Definition of a "Horror Movie"?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Christopher B, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. Christopher B

    Christopher B Stunt Coordinator

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    While compiling my list for the Scary Movie Challenge, my wife and I started discussing what makes a movie a horror movie. I know that Battle Royale is classified as a horror movie, but why? Is Giallo considered horror? What makes a movie a horror movie, is it the way people get killed, or is it just the fact that people get killed?

    Just looking for opinions.

    Thanks
     
  2. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I generally look for some element of the supernatural to differentiate between a Thriller (run-of-the-mill serial killers) and Horror (ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc.).
     
  3. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Any movie that Justin S. likes. [​IMG]
     
  4. Don Solosan

    Don Solosan Supporting Actor

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    Someone once said that terror is of the mind, horror is of the body. So Vertigo is a thriller, Silence of the Lambs is horror.
     
  5. Robert Powers

    Robert Powers Stunt Coordinator

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    My opinion of a good horror movie is a movie that consists of some sort of supernatural force but not off the wall enough to make it unbelievable. A movie that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

    "The Exorcist" was a good example for me. I would not consider any of the "Jason" or "Freddie" movies true horror movies. They just consisted of killing without reason.
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I personally don’t consider films like SEVEN, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, JAWS, ROSEMARY’S BABY or PSYCHO to be “horror” movies. However, I also don’t consider THE EXORCIST a horror movie but only the director and I agree on that. : ) For a film to be a horror movie I think it needs a monster and not just a human killer. Even saying that, something like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE would be left out so there are a few that could slide in as horror. If a killer is the only thing that counted then something like TAXI DRIVER could be included as a horror movie.

    Of course, there are various sub-genres to be considered including the giallo, exploitation and a psychological drama. Films by Dario Argento are often called “horror” but I think that’s because most movie books have a “horror” section and not one for giallo. Of course it could always be put into “mystery” but Argento’s reputation is of a horror director. Even something like METROPOLIS could be called horror or THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Lon Chaney is considered a “horror” star yet he really only made one or two horror films. Go figure.

    We could debate the word “horror” and what should be included but in the end everyone has their own ideas of what a horror movie is. I’m in the Horror Challenge and I’m being fairly kind to what I let in so every title I’ve named in this post is something that I would include. I bought FIRE IN THE SKY today, which is basically a drama about alien abduction but I would include this. The same as I would include Carpenter’s THE THING or Robert Wise’s THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, even though I also consider this a drama with sci-fi elements.

    Since 1910 with FRANKENSTEIN, critics and movie fans have looked down on the horror genre but very very few will ever say they don't like the genre. If you accuse them of not liking this genre then they'll ALWAYS come back with hey, I like SEVEN and JAWS. To me, this would be a casual viewer who really wouldn't pay any attention to Jason, Freddy, Myers, a John Carradine, smaller Lugosi titles or various other horror films that critics don't love. They enjoy the critic's picks yet wouldn't go as far as a horror fan to watch Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Lucio Fulci, Al Adamson or various other "B" movies.

    Seriously, isn't it amazing how many people love the film ED WOOD yet wouldn't bother watching a Wood movie? How many of those who bought ED WOOD are going to buy BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, PLAN 9 or GLEN OR GLENDA? How many loved Lugosi in ED WOOD but are they going to watch VOODOO MAN, THE APE MAN or THE DEVIL BAT?
     
  7. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > Seriously, isn't it amazing how many people love the film ED WOOD yet wouldn't bother watching a Wood movie?

    Not really, since Ed Wood, the movie, was actually good, unlike the movies he made.
     
  8. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Which ones have you seen? This here is another reason why the non-fans simply don't understand horror movies.

    Also, someone couldn't really get all the jokes in the film unless they had seen the movies in question. The movie is far from the truth in many details but again, people wouldn't know this unless they knew the history before seeing the movie. We've always got the MST3K crowd but that's a different issue.
     
  9. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Michael, I wouldn't agree that only films with monsters in them may be considered horror, if that's what you meant. And I also think some films with human killers are "horror" (like FRIDAY THE 13th, like MANIAC, like TEXAS CHAIN SAW).

    "Horror" as a term means all sorts of things, I think. It's movies with monsters, yes - it's also the supernatural - it's something "scary". I think "horror" is a subjective term which can mean something different for everyone, but I think that heading of HORROR is okay to be loosened a bit for purposes of categorizing our movies. ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST are certainly horror movies (the latter being so no matter what William Friedkin thinks). If it shocks, if it's scary, if it's spooky and makes you horrified - it's horror. Be it physical, psychological, whatever.
     
  10. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I'm a hororr fan and I get the appeal of Ed Wood's movies - but they're not good films.
     
