Week Three: History of Modern Horror

Question 1: King (2010) describes Horror as being defined through three basic elements. Explain, using references, what these three elements are. Think of a horror story you’ve read/watched/heard that makes use of all three of these elements and show how King’s definition is at play in that narrative


King (2010) States, “Horror movies and horror novels have always been popular, but every ten or twenty years they seem to enjoy a cycle of increased popularity and visibility”

The First element of horror is that it deals with the current state of the society and societal fears. King (2010) states, Horror is a genre which deals with the “Economic and/or Political strains” of it’s time and books and films seem to reflect those free-floating anxieties in the society (pg.5). For example, in the late 1970’s and 1980’s mothers were leaving their children in daycare centers while they go and contribute in the changing society. A sense of anxiety and guilt was built as to leaving their own beloved children with strangers for a large portion of time away from their sight (Jones, 2019). As a result Movies like “The Exorcist” depict those societal fears. A more relevant example is from the movie “The Void”, the costume which the Cult group adopted was similar to the American white supremacist hate group known as the Ku Klux Klan or KKK.

A sense of fear is transmitted from these horror movies which increases the intensity of Fear between human beings in the real world. Another great example, which to some extent, related to the Alt-Right Ideology, that “the fear of Invasion”. So movies such as White House Down (2013) and plenty of similar themed movies depict that “others” are invading our country and what would be our situation if “Our Land” is taken over? Interestingly, Movies like these spark the idea of anti- Immigration and, As a result, Incidents like the Christchurch Terrorist Attack (15 March, 2019) and El Paso Shootings (03 August, 2019) occur. Innocent lives are lost and the “Fear” still remains!

Nevertheless, this leads me to the second element of Horror, which is the element of Allegory. King (2010) explains as, “Allegory is there only because it is built in, a given, impossible to escape. Horror appeals to us because it says, in symbolic way, things we would be afraid to say right out straight, with the bark still on; it offers us a chance to exercise emotions which society demands we keep closely in hand” (King, 2010 Pg. 12). Horror film is an invitation to be violent, transgressive and to have anti social behavior by proxy, it informs the people that its okay to be with the “wrong people”. It demands that human beings fight their fears and become fearless leading them to become emotionless as well. As King (2010) mentions, “The horror film is an invitation to indulge in deviant, antisocial behavior by proxy- to commit gratuitous acts of violence, indulge our puerile dreams of power, to give in to our most craven fears……… Perhaps more than anything else, the horror story or horror movie says it’s okay to join the mob.. (pg. 12). A horror themed allegory not only scares the person whilst he or she is being entertained but rather it gives a parallel story simultaneously also. For example, a “monster” in a horror movie is dressed up in a doctor’s uniform gives the viewer another story that, one has to be very skeptical as to which doctor one chooses for his own personal well being. They can be “monstrous” also!

Lastly, another element of Horror Movie is that stories have monsters in them. These monsters are depicted differently in accordance to their core theme. As Carrol (2003) states, there are monsters which are particular to each genre, for example, dragons are a common monster in the fantasy genre, so, “… a monster or monstrous entity is a necessary condition for horror…” (p. 16). Monsters can be allegorical, a symbol of horror therefore monsters are a necessary concept of horror (King, 2010). But, Not all monsters are horrific, the monster in the story, “The Beauty and the Beast” the Beast is not regarded as a horrific creature but as a majestic and marvelous entity.


Carrol, N. (2003). The nature of horror: In The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart. Retrieved from https://blacboard.aut.ac.nz

Jones, N. (2019) History of modern horror. Lecture Material. Retriveid from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz

King, S. (2010). Danse macabre. United States, NY: Gallery Publishing Group.

The Void. (2016). The Void. Study Material

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