What is classified as horror

The horror film as a mirror of our fear

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 The horror genre
2.1 Terminology and definition of horror
2.2 Classification in the fantastic and differentiation from other genres
2.3 Characteristics of the horror genre
Excursus: horror in other media
2.3.1 The uncanny according to Sigmund Freud
2.3.2 Archetypes of Horror
2.3.3 Classification of the motives of horror Classification according to Lovecraft Classification according to Armstrong Classification according to McKee Classification according to Seeßlen and Jung Classification according to Baumann
2.3.4 Horror storytelling
2.3.5 Development of the horror genre Gothic and modern horror From ancient mythology to horror films
2.4 The horror film
2.4.1 Sub-genres of horror films
2.4.2 Aesthetics of the horror film Dramaturgy Visual design options Auditory design options
2.4.3 Acceptance of the horror film Criticism of the horror film Censorship

3 horror and fear
3.1 Psychology of fear
3.1.1 Definition of the emotion fear and differentiation from other terms
3.1.2 Theory of fear according to Sigmund Freud
3.1.3 Features of fear
3.1.4 Other relevant emotions
3.2 Experience of fear through fiction and reality
3.3 Phenomenon of lust for fear
3.4 How the horror film stirs up fear
3.4.1 Filmmaker's intention
3.4.2 Through what is represented
3.4.3 Through the representation
3.4.4 Relevance of the reception situation

4 horror and society
4.1 Influence of the social situation on the horror genre
4.2 Influence of the horror genre on society
4.3 Society in the 20th century
5 Historical Development of Horror Film and Society -
A parallel consideration
5.1 The classical period - shattered by two world wars (1910 to 1953)
5.1.1 Silent horror in Germany (1913 to 1927)
5.1.2 Silent horror in the USA (1910 to 1935)
5.1.3 European sound films (1927 to 1953)
5.1.4 Hollywood horror classics (1931 to 1953)
5.2 The Experimental Period - The Bipolar World (1954 to 1969)
5.2.1 USA
5.2.2 Europe
5.3 The nihilistic modernity - the consumer society in the depression (1970 to 1979)
5.3.1 USA
5.3.2 Europe
5.4 Modern Reality - Achievement Society and Breaking Families (1980 to 1989)
5.4.1 USA
5.4.2 Europe
5.5 The Metaphysical Postmodernism - Globalization and Communication Society (1990 to 1999)
5.6 Rebooting the genre - the turn of the millennium as a period of upheaval (2000 to 2008)
5.7 And what does the future hold?

6 Conclusion

7 Appendix
7.1 Filmography
7.2 Bibliography and other sources
7.3 List of figures

1 Introduction

The horror film genre is fascinating. Not only his fandom or the mainstream audience, but above all his critics and analysts have a keen interest in this art genre. For some it is good entertainment, for others it is bad entertainment and for others it is simply the endangerment of the young recipient. But what exactly is it that makes the horror genre so fascinating? The horrific stories and figures make us viewers flinch in the cinema seat, freeze in horror or hold our hands protectively in front of our eyes, although at the same time we only want to see what worries us. It may seem paradoxical that something as uncomfortable as fear, chills, horror, or disgust can create something much more enjoyable like entertainment. “The desire for cinematic horror is a mass phenomenon that is based on general human fears” (Vossen 2004, p. 9). Accordingly, the audience can be entertained precisely because of the fears that the horror film triggers in them. The horror genre is inextricably linked with the fears of its audience. In fact, it tries specifically to evoke this emotion in us. The horror film as well as every other medium of fictional horror lives from these negative emotions of the people. As soon as there is nothing left that would frighten or disgust us humans, the genre would be condemned to the death that it actually likes to celebrate in the spotlight. By generating the emotions, the horror genre shows us these emotions. If one looks at the development of horror films since its beginnings over the decades, one can assume that modern and current works work with different fears than classic films did. If we look at Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror from 1922 today, we can find very little frightening, whereas a film like Blair Witch Project (The Blair Witch Project, Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, 1999) gives us a cold one Chills down your spine. It can therefore be assumed that the horror film does not only make use of human primal fears in the same way over and over again. Assuming that films generally deal with and reflect the social conditions at the time they were made, it is not far from seeing horror films as a mirror of the predominant fears created by these conditions. As part of this diploma thesis on the topic of the horror film as a mirror of our fear, I would like to attempt to uncover and examine parallels between the evolution of horror films and the development of society with its fears. Can the motifs, contents and modes of presentation of cinematic horror be understood as analogies to the current fears that are reflected in the community and in the individual through economic, political and socio-cultural aspects and problems? The research subject of this work is not only the history of the horror film, but also the triangle of effects consisting of the components horror genre, fear and society, which according to the thesis are mutually dependent in their development.

The motivation for working on this particular topic is based on several factors. Horror films are quite popular and successful - they can usually inspire their younger audiences. Based on the US box office results, for example, it only achieved a market share of 4.97% in the period from 1995 to 2008, which puts it in seventh place (see Fig. 1). But this value relates to the total box office income. If you look at the number of films published and use this to calculate the average box office income per film, then horror beats the genres of drama, thriller and comedy. So while comparatively few horror films come onto the market, these can achieve great success with their viewers.

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Fig. 1 Market shares of the movie genres by box office results in the USA (1995 to 2008)

Furthermore, I myself have been fascinated by the horror genre for several years, although after the reception of such a film I always ask myself why I like to expose myself to this frightening conversation again and again. In the last decade in particular, I've seen a change in the genre. The focus is increasingly on a brutal physicality. Current horror films such as Saw (Saw, James Wan, 2004) with its sequels or Hostel (Hostel, Eli Roth, 2005) present the destruction of the human body towards its dissolution and this in a very creative way. How can the success of such intensely physical films be explained, where the genre was comparatively gentle a decade ago, or why have these horror films been produced in recent years? Furthermore, film reviews and the specialist literature on the subject of horror film often refer to the fact that the genre relates to real, social conditions, but only illustrate this by analyzing a single film or completely refuse to comment on these references. For example, Vossen writes: “The feelings that horror cinema triggers in the viewer are just as extremely individual as what they evoke is extremely time-dependent” (Vossen 2004, p. 15). She also notes that horror films can look old-fashioned very quickly, but there is no comprehensive evidence to support this view. Seeßlen and Jung also note that the development of horror film “can be related to other aspects of contemporary and film history”, but they do not go into any further detail (Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 530). The sole intention of the horror film, in the opinion of many film theorists, is the reference to our deepest instinctive primal fears that appear in childhood. In doing so, however, they seem to forget that the genre has developed further and today (also) addresses different fears than it did 40 years ago. The existing literature on the subject of “the development of horror films” deals only slightly, if at all, with possible parallels between the development of society and its fears and the unfolding horror genre. For these reasons I would like to take this closer look and examine whether there is a connection between the real conditions with their horrors and the horror horror.

