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Mythology of horror

by Máté Csóka
What is horror? Some defines it by its expected emotional effects and says horrormovies are films which scare, frighten or disgust you. I think these are quite unsettled factors, I mean the answers to the question „What scares us?” change by time, by culture, and also by person. So I prefer to define horror by its permanent content. And the permanent content of horror is the monstrous. Most of the times it means a monster, but there are also horror movies with more monsters or with a monstrous world, where the world itself maifestes as a monster. How to group horrormovies? However I like the idea to division horrors by the nature of their… Read more

What is horror? Some defines it by its expected emotional effects and says horrormovies are films which scare, frighten or disgust you. I think these are quite unsettled factors, I mean the answers to the question „What scares us?” change by time, by culture, and also by person. So I prefer to define horror by its permanent content. And the permanent content of horror is the monstrous. Most of the times it means a monster, but there are also horror movies with more monsters or with a monstrous world, where the world itself maifestes as a monster.

How to group horrormovies? However I like the idea to division horrors by the nature of their „monstrous”:
• Psycho-horror (where „the monstrous” is the psychological functioning of a person, like in Psycho);
• Socio-horror (where „the monstrous” is the functioning of a society, like in Land of the Dead);
• Bio-horror (where „the monstrous” is the biological functioning of a creature, like in The Fly);
• Eco-horror (supernatural versions of disaster movies, where „the monstrous” is the functioning of the environment like in Godzilla).
I will list here movies by the type of the monsters they use. These lists are based on the similar lists of Király Jenő, an excellent and wise hungarian film-aesthete. However my lists are not perfectly certified copies of his, since I removed and added several titles.

A little * before a title means the film is a personal favourite of mine.
A little (o) after a title means I haven’t seen it yet.

I. Demons of the living dead

1. Zombies
Jacques Tourner: I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
John Gilling: The Plague of Zombies (1965)
Ed Wood: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
George A. Romero: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
David E. Durston: I Drink Your Blood (1970)
*George A. Romero: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Gary A. Sherman: Dead & Buried (1980)
*Jean Rollin: Zombie Lake (1982)
Brian Yuzna: Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
Kim Ji-woon: The Quiet Family (1998)
*Edgar Wright: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Mathias Dinter: Night of the Living Dorks (2004)
*George A. Romero: Land of the Dead (2005)
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza: Rec (2007)
George A. Romero: Diary of the Dead (2007)
Ruben Fleischer: Zombieland (2009)

2. Vampires
F. W. Murnau: Nosferatu (1922)
Tod Browning: Dracula (1931)
Jean Painlevé: Le Vampire (1945)
Mario Bava: Black Sunday (1960)
Roman Polanski: The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Jaromil Jires: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)
Roy Ward Baker: The Vampire Lovers (1970)
Jesus Franco: Vampiros Lesbos (1971)
*Jimmy Sangster: Lust for a Vampire (1971)
*John Hough: Twins of Evil (1971)
*George A. Romero: Martin (1976)
Howard Storm: Once Bitten (1985)
*John Landis: Innocent Blood (1992)
Neil Jordan: Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Wes Craven: Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Robert Rodriguez: From Dust Till Dawn (1996)
John Carpenter: Vampires (1998)
E. Elias Merhige: Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Catherine Hardwicke: Twilight (2008)
*Thomas Alfredson: Let the right one in (2008)
Park Chan-wook: Thirst (2009)

3. Mummies
*Karl Freund: The Mummy (1932)
Terence Fisher: The Mummy (1959)
Herschell Gordon Lewis: Blood Feast (1963)

4. Hell
Luis Bunuel: The Exterminating Angel (1962)
*Claude Chabrol: Alice or the Last Escape (1977)
Stanley Kubrick: The Shining (1980)
Sam Raimi: Evil Dead (1981)
*Sam Raimi: Evil Dead II (1987)
Clive Barker: Hellraiser (1987)
*Sam Raimi: Army of Darkness (1992)
John Carpenter: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

