2. There are numerous
subgenres within the
These subgenres have been more and more prominent in recent
years and have allowed the genre of ‘horror’ to expand in both
size and both popularity. As society has changed over the years,
audiences have demanded more from the limited amount of
horror that was available to them – they began to tire of the
recurring conventions and storylines and demanded new ways to
be terrified. This was especially prominent after the 60s, where
society underwent huge changes and incorporated radical new
ideas, and the usual constraints on what could be classified as a
‘horror’ were weakened. Ultimately, this led to the emergence of
subgenres such as....
‘Slasher’ movies were one of
the first subgenres to emerge in
the ‘Golden Age’ of horror.
Although slasher films were in
production and released in the
previous decade, they began to
achieve mainstream popularity
in the 1970s, largely due to the
films Halloween and Friday the
13th. Whereas previous horrors
focused on events happening in
the distant past, with creatures
and mutated humans serving as
the antagonists, slasher films
took place in the present day,
with real humans serving as the
psychopathic killers. By using
locations audiences were
familiar with – such as
suburban neighbourhoods, or
isolated cabins in the woods – the
films played on their domestic
fears by making the horror
depicted in the movie actually
seem possible. Indeed, some
slashers were released as a
warning to audiences about the
dangers of casual sex, which was
becoming hugely popular after the
era of the sexual revolution in the
60s. This further played on the
audiences fears, as those who were
the most unruly or ‘wild’ in the
films, were often the ones to be
killed first, in the most graphic of
ways. Furthermore, slasher
movies were the first mainstream
films to feature strong scenes of
gore and violence.
6. CONVENTIONS IN A
1. A group of naive teenagers interested in
only sex and being disorderly, with one
member of the group who serves as the
intelligent virgin, the antithesis of her
friends. She will survive to the end.
2. The killer is masked, with a signature
weapon at hand, and seemingly has no
3. The film is set in an isolated location,
often away from any help, which the
killer uses to pick off the characters one
4. Final cat and mouse chase with the
killer, with an unresolved ending.
ARE THEY IN
Yes – Laurie Strode is the
hardworking, virgin teenager
who manages to survive while
each of her friends –some who
are engaging in sexual activities
– are brutally murdered.
Yes – Michael Myers carries a
knife at all times and wears a
stolen Halloween mask. He kills
No – Although the action takes
place at night, it is in a
suburban neighbourhood, with
surrounding neighbours and
the police attempting to help.
Yes – Although believed to be
dead, Myers is still out there.
Towards the end of the 1970s, audiences were being
presented with more and more supernatural films.
Although the concept of the supernatural had been
prominent since the very first horror films – such as the
vampiric antagonist in Nosferatu – these new
supernatural films moved the horror closer to home. At
the time, many noted authors such as Stephen King were
playing with readers’ perception of reality, forcing them
to find terror in everyday experiences that may have
whole other meanings. Supernatural horrors such as The
Thing and The Fog brought forward a new type of
supernatural horror, where the threats seemed very real,
especially due to the emergence of realistic special effects
at the time. Filmmakers began to realise that perhaps the
greatest fear is the fear of the unknown, and therefore
used these films to make the unknown a part of audiences
lives, designed to scare them for days after the film had
finished. Poltergeists, ghouls, demons – the quality of
these supernatural films made them real to the audience.
9. CONVENTIONS IN A TYPICAL
ARE THEY IN THE
1. A family moving into a new house/area, where the
majority of the film will take place.
2. The supernatural presence reveals itself to one of
the characters early in the film, and none/few of the
characters believe him until the very end, where it is
3. Otherwordly creatures, such as ghosts, phantoms,
or demons, will appear, but are often misunderstood.
4. There is likely to be a twist at the ending, where the
threat is seemingly vanquished but returns in some
way or another.
No – the action takes place over a
variety of locations, and is not
triggered by the arrival of a new area
Yes – Cole is plagued by these visions
throughout the film, but everyone
except his psychologist believe he is
delusional until the end, when the
twist has already been revealed.
