The horror genre has a huge impact on its audience with characteristics that are recognisable through generic techniques and features used in the various horror texts. In Van Helsing; a film directed by Stephen Sommers, Cirque Du Freak, a novel written by Darren Shan, and Thriller, a song by Michael Jackson, many horror gothic features and techniques are applied and are easily recognised to help anyone understand the horror genre more clearly. It is usual in horror texts for there to be a conflict between good and evil characters, dark and spooky settings, and a suspenseful build-up that causes tension for the audience and makes them wonder what might happen next.
Van Helsing is about a troubled man who dedicates his life to rid the world of evil forces as he tries to hunt down the unanswered questions of his past. He finds himself on a quest in Transylvania to kill Dracula and prevent the continuation of his kind, along with Anna, a brave woman whose family has been killed by vampires for over 400 years. Dracula is a powerful and dangerous character who is immediately regarded as the antagonist from his first word, “success!” It is enhanced by a loud boom of thunder to create shock and an element of excitement for the audience and marks Dracula as a threatening and frightening character. Monstrosity is likewise displayed through Frankenstein’s character when we are introduced to him. We are given three close-up shots of his eyes, hand, and yelling mouth which makes the audience think that he is this gruesome creature when he is only just misunderstood.
Many times in the film, we see gothic architecture such as Dracula’s castle and the Church of Notre Dame. In the scientist’s lab we see lights flickering and sparks flying violently - typical in many horror films with evil scientists; this is implemented to make the lab look dangerous and out of the ordinary. The horrific features of Van Helsing are expressed vividly while Van Helsing and his sidekick, Carl, are travelling to Transylvania by horse. Extreme and exaggerated weather is created through a snowy and mountainous backdrop; a stereotypical horror genre feature accompanied with fast-paced, adventurous orchestral music that perfectly exemplifies the dangerous journey that is being undertaken by the two brave men. The audience gets a glimpse of a gothic, castle-like structure through an extreme long shot, and are positioned to think that is their protagonists’ destination. The travelling camera depicts the long distance being travelled and the helplessness of man compared to the overwhelming volatility of nature.
The horror genre cannot be interpreted in any other way that it is made to be. The composers can make you feel a certain way about something by simply using particular techniques that are unmistakable when observed closely. For example, a feeling of entrapment is shown when Van Helsing and Carl are being surrounded by villagers with pitchforks. Another example is when Dracula is trapped by the werewolf form of Van Helsing and then tries to bargain with him as he knows he is caught and will be defeated. Blood and gore is another feature in many horror texts that makes it easier to recognise the horror genre. This is presented when Dracula is killed and all of his children consequently die and burst out as a ghastly green gooey substance.
Cirque Du Freak is an entertaining novel about the terrifying adventures of two young boys, Darren Shan and Steve Leonard. Their troubles begin while attending a freak show, and are acquainted to Mr Crepsley, also known as Vur Horston; a vampire who has been running the Cirque Du Freak secretively for hundreds of years. Monstrosity is a key horror element presented through many of the characters in Cirque Du Freak such as, the wolf man, the snake-boy, Gertha Teeth, and Madam Octa – an abnormally large, rare, and highly venomous performing spider. Like Frankenstein, many of the freaks in the Cirque Du Freak…