5. Witches
Carl Th. Dreyer: Vampyr (1932)
*René Clair: I Married a Witch (1942)
Jacques Tourner: Curse of the Demon (1957)
*Roman Polanski: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
William Friedkin: The Exorcist (1973)
Richard Donner: Omen (1976)
*Brian De Palma: Carrie (1976)
Dario Argento: Suspiria (1977)
Michael Winner: The Sentinel (1977)
George Miller: The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Nicholas Roeg: The Witches (1990)
*Kenny Ortega: Hocus Pocus (1993)
*Nicholas Hytner: The Crucible (1996)
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
*Jan Svankmajer: Little Otik (2000)
Lars von Trier: Antichrist (2009)

6. Ghosts
Hans Richter: Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
John Carpenter: The Fog (1980)
Tobe Hooper: Poltergeist (1982)
Ivan Reitman: Ghostbusters (1984)
*Ching Siu Tung: A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Jerry Zucker: Ghost (1990)
Brad Silberling: Casper (1995)
Hideo Nakata: Ringu (1998)
Hirokazu Kore-eda: After Life (1998)
Hideo Nakata: Ringu 2 (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan: The Sixth Sense (1999)
*Alejandro Amenábar: The Others (2001)
Oxide and Danny Pang: The Eye (2002)
Kim Ji-woon: A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Ahn Sang-hoon: Arang (2006)
Gaspar Noé: Enter the Void (2009)
Apichatpong Weerasethaukul: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

II. Sentimental „twin-monstrums”

7.A. Mad scientists 1. – Frankenstein and his creature
J. Searle Dawley: Frankenstein (1910)
Robert Wiene: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
James Whale: Frankenstein (1931)
James Whale: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Terence Fisher: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Terence Fisher: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
*Terence Fisher: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Terence Fisher: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
Jimmy Sangster: Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
Mel Welles and Aureliano Luppi: Lady Frankenstein (1971)
Paul Morrissey: Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)
Jim Sharman: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Tim Burton: Frankenweenie (1984)
Stuart Gordon: Re-animator (1985)
Tim Burton: Edward Scissorhand (1990)
Frank Henenlotter: Frankenhooker (1990)

7.B. Mad scientists 2. – Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
*Rouben Mamoulian: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Victor Fleming: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Jean Renoir: The Testament of Dr. Cordelier (1959)
Jerry Lewis: The Nutty Professor (1963)
Roy Ward Baker: Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)
Caroline Leaf: The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa (1977)
David Cronenberg: The Fly (1986)
*Gregg Araki: Nowhere (1997)

8. Other „two-faced” creatures (Wolfmen, panthermen, catpeople etc.)
George Waggner: The Wolf Man (1941)
*Jacques Tourner: Cat People (1942)
*Tex Avery: Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
Jean Yarbrough: She-Wolf of London (1946) (o)
Joe Dante: The Howling (1981)
John Landis: An American Werewolf in London (1981)
*Neil Jordan: The Company of Wolves (1984)
Neil Marshall: Dog Soldiers (2002)
*Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Tropical Malady (2004)
Katja von Garnier: Blood and Chocolat (2007)

9. Stoneman and Airman
Paul Wegener and Carl Boese: The Golem (1920)
Terence Fisher: The Gorgon (1964)
James Whale: The Invisible Man (1933)
*Paul Verhoeven: Hollow Man (2000)

10. Mad artists
Rupert Julian: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Albet Lewin: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) (o)
Tóth Endre: House of Wax (1953)
Edmond T. Gréville: The Hands of Orlac (1960) (o)
*Brian de Palma: Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Abel Ferrara: The Driller Killer (1979)
Dwight H. Little: The Phantom of the Opera (1989)
Joel Schumacher: The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

III. I will not list here (but on another lists) the horrorfilms which I think belong more to
a, the genre fantasy (“biotitan film” like King Kong, Godzilla, Jaws, Piranha etc.)
b, the genre sci-fi (Body snatcher-films, Alien, The Thing, Sphere etc.)
c, slasher or “reality-horror” which I believe belongs rather to my mythology of crime list.

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