In this analysis I will proceed as follows: The triangle of effects of horror, fear and society should serve as the starting point for the structure of this work. I would first like to go into the fundamentals of the three units of effect. However, the areas of horror and fear in particular are rather diffuse in terms of their terminology and their analyzability. The horror genre is characterized by its intention to create an emotional state, especially that of fear, in the viewer. And fear, on the other hand, is difficult to study as a subjective, emotional phenomenon because this study is based on a cognitive approach. Something non-cognitive like the emotion fear cannot basically be explained in terms of cognition. Nevertheless, the findings of fear psychology should show what characterizes this human emotion. This problem also remains for the parallel consideration of the two development strands of horror film and society. On the one hand, unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to analyze the fears generated in the recipients of horror films. Strictly speaking, the fears that horror films trigger, as I found out in my research, have never been empirically researched. The difficulty of a qualitative and quantitative investigation prevents the respective disciplines from obtaining significant and representative results on the fear phenomenon in horror films. For this reason I also had to forego primary research by interviewing viewers. In addition, the focus is not on the effect of the horror film on the recipient, but on the intention of the producers and filmmakers who want to create fear in the recipient and this, according to my thesis do about using the medium of horror film to react to social problems and crises. The horror genre itself is also confronted with an enormous mania for interpretation that extends across several scientific disciplines. Analysts tend to put their disciplinary background first and interpret all sorts of hints into a horror film. However, it is questionable to what extent a normal recipient has these skills and reads a film according to such specifications. Within this thesis I would like to try to keep an appropriate balance between the subjectivity of a recipient and the scientific objectivity without feeding the investigation of horror films with too many interpretations. The development should be considered on the basis of exemplary horror films that reflect the broadest possible diversity of the genre. These are analyzed based on what they represent and how they represent it. This view can be better understood with screenshots of the corresponding film examples. In the following notation, the first title of the film corresponds to the designation in Germany; the original title, the director and the year of publication are given in brackets. In order to clarify the course of this development parallel to that of society, it is divided into phases and also made comprehensible via a fold-out timeline, which can be found in the appendix to this work. In addition, I limit myself to the relevant countries in which horror films are produced and disregard those nations that are less popular for their films. Although the horror films produced in Asia can increasingly also reach a western audience, they are neglected in this view. The focus is on the historical development of society in the western industrialized nations and on those horror films that they produced shortly after the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries until today. In the following, the horror genre itself will be examined in more detail, also taking into account other media besides the film.

2 The horror genre

The exact sketching of the horror genre turns out to be relatively problematic. First, the horror genre tends not to draw clear boundaries to other genres. There is a give and take between the different genres: horror often makes use of the repertoire of comedy or science fiction and is often associated with thriller. In return, these and other genres also adapt the specific elements of horror. Second, the genre has proven to be enormously diverse in itself and has produced quite a few, strongly differentiating sub-genres. Thirdly, the genre does not actually allow it to be viewed rationally. Horror is based on subjective perceptions and emotional states. And fourthly, the horror genre in particular is constantly developing. It grows with the political, economic, social and cultural changes in society, pushes into new spheres of prohibitions and taboos, or every now and then regains a bit of innocence.

What distinguishes the genre, however, is the millennia-long fascination of people for horror, showers or horror. This extends across almost all areas of art and culture. Horror is not only evident in literature or in film and television, but also plays an important role in the visual and performing arts, in music as well as in the computer game industry. It is difficult to clearly characterize the genre, but those works that rightly bear the predicate “horror” come together in one point: They specifically try to evoke emotions such as fear or disgust in the recipient. Horror turns the familiar, ideal world upside down - the idyll is shaken and chaos breaks out. In short, horror is “the most radical conceivable negation of an ideal world” (Vossen 2004, p. 10).

In the following, despite the above-mentioned obstacles, I would like to try to shed light on the horror genre, especially the horror film, based on the specific characteristics and to explain what the fascination with horror can be based on.

2.1 Terminology and definition of horror

The term horror has passed into everyday use in German and English and is therefore not only used to designate a sub-area in art and culture. When we say something was "the horror," we can express a whole range of emotions. We usually use this to rate events or situations as unpleasant.

Etymologically, the word comes from the Latin horror and means the whole range of horror, horror, stare and shudder (see wiktionary.org). Initially it was the medical term for chills. Similarly, the verb horrere stands for to stand (as it can be the case with hair). The actual conception of the term represents the connection of an abnormal physiological reaction to a state of feeling. Furthermore, the French word horreur stands for horror and disgust; in English, horror is equated with horror, horror and horror. Accordingly, horror does not, as in our everyday language usage, describe certain situations or events per se. Rather, it is about what triggers this kind of thing in the person concerned. Horror is therefore “a state of consciousness of people who are exposed to certain situations and react to them in a certain way” (Baumann 1993, p. 30). When we subjectively experience such situations, we are faced with fear, horror, horror and disgust. As soon as we want to describe the triggering conditions, we can say that they are frightening or terrifying. “What is special about horror compared to the individual terms into which it can be translated is that it does not become absorbed in them, but only grasps them in their entirety. [...] The only German term that is similarly comprehensive is that of horror ”(ibid.). The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm write the following about horror in their German dictionary: “Corresponding to the meaning of the verb on which it is based, gray [...] predominantly describes the feelings of disgust and fear that cause an external or (and) internal shudder accompanies [...].the relation of the word to the object of horror [...] is considerably less common on the other hand ”(The German dictionary by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, cf. germazope.uni-trier.de). Accordingly, horror and horror largely coincide in terms of their meaning. Baumann, however, still makes the distinction that horror only means those reactions that are "triggered by fictional representations [...] - as horror, on the other hand, the reactions to the real horror", whereby the experience of the protagonist within a fictional horror story also as Horror can be described (Baumann 1993, p. 31). The distinction between horror can also be found in the English specialist literature, either due to reality or fiction: Carroll, for example, distinguishes the natural, real "horror" from the artificial, fictional "art-horror" (cf. Carroll 1990, p. 12 ). However, the fictional horror can also be based on actual events in our reality and reproduce the real horror as fiction.

This clarification of terminology now makes it easier to approach a definition of horror as an art genre. As already mentioned, horror is not an aspect of describing facts, but a whole range of emotions that are triggered in the individual who is confronted with these facts. In the case of the horror genre, the recipient can experience emotions such as fear and disgust through certain content and modes of representation via a medium, primarily literature and film. Horror is therefore defined by the affect it tries to provoke in the audience. Works can undoubtedly be added to the horror genre if their producers produce those works with the intention of evoking such emotions in the recipient. In doing so, they use a mostly standardized repertoire of symbols that increases fear and disgust in order to force the recipient to participate emotionally. The latter, in turn, finds himself in a constant dilemma at reception: He has to choose between seeing and not wanting to see, between hearing and not wanting to hear, between reading and not wanting to read, because on the one hand something is there and on the other hand must not be there (see Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 66). And finally you end up with the question of what fascinates the audience so much about horror: Why do you feel like being afraid and disgusted? However, I would like to elaborate on this paradox later.

As a form of art, especially the fantastic, the horror genre is not bound by the laws of reality either. Accordingly, the genre would have “an inexhaustible supply of topics, it would consist of innovation, imagination and invention. But exactly the opposite is the case ”(ibid., P. 45). Horror uses a comparatively small selection of the same, myth-based themes, but it combines and varies them enormously or adds a new component. This is based on the fact that the emotions of the recipients are based on social experiences, and since these "are constantly changing, new objects must always be invented - or old ones modified - in order to create projection surfaces for current threats" (Baumann 1993, p. 287 ). That is why horror is one of the most versatile art genres of all.

If you look at horror on the basis of its theme, you can see that the works of the genre play with opposites. Two poles, be it good and bad, order and chaos, the real and the unreal, the secret and the uncanny, always collide, slide into one another and remove their borders. In contrast to our real reality, the unreal can materialize in horror - it takes on an image, a face, a shape. Even if the recipient gets involved in the artificial reality in an emotional way, horror as part of the fantastic needs “the 'ironic' distance of its consumer, who must not confuse his images with statements about 'reality'. In principle, it must be viewed as 'art', that is, something artificial ”(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 60). In this artificial reality, however, the unreal or the supernatural must be both impossible and possible. "If it were utterly impossible, it couldn't be described in a way that the recipient could understand" (Baumann 1993, p. 173).

Horror, limited to the media of literature and film, can be defined using a simple grid: “Horror in film and literature is based on the fact that central characters initially live in a world that is normal and ideal from their perspective. The horror always appears in the form of a process that is extraordinary from the point of view of the character and the audience, which sensitively threatens the ideal world in which the character finds himself and is beyond his control ”(Ramge 2006, p. 240, cf. retro-park. de). There are other methods by which writers approach the definition of the horror genre, mostly with the result of the vagueness that remains. While Ramge only refers to the level of content and neglects aesthetics and emotional impact, Carroll, for example, only starts from the affects of the recipients, which are triggered as soon as they are confronted with the monster of fiction. In doing so, however, he largely restricts his definition to a myth of horror. This only shows how difficult it is ultimately to outline the horror genre precisely and universally, despite its popularity. The definition of the term horror remains in the sphere of relativity.

