This paper is aimed at comparison of two articles concerning horror films. While the article “The Horror Film as Social Allegory (And How it Comes Undone)” by Christopher Sharrett suggests the social and political implication of horror films the second article “Avenging the Body: Disability in the Horror Film” by Travis Sutton focuses on disabilities shown in several horror films. The paper points out the main strengths and weaknesses of articles under analysis and explains which tool is the most suitable for horror films investigation.
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The Horror Film as Social Allegory (And How it Comes Undone)
The article “The Horror Film as Social Allegory (And How it Comes Undone)” written by Christopher Sharrett explores tendencies of horror films from the Weimar era until nowadays and examines the ethics of white bourgeois patriarchal society.
At the beginning of the article, Sharrett mentions that each era has offered the world a new kind of horror films. In the 40s, the monster figure was considered the integral part of this genre. Although in the 20s, the tradition of the horror film gave preference to creation of the eerie atmosphere of action, not the personification of evil in a particular character. First of all, the author examines the Weimar era. Berlin was a place for artists, writers, and musicians from around the world. With its numerous theaters, orchestras, and cabarets along with the complete lack of censorship, this city attracted people from different countries.
However, at the same time, Berlin was a city of ideological and social conflicts suffering from poverty, unemployment, and the enormous inflation. The establishment of the Weimar Republic did not resolve the situation as the Germans had no experience of living in democracy.
It goes without saying that German cinema of that era defined the artistic formula of the horror film for decades. It responds to the processes occurring in the society by means of ghosts, shadows, and phantoms looking like a nightmare or hallucination. For example, Murnau’s “Nosferatu” (1922) that is a silent film considered to be a masterpiece of German expressionism. Murnau created the film with the chilling atmosphere full of shadows and vampires reflecting horrors of the bourgeois patriarchal society.
In the 50s, the fear of nuclear war between the USSR and the USA was pampered, so producers played up the theme of mad scientists and alien invasion, which in many American films is clearly associated with the Soviet Union. What is more, Sharrett notes the connection of horror and the coming of feminism taking paying attention to such films as Edgar G. Ulmer’s “The Black Cat” (1934) and Tourneur’s “Night of the Demon” (1957). The author states that the sexual revolution started in the middle of the 60s, when oral contraceptives and many other facilities for women were invented, the theme of monstrous children appeared in horror films. It is reflected in “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) movie. The theme of maniacs became popular in the 80s.
It is also very important to point out the fact that Sharrett provides the reader with useful information about modern horror films as well. For instance, “Saw” franchise. The main character Jigsaw kidnaps people and puts them into a cleverly designed trap. After that, the victim finds his legs strapped against the wall of the basement and locked in the room. Then the film shows that the man cheated, lied, caused harm to his neighbors, led a dissolute life, and took it all for granted.
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However, now he has a chance to achieve catharsis coming to the purification through pain and horror. For example, he could break free from the chain sawing off his leg or open the lock of the trap getting the key from the stomach of the unconscious stranger. The game of moral choice in most cases ends up with loosing. Moreover, the loss is considered to be not only their death but the wrong choice they make over and over again. As a matter of fact, if a person was selfish all his life, then he is unable to overcome his selfishness even under the threat of death. It is one of those successful horror films revealing defects of humanity. The author consistently and carefully examines the topic chronologically.
All in all, Sharrett claims that horror genre in its modern state is in crisis and focuses on spectacle rather than on atmosphere and suspense.
Successful Points of the Article
The article is undoubtedly successful in relation to its importance and vitality. Examples provided by Sharrett support the exploration aim. In addition, the second thing worth turning one’s attention to is that the author mentions some appropriate sources, in particular, films from different decades that clearly demonstrate his statements. His examples sound rather convincing and make readers understand horror films better. Finally, the article comprises several illustrations, in particular, film stills that contribute to the authenticity of the research conducted by the author.
However, there is also a weak point in the article under discussion. Sharrett does not offer any solution to the problem. It would be better if the article included some ways of how to improve horror films.
In my point of view, the article by Sharrett looks rather convincing. Indeed, horror films tend to loose their initial role becoming just an entertainment without any strong social or political message. I agree with the author that horror films usually represent something that is suppressed by social norms, such as rising women emancipation, homosexuals, or proletarians. Maniacs and zombies typically threaten someone espousing the traditional view, for example, people who went to the supermarket and wanted to consume.
