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European horror

Parent categories: Europe - horror

The tropes used in British gothic horror and in titles such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera continue to inspire contemporary fiction. As the cinema started to replace the novel as main source of fiction in the course of the 20th century, there have been a number of trends: starting in the 1920s there was German expressionism, from the sixties onwards there was Italian horror and British Hammer horror The golden age of European horror was largely a thing of the past by the 1970s. When people stopped believing in god, they also stopped believing in the devil. So evil was no longer an external beast. Evil became a part of man himself. This explains the shift of popularity from the horror to the genres of thriller, psychological thriller and psychological horror since the 1950s. [Nov 2006]

Contrary to the American horror film, the killers/murderers in Euro horror are often female! [...] There are many instances where (a) the victims are exclusively or mainly male, and (b) the male victim/hero is sexually attracted to the female killer, not repulsed, as with the monstrous-feminine, and hence there can be no disavowal of her femininity. --after Donato Totaro, http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/final_girl.html [Oct 2004]

It wasn't long ago that the idea of seeing a Lucio Fulci film outside its natural habitat of the urban grindhouse or the obscure home video would have been too ridiculous to believe. But recently goremeisters and mondo artistes like Fulci, Mario Bava, Umberto Lenzi, Jess Franco, and Dario Argento have become almost respectable, lovingly feted in pristine-print retrospectives and samplings at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles and — heaven forefend — New York's Museum of Modern Art. --Gary Morris, http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/32/eurohorror.html

Titles: Dr. Caligari - Dracula - Frankenstein - Phantom of the Opera - Nosferatu

Italian horror: giallo - Italian horror

Directors: Dario Argento - Mario Bava - Jess Franco

Actors: Klaus Kinski - Barbara Steele

Related: Grand Guignol - Midi Minuit Fantastique (magazine) - Euro 'trash' - German expressionism - Hammer horror - lesbian vampire - nunsploitation

Maschera del demonio, La/Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]

Count Orlok from
Nosferatu (1922)

Orlacs Hände (1925) - Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) - Robert Wiene [Amazon.com]

Danza Macabre (1964) - Antonio Margheriti as Anthony Dawson
image sourced here.

Early milestones

The horror genre in film is nearly as old as film itself. The first exploration of supernatural events appear in several of the silent shorts created by film pioneer Georges Melies in the late 1890s. The earliest horror-themed feature films were created by German filmmakers in the early 20th century, many of which were a sigificant influence on later Hollywood films. Paul Wegener's The Golem (1915) was seminal; in 1920 Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was both controversial with American audiences, due to postwar sentiments, and seminal in its Expressionistic style; the most enduring horror film of that era was probably F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), the first vampire-themed feature, an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_film#Early_milestones [Jul 2005]

1970s European horror

In the 1970s, there was an explosion of horror films in Europe, particularly from the hands of Italian filmmakers like Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, and Spanish filmmakers Jess Franco, José Larraz and Jacinto Molina (aka Paul Naschy), which were dubbed into English and filled drive-in theaters that could not necessarily afford the expensive rental contracts of the major American producers. These films generally featured more traditional horror subjects - e.g. vampires, werewolves, psycho-killers, demons, zombies - but treated with a distinctive European style that included copious gore and sexuality (of which mainstream American producers overall were still a little skittish). Notable national outputs were the "giallo" genre from Italy and late-period Hammer Horror from the UK. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_film#1970s:_Sexual_Hangups_and_Schlock [Jul 2005]

European Nightmares – An International Conference on European Horror Cinema

June 1st – 3rd 2006
Manchester Metropolitan University, MIRIAD

There have always been close associations between Europe and horror. Horror cinema can be traced back to its European origins in Georges Méličs's Le Manoir du Diable (1896), and is epitomised in the figure of Dracula, a monster notoriously anchored in a European context. Conceived by an Irish writer and based on Romanian myths and folktales, the narrative of Dracula (1897) is a journey through Europe. It was first filmed as Hungarian director Károly Lajthay’s Drakula Halála (1921) and a year later in F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922), whilst actors ranging from the Hungarian Bela Lugosi to the British Christopher Lee have made the character a cult-figure.

European countries have often been the setting of horror films, and they are also the places of origin for a number of highly creative horror film directors, ranging from artistic approaches such as the Expressionist films of Robert Wiene, to surrealist horror films such as Luis Buńuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929). Directors such as Dario Argento, Roman Polanski, Nicolas Roeg, Alex de la Iglesia and Stefan Ruzowitzky have produced more popular approaches to the genre. Alongside new developments in European horror films, there are also significant developments in their theorisation, such as the application of work by Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek, Jean-Luc Nancy and Alain Badiou.

This conference, conceived by the Centre for the Study of Images, Narratives and Cultures (MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University) in collaboration with Cornerhouse (www.cornerhouse.org), will offer a platform to explore differences and similarities between European horror traditions, and particularly encourages submissions which use new ways of theorising and thinking about horror. Papers are sought that offer explorations of individual European directors (from early directors such as Stellan Rye to contemporaries like Neil Marshall); of horror film as a national symptom; of the comparative analysis of different horror films; of horror production in countries that are less associated with the genre; and of close analyses of individual horror films. Critical methodological tools might include historical and/or contemporary theoretical explorations, and might explore horror films from European silent, art-house and short films to popular, box office and B-Movies.

Papers may address a wide range of topics relevant to the focus of this conference including, but not limited to, the following:

--http://www.miriad.mmu.ac.uk/visualculture/inc/nightmares/ [Nov 2005]

Euro gore & horror

When it comes to gore filled extravaganzas - the Europeans have really done it all. Even to this day, with extreme films like Man Bites Dog, the vast Euro Trash field is the place to look for over the top movie experiences.

The European horror film is probably the one genre that has gotten most censorship attention in various countries over the years. The British had their big go(and are still at it!) at "video nasties" some years ago where films of such Euro masters as Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Umberto Lenzi quite predictably were banned outright. In Sweden there was a similar case of "moral panic" in the early eighties, where censors started out on Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre moving on to banning films that had "infected" the video market, Zombie Flesh Eaters , Eaten Alive, City of The Living Dead, to name but a few. Perhaps in the long run though this kind of publicity has helped in establishing these films and their directors among film fans around the world. Not that the world need more censorship crazes but without those mentioned, there would probably be a lot less of Euro Gore and Horror afficionados out there. And truly that would be sad because the European horror film has seen some very good films over the years. --Kristoffer Gansing, http://www.algonet.se/~krig/gore.html [2004]

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