The horror genre reflects the fears of society

By Megan Anzures, Reporter

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 8.30.25 PM

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Life can be scary, but not as scary as your favorite horror flick, right? Many people enjoy watching the terrifying action on screen because once the credits roll up, the horror is over. However, the meanings behind your favorite slasher, monster or zombie movie may be more real than you might think.

Larry Howe, professor of English and film studies at RU, said horror movies excite audiences for a variety of reasons.

“Horror films use the captivating experience of fear to tap into different kinds of anxieties.” Horror movies take those everyday anxieties like personal moral conflict, give it a mask, and call it ‘Freddy Krueger,’” Howe said.

Popular slasher films like “Freddy v. Jason,” the 1978 version of “Halloween” and “Psycho” are movies that deal with moral conflict in regard to promiscuity. “Slasher films are cautionary tales about sex,” Howe said.

IMC major Michael Gomez’s favorite horror movie is “Young Frankenstein.”

“It’s the story of Frankenstein, which I find fascinating, but with a twist of humor,” Gomez said.

Parody horror films, although not inherently “scary” can make the theme more pronounced. In “Young Frankenstein,” you really understand the innocence and silliness of the monster, and how the villagers hate for him was off what he looked like. The 2017 film “Get Out” is also a parody horror film that was able to show how racism still exists. People either just try to hide it, or hypnotize you into making you think everything is OK.

“Infiltration by extraterrestrials has been widely recognized as code for anti-communism during the Cold War,” Howe said, referencing alien movies like the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

In the movie, a small town doctor realizes the townspeople’s bodies have been taken over by aliens. Then, the townspeople become paranoid that their neighbors are aliens – just like during the Cold War era when people became paranoid that others were spies for the Russian government. They look the same, but might be spies.

A recent trend in horror movies has been the popularity of zombie films. Howe said that the trend seems to correlate with the vilification of immigrants and the fear of terrorism. In her book “Monsters Culture in the 21st Century,” Marina Lavina points out how movies like “28 Days Later” depict the aftermath of mass death and destruction.

In “The Walking Dead,” the “good guys” slowly lose their humanity as a result of zombies. To keep him and his family safe, the main character, Rick Grimes, sees zombies and people as threats. He will take violent action against them in order to protect his side – the “good side.”

The horror genre may not be the most friendly, but if you pay attention, you can learn the fears of society, or just get a little thrill.

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