The first horror film was created in 1896 by George Melies, a
French film maker. However, the film was only around two
minutes long. The title of the film was Le Manoir Du Diable,
which translates to The Devils Castle.
We have tried to terrify each other with tales that trigger the
less logical parts of our imaginations for as long as we've told
stories. From the ballads of the ancient world to modern
urban myths, audiences willingly offer themselves up to
sadistic storytellers to be scared witless. The first horror films
started off as silent shorts.
Budgets for horror films rose in the 1960s and the publics
interest in horrors led to a range of serious supernatural-themed
films, for example, The Exorcist(1973) was and said
to be the most feared movie to watch from the audience.
3. Horror Subgenres
Action Horror: Action horror is a subgenre that combines the intrusion of evil, an
event or the supernatural in horror films with gun fights and frantic chases. Themes
associated with action horror are; zombies, demons and gore.
Body horror: Where horror is generated from the degeneration or the
deconstruction of the human body. Limbs and human body parts used to create
monsters, or unnatural body movements and dysfunction to create fear. David
Cronenberg is a well known director for this genre.
Comedy horror: Combines elements of horror and comedy fiction. The horror genre
almost always combines with comedy. The film ‘The legend of the sleepy hollow’ is
cited to be the first and greatest comedy horror film.
Gothic horror: Contains both elements of horror and gothic. Some of the earliest
horror films were this genre. Gothic horror films often include features such as
castles, dungeons and extreme landscapes. Examples include Dracula and
Psychological horror: Relies on a characters fears, guilt, belief, emotional instability
and at times the supernatural to build tension and further the plot. The horror
comes from the reality of this particular sub-genre. Examples include, The Shinning
and The Ring.
4. Horror Conventions
• The main protagonist, often the victim/hero of the movie.
• The Villain, usually a monster, mutated freak, alien or serial killer.
• The stupid/immoral teenagers that always get killed.
• Creepy children
• Police officers that can either be good or bad.
• Ghosts, Zombies, Demons.
• Small communities or isolated places. Urban environments, dark
streets, narrow alleyways. Large cities or run down ghost towns.
Anything that connotes isolation or being alone.
• Often places with dark history, like abandoned houses and hotels.
• Locations to film good horror scenes; Lakes, barns, roads and dark
5. Horror Conventions
The main character is always a hero, a protagonist, keeping up with the
normal conventions of the genre. Usually the hero must embark on a mission
or quest to kill or solve problems. Some narratives are very formulaic and
this is practically present in sub-genres, especially slasher films. After some
event that turns the killer insane or by some childhood memory. It has a
classic narrative structure largely made applicable to the horror genre, but it
can either be left for closure or maybe leave room for a sequel.
Low key lighting-
• Lights used create shadows and a dim hue.
• The lights are often set at eye level or lower to the ground of the subject.
• Lights will need to be moved every time the actor is placed differently in
order to gain the correct shadow effect, this means it is a lengthier shoot
than one with high-key lighting.
• Uses three point lighting; key light, fill light and back light.
• Shadows are created by using reflectors and the placing of the lights.
• Visual style: Often dark colours like red or black.
• Lighting is expressive and non-naturalistic- low key lighting can
create a dark and shadowy atmosphere.
• Props can be used to identify the horror genre. Specific props can be
used to identify certain villains or characters( knives, chainsaws,
• Common objects include: weapons, masks, icons of the
supernatural, religious icons.
• The iconography of the monsters help to connote extreme fear,
disgust and terror.
7. Audience Profile
Horror films are mainly watched by males between the ages of 15-24. This is
mainly because females prefer to watch lighter entertainment, such as,
comedy or romance. Furthermore, the majority of people who visit the cinema
are aged between 15-24 and males enjoy horror films as they like to seek thrill
Horror films are usually aimed at the working class sector as for a relatively low
price, the thrill and excitement of a horror film is often very high. The upper
class may watch horror as part of a sub-genre of part of a romance or comedy.
Many young people go to watch a horror film with their friends. However, a
horror film is a good genre for people to watch who are on there first date.
They are seen as good conversation starters after the film.
8. Genre Popularity
The horror genre is popular amongst the younger audience as they like to
seek thrill and action, at a cheap price. Horror is a popular genre, with there
being many films of this type of genre, for example, The Exorcist or The
Shinning. This genre is mainly popular amongst males, around the ages of
16-24. Some females don’t find this genre as popular, as they tend to enjoy
lighter entertainment such as romance or comedy.