  11. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    Horror films have as their purpose the generation of fright in the viewer. I don't feel the source, be it Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter or a supernatural demon matters. There is lots of crossing over between horror, drama, science fiction etc. But ultimately if the film is meant to scare you, it is horror. That's why I consider Alien a horror movie more than scifi (though it is both) and Silence of the Lambs horror more than a police procedural
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well I couldn't disagree more. Films in which there are monsters are called 'monster films' which is a subgenre of horror. Films in which there are lots of slashing murders are 'slasher films', another subgenre of horror films. A horror film is simply one which attempts to induce horror in the viewer. Obviously today's audiences have become inured to certain films that once did induce such horror such as the original Frankenstein, but to be horror a film only needs to attempt to scare the audience, not neccessarily succeed (certainly no film will horrify everyone who sees it). So, certainly Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, Rosemary's Baby and Psycho are horror films, though they may or may not belong to certain horror subgenres.
     
  13. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    We've discussed this in the AF1 list and I agree with you but where do we draw the line? DELIVERANCE is a very disturbing film so is it a horror movie? How about TAXI DRIVER? If TD is a horror film, could we consider THE KING OF COMEDY a black horror comedy? What about a war film? I think the word "horror" fits into many things in life so we could fit any of this into a genre. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN certainly was horrific in its violence as well as the subject. On the other hand, FREDDY VS JASON wasn't nearly as horrific. THE LOST WEEKEND showed the horrors of alcohol abuse.

    Again, I think those films I mentioned are "safe" horror films for those who really don't care for the genre. Of course, some people just don't like to see heads being cut off or certain body parts being bitten off. Gore will turn a lot of people off of a F13 film and even if they can get through the gore, they can't seem to enjoy these "bad" movies on a simple entertainment level.

    There's no question most of these movies are bad but to enjoy them you must live with that badness. The bad acting can bring laughter as can poor special effects. Trust me, no Ed Wood fan is trying to claim he's the next Orson Welles but we can view PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and enjoy the badness it contains. [​IMG]
     
  14. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well this isn't a special thing with horror. It's true of all genres. Blazing Saddles is a comedy and a western. Now is it more a comedy than a western? Yes. Taxi Driver may have horror and dramatic aspects, but (to me) it's more of a drama, and not enough of a horror film to qualify. But that's just me. Then there are films like Alien that really do deserve to belong in more than one genre (horror and sci-fi).

    Genres are a messy thing. But if you just overly restrict the different genres you haven't really solved anything. In that case you have a few horror films, a few westerns, a few dramas, a few comedies, and most films falling in the "other" category.

    If you define horror broadly, there will still be films that 99% agree are horror, and other films that are less certain. But I'd say the vast majority would agree with films like Psycho being in there.
     
  15. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Do you like any bad movies? If not, do you see the appeal of these "bad" horror films and bad directors like Ed Wood or Al Adamson?

    I think some people have the wrong ideas when it comes to horror fans. They see us giving three stars to F13 part 58 and they think we don't know the difference between a great movie and a bad one. The thing is, we know the difference but can still get entertainment value out of a bad film. The bad acting could bring laughs, which is a form of entertainment. The bad special effects could make us laugh, which is a form of entertainment.

    No one should ever go into F13 expecting CITIZEN KANE. If I watch a Welles movie then I'm expecting brilliance all around. With a mindless slasher I'm expecting violence, gore and nudity. KANE delivers the brilliance while something bad like SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT delivers the gore and nudity. In the end, both films deliver what they're supposed to so I'm happy. I really don't expect anything "good" technically from a mindless slasher but I do expect to be entertained. But on the other hand, some simply won't be entertained by mindless violence towards women, gore and nudity.

    BTW, I'm saving YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN for the 31th so I hope you still plan on watching it as well. [​IMG]
     
  16. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    It's an annual tradition to watch it every Oct. 31, and this year will be no different. [​IMG]
     
  17. Jonathan Carter

    Jonathan Carter Supporting Actor

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    That's not true at all. Creating unintentional humor is always a viable reason for movie deaths.
     
  18. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    For these kinds of questions of how a genre is defined, I go with the idea that it's highly subjective, so in the case of horror, a horror film is a film that strongly reminds you of a horror film. I think most people have an archetypal idea of what a horror film is, so if they see a movie that has a sufficient resemblance to what they're thinking of, that makes it a part of that genre. Some movies - actually, most movies - don't include every element but the closer it is to your conception of the genre, the greater the example it is.
     
  19. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I know what Michael is saying and he and I agree on that point.

    I like Abbott & Costello too, and even BUCK PRIVATES - but just because I thoroughly enjoy it as entertainment, I'd say that on a "technical level" it's really only a good "B" flick and nothing of a very high level or "great". I think films are often a two-approach deal. On the one hand, there is how the film is as a piece of cinematic work. On the other hand, it's about how entertaining it is as a good time at the movies. Many times these two factors don't work together... but the best of all is when a motion picture is both a great piece of filmmaking as well as highly entertaining (that would be 1959's BEN-HUR to me).

    I'll always enjoy PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SpACE way more than I do THE THING FROMANOTHER WORLD. But if you were to ask me which I feel is (being objective) the "better" movie - it would be THE THING, if we're talking technically.
     
  20. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Is it? I've seen the film a couple times and I would say it leans more towards sci-fi rather than horror. I know it has gory killings but that shouldn't automatically place it alongside Halloween and Friday the 13th. I'd put it in the same category as The Running Man and No Escape.
     

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