Effective Horror Films

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Why audiences flock to see horror films is a mystery. The question as to why a person would put themselves through the psychological tortures that horror films create does not have a simple answer. However, it is evident that throughout time people have had a morbid attraction to the unknown and unexplainable. The reasons behind a person continuing to seek the thrills of a horror film is subject to the individual. Any film can seem scary to certain people, so the real question is in regards to how successful horror films tap into the underlying fears of the masses. The one key element that all effective horror films contain is the ability to portray onscreen the manifestation of cultural anxieties at that time. Films such as Dracula (1931), …show more content…
It seems that everyone today can either mimic Dracula’s foreign accent or imitate the piercing soundtrack to Psycho’s shower scene. People also continue to repeat the famous line “I see dead people” spoken in the movie The Sixth Sense. These famous elements continue to be identifiable even by people who have not seen these particular movies in their entirety. That is the mark of a true influential film. The constant evolution of the horror film can make it difficult to talk about the genre as a whole. This is partly due to the genre’s endless goal to shock their audience; therefore, they must always seek to break expectations of what is truly scary. Still, the cultural immortality of these three films can be attributed to their similar skill in being able to violate the audience’s expectations of what nightmares are made of while also portraying a familiarity towards the anxieties they are feeling at the time. “This strange relationship between the recognizable and the shocking is suggested by James Ursini who contends, “Horror is based on recognizing in the unfamiliar something familiar” (Phillips …show more content…
More importantly it can be traced back to turn of the century England when Bram Stoker 's novel Dracula was published in 1897. Stoker 's novel was, as Rosemary Jackson describes, “The culmination of nineteenth century English Gothic” (Phillips 11). It is actually quite interesting to think about a film being made to re-create this story of blood shed and seduction in the 1930’s due to the harsh restrictions of the Production Code. Despite a lot of negative opinions towards pursuing such a film, Universal Studios went ahead with the production. Surprisingly, the film would gain the largest profit out of the studios 1931 releases. In turn, Dracula would spark the trend of “monster movies” being created by the studio. So, in despite of its, “…poor effects, staginess, narrative inconsistencies, and so on” (Phillips 14), why was it so popular? Dracula was most likely popular amongst its audiences because it was released during a time of cultural distress. It was premiered twelve years after WWI and just three years after the stock market crash of 1929. With the fresh memories of the first war and the looming danger of another yet to come, many Americans felt threatened by the European immigrants that had entered the country prior to the war. This racism spawn by the desire to reserve jobs for Americans as well as to protect familiar customs in a great time of change would inspire the creation

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