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Jørgen Riber Christensen

Related: film criticism - horror films

Text below sourced with permission at http://www.hum.aau.dk/~riber/HorrorFilm.htm. Copyright Jørgen Riber Christensen


Jørgen Riber Christensen is a Danish professor.

The History of Horror Film

Gothic Horror: 1910-1930
The films deal with deformed creatures and monsters, which roam non-naturalistic surroundings. The supernatural. Influenced by expressionism in painting. Germany. Silent films.
Stellan Rye, The Student from Prague, 1913.
Paul Wegener, The Golem, 1920.

Robert Wiene, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1919.
F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu, 1922.

Monster terror: 1930-1940s
The commercial breakthrough of the genre in Hollywood. The Universal Studios. Sound. The mad scientist, who releases forces he cannot control. The Freudian division of the mind into the Id and the Super ego. Individual destinies.
The classics from the 30s were later parodied, and also re-used in the explicitly violent Hammer films.
Tod Browning, Dracula, 1931.
James Whale, Frankenstein, 1931.

Karl Freund, The Mummy, 1932.
Cooper and Schoedsack, King Kong, 1933.
Robert Mamoulian, Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1932.

Techno horror: 1950s
A whole society is threatened by an external threat. The cold war and the nuclear threat inspired to invasions from space or attacks from mutated species. Science fiction. Low quality. 3-D.
Don Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.
Gordon Douglas, Them, 1954.

Jack Arnold, The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957.
Jack Arnold, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954.

The psychological thriller: 1960s
Realism which is characterized by mentally disturbed main characters. Sexual themes. No longer good vs. evil, but healthy vs. sick.
Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho, 1960.
Roman Polanski, Repulsion, 1965.
Michael Powell, Peeping Tom, 1960.

The occult thriller: 1970s
Evil is placed outside the human mind. The existence of the supernatural. Fear of children and childhood.
Roman Polanski, Rosemary's Baby, 1968.
William Friedkin, The Exorcist, 1973.

Catastrophe films: 1970s
The depressed 70s repeated the catastrophe films of the Depression in the 30s. The collective catastrophe. Natural disasters or disasters caused by corruption or technology. The transformation of anxiety caused by the crisis into concrete fear.
John Guillermin, The Towering Inferno, 1974.
Steven Spielberg, Jaws, 1975.

Splatter movies: 1980s
An accumulation of visually detailed violence in realistic surroundings. Evil is invincible. Sex is punished with violence. Thin story lines.
Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 1974.
John Carpenter, Halloween, 1974.

Sean Cunningham, Friday the 13th, 1980.

Terror films: 1990s
The psychological thrillers from the sixties are revived, but now with more stress on violence, influenced by the splatter movies. Psychopaths or serial killers in realistic environments, not supernatural monsters.
John McNaughton, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, 1990.
Martin Scorsese, Cape Fear, 1991.
Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs, 1991.

Postmodern horror film: from 1980s onward
The violence of the splatter movies is ironically surpassed. Almost genre parodies or horror comedies, but only to the dedicated cult audience. Intertextuality and metafiction.
Sam Raimi, Evil Dead, 1983
Peter Jackson, Bad Taste, 1987

Wes Craven, Scream, 1997
Ricardo R. Moreno m.fl., The Blair Witch Project, 1999

--Text sourced with permission at http://www.hum.aau.dk/~riber/HorrorFilm.htm. Copyright Jørgen Riber Christensen

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