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What MAKES a GOOD Horror Movie
The LURE of the Horror Movie
The night is extremely dark. It is darker than dark-it is pitch black. The streets are eerily deserted, even desolate. The silence is deafening. However, all is not.....well. Suddenly, there is an unearthly sound. One can say that the sound is downright infernal. There are approaching footsteps, coming ever closer and getting louder. Your heart is pounding faster and faster. The fear that you are experiencing is immobilizing.
Who does not love a horror movie? It contains element of fear, intrigue, and atmosphere. It is as alluring as a dangerously beautiful siren. It is as highly intoxicating as a sultry, Oriental perfume. It is as intriguing as a spy caught in a dangerous situation behind enemy lines. It is engrossingly enthralling, spine tingling, and awesomely blood curdling. It draws people in like no other movie genre. People want to look and get away.........but cannot.
The horror movie permits us to explore and revel in the darker and deeper access of human nature. It lets us explore what is considered forbidden and taboo by conventional societal standards. It also draws us to the more shadowy and mysterious side of life. It is evil with sanctions. Where else can one legitimately explore the recesses of evil and indulge in it other by watching a horror movie? The horror movie let people access their darkness quotient, if only for a moment. What better way to let one's dark persona out than to watch a horror movie.
The horror movie provides people with a rush. It is a visceral intoxication and high. Nothings keeps the adrenalin in full gear than a horror movie. People never know what to expect from a horror movie. It keeps people on the edge of their seats physically, emotionally, and yes, figuratively. They are in deep anticipation as to what will occur........NEXT. The intent of the horror movie is to keep people guessing.........and guessing...........and guessing.
The main or more prominent character in the horror movie is not the typical hero. He/she is what one would call the antithesis of the hero. He/she is the bad guy, the evil one, and Mr./Ms. Nefarious. He/she is the one that everyone fears or hates or both. He/she is what puts the HORROR in the horror movie. What fun would be there if the horror protagonist is good. His/her evilness adds wickedly deliciously aura and fun to the horror movie experience. In fact, the more evil, the better.
While there are a plenitude of horror movies, only a few can be classified as good horror movies. Good horror movies are darkness beyond darkness, macabreness beyond the macabre, and/or an inconceivable evil beyond all evil. Such movies are bring visceral thrills beyond a new level. They are movies which create endless nightmares which cause either sleepless nights or sleeping with all lights on. They are the movies of which nightmares are made.
Good horror movies are the movies which cause one to be ever wary, especially if home alone or walking home alone after seeing such a movie. These are the types of movies which really makes one really question the true essence of life. Good horror movies have these main components which will be outlined in the following segments below.
DARK &/or EERIE Atmosphere
A good horror movie has a dark atmosphere. A dark atmosphere is what make horror movies appealing to the audience. Furthermore it adds an evil and/or a shadowy quality to the horror movie. It makes horror movies more menacing and frightening to the audience. It also adds a level of authenticity to horror movies. Darkness is what make horror movies, HORROR movies.
Horror movies are oftentimes centered around night or late evenings. Night is what gives horror movies its dark ambiance. Nighttime is the darkest time of day. It is also the scariest time of the day. It is often associated with and/or equated to evil. It is when bad, evil, and/or otherwise nefarious events and/or things occur. It is the time where things simply go....... bump.
Nighttime is known as the witching hour. It is the time where things simply go.........bump. It inherent darkness is what makes nighttime a prevailing and/or predominant theme in many horror movies. It is the time when people are more vulnerable to imagined and/or real lurkings by someTHING or..............someONE.
Speaking of nighttime, it is quite common that demons, monsters, vampires, witches, zombies, and/or other nefarious creatures are a stable of horror movies. After all, they are denizens of the night who do harm and/or otherwise prey on people and/or other living things. They fit into the dark theme of horror movies exceedingly well.
In fact, if it were not for demons, monsters, vampires, witches,zombies, and/or other night creatures, there would probably be no horror movies at all. Count Dracula has an immortal saying, "The creatures of the night, oh what SWEET music they make." Yes, they are what make horror movies so wickedly entrancing and enthralling.
If the atmosphere is not dark physically, it has to be dark psychologically. A good horror movie must have a have scary theme. Someone must come to a bad or evil end in one way or another. There has to be a sense of darkness psychologically permeating the movie. Such themes can include a death, murder, suicide, some type of possession, and/or other nefarious event. Even if the events occur in daytime, there is an enveloping darkness.
