A history of horror

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”.


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