.

In decision, for make a truly terrific film we have to talk about a fright which can be felt by the people in their mundane life and moreover, we have to utilize a format which is used to associate to the account of existent events, a format like the docudrama for illustration. The horror movies in first-person position uses this formats, but non ever speaks about the most terrific subject therefore its depends of the planetary issues that there are when the movie is released.


After more than a century of watching movies, the human as a witness feels so comfy that it ‘s hard to frighten. The people goes to the film knowing that the world showed in the screen is non the same world that the 1 they lives. And besides cognizing that the characters who are in the movie are well-paid histrions. In fact, they expect to bask with a good dramatisation, a good narrated fiction narrative and, possibly, some self-generated panic.

As did Orson Welles in his wireless broadcast “ War of the Worlds ” in 1938, the key for panic the populace is to catch them off guard. And it has to be made inside their ain world, without leting them to protect themselves with the diegesis of the fiction. The history has shown us that the best manner to accomplish this intent is to narrate a fictional narrative utilizing the same techniques that we would utilize whether the narrative was existent. In fact, “ L’arrivee d’un train a La Ciotat ” ( Arrival of a train at the Ciotat ) recorded by Lumiere Brothers at 1986 it ‘s a docudrama ( in its manner ) , non a fiction film.

So, the first-person horror films uses this techniques to frighten the audience, but that is non the lone thing to maintain in head. The subject of the film is besides of import, a truly terrific film has to talk about a fright which can be felt by the people in their mundane life, something that can truly go on to them. This is a human fact, the people ever has felt fright by the dangers of his surrounding, of his state, of his town, of his vicinity, on his lives.


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