The Appeal of the Horror Genre

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The horror genre has many lessons to teach us as an audience although being the genre most connected with that of ridiculousness. It is regularly associated with the reaction it seeks from its audience; both emotional and physical. In cinema success is measured by terrifying chills, bloody deaths and the volume of the audiences scream. The appeal of horror narrative in literature, film and theatre lies in the pleasures it associates with fear, suspense and terror; no matter what it is trying to convey to the audience. Even when writers layer the genre with academic thoughts on psychology, theology and the world in which we live in, horror remains the primary outlet to examine the notions of dread, uncertainly, mysterious and the abject.

Psycho (Hitchcock 1960), with its shocking bursts of violence and provocative sexual explicitness, tested the strict censorship boundaries of the day as well as audiences' nerve. This filmed changed the way the horror genre was seen. Prior to 1960 the genre was dominated by monsters and mythical creatures with Hammer productions dominating the market with Frankenstein and Dracula films. Hitchcock was known as being the ‘master of suspense’ and in Psycho decided to make the horror villain human rather than monster. Norman Bates, the central character in the film, was an awkward, gently-spoken young man reluctantly running the declining family motel and caring for his abusive, invalid mother. This was far from a monster the audience were used to seeing on screen. As the film progresses the audience are asked to see it from his point of view and Hitchcock toys with their sympathies in a way mainstream horrors hadn't done before. Psycho is credited with launching the "slasher” movie and re-inventin...

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...s attraction but soon she begins to show him that in fact she can replace his wife (in the scene where she is becoming friendly with his wife in front of him) and a mother to his child (in the scene where she takes his daughter out for the day without her parents’ consent). His rejection towards her earns her the title of ‘bunny boiler’ (as she does exactly that) and sets the phrase into a modern day metaphor; but audiences attending the London production have been told that the rabbit’s departure will still feature.

As a qualitative research project I would aim to explore key issues in the adaptation of significant horror texts from Literature to film and then onto stage; whilst trying to gain an understanding into the cultural phenomena of horror. Adaptation theory will be one of the fundamental theories to analyse my question as a means to fully comprehend the
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