Origins of Horror Movies
«The only way to remove the numbness of civilization and revive a moral equilibrium is to use artificial means to bring about the shock. The best way, to achieve this, it seams to me, is through a movie”
What is horror ?
It can be defined as the fear of death, the terror of unknown and the phobia of the uncontrollable hostile power. Horror exists; it’s presents to all cultures, to all civilizations, to all ages.
Ancient religions and mythologies tried to explain a large number of violent and deadly events by creating an alternative world of Gods and Evils, a supernatural universe where forces of good and evil are trapped in an endless multidimensional conflict and the mankind stands helpless on the field between the dark and white force.
Painting - the endless battle of good and evil
The horror origins in ancient religious and literature texts
The heroic battle of man against forces larger than himself set up a fundamental part of the oldest examples of ancient literature, mythological and religious texts. There are so many examples, from Epic of Gilgamesnim (c. 2000 BC) to Hommer’s Odyssey (c 800 BC) and to Bible where man fights against evil monsters.
In my humble opinion the Bible encloses the biggest, evilest and the deadliest of all enemies against the humanity – Satan (known also as Lucifer, Devil etc). Satan is represented by Christian religion as the primary embodiment of Evil. The sinful nature of man forced an obsession with the fate of souls after death.
Satan the absolute embodiment of evil against humanity
The middle age literature and fairy tales
I need to highlight the Werewolf tale in Marc de France’s Bisclavret (Lay of the Werewolf) and it was the first text to mention the legend of a man who mocked Jesus on the road to cross, and thereby condemned to roam on earth until the Doomsday.
In the later version of the book, the above mentioned man was identified as the “Wandering Jew”.
Faust one of the first horror literature works
The legend of Faust
Faust is the story of a German man who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for all the knowledge in the world? The same story was developed by many writers, among them was Christopher Marlowe (The Tragicall History of Doctor Faust c. 1590), Goethe (two part dramatic poem Faust 1808 & 1833.
William Shakespeare and the horror literature
Many works of William Shakespeare contain elements of horrific and supernatural. I need to emphasize the appearance of witches and ghosts in Macbeth, the bload – soaked shocker in Titus Andronicus and the set of The Tempest, on an island where magic rules over population of monsters and spirits.
The Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment is the period of reason and science. Knowledge and research lightened the dark side of human thinking, the possessed side of human mind by the evil forces of superstition and imagination. Ironically, during the period of Enlightenment (eighteenth century) the horror literature gender gained the recognition as an autonomous and independent gender.
The castle of Otranto the first British horror novel
Among the ambassadors of horror literature gender during the Enlightenment period are:
1. Horace Walpole:
He wrote the first British horror novel “The Castle of Otranto” (1794). The story of the book is about usurpation and skullduggery among the Italian aristocracy. The book “The castle of Otranto” is responsible for the development of a major trend in horror literature, known as Gothic Fiction.
(to be continued)
1. The rough guide to Horror Movies (Alan Jones)
2. 101 Horror Movies you must see before you die (Steven Jay Schneider)
3. Fangoria's 101 Best Horror Movies you have never seen : A celebration of the world's most unheralded fright flicks (Adam Lukerman)
4. Horror Movie Freak (Don Summer)
5. Monsters in the movies (John Landis)