Yes – As Cole can communicate with
the dead, many ghosts can be seen,
although they are not all threats.
Yes- the film is celebrated for its final
twist, which changes the life of his
Towards the end of the 1980s, audiences began to tire of the same old formula of death, gore, and hauntings, and
began to demand a new, intelligent kind of horror movie – one that would intellectually stimulate them, as well as
terrify them. In general, the quality of films were starting to improve, with more thoughtful blockbusters being
made, and a greater amount of philosophical content being injected into films. Horror filmmakers realised that they
needed to match this demand for more, and with the release of films such as the silence of the lambs in the early
1990s, audiences were hooked on a new kind of horror – the one that takes place inside your own head. These films
proved that humans were perhaps the biggest monsters of all, and used an entirely new set of conventions to
provide the audience with unexpected twists, thrills, and scares.
12. Conventions in a typical psychological
1. There are a variety of complex characters; each grappling
with their own personal issues and contributing heavily
towards the plot.
2. The killer appears to be like everyone else but is mentally
deranged, and there is often a motive behind his killings.
3. A variety of plot twists, red herrings, and false suspects will
be utilised throughout the film, before a final scene where the
killer is either removed or kills everyone.
4. Flashbacks and glimpses into the past allow the audience
to decipher why the killer is the way he is.
5. The police/outside authorities often become involved, but
are usually either disbelieving, useless, or killed off.
6. Isolated locations are used so the focus can remain solely
on the killer, with elements of mystery and deception regularly
recurring throughout the plotline
In the shining
1. Yes- the son of the killer is gifted
with supernatural abilities, and so
does the chef.
2. Yes – The hotel ghosts prompt
him to kill his family as he begins
to lose his mind.
3. Yes/no – Due to the limited
number of characters, there are no
false suspects or twists, but the
killer is eventually frozen in a final
4. No – the killer is driven mad by
the forces working within the hotel,
and the isolation he experiences.
5. Yes – The police cannot come to
help, as the roads are blocked, and
the chef who returns is brutally
murdered with an axe.
6. Yes – the entirety of the film
takes place in an isolated hotel. As
the characters explore this hotel,
they find details of the past
traumas that have occurred there.
Gothic was first introduced in the 1930s and 20s as it provided a harsh
contrast to the reality that most people of the time were experiencing
– with vampires, ghouls and monsters serving as the main antagonists.
However, as the fears of society began to evolve, the popularity of the
subgenre began to decline until the end of the century, when Hammer
Film Productions – known for producing some of the most well-known
Gothic horrors of all time – was purchased and rekindled as a major
competitor in the production of horror movies. Since then, films such as
Sleepy Hollow and The Woman in Black have taken viewers back to
Victorian times, into darkness, hauntings , and monsters. Gothic horrors
often base their plotlines and antagonists on myths and legends of
15. CONVENTIONS OF A TYPICAL
1. The antagonist is usually a
creature/supernatural entity derived from
an old legend or folk tale.
2. The characters within the film often dress
extravagantly, with clothes from the
Victorian era being a popular choice of
3. The atmosphere is consistently dark/grey
and often scenes of lightning or heavy fog
are used to give the film an eerie feel.
4. There is a way to banish the evil, whether
it is an ancient weapon or spell.
5. Haunted houses, castles, villages –
IN THE WOMAN IN
1. Yes – the woman in black is a common tale
in the local village, and many try to avoid
where she used to live.
2. Yes – the main character is shown in the
Victorian attire of a waistcoat and long black
coat throughout the film.
3. Yes – the house, where the majority of the
films scares take place, is consistently bathed
in an all-consuming fog, and many of the
scenes are filmed at night.
4. Yes/no – the woman is appeased by the
return of her lost child, but not banished.
5. Yes – the majority of the film takes place
inside a haunted house.