Archive for September, 2012

Case study three- The Blair Witch Project

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2012 by elizaob

The Blair Witch Project(1999) is a psychological horror written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The film is about three student filmmakers who disappeared in the woods in Maryland when they were trying to film a documentary about a local legend, The Blair Witch. Before the film starts the viewers are told that the film is made up of footage that was found on the students video and sound equipment.

Marketing campaign:

Since the movie came out before sites such as Twitter and Facebook existed the directors of the movie created a website:, the website is full of fake police reports and photos that the “police” have released of the missing students. They also passed on the story via online message boards to get people talking. Their method of advertising cost them very little and got people into cinemas because there was a “buzz” about the movie and whether it was really a documentary or not, this uncertainty terrified the audiences because in the back of their mind they always wondered if it was really true.


The film cost $500,000-$750,000 to make and made $249,000,000 making it one of the highest grossing independent films of all time.

Source of horror:

The use of a handheld camera to film the movie adds an element of realism to it which makes the paragraph about the missing students at the beginning of the movie even more believable, this leaves a sense of uncertainty in the viewers mind because they will always wonder whether the story is true or not. Also, the fact that the viewer doesn’t see anything scary for instance a witch or a ghost adds it to the fear since the viewer will never see the source of the creepy disturbances in the woods.


Throughout the movie there is a lack of horror movie iconography such as: mirrors, a lot of blood and a monster/witch. The lack of iconography sets it apart from other horror movies however, towards the end of the movie there is a haunted house and both  characters ignore the number one horror movie rule and enter it which eventually leads to their death. Additionally, in almost every horror movie a way out is offered however in this one there isn’t and Heather is the only character who openly admits this in an emotional scene where we see her record a message in which she apologises to everyones families.

Paranormal Activity (2007) is a film that was clearly influenced by The Blair Witch Project. The film is presented in the style of “found footage” and uses the technique of retroscripting just like The Blair Witch Project, this just shows how much TBWP has influenced horror movies.

The Paranormal Activity trailer.


Case study two- In what ways is The Shining a typical horror movie?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2012 by elizaob

The Shining (1980) which was directed by Stanley Kubrick is in some ways different from your typical horror movie but in others it is the same as any other movie of that genre.
One of the main themes of the movie is isolation, this theme is shown through cinematography, iconography and plot. The film starts off with a birds eye view shot of the scenery which is the woods, later on there are two long shots of the same woods. These shots bring a sense of loneliness to the movie and further establish the fact that the Torrence family is in the middle of nowhere which is a very common theme in horror movies. The theme of isolation is again shown with the iconography, the maze and wilderness bring a sense a loneliness especially during a key point in the movie when the Torrence family are isolated by the weather. Them being in the wilderness adds tension to the movie and makes the audience wonder how  Wendy and Danny will escape since there is no obvious way out.

The use of Steadicam in the movie made it different from horror movies at the time since it was the first movie to use a Steadicam. There is a shot during the movie when the camera tracks Danny peddling his bike, this eerie tracking sequence could make the viewer feel as if they are following Danny or something is following him which further adds to the unsettling tension which builds up throughout the movie.

Throughout the movie there are countless close ups of screaming faces  which allows the viewer to clearly see the characters reactions to certain situations. The close up is something that is always associated with horror movies since it not only adds to the fear that the audience is experiencing but also puts the audience in the position as the victim.

(Music from The Shining)

Music is an important part of the film, as the film progresses and builds in tension so does the music. As the mood of a scene changes the mood of the music does also, the music works in parallel with the film and without it the film might not be the same.

(Inappropriate music for The Shining)

Mirrors feature a lot in the movie and almost have a doppelgänger  effect especially in the case of Jack Torrence. At first Jack appears to be a kind and loving father however, he starts to gradually change. Before he starts to change there is a shot in the films which gives the audience the impression that we are watching him sleep it isn’t until the camera dollies out that we realise that we are just watching Jack’s reflection in the mirror.  After this shot Jack starts to gradually change and become aggressive and increasingly violent. Stanley Kubrick also uses mirrors in relation to Danny Torrence, Danny uses the mirror to warn his mother that his father is going to murder them by writing “REDRUM” on the door. Kubrick has used mirrors in an interesting way which in a way makes it different compared to other horror movies.

One aspect of the plot that is stereotypical of a horror movie is the story that the last caretaker at the hotel went crazy and killed his family, almost every horror movie begins with a story about a tragedy that happened previously which warns the viewer that history may repeat itself because this I do think that the film uses its originality. However, Kubrick’s use of enigma at the end of the movie, which forces the audience to try and figure out  why Jack is in a picture that was taken in 1921 makes the film original.


Another stereotypical feature of the plot is that the Danny and his mother are offered many ways out when Jack is trying to kill them but their way out, the cook  gets killed, despite this happening they manage to escape using the vehicle that the cook brought.

Overall, I think that The Shining is a stereotypical horror movie which uses generic aspects from the horror genre and successfully  puts a unique spin on them which has allowed it to become a legendary and influential horror movie.