2.2 Classification in the fantastic and differentiation from other genres

As already mentioned, horror as a genre can be counted as part of the fantastic. With the fantastic, the boundaries between fantasy and reality are blurred. It is now becoming reality what we have previously considered fantastic, what is actually not allowed to exist as a result of our experiences. According to Baumann, fantastic fiction can primarily be linked to the fact that “the laws of nature and society do not apply unconditionally to it” (Baumann 1993, p. 98). Nevertheless, in the horror genre, the world of fiction is largely congruent with the world of our reality, that of the recipient - with the exception of one decisive disturbance. This congruence is the prerequisite for the recipient to be able to evoke emotions. If something takes place contrary to our nature in our or the fictional world of the same rank, we describe it as supernatural. If we now label an event as supernatural which took place in the fictional, our real world, it can no longer be called supernatural, to be precise. It happened in our world that made it a natural event. Ultimately, only the causes of the event can be supernatural (cf. ibid., P. 100). And that is precisely what constitutes horror, as Baumann also states: “And with horror, after all, it is often the causes of facts and events that can only be explained by the supernatural, i.e. the unknown, that cause the uncanny. The disruption of the empirically expected is fundamental for the genre ”(ibid., P. 101). In addition, it is quite typical for fantastic fiction to play with the interpretation by the recipient. He always remains to logically explain what he has read, heard or seen as something of natural origin. It could still turn out to be a dream or madness. Carroll writes about the fantastic literature: “And, because these possibilities are left open in the story, the reader cannot settle for the supernatural interpretation. Rather, the reader suspends judgment between the naturalistic and the supernatural explanation ”(Carroll 1990, p. 146).

What separates the horror from the other fantastic, especially in literature and film, is the reaction of the protagonists to the impossible and supernatural events. These people encounter such incidents with confusion, panic, disgust and fear. Baumann sums it up aptly: “Horror is a genre of fantasy in whose fictions the impossible becomes possible and real in a world that is largely the same as ours, and where people who are similar to us also respond to these signs of the fragility of their world Reacting horror ”(Baumann 1993, p. 109).

And this fragility distinguishes horror from other genres. When it is no longer necessary to make the impossible happen in the context of the fictional world, we are not dealing with horror, but with fairy tales. “In the fantasy of the horror genre, in contrast to fairy tales, the wonderful does not exist as salvation or redemption; the wonderful (the inexplicable) is the problem of the genre ”(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 60). So while the fairy tale always offers the recipient a happy ending, horror also allows evil to prevail. In addition, the horror genre does not need a legitimation for violence, in contrast to the fairy tale, in which the conditions for violence are still given, for example by using it as a deserved punishment for an evil act. Just think of the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm about Snow White, whose stepmother danced herself to death in red-hot shoes at the wedding after she had poisoned Snow White.

Horror largely adopts the natural laws of the real world, whereas in fairy tales as well as in science fiction and fantasy these laws are more or less abolished. And for this reason, the fictions of these genres hardly have a frightening effect on the recipient, since the depicted world with all the deviating laws does not reflect his real world. The fantasy genre shows a world that is not identical to ours in terms of time and space. Strictly speaking, fantasy stories cannot be categorized in time or space; the social structure does not necessarily correspond to our experiences either. The protagonists can be human or human-like and often appear to have come from the world of legends. The best example is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. “In the worlds of fantasy, the supernatural is not the exception, but the rule. [...] Seen from the outside, fantasy is full of miracles - seen from the inside, for the heroes, there are none, since the intervention of the supernatural is part of the natural fictional world order ”(Baumann 1993, p. 157).

Similar to fantasy, science fiction also regards the supernatural as natural. However, science fiction assigns supernatural events that take place in this fictional world to the abnormal, as these are identified “as a result of the natural disruption of a known law of nature or, in the borderline case, as the effect of a previously unknown” (ibid., P. 158). Thus, science fiction consistently provides sometimes more, sometimes less comprehensible explanations for such a transgression of experience.

In contrast to science fiction and fantasy, the thriller has in common with the horror genre that both are set in a world that corresponds to our reality. The supernatural does not play the role of a really existing power in the thriller and is not considered as such. And like the horror genre, the thriller also strives to trigger certain emotions in the recipient and thus makes use of our pleasure in fear. Horror and thriller are similar in their narrative style, whereby the play with tension is in the foreground. This tension is supposed to be generated by specific effects. However, the threat presented is always - unlike in horror - due to human causers, who are mostly far removed from any normality and whose actions result from psychological defects such as perversion or obsession. The thriller is hardly about clarification, such as B. in crime literature and films, rather than the process of this threat, which allows the recipient a glimpse into the psyche of the protagonist or antagonist. Even more than fantasy or science fiction, the thriller is on the verge of horror and there is often a lively exchange of genre-typical elements. Sometimes the elements of both genres are mixed together in such a way that their combination has resulted in a sub-genre of its own: the horror thriller. For example, a film like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (Psycho, 1960) turns out to be ambiguous with regard to its assignment to one of these genres.

The fact that a clear assignment of the works to horror or its neighboring genre often proves to be problematic and that many works adapt the elements of horror is due to the fact, as Baumann aptly states in the field of films, that horror as an emotional state is “not a characteristic is that runs through a work from the first to the last scene consistently and in the same form ”(ibid., p. 154). And so the horror produced countless crossover offspring with the most varied of genres: from crime thriller and western to comedy and pornographic representation.

2.3 Characteristics of the horror genre

Although a concrete delimitation as well as an exact definition of the horror genre have turned out to be almost impossible to achieve, I would nevertheless like to try to clarify the specifics of the genre in the following. I will also go into more detail in the chapter on horror and fear, in particular the mechanisms that the genre has on its audience. As already mentioned, the horror genre is not limited to literature and film. Few art genres have spread as widely and across media as that of horror, which is not least due to the fact that horror can be generated on the verbal and non-verbal as well as on the visual and auditory level. It is therefore worth mentioning those media in which motifs of horror can also be found. However, in contrast to literature and film, horror has hardly established itself as an independent genre here.

Excursus: horror in other media

In the field of fine arts alone, especially painting, dozens of artists could be enumerated whose works, even if only remotely, represent something horrific. Examples are the enigmatic paintings by Hieronymus Bosch (around 1450 to 1516), which mostly show a gloomy, grotesque and visionary world. Like a nightmare and with a tendency towards the fantastic, the temptation of Saint Anthony from the Triptych Antonius Altar reflects a humanity that has turned its inner evil outwards (see Fig. 1). In the unreal, ruined landscape, creatures cavort that seem to be a cross between animals, objects and people. Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) also created works in the last years of his life that contain motifs of horror, such as B. The sleep of reason gives birth to monsters or Saturn devours his son (see Fig. 2 and 3). As an artist of our time, H. R. Giger influenced the horror genre in general and especially that of horror films with his paintings and sculptures. For some films, Giger provided drafts of the eerie monsters, such as Poltergeist II - The Other Side (Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Brian Gibson, 1985) or Alien - The uncanny creature from a strange world (Alien, Ridley Scott, 1979) as part of his Alien Monster series (see Fig. 4). His frightening motifs come from an unreal world of biomechanics. "Giger's tools and his technical way of working provide an excellent basis for the depiction of horror, as their blurring allows the viewer to project their own fears into the voids of the organic-mechanical chaos" (Baumann 1993, p. 169).

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Fig. 2 Hieronymus Bosch: Temptation of Saint Anthony

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Fig. 3 Francisco de Goya: The Sleep of the Ver from the Triptych Antonius Altar (1505/06) Reason gives birth to monsters (1797/98)

Comics of the genre, especially entertainment comics, or EC Comics for short, from the 1950s have become less popular in Germany than in the USA. In these stand-alone stories like Tales from the Crypt, the boundaries could be exceeded that the horror films of that time still had to adhere to.

