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Categories of horror film

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  • Categories of horror film

    A few years ago I read a book about the paranormal (The Trickster and the Paranormal, by George E Hansen), which turned out to be not at all what I expected. It went in way deep and pulled in examples from French structuralism and such like. I had to read it twice before I understood where the author was coming from. He spoke of how humans like to divide things up into binaries: life/death, earth/heaven, male/female, etc. Anything that crossed or straddled or lay between these boundaries might be considered 'liminal'. Liminality was closely associated with the paranormal and supernatural. For instance, between heaven and earth (conceptually - or "God" and humans) you find angels (considered supernatural) and UFOs (you know the type I mean) which are often associated with psychic or paranormal effects (look how the toys in the hero's house start jumping around when a flying saucer flies overhead in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind").

    Here I will consider liminality with regard to horror films. As well as the categories I refer to, I would like members to point out any other categories (or individual films) that spring to mind.

  • #2
    Frankenstein's monster straddles the borders between life and death, because he is made of the body parts of several dead humans.

    It's Alive! - Frankenstein Movie CLIP (1931)


    • #3
      Count Dracula also partakes of this type of liminality, because he is 'undead'.

      'Dracula' - Death Scene with Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing (or perhaps 'destruction' would be a better term).


      • #4
        And zombies too, naturally. They're usually quite harmless, I see plenty of them at the supermarket.

        Cockneys vs Zombies Official Trailer 1 (2013) - British Zombie Comedy


        • #5
          Then you get another kind of liminality - that between animals and humans. Werewolves are a good example of this. Myself, I'm a werehyena. We're coming up to a full moon on October 13, and I'm dreading it.

          An American Werewolf In London - Transformation Scene


          • #6
            Then we have The Island of Dr. Moreau. The evil doctor is transforming animals into humans. From these beast-humans, we hear such ironic phrases as "Are we not men?" and "We are not animals!"

            The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) The Law

            See also my topic:


            • #7
              Then there is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. You could say that Mr Hyde releases the beast within.

              Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde 1968


              • #8
                Triffids are plants that have the ability to move as animals do and attack and blind humans.

                The Day Of The Triffids 2009


                • #9
                  Then you get gigantism. I forget what caused King Kong to grow so big. Godzilla represents, in addition, supposedly extinct creatures still living today.

                  King Kong vs Godzilla


                  • #10
                    Of course, gorillas are big enough to begin with, but various films have shown small or tiny creatures enlarged to gigantic size, As humans we are at the top of the food chain, so here we get a glimpse of what it might be like to be prey. A rather corny category, I must admit.

                    Empire of the Ants (1977) - Official Trailer


                    • #11
                      Then there are the normal, harmless animals, that suddenly turn sinister. Who can forget the dead woman with her eyes pecked out in Hitchcock's The Birds? And the massed crows, silently waiting to attack the schoolchildren.

                      Crows Attack the Students - The Birds (1963)


                      • #12
                        Don't forget The Thing or Invasion of the body snatchers body horror then you have the fear of inanimate things such as dolls or objects.


                        • #13
                          Yes, the fear of inanimate objects suddenly coming alive. The Chucky doll films come to mind, though I've never watched any. I did see a Twilight Zone episode with a similar doll, though, plaguing Telly Savalas. And then there was the supposedly true story of the hair on the Hitler dummy at Madam Tussaud's growing and needing two haircuts in a year.

                          FORTEAN TV - Hitler's Waxwork At Madame Tussaud's (Channel 4, 1995)


                          • #14
                            However did HAIR Hitler manage to grow a thatch when most of the time he was nearly bald his hair was cut so short? It's a HAIR-raising story to be sure.


                            • #15
                              I wonder is there a subgenre of horror about the fear of dwellings such as The Haunting or Hell house then Witchcraft Night of the demon The Devil rides out or the classic fear of dismembered limbs The Beast with five fingers even the Re-animator films? The list goes on.