Not only the atmosphere of a good horror movie dark, it is also eerie. Eerie atmosphere makes the horror movie more dangerously and spookily intriguing. Horror movies oftentimes take place in haunted houses, old, deserted houses, castles, graveyard, and/or other places associated with the macabre. There is something about a haunted house that spells h-o-r-r-o-r. Such locales have a high scare factor. Audiences love nothing better than a good old haunted house or haunted locations as a theme in horror pictures as it is brings a sense of horrific eeriness to the horror environment. Another location for horror movies is the graveyard. Nothing says frightening spine tingling like a graveyard. One never knows what or rather who will arise from the dead, especially in the dark of night.
If the atmosphere is not physically eerie, then it is psychologically eerie. Even in a nice apartment, there is an eerie aura e.g. next door neighbors who seem nice and lovely.......really are out to psychically drive one to the utter edge. An eerie atmosphere is created by playing music which can be classified as unearthly or demonic. One can go about one's business; however, there is a feeling that something or someone is either watching or following him/her. Yes, a good horror movie possess a dark and/or eerie atmosphere to draw in and scare their viewers either physically or psychologically.
The main purpose of a horror movie is to create terror i.e. SCARE people. In fact, the higher the scare factor the better. So what better ingredient regarding the scare factor than pure, unadulterated terror. Yes, terror is a staple in a good horror movie. In many horror movies, something bad is going to occur in one form or another. It can be a corpse going after a person. It can be a hand coming up from the grave. It can be a vampire preying on his/her victim.
Nothing says terror as much than to see a person screaming at the sight of a monster or monstrous entity. One sees the horrified look of the screaming person, wondering what will happen next. What is he/she going to do next? Will he/she run and hide further from the monster? Will he/she hide? Will he/she become so immobilized with fear? This is what keeps people glued to the screen and anticipating what else is to come.
Physical terror is what gives horror movies their name. One hears a blood curdling scream coupled with fast footsteps running to who knows where from a phantom human, decomposed, or demonic. As one watches the victim, he/she is one with this victim. He/she feels what the victim is feeling. Then the monster or phantom comes menacing towards the victim. The monster/phantom is a predator coming ever so close. The monster/phantom has its hand raised or there is an object, the victim looks mortified.......and so does the audience.
The terror does not have to be physical at all. The terror can be psychological. Psychological terror is oftentimes more deadly than physical terror. Psychological terror has a way of gnawing on the victim's sensibilities. It catches the victim unaware. It comes like a thief in the night. It is a surprise attack. It is quite insidious in nature. It is the type of terror that immobilizes the victim to the point where he/she is totally pliable or worse. It is the type of terror which the victim is manipulated to the view that he/she sees no other way out. It is the type of terror which the victim has no other recourse but to succumb to the wants of the monster, phantom or other entity.
Now, what is the most spicy ingredient in the horror movie? What does the horror movie need most of all? What the movie cannot possibly do without? The element of evil. Evil is an integral part of a good horror movie. Evil is what makes the horror movie hot so to speak. Evil is the ingredient which makes horror movies sizzle in its unabashed and unadulterated horridness. There is no good horror movie without evil. Horror movies are supposed to be evil after all.
The element of evil is what adds intrigue and fright to the horror movie. Some of the main or prominent characters in horror movie reveal in their wickedness. Their intent is to cause and/or create havoc either in the environment or person. Perhaps, they want to implement psychic and/or psychological havoc to totally immobilize the victim or worse. To say that such characters are up to no good is quite the understatement. They revel in pure malevolence.
Besides human or other forms being evil, horror movies are set in what can be classified as an evil environment. These settings are desolate and/or haunted houses or castles which exude a menacing and/or terrifying air. Morgues and graveyards are other common settings for horror movies. Even if the place is a normal house, apartment, or office, there is something quite malevolent about it.
Beyond evil is the demoniac. What is a horror movie without the demoniac element? Many horror movies have the demoniac as its theme. The demoniac is the representation or symbol of evil to its ultimate level. In fact, the pure demoniac is seen as pure evil. The demoniac is THE EVIL in evil. A good horror movie is never afraid to explore and use the demoniac. In fact, the use of the demoniac is what makes the horror movie more horrific and frightening. There is nothing more scary, terrifying, and/or unnerving than the devil or demons. Even if the character is not a devil or a demon, the character is often demoniacally possessed or worse. Horror movies that have a demoniac theme create quite a visceral reaction in people, making their imaginations work overtime and scare them to their very core. The demoniac is indeed supreme evil and really the stuff from which nightmares are made.
Good horror movies have a high scare and terror factor. It also has an eerie atmosphere which both attracts and repels people. The characters makes the audience involved, sensing and anticipating their every move. It has an authenticity that can neither be duplicated nor imitated. It creates a terror that is unimaginable or unmatched. It creates quite a visceral reaction, frightening people to their very core. It is the stuff of endless nightmares. Most of all, it makes people revel, enjoy, and escape into a dark, forbidden world, if only for a few moments.
© 2013 Grace Marguerite Williams