Furthermore, horror also plays an important role in computer games. Some first-person shooter games embed the player's fight in a horror story, as in Doom 3 (id Software) from 2004. However, a sub-genre of its own has already emerged in the computer game industry: that of survival Horrors. In this game genre the player has to survive the attacks of monsters with the help of various weapons and additionally solve certain puzzles in order to advance the plot of the game. More recent examples of this survival horror are Resident Evil 4 (Capcom, 2005) or Silent Hill 4 (Konami, 2004).

Terrifying content can also be found in music. While the reference to horror is less obvious in classical pieces of music, there are innumerable lyrics that tell of monsters, blood and various nightmarish scenarios. These elements often serve as a means of metaphor, as the example of Squank from ZZ Top shows: “Woman, grab your children, run and hide. Don't let it catch up with you. You gotta fight it to tay alive,

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Fig. 4 H. R.Giger: Alien Monster IV (1980s)

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Fig. 5 Francisco de Goya: Saturn devours his son (1819)

and if it gets you, man, you're through. It smells so rotten and rank. Well, everybody calls it the squank. It's sick, depressin ', gettin' bigger all the time. Don't help it any way you can. It's gray and brown and sometimes lime and it's spreadin 'all over the land [...] "(magistrix.de).

Such examples could now be continued indefinitely. It should be noted that the horror genre is not limited to literature, film and television, but extends over many areas of (entertainment) culture. Nevertheless, these media “fringe groups” of the horror genre should only have been mentioned here. I would like to focus this work on fictional horror in the medium of film, with horror literature also playing a role in the following.

2.3.1 The uncanny according to Sigmund Freud

In order to approach an answer to the question about the lust for horror, it is worth taking a look at Freud's 1919 treatise on The Uncanny. This should prove to be instructive insofar as it has to be clarified why horror can also be produced in humans through fiction. Although these psychoanalytic considerations according to Sigmund Freud do not deal specifically with the phenomenon of horror, they can nonetheless be seen as one of the most fundamental investigations into the subject of fictional horror. Freud regarded the uncanny as a separate area of ​​fear psychology and tried to apply his psychoanalysis in this regard to literature, including the novel Der Sandmann by E. T. A. Hoffmann. At this point it should be mentioned briefly that Freud's psychoanalytic way of interpreting a literary work has been criticized many times. It can only be a sign of naivety to regard fictional persons as living people and thus, metaphorically speaking, to lay them on the couch of the psychotherapist. The psychological investigation of the fictional in Freud's sense, which is often excessively practiced, should therefore be treated with caution. Here, however, his reflections on the uncanny will be in the foreground and not their psychoanalytic application.

On the basis of his etymological examination of the concept of the uncanny, Freud comes to the conclusion that the “uncanny [...] is that kind of frightful [is] that goes back to the well-known, long-familiar” (Freud 2005, p. 230). This relatively paradoxical conclusion is based on the ambivalent meaning of the opposite secret, which on the one hand means the homely and the domestic, i.e. the familiar, but on the other hand also everything that eludes our eyes, what is strange and secret, i.e. the hidden . As a result, the secret becomes almost identical to the uncanny. And so Freud states that the uncanny does not represent anything strange or new, but rather as "something that has been familiar to the soul from ancient times, which has only been alienated from it through the process of repression" (ibid., P. 254). This suppression of the familiar is made unclear by the prefix.

For the horror genre this means that the horror can only be made indirect through the familiar, which is particularly evident on the visual level, especially in the medium of film. That which triggers feelings of fear and disgust in us, this uncanny, appears formless, but needs shaping and forces the producers of the horror to concretise it. “And it becomes concrete again in the form of the familiar, because we don't have any other material. So in the end we are not afraid of the unknown, but of the fact that it could turn out to be just as terrible as the known ”(Baumann 1993, p. 231). And even if there is no need for a visual appearance, as in literature, the principle remains the same: what makes the formless unknown become horrifying and what gives it a form is what the recipient projects onto it, namely the horrific, suppressed Familiar.

Regarding the uncanny, Freud makes two important remarks. On the one hand, feelings towards the uncanny can be overcome from generation to generation. What still frightened people decades ago, because some of them also believed it to be reality, can mostly be explained rationally today. This hint will turn out to be relevant for the following investigation into the development of the horror film. On the other hand, Freud points to the fundamental differences between the uncanny of reality, what one experiences in real life, and that of fiction and fantasy. These two aspects should always be viewed separately from one another. According to Freud, the uncanny of fiction is “far richer than the uncanny of experience, it includes this in its entirety and then also other things that do not occur under the conditions of experience. [...] The result, which sounds paradoxical, is that in poetry there is much that is not uncanny that would be uncanny if it happened in life, and that there are many possibilities in poetry to achieve uncanny effects that are lost in life ” (Freud 2005, p. 264). However, he also confirms that the boundaries between the reality of the recipient and the fiction easily blur when the poet or any other producer of the fiction has “placed himself on the ground of shared reality. Then he also takes on the conditions that apply in experience for the emergence of the uncanny feeling, and everything that appears uncanny in life also has the same effect in poetry. But in this case the poet can also increase and multiply the uncanny far beyond what is possible in experience ”(ibid., P. 265). And that is exactly what applies to the modern horror film, in which the horror no longer takes place in the old, distant ruins and castles, but comes directly from a world that resembles our reality.

2.3.2 Archetypes of Horror

But what is the uncanny thing that scares us so much? Which objects and beings do the makers of fictional horror fall back on in order to serve them scalding warm on the plate of our fears? A list of all the individual horror motifs could fill several volumes and remains condemned to be incomplete as long as there are creative horror producers. There are innumerable attempts to classify the typical motifs, which I would like to present in extracts in the next paragraph. Before doing this, it is worth taking a look at the actual basic forms of horror. Baumann identified five different archetypes of horror that represent the main fear-inducing components of myths: evil, the old, the strange, the dark and the emptiness (Baumann 1993, p. 288ff.). They are the original framework on which the motifs of horror are built and correspond to the fears that are deeply anchored in us. These primal fears are rooted in the evolution of mankind and have been part of our perception since childhood (see Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 31).

Fictional horror as the creation of indirect horror affects us because the makers of horror expose their protagonists to horrific situations. Their experiences as well as the feelings that are triggered are transferred to us at the reception. The protagonists react to something that is impossible within their world of experience and actually shouldn't be. And it becomes horror because it happens against the expectations of these characters and, to a large extent, against our own expectations. So it results from the recipient's identification with certain protagonists that the horror can affect him at all. As a rule, it does not happen that the protagonists, who are intended for identification, fight against the good. In this respect, evil is one of the fundamental archetypes of the horror genre. It can appear in all possible variants, whereby the horror does not stop at the innocence of the children, as for example in Das Omen (The Omen, Richard Donner, 1975), in which little Damien as the son of Satan does his mischief . The absolute manifestation of evil is the physical existence of the devil. Founded in Christian mythology, Satan emerges from the otherworldly place of punishment - hell - and brings with it all sorts of signs such as animal plagues when he appears personally or that of his messengers. The concept of hell and the devil has been continuously developed in the history of the horror genre and adapted to the respective epochal conditions of society and its affinity for cruelty. The modern horror film hardly uses the figure of the devil anymore, but prefers to transport evil into the minds of the protagonists.

Another basic form of the horror genre represents the old. The connection to the past is made “through the reference to the sunken ancient cultures, which is brought to light and there unfolds new, malicious life” (Baumann 1993, p. 293). So it is the present that is threatened by the old and their connection is often expressed in antiquarian or archeology.

