As Mark Gatiss said at the opening of his History of Horror on BBC4: “The Cinema was made for horror movies”. This is literally – and metaphorically – true. Fear, discomfort, anxiety, apprehension and the unknown are the primal purposes of Cinema.
I’ve tried to do a list that covers all the basic fundamentals of horror. In order: poetry, romance, deformity, dreams, carnality, esoterism, innocence lost, fright, obsession, madness, cruelty, terror, blood, an implacable enemy, the unknown, body horror, gore, allegory, humour and the banality of evil.
I haven’t included torture porn which doesn’t really deserve to be categorised as Horror and seems to repose on a colossal misunderstanding of what makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre so good – namely the atmosphere of anxiety and implacable terror, not the slayings themselves.
Plenty of great films are missing (The Exorcist, Hammer films) but I think most of the sub-genres are hopefully covered. The reason for the absence of Dracula or Frankenstein is that the source material for Dracula (Bram Stoker’s novel) is very weak and most adaptations keep too much of it in and by contrast Frankenstein is an amazing work of literature which no-one has ever attempted to make properly – if they did, they might just make the greatest horror film of all time. Daniel Day Lewis for example, would excel as the monster, who in the novel is greater than any human being.
All humanity is in horror. If I had to pick one film above all the others? Freaks.Read less