The Horror Film


Frankenstein, Dracula, The Thing from Another World, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Alien, Videodrome, The Silence of the Lambs...these are just some of the influential films we will be watching in order to study the ways in which American horror films and their monsters have been designed to make their audiences feel horrified. We will pay equal attention to the creative innovations of individual filmmakers and the conventions of the genre within which they work. We will examine whether the genre reflects, if not promotes, the fears of American society and address some of the larger philosophical questions it raises: What, precisely, is horror? Why do we enjoy watching films that make us feel ostensibly undesirable emotions such as fear and disgust—emotions which, in our ordinary lives, we tend to avoid? Finally, we will compare and contrast American and Japanese horror films, a number of which have recently been remade in the United States.