The foreign can be summed up as everything with which we cannot find anything in common. The further it is from our imagination, the more difficult it is to characterize this alien. “The horrific is also horrific because we lack the concepts to grasp it” (ibid., P. 294). And in doing so, as already stated in Freud's examination of the uncanny, the unimaginable is constructed from elements of the familiar. The fear of the stranger arises from the lack of predispositions for common communication. When we are faced with something strange, we do not know which signs point to a threat. Thus “we are in a constant state of excruciating tension and nervously wait for occasions to flee or defend ourselves. It is difficult to imagine that the absolutely strange could be friendly. In the best case, it is amoral [...], which does not mean that it has an evil morality, but rather it has none at all that can be measured by our standards ”(ibid., P. 295).

Similar to the archetype of the alien, darkness also terrifies us because of its indeterminacy and indescribability. This fear is objectless in that we are not afraid of the dark itself. We are only afraid of the objects that might hide in it and come out. If we find ourselves in the dark, we lack any visual reference to our environment, which only frightens us even more. For the medium of film, however, it is difficult to make use of this lack of reference. The film lives from the images and can only torment its viewers temporarily with the darkness.

In contrast to the visual nothingness of darkness, emptiness encompasses the absence of any stimulus for all of our senses. In the void, the orientation left in the dark by the ground beneath the feet, by smells or noises is no longer necessary. All options for action are still open to the subject, but the environment is lacking. So it can only perceive itself in the void. This archetype also refuses to be used via the medium of film. “The emptiness reveals the absolute lack of reference of the human being and as such cannot be described or represented visually. Only the subject in its reflection, which is completely thrown back on itself, remains as an object. [...] The threat is less that something could materialize out of nothing [...], but rather the void as a threat is directly identical to itself ”(ibid., P. 298).

Baumann adds to these archetypes of horror that of everyday life, which, according to him, have also crystallized in recent decades, especially within modern horror films. The horror increasingly springs from a world that resembles our everyday life. This again refers to Freud's theory of the uncanny: the real horror is evoked by the familiar.

2.3.3 Classification of the motives of horror

Fictional horror draws on the basic forms mentioned, which correspond to our primal fears, and on this basis has produced a multitude of motifs which materialize the uncanny and give it an appearance, a form. The fictions are often similar in their narrative style, but vary the horrific motif. Many theorists and authors of the horror genre themselves have tried to summarize and typologize the different forms. However, a generalizing and unambiguous classification of these motifs proves to be extremely problematic. On the one hand, it stands to reason that the subdivision would have to be supplemented by constant further development. New productions produce new patterns that may be difficult to classify in an existing cluster. On the other hand, certain works of horror could dance out of line because they combine several motifs with one another or cannot be assigned to any existing group of motifs. This may largely be related to the fact that the horror genre has presented itself as relatively diffuse within its definition and genre delimitation. Anything that cannot be precisely defined automatically eludes a correct assignment.

For this reason, the authors of these motif classifications do not even insist on their completeness or general validity. Rather, they should serve to shed at least some light into the darkness of the almost infinite number of horror works from literature, film and television. Some of these classifications of the beings and objects of horror are presented below. Classification according to Lovecraft

The American writer HP Lovecraft (1890-1937), one of the most important representatives of fantastic literature, dealt with the stereotypes of horror literature in his “Notes on the Writing of Eerie Stories” and lists them among other things (cf. Lovecraft 1989, pp. 255ff .):

1. Buried seemingly dead
2. The spawn of mortals and demons
3. Doubling of personality
4. Discovery that the apparently dead man is alive
5. Membership in the devil cult of witchcraft
6. Psychological residue in an old house - ghost
7. An elemental is summoned
8. Ghostly revenge
9. A dead man rises from the grave to drag his murderer away or to punish him
10. When an ancient being is excavated, a hostile shadow attaches itself to the digger and ultimately destroys it.

Lovecraft keeps the groups of motifs relatively specific and narrowly delimited. Its classification is not universal and many, especially newer works of horror would fall out of its grid. However, Lovecraft worked out these crucial themes as early as the beginning of the 20th century, when the horror film had not yet established itself as a genre and thus only referred to horror literature. From today's perspective, this classification can only be applied to the greatest possible extent to classic horror literature and films. Classification according to Armstrong

Armstrong also makes a similar classification, with his "seven basic horror themes" being much more general in their formulation than was the case with Lovecraft. Armstrong distinguishes between (see König 2005, p. 24 quoted in Armstrong 1971):

1. Insanity
2. Things from other planets
3. Monster created by madmen
4. The occult
5. Things from this planet
6. The undead
7. Metamorphoses

Strictly speaking, these main motifs represent the basic plots of fictional horror. Armstrong's classification allows one of the topics to allow for different storylines. However, the motifs could already have been chosen too generally, so that there could easily be overlaps or very many differences in the associated horror fictions could be revealed. While the various Frankenstein films can be classified relatively easily into the third category, it is a bit more difficult with a film like The Exorcist (The Exorcist, William Friedkin, 1973). After all, the film unites elements of the occult as well as those of metamorphosis. Classification according to McKee

McKee's classification, which relates to the rational or irrational explainability of the fictional phenomena from the perspective of the recipient, is very general (cf. McKee 1999, p. 80):

1. Uncanny
2. Supernatural
3. Super uncanny

"Uncanny" means the uncanny. This can be explained rationally within fiction. In contrast, there is the supernatural, which McKee understands as an irrational phenomenon from the spirit world. In the case of horror, which can be assigned to the last category, the recipient has to weigh up between the first and second motif. McKee's de-image grid, however, is very wide-meshed, even if it allows him to include all the different motifs of the horror genre. He has generalized the essential motives, whereby the fictions with the most varied topics and directions are inevitably combined into one topic. Classification according to Seeßlen and Jung

Seeßlen and Jung also try to classify the various motifs of horror. It should be noted here that they conceptualize horror through the myth of the half-being. They describe the half-being as the multicultural and multi-epochal desire of people to transcend their own existence.The myth is based on the fact that humanity has not been able to (survive) without its fears across all times and cultures since its inception. “Only through this universality of fear can it be explained that the same or very similar myths of half-beings have developed in different peoples, independently of one another and sometimes without any apparent similarity of cultures” (Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 18 ). The origin of the myths lies in individual and ethnological development processes. According to Seeßlen and Jung, they result from the symbiosis of mother and child as well as of man and nature. In the spirit of Freud's psychoanalysis, the authors see horror as a relapse into childhood developmental stages, with the half-being on the one hand as a means of threat and punishment for the children by the adults and on the other hand being an expression of the id that follows impulses, in contrast to the super-ego that tries to comply with rules and regulations. On the basis of this myth of the semi-being, the following basic thematic patterns can now be identified (see ibid., P. 46ff.):

1. The artificial man
2. The monster
3. Beings that are not dead and not alive
4. Beastmen
5. Doppelganger
6. Witches

With this classification, too, the problem of compatibility with modern horror arises. The topic typology according to Seeßlen and Jung largely reflects only those motifs that can be found in classic horror. The role that these half-beings have played here can only be transferred to modern horror insofar as it picks up on the classic forerunners, reflects them and constantly develops them further. Many theorists of the genre quarrel with the concept of the semi-essence as the sole characteristic of horror and contradict the claim of the semi-essence of general validity given by Seeßlen and Jung. Baumann, for example, writes in this regard: “This concept is not wrong, but it is an unreasonable reduction; not only the objects of fear that appear within the genre, but even the narrower area of ​​unnatural animatedness in the form of anthropo- or zoomorphization ”(Baumann 1993, p. 287). Classification according to Baumann

Baumann himself tries to classify the motifs in such a way that they allow an assignment of gothic as well as modern horror. He takes up existing typologies and finally shows the following relevant basic topics (cf. ibid., P. 301ff.):

1. Dark forces
2. Dead and undead
3. Monster
4. Weird objects and depraved places

According to Baumann, the dark forces are the demons, gods, anti-gods and witches who break into the fictional world as the supernatural. From this they were often summoned with or without intent to do their evil work. The connection to the occult and the satanic is relatively close. It is not all too seldom that these dark forces take possession of the protagonists and their bodies.