The zombie suddenly appeared in the store is a symbol of people who cannot consume. As for the race issues, it is believed that such questions are projected on the relationship of zombies and ordinary people, it is played up in the “Night of the Living Dead” film. Besides, there is a dispute whether this situation was created intentionally or is it the fruit of interpretation. Nevertheless, in fact, it is not so important as a person could realize his or her fears unconsciously.
Personally, I consent the author’s point that horror movies have much in common with porn today, in particular, torture porn. For many people, porn is a kind of textbook of sexuality. In general, all the excited states have much in common – joy, fear, sexual arousal and aggressive arousals have the same physiological basis. Perhaps, that is one more reason for horror films’ attractiveness nowadays.
Avenging the Body: Disability in the Horror Film
The author of the “Avenging the Body: Disability in the Horror Film” article Travis Sutton claims that initially people with disabilities were considered sinful. Deaf, blind, born without any part of the body, and others were regarded accomplices of demons and were separated from the rest of society. However, this theme is raised in a number of horror films. The human body suffers, suffers, dies, and deteriorates. All these are used to frighten and excite the viewer.
For example, Sutton mentions the “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925) film, in which Lon Chaney, the protagonist of the film, created the makeup for his character. The appearance of the phantom distorted his features beyond recognition: huge orbit, dip instead of the nose, and terribly elongated skull reached its goal to scare the viewer.
Moreover, Sutton notes “Freaks” film (1932), in which circus freaks such as armless girl, Siamese twins, and hermaphrodite try to take revenge on Cleopatra who wants to poison her potential husband because of inheritance. According to the author, the film carried the humanistic and moral charge of the highest intensity, but contemporaries were not ready for such level of openness suggested by the director. No censorship could save “Freaks” from burying in the studio archive for three decades, as it was considered “bad example” ostensibly because of painful attention to human deformities.
Thus, Sutton states that persons with disabilities should be full members of society, and might be horror movie actors as well. However, unfortunately, they still cause pity and rejection in the modern world.
Flaws in the Procedural Design
Speaking of the procedural design flaws, the first thing worth turning one’s attention to is that the author supposes no adequate solution for the presented problem. Probably, it would be better if he offered some ideas concerning how to change the attitude towards disabled in horror films. The second flaw is the shortage of illustrative material such as diagrams, for instance. It would be better if the article included some proved data or statistics organized in tables.
Analysis of the Data
The analysis of the data that was made by the author can be proved. It could not be easily argued and denied, as there is evidence of it being taken from reliable sources. Therefore, the information presented in the article appears to be accurate and trustworthy. In addition, the author refers to the famed movies such as “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Freaks”, or ‘Deafuta’ that confirm his arguments.
Personal Point of View
I consider that horror films are connected with our notions of normality. Each person always has an idea of what is a normal life, a normal family, and normal relationships. While normality suppresses people, horrors always try to threaten this normality. In other words, normality restricts person’s freedom; for instance, to write something on the wall or build homosexual relationships leaving no opportunity to choose the one or the other way.
At the same time, horror helps to correlate with fears, which are clamped by social repression. Therefore, the growing popularity of horror films proves the fact that the society is not satisfied by the existing system. In this regard, disabled people serve as a symbol of discontent as well. Consequently, I completely agree with the author that people with disabilities should not cause compassionate emotions or aversion of the society. One never knows what could happen in the next moment because the human body is subjected to different deformations. What is more, disabled people presented in horror films remind the atrocity of the world in relation to those who are not the same.
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Limited and Justifiable Conclusion
In conclusion, it seems appropriate to emphasize common and distinct features of compared articles. The common characteristic of both articles is that they are based on qualitative research method as it involves the collection of information in a free form and focuses on the understanding, explanation, and interpretation of empirical data that is the source of speculation and productive ideas. Moreover, both articles reflect significant political and social issues shown in horror films.
Finally, the organization, language, and examples of both articles are comprehensible and appropriate. Speaking of the best tool to analyze horror films, I believe that both approaches deserve attention as they illuminate actual issues of the past and modern life. In my opinion, it is of great importance to examine the theme from different angles.
Sharrett raises an important social issue of modern life. It goes without saying that horror films reflect political and social issues occurring in the society. The author composes and analyzes different films to explore all the points of the problem, he proves the significance of horror films and provides the reader with all the necessary information. In its turn, Sutton reminds the reader of disabled people in horror movies.
In his article, the author points out the main ideas and changes that were connected to the considered theme. Consequently, one may conclude that the goal desired by the author was achieved because he provided an average reader with the useful and understandable information that makes people speculate about presented issues while watching horrors.