One of the first films, created by George Melies, was a horror film, so horror
has been a popular genre throughout the years. However, better
production and stories have developed the horror to a bigger and better
Horror genres have become more popular in recent years with the release
of certain movies like The Exorcist. Since the release of The Exorcist, many
producers have been inspired to produce scary movies as people show
great interest. Since the release of The Exorcist, many horror films have
been produced as directors have seen the great popularity and interest
9. Horror Directors
William Tobe Hooper is an American film director, screenwriter, and
producer best known for his work in the horror film genre. His 1974 film, The
Texas Chain Saw Massacre, was described by Stuart Heritage of The
Guardian as "one of the most influential films ever made“
Roman Polanski (born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański; 18 August 1933) is a
Polish and, since 1976, naturalized-French film director, producer, writer,
and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the
United States, he is considered one of the few "truly international
filmmakers.“ He produced Cul-de-sac, Repulsion and many other great
George Romero: He is an American-Canadian film director, film producer,
screenwriter and editor, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical
horror films about a hypothetical zombie apocalypse, beginning with Night
of the Living Dead (1968).
10. Examples of Films
• The Exorcist
• The Shining
• Paranormal Activity
• Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
• The Calling
• The 13th Alley
• Day of the Dead
• Count Dracula
• The Wizard of Gore
• Zombie Holocaust
• Piranha 3-D
Most horror films are only suitable for ages 18 or over.
This is because if children under this age begin to
watch a horror film it could have a psychological effect
What sort of issues might I find in an 18 film or video?
• very strong violence
• frequent strong language (e.g. 'f***') and / or very
strong language (e.g. ‘c***’)
• strong portrayals of sexual activity
• scenes of sexual violence
• strong horror
• strong blood and gore
• real sex (in some circumstances)
• discriminatory language and behaviour
The Exorcist is rated 18. Suitable only for adults.
12. Typical 3 Act Structure
The first act in a horror film focuses on central characters beginning a venture into
a strange and ultimately threatening setting.
The setting unleashes a wave of violence that leaves many of the protagonists
dead. Those who fight back against either the monster, zombie or whatever the evil
character is find themselves in more danger and at greater risk. Other characters
may warn the community to make them aware of the situation. However, these
characters are often ignored due to other characters disbelief.
The climax of the film generally involves a dramatic showdown between the main
characters. In contemporary horror films the plot leaves open the possibility of the
13. Horror Actors
Top 5 roles:
1. Dr. Anton Phibes in The Abominable Dr. Phibes
2. Nicholas Medina in Pit and the Pendulum
3. Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death
4. Roderick Usher in House of Usher [The Fall of the House of Usher]
5. Robert Morgan in The Last Man on Earth
Top 5 roles:
1. The Monster in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein
2. Gorca in I tre volti della paura [Black Sabbath]
3. Cabman John Gray in The Body Snatcher
4. Byron Orlok in Targets
5. Ardeth Bey in The Mummy
Top 5 roles:
1. Count Dracula in Dracula
2. Joseph in The Body Snatcher
3. Ygor in Son of Frankenstein
4. "Murder" Legendre in White Zombie
5. Dr. Vitus Werdegast in The Black Cat
14. Film Analysis- The Shining
The Shiningis a 1980 British-
American psychological horror film produced
and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film is
about a man who is a recovering alcoholic,
who takes a job of caretaker at a hotel. His
son has psychic abilities and can see the past
and look into the future. The family gets
trapped in the hotel by a snowstorm and the
father is taken over by a supernatural
presence and attempts to murder both his
son and wife.
The opening scene begins with some aerial shots of the Saint Mary lake. The
steadicam was used for tracking shots like when the child is riding around in his
cart. There is a lot of sound that is used to suggest the mood of the film. The
sound was stylistically modernist art-music.
15. Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity is a 2007 American
Supernatural horror film directed by Oren
Peli. The film is about a couple who are
disturbed by a demonic presence during
the night in the suburban home. They set
up security cameras to find some horrific
The scenes were shot with a home video camera as Peli wanted to create a
more realistic feeling rather than gore and action. The film uses a lot of low key
lighting to create a dark and shadowy image, especially when you can see the
shadow walking across the bedroom door. There is a lot of diegetic and high
pitched sounds, such as voices and whispering, which creates a tension and a
16. Film Analysis- The Exorcist
The Exorcist is a 1973 horror film directed by
William Friedkin. It is about a young 12 year old
girl who becomes possessed. Her mother asks
two priests to help her. The film uses a lot of
special effects and great costume and makeup
effects. The use of a lot of makeup on the actor
Max von Sydow was done to make him look
much older than he really was. Director William
Friedkin said he wanted lots of detailed close up
shots of him.
The use of sound makes the film much more frightening and entertaining. The
soft buzz of insects cuts to the loud, irritating banging metal of a one-eyed
blacksmith. The heartbeat tick of the clock when Merrin examines the artifact
drops to dead silence when the clock suddenly stops. The use of low key and
top lighting creates a dark and shadowy atmosphere when the statue looms
17. The Desensitisation Theory
This theory maintains that the more you are exposed to something, the less you
are affected by it. For example, if you watch or play violent films or games, after
a while you may think the action in it is no longer violent but normal behaviour.
Albert Bandura believed that we learn new behaviours by copying the values
and beliefs of role models. We learn watching or following the example of
An example of this in the media world is the film Mad World, which relates very
much to this theory. A real life example of this is The Columbine High School
Massacre. In 1999, two students killed 12 students and a teacher.