Case study one- Ringu

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 by elizaob

Ringu is a japanese movie made by Hideo Nakata in 1998, it was adapted from the novel Ring by Koji Suzuki which was inspired by a japanese folk tale of Bancho Sarayashiki. Rumours are at the heart of the movie, passing things on such as the video or myths about the video create a “Ring” and a continuos cycle of rumours and myths throughout the film which keeps the curse of Sadako alive. The main victims throughout the film are young people since the curse starts as a rumour told by young people.


Simple technology becomes the source evil in the film, during the first five minutes the main sources of fear are: The telephone, Video tape, Television and music. Technology becoming the main source of fear in the movie shows how Japanese horror does not need gore to create fear but just simply planting an idea in the viewers minds will send a chill down their spine.

The cinematography in the film gives the impression that someone is always watching the main characters. There are various shots behind Yoichi that gives the impression that someone is following him also, at Tomoko’s wake there is a long shot and birds eye view shot from the corner of Yoichi which again gives the impression that someone is watching him, this also links to a main motif in the movie which is eyes.

Music in the film plays an important role, for the duration of the movie there is synthesised music which creates a chilling effect.

Terrible things don’t happen to characters in the movie unless they are alone or in the woods. The woods are a place of fear and terror and this is first established at the start of the movie when the first killings happen in the woods.

This is one of the most iconic scenes from the movie, it has been remade and parodied several times.


Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 by elizaob

Japanese horror is famous for its psychological and tension building horror which involves mostly: ghosts and poltergeists. Many J-horror films focus on themes of folk religion for example, possession,exorcism, shamanism (being able to interact and encounter the spirit world), precognition (foreknowledge of an event) and yokai (a type of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore) .

The most notable Japanese horror films are:

Tales from the dead (2007)-

Kairo (2001)-

Chakushin Ari (2004)-

Jisatsu Saakuru (2002)-

Ju-on: The Grudge ( 2002)-

Ringu (1998)-


A history of horror

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by elizaob

A trip to the moon (1902)

A trip to the moon is a black and white film loosely based on the novels: From the earth to the moon by Jules Verne and The first men in the moon by H.G. Wells, it was written and directed by the French film maker George Melies.  On the poster there is  a moon with human features surrounded by clouds which could suggests that the film might have a fantasy element to it, the telescope that is covering the moon’s left eye could also suggest that the film also has a science fiction element to it. According to Elssaese,  Melies “did not simply seek to document reality” and he “used the potentials of film to present images of things that could not be, except in imagination.” Melies intention of documenting things that “could not be” influenced German expressionism which was a “self-conscious attempt to ‘make the cinema respectable for bourgeois audiences, and give it the status of art'”

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is a German expressionist horror movie, it was directed by F.W. Murnau and starred Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok, the film is an unauthorized adaptation of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker . Nosferatu was considered quite a sexual film when it came out for reasons such as:  Nosferatu telling the female lead, Nina that she has nice neck and Nina and Nosferatu getting into bed with each other. It is also believed that the vampires symbolise the fears that society had about sexually transmitted diseases since it is transferred through blood being  mixed through the penetration of flesh.

Cat people (1942)

Cat people was directed by Jacques Tourner, the film is about a girl who believes that she is a descendant of a race of people who turn into cats when sexually aroused. The poster has a pin up girl, the 1940s sex symbol on it ,this could suggest that the director is playing on the fear of not only women but beautiful women. It is said that Cat people “present a conflict between modern rational America and a traditional and superstitious old world” this is because action takes place in a normal everyday setting rather than a “exotic never-never land”, this has influenced the horror genre a great deal since virtually all horror movies are set in normal places.

Night of the living dead (1968)

Night of the living dead is an American independent movie directed by George A. Romero, the film follows seven characters who are trapped in a farmhouse in Pensylvania which is attacked by zombies. The hero of the movie (Duane Jones)  is black, this was quite unusual at the time since the film was released the same year that the civil rights act in America was passed which meant that before then black  people rarely had lead roles in movies.                                                                                                            On the poster each character has the same expression on their face which is fear, this fear links to the idea that zombies symbolise societies shared fears of: death, the dead, uniformity (fascism and communism) and fear of losing your mind.

Halloween (1978)

Halloween is low budget American slasher movie directed, produced and scored by John Carpenter, the film is said to be one of the first slasher movies inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The film poster is quite different to previous horror movie posters, the font is thinner and there is less writing on the poster. The pumpkin holding a knife on the poster is quite sinister and suggests that a day can easily change from being fun and harmless to being dangerous and terrifying. The film is said to “encourage the audience to identify with the killer and his violence, rather than his female victims…accomplished through the use of the point-of-view camera shots”

Scream 1996

Scream is an American slasher film directed by Wes Craven it is said that the film revitalized the horror genre. The film is funny yet scary and manages to pastiche and critique the horror genre through its “whodunit” mystery and the characters awareness of horror movies.  The poster is very different from previous horror movie posters, the font is smaller and thinner and there is less writing; there is a large image of a teenage girl which immediately targets the films desired audience, adolescents. Since many established actors and actresses starred in the film it exposed the genre of horror to more people which helped the film become one of the highest grossing American slashers and earn its “cult status”.

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2012 by elizaob

Welcome to! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!