An Overview of Horror and the Occult (lilicecilia & patriciaoldani)

By, M. K. (1991, Nov 08). “Horrors! or, why people love being scared.” New York Times

This article discusses a novel, The Thrill of Fear, written by Walter Kendrick about society’s love of horror and the occult. The article was helpful in determining an original motive for the obsession with horror dating back to the 18th century. With this article we were able to make discoveries about the emergence of horror that we did not know before having to do with the fear of death, and the transformation of death into something predictable and possibly even avoidable. The article led us to believe that horror was used as a coping mechanism for Western cultures to face death head on and overcome it through the stories.

Cherry, Brigid. Horror. London: Routledge, 2009.

This novel had a lot of background information on the horror genre, especially in regards to film. We mostly looked at the first part of the book dealing with the form and genre of horror. In this part of the novel we were also given a list of different types of horror genres that pertain to different types of people. That was very helpful as different types of horror are certainly appealing to different people. The novel helped us to understand how horror has been and continues to be used as a way of voicing opinions on social, cultural, and political issues. We were given many examples of horror films that had hidden social meanings that we were unaware of before, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street being representative of the dangers of the selfish parents from the “me generation” in the 70s. This novel also gave us information on why horror has lasted so many years and will continue to last for years to come. It has to do with the social and political meanings as well, because as they change so does the genre which makes it flexible and adaptable. The novel also reiterated that part of the novelty of horror is that it makes you feel afraid for your life in the safety or your own home or a theatre, which is quite paradoxical. Finally, this novel briefly touched on the issue of the violence and psychotic behavior that is seen in horror novels, films, and video games nowadays, and how it is creating violent tendencies in young adults as they are the prime audience for horror. This insight was really interesting as it is a relevant topic that is discussed frequently in today’s society, including our class.

Straub, P. (1979, Apr 01). “People are talking about: Boom…in horror.” Vogue, 169, 272-272, 308.

This article presented another possible motive behind the obsession with horror films: childhood. All of the arguments that we found in our research are so different, yet each one is relevant and plausible. This argument had to do with society’s inclination to revisit our childhoods in some way or another, in this particular case with horror. It pointed out that children are vulnerable and will believe anything, from ghosts to Santa Clause, and therefore we as adults use horror to recreate that vulnerability and gullibility. The article also reiterated that society has become increasingly enamored with horror and the occult.

“Why Do We Love Horror Films? A CU Professor Explains.” News Center. 22 Mar.2013.

This video is an interview with an English professor and horror novelist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He voiced yet another motive for the obsession with horror, one that is different from all of the others. Professor Jones believes that horror stories satisfy an innate need within our human nature to fear something. He argues that hundreds of years ago we had disease and wild animals to fear daily; our lives were never truly safe back then. Today we live in a society that is relatively safe, and Jones argues that we created fictional monsters and terrors to fill that need of fear. This was a particularly interesting insight, as it had never crossed our minds when thinking about horror. Once we had happened upon it though, it made a lot of sense and helped to better our argument.

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