This essay links to my coursework because I have produced two print articles for Media Magazine and Heat magazine. This relates to the key issues around Horror in my essay because I have produced a review for a newly released Horror film written by a break through female writer Lena Dunham and an interview with writer.
In this essay I will be exploring the key issues around Horror as a genre and how horror has engaged its audience into watching remakes of previous Horror films. The key theories I will be using are the audience affect theory, Karl Marx dominant and genre theories. The reason this is relevant to media in 2012 is because within the last five years there has been an increase in the number of horror films that have been remade. For example, A Nightmare on Elm Street was remade in 2010 The Thing was remade in 2011, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was remade in 2009, The Last House on the Left was remade in 2009, Friday the 13th was remade in 2009, it was produced on an estimate budget of $14 million, a sum that doubled during its opening weekend and brought in over $64 million worldwide. Halloween was remade in 2007, it was produced on an estimate budget of $15 million, a sum that doubled during its opening weekend and brought in over $80 million worldwide. I want to understand why audiences and producers are so fond of horror.
Genre films have a repertoire of elements. This is the set of ingredients which the audience expect to see. “Genres are no longer seen as sets of fixed elements but as working with repertoire of elements or fluid systems of conventions and expectations.” The Horror films are a genre that aims to create a sense of fear, panic, alarm and dread for the audience. These films are often unsettling and rely on scaring the audience through a portrayal of their worst fears and nightmares. Horror films usually centre on the arrival of an evil force, person or event. Horror films have stayed in step with audience’s fears and have updated technology to stay relevant to modern cinema audiences.
I will explore a brief history to show how this is true. The Horror film Nosfeatu 1922 that was directed by Murnau was based on a book 115 years ago, this book was the most popular book at the time except from the bible. At the time Nosferatu was released, Germany was economically and socially devastated after the World War 1 by an outbreak of fear for disfigurement and rats. [i]The vampire Count Orlok is rat-like in appearance and it isn’t surprising that the audience of the time responded to a monster that represented invasion and infection. At the time technology hadn’t developed. There was no sound, colour or editing, the film consisted of a slow still camera and was narrated like a book. However audiences were afraid and this set the conventions for the genre.
In 1958, a teenage remake of Dracula was released by the production of Hammer Studios which was inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel. The representation of women had changed, as society had become more tolerant of sexualisation of women on screen, this is demonstrated in the film by the camera travelling up the woman’s body in close up. The technology had developed which meant this film consisted of more advanced camera movement, a voiceover, colour, sound effects and there was text on the screen. The fear of Dracula was the same. Countless remakes all featured the man or bat seducing women in an isolated setting.
In 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula film had developed once more which meant it included point of view shots, nimble cameras, extreme close ups, and the sound and editing had become much more sophisticated. This high budget Hollywood production also included Stars which indicates that Horror had become main stream. “As a symbol the vampire can be successfully reinvented and rediscovered by each generation to mirror their fears…