The Evolution Of The Horror Film Essay

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The Evolution Of The Horror Film Essay, Research Paper The Evolution of the Horror Film How on earth do horror film directors sleep at night? Don’t they ever wake up and say, “Is this what my life is about: making people fear dark rooms, old houses, and things that go bump in the night?” How do they stand it all? What inspires them to create these vividly outrageous spins on reality? These may be the questions often asked by people who don’t quite understand the method behind the madness that is the horror film. These questions will be answered in this paper as it explains the development of the horror film to its present form. Ah, the horror film. One of life’s many oxy-morons, how else can a large audience gather together to scare themselves to death in perfect

safety? The horror film was introduced to the masses in the early thirties, a time when Americans sought to escape into fantasy- through their attractions to fantasies that stood their hair on end. In the beginning, horror films concentrated on ghosts, vampires, witches, and miscellaneous monsters. With a few exceptions, Hollywood’s first wave of horror films maintained a degree of reticence that seems positively “namby-pamby” compared to the “disgustingness” of our time. Occasionally a film like the 1932 Dr. Jekyll exhibited some slight frankness about sex and somewhat graphic scenes were cut from Frankenstein. Like horrid novels before them, horror films of the thirties and forties constantly imitated that dismemberment, bloodshed, and decay were to be found nearby in

time or space, but the camera almost never caught them. Films of the period did not get noticeably more gruesome. Movies, then, consisted of monsters, monsters, and more monsters. They either terrorized the city in attempts to transform the human race into his own or channel aggressions that were brought on by everything from frustration to ignorance of the world around him. Such monsters as the classic Dracula and Frankenstein. Advertisement for movies of the thirties and forties, like Frankenstein, were on giant posters with the title and stars’ names in large letters followed by a scene from the movie that was bound to draw attention. Truth be told poster representation was usually better than the actual film-well by modern standards-but to unexposed audiences of that era

those films were the “cat’s pajamas”. Unaware of the film?s potential quality, moviegoers never noticed or paid no attention to detail. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for graphic–even semi-graphic photography. Early camera techniques were fair frames usually consisted of actors were being constantly stabbed, choked, or shot by shadowy figures in the dark. The camera also had a knack for bringing botches in costume to the center of attention. Early films’ costumes were that of a great imagination but limited funds and/or materials. Dark circles around the eyes, tattered clothing and frazzled hair was as good as make-up could get. Monsters were never complete without the help of sound effects “personnel”. The sounds of footsteps in the dark, the howling of werewolves

and the creaking of doors could now be portrayed instead of suggested thanks to recordings. In the beginning, sound effects were done in a compact room containing a single hanging microphone and the bare essentials of sound. They were shoes and a box of sand; washboards; mini-doorways made of wood; balloons; watering cans; sheets of metal; and one or two men trying to minimize the lapses between screen action and sound. When it comes to horror movies of the fifties and sixties not very much can be said. These were the times when aliens first became popular. Alien insects invading earth; in search of a potential slave race; strange love triangles; or a human possession by an n alien force. Werewolves and Dracula were still popular. Twisted directors took it upon themselves to make