Like other authors, Baumann takes up the motif of the dead and undead, which are between life and non-life, such as vampires, zombies, mummies and ghosts. In doing so, especially in the more modern horror, they mostly show all those "aesthetics" that the natural decomposition brings with it.

The vampire is one of the most widely used motifs in classic horror films, although it can also be found in modern horror in a more developed form. The myth of vampirism, of the blood-sucking creatures, has not only existed since Bram Stoker's Dracula of 1897, but already appears in Greek mythology. However, the vampire motif only became famous with Stoker's novel. It refers to the historical figure of the Romanian prince Vlad Tepes with the nickname Dracul, who was notorious for the cruel impaling of the opponents in his campaigns. The typical thing about the vampire is that he has to suck up the blood of the living in order to maintain his own undeadness. Once a character has been bitten by a vampire, it is infected with vampirism itself. The symbol of vampirism as a contagious disease can therefore hardly be dismissed out of hand. Seeßlen and Jung see the motif of vampirism, in Freud's psychoanalytic manner, the “denatured form of love”, whereby the vampire himself “becomes the mediator between male and female eroticism and defines it as a relationship of violence and oppression”. (Seeßlen / Jung 2006, pp. 70f.). The long teeth of the vampire represent the male phallic symbol. In contrast to the zombie, however, the vampire cannot get rid of his reason and remains as an individual suffering from his desires.

Zombies “are - better: were - normal people without a special social background; on the contrary: in their decomposing, putrid existence they form an incredibly democratic community of equals. Any individualism is alien to them, they appear as a crowd ”(Baumann 1993, p. 307). Resurrected corpses and full of listless, dumb aggression, zombies are in search of human flesh to satisfy their hunger. The reason for their revenant existence is traced back in the fictions to adverse, mostly seemingly constructed reasons. Their variety of actions is just as limited, which means that their destruction by the hero or heroes causes little pity. The banality of this mass of zombies is interpreted by many authors as a metaphor for real society and its consumer addictions.

In contrast to the vampires and zombies, who appear in full physicality, ghosts are particularly characterized by their immateriality and lack of substance. Nevertheless, the horror genre gives them a certain degree of influence on the material. The concept of ghosts through horror, especially horror films, has changed a lot. While the classic horror gave the ghost a visual representation by means of white sheets, the modern horror film plays with invisibility and makes the viewer believe in the presence of a strange being through other phenomena.

The concept of the half-being by Seeßlen and Jung now applies to the special motif of the monster. Mostly the monster, the monster, forms the unity of the human and the non-human, whereby the latter often refers to something animal, to the animal instincts. But the animation of non-human, especially inorganic things, such as cars and other objects, is also part of the monster motif, according to Baumann. It is primarily about the creation by man himself, because the “focus of this group of motives lies less in the non-human components of the created beings, but in the process of their animation - it is about man who, with unlimited arrogance, plays the role of God wants to take and creates life on its own ”(ibid., p. 310). The most famous motif of the artificially created monster is the creature of Frankenstein. This theme has pervaded the horror genre since Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus from 1818. In the classic horror film in particular, the material reappeared in a slightly modified form. It is about the creature of Baron Frankenstein that, after its creation, developed its own will, whereby it “originally was a being full of innocence, which only gradually became evil and destructive through the encounter with various 'character masks' of society becomes ”(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 52). The werewolf is also a popular monster motif in the horror genre. It is characteristic of the werewolf that it is actually a human being who, through special circumstances, usually the appearance of the full moon, transforms himself into a wolf-like animal guided by his instincts and gives up all his usual social behavior. During this temporary victory of the id over the superego, the werewolf tears up and murders his fellow human beings, but after he has been transformed back he can no longer remember such deeds. From the motif of the werewolf there are other forms, e.g. B. the doppelganger motif of the split identity Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other forms of metamorphosis. The isolated body parts, which develop a life of their own, even after their separation from the body, occupy a marginal position of the monster motif. The essence of the monster is ultimately always characterized by the fact that something human is transformed into something non-human, or vice versa. This process of de- and anthropomorphization forms the core of the monster in the horror genre. And this process is what scares us: we can still recognize a piece of the familiar human behind the evil, animal and non-human appearance through certain behaviors or appearance. Likewise, the other way round, the animal and the nonhuman are hidden behind the human facade and yet flashes out. And so man himself becomes one of the scariest monsters in the genre. While the classic horror film still hides its human monsters behind a mask, in the modern horror film the bad people disguise themselves behind other social identities. And this in turn throws the view back on the recipient, on his environment, on us: the monstrous in horror frightens us because it is familiar to us - it slumbers in our real environment and also in ourselves.

In addition to these motifs, the horror genre also uses eerie objects and places. The mirror is one of the most disturbing everyday objects in fictional horror. Mirrors "open up a world for us that is identical to our experience, in which we can even be found to be ourselves - which is nevertheless completely inaccessible to us because the interface cannot be overcome" (Baumann 1993, p. 322). And so there are countless stories in the horror genre in which the mirror becomes the gateway to a world that differs from the world in front of the mirror. It is similar with images, which in horror usually have a meaning through their depicted image. In this way, the image itself can become the reality of fiction, or what is shown can change to announce the coming disaster. This can also be conveyed through the written word, for example through a book. The list of items that horror is all too happy to use and that have achieved such a symbolic character could go on and on. In addition to the objects, the locations in the horror genre often have a deeper meaning. Especially in classic horror, it was the places where horrific events had taken place that affected the characters and influenced their actions. Many places also acquire an uncanny life of their own, whereby they are often a reflection of what is rumbling around in them. The house in particular became a popular motif in the genre - houses that are haunted or that want to change or even devour their inner workings. The horror scratches our perception of our own reality, in which the house is the place that symbolizes and guarantees the safety and security in the family.

2.3.4 Horror storytelling

In addition to these basic motifs, the characteristic of the horror genre is also characterized by a special narrative style. As part of the fantastic, fictional horror is also characterized by the fact that it only shows a small piece, a section of the world. It has to be clearly defined - places and characters have to be able to establish themselves. The uncanny can only happen within a manageable microcosm. And so the total view of things is alien to the genre, it rather plays with perspective. While this is expressed in horror films through the preference for half-close and close-up shots, a passion for detailed descriptions of the manageable has developed in horror literature. And like the spatial, time in the horror genre also loses its claim to absoluteness. Time ceases to “develop linearly; it becomes a medium of cyclically repeating events [...] The unity of time in the horror genre is recurrence ”(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 63). Because of this reorganization and playing with time, the medium of film in particular has discovered the genre for itself.

So although horror does not make use of the normal conditions of space and time, it still remains extremely logical. Every “logical leap destroys his fascination. In staging horror, it is only allowed to override some very specific axioms and laws: the difference between animate and 'dead' appearances, between humans and animals, between the past and the present ”(ibid.). If, for example, the difference between what is experienced and what is thought is questioned, the genre shifts to the field of psychological horror thrillers. Another characteristic of horror is that there are no coincidences. Things and events are shaped by determinism and often even rise to the level of symbolism. And without coincidence, the presence of the uncanny can also be better accepted by the recipient. Even if he cannot see it right in front of his eyes, he is at least nourished with clues that point to the uncanny. Ultimately, horror can only work if the audience accepts its rules of the game and engages in them.

2.3.5 Development of the horror genre

In order to examine the development of horror film, it is worth taking a quick look at the development of the genre before the beginnings of film. The genre did not begin with the horror literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. Here, however, the genre has been shaped in terms of subject matter and ornamentation in order to become the entertainment genre that it is today. First of all, I would like to go into the demarcation of the gothic from the modern horror. The former shaped the classical period in the development of horror films. Gothic and modern horror

The distinction between Gothic and modern horror does not so much concern the chronological classification of the works, but rather their tendencies in terms of content. However, especially in the history of horror films, it becomes clear that from the middle of the 20th century, more and more people developed a preference for modern horror. But what exactly is the difference between these two aspects of horror?

