Define or describe the following terms and their importance to the history of the American science fiction and horror genre:
1) Expressionist film in Germany is a part of the Expressionism movement in the country of 1920ies. This was a period of the silent movies and their main feature was the theatrical look in the films. The actors used painted, dramatic scenery and exaggerated make-up, which is commonly used in the theater. The changes in the German art were reflected in the sets, which had high contrast between white and black, different geometric shapes were used, all of which created exaggerated light and shadow. Although this movement did not last for long, it had significant impact on film makers from different countries.
2) Dracula of 1930 was inspired by the novel written by Bram Stoker and it is significant to the history of the American cinematography, as its main character, Dracula, set the bar for numerous vampire movies of the future. The film's uncanny performances and imaginative direction made the Transylvanian count one of the most renowned horror characters in the world cinema. The main character has a distinctive look that is easily identified by people. The Dracula canon surrounds the mythical horror icon, which has already expanded all around the world.
3) James Whale is the author of one of the most important characters in the world horror history – Frankenstein. The director seemed to perfectly understand what elements are better to use to turn the tricky horror genre lightning into mainstream success. Casting was very important in his work and he was always able to create amazing and unforgettable performances and characters. A characteristic feature of his work was the fact that he infused his monsters with actual emotional motivations and personality quirks, creating villains the audience can all relate to. They are not just killers, but rather people.
4) The Say the Earth Stood Still is one of the most influential science fiction movies of all the times shot by 20th Century Fox and directed by Robert Wise. It was based on a short story by Harry Bates called “Farewell to the Master”. Its most important role in the cinematography is related to its anti-war message and inspiration to many other prominent works in the history.
What makes a horror film or science fiction film stand out from other genres? What makes them unique?
Horror film is a specific genre of film, the main mission of which is to scare the viewer, evoke a sense of fear or anxiety, an atmosphere of horror, and torment him in anticipation of something terrible - the so-called suspense effect. However, at the dawn of the genre there have been disagreements over its naming. For example, actor Christopher Lee, who is known in horror circles, in one of his interviews that he gave in 1975, said that the term horror is not true (Jancovich, 2002). He argued that the conditionality of such films makes them harmless. He insisted that the term was used of the fantasy film.
There are certain characteristic features of horror that make it outstanding of the others. The main element and such feature is fear. It incarnates on the screen using some plot twists, events, images, and other techniques. Fear can develop in the course of fantastic events, or on the background of psychopathology and abnormal human actions. It can be called a manifestation of elemental forces, demonstrations of violence, blood, guts.
A horror movie indeed is a cinematic genre that against the background of fantastic events develops motive of fear as the emotional basis of a poetic image. It is well suited for certain types of horror movies. Poetic image in the horror film may be absent. Horror genre, like every other cinematic genre, did not escape the mass production of films. Poetic image in such films is lost in stamps and templates, which are abundant in the plot and events.
In the classic horror film viewer sees picture of the struggle between good and evil. That, however, is found in other genres of cinema. In horror films, there is a fight between the executioner and the victim. The killing acts monster or otherworldly element, a human with his deviations from normal behavior and thinking. However, in many horror films scheme executioner-victim is absent or very vague, and the plot is merely stating a fact. Unlike the kind fairy tales, victory in horror films is not always on the good side.
Why was Cabinet of Dr. Caligari so influential? What set this film apart from the others produced not only in Germany, but also in America and Russia?
If we evaluate the film itself, it is modern in spirit, surprising, amazing and almost flawless picture. First of all, it is an excellent result of collective creativity. Initially the script was written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz, based on a real incident and designed in the image of the psychiatrist - hypnotist - showman - killer endowed with legal authority to make fun of the costs of authoritarianism in all areas: administrative, social, political, and mental health.
Thus, the space of the film resembles a painful nightmare - not only because we got inside the brain of a madman, but also because this space is entirely built by human hands and minds. Scenario, in addition to aesthetic and plastic solutions that go to its only benefit has a powerful inner strength. It moves forward in jumps, with dizzying surprises until the last frame. Two of the most memorable turns are discovery (inside story of a madman) that Caligari is not only showman and a murderer, but also a psychiatrist and discovery (after the story of a madman) that Caligari is the same psychiatrist who is personally responsible for the treatment of the narrator.
Thus, the absolute integrity of this nightmare opens amazing vistas in the evaluation of the narrator of madness and insanity in general. It is a clash in the film between a nightmarish, phantasmagoric plastic image of madness and flawlessly built inexorably dramaturgical perception of madness is a specific advantage of the film, which makes it really outstanding.
Why was Universal the home of the horror film in Hollywood? Why can it be argued that the hay day of the horror film lasted from 1930 - 1935?
Horror of the Universal Studios, Classic Monsters - these words mean a lot for horror fans. Everyone interested in the history of the genre knows that it was during the reign of Universal monsters when there developed some canons of the genre. The degree to which these black and white films influenced the development of the horror is very difficult to measure, their echoes can be found in so many films, and they have not disappeared now. In fact, Universal Studios monsters are familiar not only to fans of horror, they are known to everyone.
Images created by this company became a part of the world, dug into its skin, and now they cannot be separated from the mass culture. Dracula (and vampire in general) as a man in a black cloak with a standing collar (red lining added later by the Hammer studio) and slicked black hair, Frankenstein as a lanky awkward monster with a deformed head - not as they were established in the literature, but such as Universal studio created them (Church, 2004). These images have become so memorable, that pushed out the creation of the mass of its predecessors, became the ordinary stamp, and even the canonical image.