In Gothic horror, the uncanny happens in a world that is as far removed as possible from one's own, that of the author and the audience. This was precisely the case with the early forms of horror literature that emerged primarily in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. The gothic novels stemming from German romanticism then coined the term gothic horror. The Gothic has nothing in common with Gothic as a stylistic epoch in European art history. It describes the special ornamentation of late romantic horror literature - a visual language that paved the way for the reader to a bygone, seemingly medieval era - with old castles and ruins, weapons and robes, skulls and candles. The term originated very early in the English-speaking world, initially also meant the reference to the Middle Ages, but had the undertone of the barbaric. In the 17th century, the Gothic was synonymous with the Germanic systems of rule and even a negative collective term for all North Germanic tribes. With the increase in the number of gothic novels, the term again had a very positive connotation. Gothic horror is characterized by the distance between its fictional world and the real world of the recipient; He goes from “the present to the past, from the bourgeoisie to the nobility, from the city to the lonely castle, from the self-less mass people to the perverse super-ego of the monster [...]. Readers and viewers will not encounter this world in their everyday life; you have to want to get there, traveling, reading, dreaming ”(ibid., p. 33). Interestingly, this form of horror reached its climax precisely at the time when a phase of renewal had dawned: during industrialization, bourgeoisisation and the dawning of capitalism. And so the gothic novels had their audience especially in the ranks of the skeptical petty bourgeoisie, who could not believe in progress and turned away from the enlightenment consciousness. Carroll refers to the four different forms of Gothic horror that emerged during its heyday: the historical, the natural / explainable, the ambiguous and the supernatural horror. "The historical gothic represents a tale imagined past without the suggestion of supernatural events, while the natural gothic introduces what appear to be supernatural phenomena only to explain them away. [...] The equivocal gothic [...] renders the supernatural origin of events in the text ambiguous by means of psychologically disturbed characters ”(Carroll 1990, p. 4). The greatest influence on the later development of the genre had the motif of the supernatural in the horror literature, which represented the existence and cruel mode of action of the unnatural forces in an unadorned, figurative way. Contrary to this gaze of Gothic horror towards the non-everyday, modern horror focuses on the contemporary and everyday world. The uncanny appears from a reality that is similar to our reality. There is no longer any distance, the reader or viewer no longer has to go into this other world, they are already in it. Modern horror can hit anyone at any time.Two tendencies can be distinguished within the modern branch of the genre. For one thing, it is the old that invades the new world. It means the return of what has already been repressed, that reappears in the middle of society. On the other hand, society gives birth to a new horror out of itself. This modern eerie could live undetected among us.

Since the 1980s, another line of horror has developed, which has just revealed itself in horror films: postmodern horror mixes the aspects of the gothic and the modern, more precisely it plays with this mix. “It is no longer just about the boundary between the everyday and the fantastic [...], but also about the boundary between fictions of the first and second category. In a certain way, postmodern horror can be seen a little in the cards, only to then show an even more amazing trick game. Postmodern horror plays with the knowledge of readers and viewers and can rely on the fact that even the "seen through" myth will still have an effect "(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 34). From ancient mythology to horror films

The fascination with the uncanny has not only existed since the beginnings of English horror literature or horror films. Rather, film and literature as media helped the genre to flourish. The desire to be scary and the enthusiasm for the uncanny is, however, much older - it can be traced back to several millennia. Their origins lie in mythology, literature and the theaters of antiquity. During excavations in the Greek city of Eretria, an ancient theater (around 370 BC) was found that had an important peculiarity: Through an underground vault, eerie figures could enter the stage from below during a play in order to scare the audience effectively (cf. . König 2005, p. 14). But only the ancient Greek and Germanic mythology proves that the uncanny has always been an integral part of human culture. There are numerous examples of the uncanny in myth. One only has to think of the monsters that the gods of Greek legends had to face, e.g. B. Hydra, a nine-headed monster from the swamps, which could destroy everything with its poisonous breath and whose heads grew back twice after being cut off. Homer's Odyssey from the 8th century BC BC, for example, also tells of ghostly deceased people, although Homer portrayed this as largely undramatic. The first beginnings of the uncanny in literature can also be seen in Lukian's conversations with the dead, the Nekrikoi Dialogoi (2nd century AD). In William Shakespeare's dramas Hamlet (1602) and Macbeth (1606), ghosts have an important influence on the plot.

Horatio Walpole provided the decisive impetus for the development of his own literary genre in 1764 with the novel The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Novel, which gave the genre its name. The audience of this time hungered for more and more sensations and so Walpol offered a multitude of horrific elements with his horror novel, such as a creepy castle, a ghost and a cursed villain. At the turn of the century the gothic novels had their boom: between 1790 and 1818 over 300 gothic novels were published in England (see Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 51). The new genre was extremely popular. Ann Radcliffe wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), establishing himself as one of the most important authors of horror literature and captivating with a mixture of rationality and romanticism. In 1795 Gregory Lewis published his novel Ambrosio, or The Monk, in which the motif of the doppelganger appears for the first time. The protagonist's consciousness is split and shows up at night, when he no longer lives in chastity, but lets his urges and lust for murder run free. With Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus from 1818, one of the most important motifs for the genre of a monster is born that has experienced countless revivals in the history of horror. Shelley did not base the monster on malice as an immanent quality, but only allowed Frankenstein's creature to develop its own evil will through the confrontation with humans.

The vampire novels formed a subgenre of Gothic literature. The stories about the bloodsuckers became particularly popular because they addressed people's fear of death in this epoch and represented an expression of love-hate relationships with the old and the irrational (cf. ibid., P. 53). In a society in which emotions were no longer welcome in the course of the Enlightenment, it was easy for the uncanny of fictions to be absorbed by the audience with fascination. John William Polidori's The Vampyre is considered the first literary example to take up the myth of the vampire and was created in 1816 out of a poetic competition with Mary Shelley. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu described in his story Camilla from his collection In a Glass Darkly from 1872 the story of a vampire who desires a woman. In contrast to Polidori, the motif of the vampire in Le Fanu receives the component of the tragic destroyer. The most important vampire novel for the horror genre was written by Bram Stoker in 1897. As the climax and one of the last gothic novels, Dracula emphasizes the eroticism within the motif and for this reason became a scandalous success. Stoker's novel combines traditional legends and the historical events surrounding the tyrannical prince Vlad Tepes. The vampire Dracula can be seen as a historical, moral and erotic metaphor - as a representative of the fallen class of the nobility, as a murderer and as a seducer. Stoker had largely discarded the romantic tendency that the earlier gothic novels still carried. Through this novel, Dracula became almost synonymous with the vampire, also because he appears again and again in the course of the history of horror. The internet film database counts over 150 films that are about this one blood-sucking count (see imdb.com). Dracula has gained enormous popularity and has become immortal, not just because of his vampire existence.

In Germany, during the boom in gothic novels in the English-speaking world, numerous authors also dealt with the scary and uncanny. In the times of the Enlightenment, stories about ghosts were particularly popular here. Within Romance, which rejected a rationalist worldview, attempts were made to sensitize the public to the opacity of the world. Worth mentioning are Ludwig Tieck's Der blonde Eckbert (1796) and Heinrich von Kleist's Das Bettelweib von Locarno (1810). However, E. T. A. Hoffmann proved to be a master of ghostly stories. While his novel The Elixirs of the Devil from 1815 was still very much influenced by the English horror literature, the Night Pieces bore his own signature. In his eerie stories he was inspired by scientific and transcendental philosophical ways of thinking, even if he did not believe in them himself. An alienated world like the one Hoffmann portrayed can also be found in the works of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, whereby Poe placed the psychological situation of his characters in the foreground. His most important works include The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1843).

In the course of realism, the literary genre of horror literature, with exceptions such as Stoker's Dracula, had a relatively difficult time and no longer found the same fascination with the audience as at the turn of the century. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that literature about the uncanny experienced a revival, in Germany, for example, by Hanns Heinz Ewers with his stories Das Grauen (1907), Die Besessenen (1908) and Alraune (1911). Now the fantastic has been almost domesticated by a more realistic representation. The gruesome elements were also very popular in drama since the end of the 19th century. From 1899 onwards, the Théâtre Salon in Paris only performed horror and horror pieces. Since the dawn of cinema, the horror genre has found its niche in film and has become increasingly important here. The new possibilities of depicting the uncanny compared to the written word could no longer be dismissed out of hand and wanted to be tested by the directors.

2.4 The horror film

The desire to let yourself be put in horror voluntarily also has to do with the fact that it is a pleasure to portray what is terrifying, but even more so to look at it. And there is no need to look for evidence for this in fiction - it is presented to us almost every day in our own reality. Just take the simple example on our highways: we are stuck in a traffic jam and as soon as we get closer to the bottom of it, ours can

Don't take your eyes off it. We see blue lights, a terrible accident and our eyes are magically drawn to what is happening. I would like to come back to this phenomenon of sensationalism later.

Of course, there is still a considerable difference between reality and fictional representation. After all, we, the recipients, are not directly involved in the happening of fiction and generally view it as outsiders. We are aware that we cannot intervene in the course of things. At most, our only option is to break off reception - close the book, leave the cinema, or turn off the television. When enjoying fiction, we can be sure that the fictional horror cannot enter our own world, but only achieve its effect through language or images and sound. However, literature and film differ greatly in the way they are received, especially in their credibility: “Since we have experience in claiming the non-existent with words, that is, in lying, but less approving of doing the same with the help of images we are far more likely to reproduce reality unadulterated ”(Baumann 1993, p. 91). Compared to literature, film is far better able to express the uncanny realistically, which sets it apart from all the media possibilities that the horror genre has. “The film illuminates the appearance of the horrific that we otherwise encounter in the dark, turning the unimaginable in reality into an object on display” (ibid. Quoted in Kracauer 1974). While the reader is dependent on the narrator's commentary, especially on emotive descriptions, the viewer of a horror film can get a clear picture of the depicted horror, less filtered and influenced by the perception of an author. Here, however, lies the drawback of the horror film compared to the written word: the cinematic forces what is represented to become concrete. What can still be vaguely described in a literary narrative and thus animate the imagination of the reader is given a clear appearance in the film, which is based on the subjective imagination of the director. Since the uncanny in the film is much more indirect, it can only be really terrifying as long as it is not shown in its entirety and its image emerges in our imagination. What the medium of film has ahead of literature are its technical and dramaturgical possibilities. The camera can take on different perspectives and thus also change the viewer's point of view within the event, so that we can experience it in its entirety. The horror film then plays a game with identification: we are no longer just silent observers, but can also see with the eyes of the victims or with those of the evil one.

2.4.1 Sub-genres of horror films

Various sub-genres have emerged within the horror film genre, but like the horror genre itself with other art genres, these are difficult to distinguish from one another. The main differentiating criterion is the type of representation and hardly what is shown. In the latter, the sub-genres would reflect the motifs of horror, which allows horror films to be classified, but on a different level. Many of the horror films refuse to be assigned to one of the following subgenres or are in their limit areas.

From the point of view of the youth protectionists and critics of horror, the family of horror films produced a black sheep with all those films that deal with the destruction up to the total dissolution of the body - even celebrate it. The human body becomes the object of real interest. This harsh and aggressive horror turns the innermost part of the body to the outside and in this extreme corporeality no longer seems to know any taboos or limits. The fascination of these films for the interior is reflected in the terminology. While the sub-genre of gore, English for blood, puts the clotted blood and the putrefaction of the body in the foreground, the splatter movie shows the act of tearing and dismembering itself and how this causes the bowels and Humidity leaks out of the body. In contrast to the splatter, in which the body is dismantled into its individual parts like a butcher, the slasher genre prefers the almost surgical penetration of a sharp weapon into the body. This form of horror film, which was particularly popular in the 1970s, only touches the fantastic on its fringes. “As a rule, it is limited to the justification of the terrorist being, a masked, defaced, unfounded evil that comes over people through contact with a magical object, as the rebirth of old demons or as an expression of sick family novels, in order to treat one with care and imagination Committing a series of murders that obey not so much a dramaturgy as a kind of composition ”(Seeßlen / Jung 2006, p. 757). On the one hand, the perpetrators are overpowering, evil and non-dying psychotic beings whose return is almost guaranteed. On the other hand, a striking slasher movie has emerged in which the uncanny in the form of a selectively killing serial killer is hidden behind a mask and the question of his identity drives the tension upwards. The important starting point for this subgenre was Halloween - The Night of Horror (Halloween, John Carpenter, 1978), on which many subsequent slasher films were based. Often the protagonists and victims in the films are still quite young, which is why they are also referred to as teenage slashers. This had another boom in the 1990s with Scream - Schrei! (Scream, Wes Craven, 1996). All three forms of the physical horror film hardly give a reason for the cruel happenings on the bodies. So it's not about the cause, but about the form of violence.

In the sub-genre of exploitation, certain taboo topics are downright exploited in order to satisfy the viewer's thirst for sensation. Such films mostly show a combination of horror and sex (sexploitation), abuse of women, ethnological minorities, e.g. B. Blaxploitation with Afro-American protagonists or historically justified taboo topics such as National Socialism (Naziploitation). All too often, the films of exploitation slide down to the level of cheaply produced trash and thus could not really find a wide audience.

Horror likes to combine with other genres. A very popular crossover of the horror genre includes the horror comedies and parodies. They only serve subliminally the goal of the horror film, to put the viewer in fear. As a special form of humor, the joke in the horror comedies arises from the knowledge of the characteristics and the rules of the horror genre. The viewer can experience this very vividly in Roman Polanski's Dance of the Vampires (The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1966), in which the motif of the vampire with its classic aspects is intelligently parodied. With a less clever joke, but quite successful, the current Scary Movie series (Scary Movie 1-4, Keenen Ivory Wayans, David Zucker, 2000-2006) satirizes several horror films at once. The humor in these films is based almost entirely on slapstick and fecal punch lines.

As already mentioned, the thriller genre is very close to that of horror. As a crossover of these two, the horror thriller deals with the components of the psychological and the uncanny in equal measure. Most of the time, evil embeds itself in the protagonist's psyche as an alien force, for example in Shining (The Shining, Stanley Kubrick, 1979).

The genre of psychological horror is to be considered separately, in which the uncanny is not clearly shown, but acts as a subjectless, diffuse threat and only takes place in our psyche and the protagonists' psyche. Only certain indications point to the existence of this uncanny; its appearance remains veiled, e.g. B. in The Blair Witch Project (The Blair Witch Project, Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, 1998).

2.4.2 Aesthetics of the horror film

In order to be able to frighten the viewer, the horror genre not only needs the uncanny as a content aspect, but also - and especially in horror films - the level of horrific aesthetics. What literature has ahead of the medium of film, the latter has to catch up through its aesthetic and technical possibilities. Due to the forced concretization of the uncanny in horror films, the viewer does not need any further powers of imagination.In contrast, the language of literature has it easier to remain ambiguous and thus allow the uncanny to emerge in the mind of the reader. The medium of film counteracts this decisive disadvantage with its acting skills. In order to trigger the feelings of horror in the audience, the horror film makes use of the possibilities on a dramaturgical and visual level. In addition, it has a decisive advantage over the written word: the design on the auditory level. And so the horror film makes use of our ability to hear not only through language, i.e. dialogues and voices, but also through music and noises in order to scare us or make us shudder.


End of the reading sample from 158 pages