It all started with Dracula, although this was not the first horror movie that was shot at Universal, before it there also were profitable horrors. The studio had well-received movies Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and Phantom of the Opera (1925), and there were other horror movies. In 1930, Universal studio stopped making silent films and took sound ones, and even won an Oscar. However, by 1931 the financial affairs of the company were strongly shaken.
Film that saved the studio from bankruptcy was Dracula. The huge success of the film brought financial stability, which was so necessary for the company. Lugosi was the star of the company, and Laemmli believed in the profitability of horror. Gloomy gothic cinematography become a brand name for horror movies of the studio. The second step was the release of yet another horror movie - it was Frankenstein, which became even more successful financial investment than Dracula. There were several other successful pieces before 1935, when the Laemmli dynasty ceased to manage the company. After them, there started another important period in the history of horror, but the time described above is really remarkable and important.
How are scientists portrayed in Cold War film, according to Cyndy Hendershot? Why is this view dominate in American films of this era?
Total paranoia about the Cold War, nuclear weapons and space flights has spawned a genre of fantasy in the American cinematography. Cyndy Hendershot in her work on science fiction films of the 1950s states that this genre then opened a window for the cultural paranoia, which was characteristic of America for that period (Hendershot, 1999). This phenomenon was largely conditioned by the use of nuclear weapons in the World War II. Various monsters inhabiting popular sci-fi movies, such as uncanny doubles, prehistoric creatures, giant insects, mutants, served as metaphorical embodiments of different manifestations of the cultural paranoia. Postwar paranoia was caused by the bomb, but at that time, it correlated with a wider range of issues such as gender roles, internal totalitarianism, scientific progress, anti-communism, domestic problems, and sexuality.
Under the Martians and other space aliens, there were usually understood communist ideology and other foreign threats to the American democracy and way of life. Among the most popular science fiction films, there were Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Time Machine, It came from outer space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and others. Participation of a famous movie star Zsa Zsa Gabor has brought into the fi movies sexuality.
When the horrors and hardships of the World War II were a little forgotten, there came to the forefront dreams of housewives from the suburbs, the typical stereotype of the American 1950s melodrama. Especially popular were the films of director Douglas Sirk, such as All That Heaven Allows.
In general, the American cinema of the 1950s was under the influence of two opposing trends: on the one hand, the final overcoming of the consequences of the Great Depression helped to ease the financial pressure on the cinema. On the other, competition that arose from television provoked filmmakers to boost those screen means that could not be used on television, resulting in increased cost of film production. Since the U.S. cinema had less than in Europe, independent artistic status, the fight for the TV viewer has become in the second half of the 20th century one of the main driving forces of the cinema.
Has the horror genre ever been pure or has there been a constant hybridisation?
Horror genre is a vivid one in the cinematography, constantly developing and transforming. Thus, it was inevitable for it to develop certain popular subforms, the majority of which are hybrids with some other genres. The purest horror movie is considered to be slasher. It is a subgenre of horror films, sometimes called film body-counter or dead teen movie. This kind of films is characterized by the presence of a psychopath killer who hunts a group of victims. The victim and the viewer do not know who will be next, and under what circumstances he would die. All this creates a certain element of suspense.
Another popular subgenre of horror is movies about cannibals. The very first film, which to some extent was devoted to cannibalism, was the film “Bloody fest”, which was released in 1963. Also worth noting is that this subgenre separated from zombie movies. Cannibalism in a horror movie has a lot in common with the phenomenon of cannibalism of zombies. However, cannibals in horror films are living beings like ordinary people. This is the main difference between characters in the movie about cannibals and zombie movies. In horror movies about cannibals, cannibal victim often appears friend or helper. He lures the victim into a cunning trap, eats it, and then takes care of the tracks. In movies about cannibals, many features are borrowed from the detective genre.
Movies about werewolves is another subgenre. The first of them was silent film “Werewolf” released in 1913 (Hutchings, 2004). The very first sound film was a film about werewolves of German production “Le Loup Garou”. Studio Universal Pictures in 1935 issued a rental movie, called "Werewolf of London". Vampire movies are a kind of horror of immortal beings who are hostile to people, and in dire need of human blood. The plot of the movie resonates with films about zombies and cannibals. Vampires need human blood to sustain their lives, zombies eating human flesh for the same purpose, and the cannibal - to meet their needs of psychopathology.
Zombie movies is another kind of horror, devoted to resurgent dead. In different movies, they have various guises, from barely moving creatures, moving on all fours or on crutches, to creatures that surpass human strength, speed and agility. In a number of zombie horror movies, they are good, positive characters. However, this image is often used in comedy. Comedy horror is another blend of two genres that is rather popular today.
Gothic film is the one, in which there is most often represented detective story. It unfolds against the backdrop of night, rain, brilliant water streets or roads. In this respect, gothic film a little echoes to the noir film genre, there are many similarities both in imaging technology, as well as the plot. First of gothic horror, which became known, was created by director Friedrich Wilhelm.
Church, D. (2004). Memory, Genre, and Self-Narrativization; Or, Why I Should Be a More Content Horror Fan. Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear, 235.
Hendershot, C. (1999). Paranoia, the bomb, and 1950s science fiction films. Popular Press.
Hutchings, P. (2004). The horror film. Pearson Education.
Jancovich, M. (Ed.). (2002). Horror, the film reader. Routledge.
Schneider, S. J. (2004). Horror film and psychoanalysis: Freud's worst nightmare. Cambridge Univ Pr.