British Horror

Hammer Horror

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 09.27.02

AV History of Hammer

Also worth watching is part two of Mark Gatiss’s Excellent History of Horror which focuses on Bray Studios and Hammer.

Traditional Hammer-style (examples)

Theatre of Blood

Plague of the Zombies

The Devil Rides Out

DraculaPrince of Darkness (1965)

Blood on Satan’s Claw

Contemporary Horror (examples)


Dog Soldiers – Full Movie



The Descent

Critically Complex / Hybrid (examples)

The Witchfinder General Trailer

Full Film

The Wicker Man

34m Documentary on the Making of the Wicker Man

Don’t Look Now

AS FILM STUDIES The Horror Genre Class notes

1.     Settings

Typically as follows:

Small communities or isolated places.

Urban environments, dark streets and narrow alleyways. Large cities or run down ghost towns.

Anything that connotes isolation or being alone. Often sometimes places with “dark” history, like abandoned houses, hotels and insane asylums.

Locations for any good horror genre film could be: Lakes, Roads, Highways, Countryside, Barns, Farms, Dark Woods, Woodlands, Houses, Cabins, Cities, Subways, Gloomy Underground Tunnels, Creepy Hotels, Abandoned Houses, Haunted Houses, Space-Stations (for Sci-Fi Horror), Graveyards/Cemeteries, Dungeons, Deserted Ships at Sea, Space Ships, Alien Planets (Like Predators), basements, attics, meat factories, science labs, London Underground, Shopping Malls, Cornfield, Pirate Ship, Tundra, Asylum, Deep Water, Blizzards and many other dark locations.

2.     Technical Codes

Camerawork is very expressive and not natural. (Although Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and REC try to emulate the ‘found footage’ tradition of Cannibal Holocaust.

High and Low angles can connote fear and nightmares.

POV shots are important because they allow the audience to see the world from the monster’s eye. This happens roughly at the end or in the middle of typical horror film (Evil Dead had a very long POV shot when  chasing Ash the hero through his house).

Handheld shots make it difficult for the audience to make out what is happening. These along with rapid disjointed angles, close ups  and cuts add to the spectator’s sense of disorientation.

Cloverfield is one prime example of this, since the entire movie is shot with a handheld camera to promote the feeling of terror and the unknown.

Sometimes framework uses limited depth of field, makes it harder to see the monster creeping up behind the protagonist.

Disturbing sounds are very important in a horror movie. Ambient diegetic sounds like footsteps and non-diegetic sounds (like a heartbeat).

Types of shots used like ECU on a certain victim’s face can help the audience identification with horror and fear, and also to exclude any threats (if we can’t see it, then its more terrifying).

Editing can create unsettling tension and suspense.

3.     Visual Style and Iconography

Often dark colours like red and black (links to evil, blood and danger etc).

Lighting is expressive and non-naturalistic.

Low-key lighting can help to create dark shadows and unfamiliar shapes in the blackness.

Lighting may be explored in the world of the film (like bonfires, fireplaces and torches).

Props can help us to further identify horror genre. Specific props can be identified with a certain villain or character (Chainsaws, Machetes, Knife, Claw Gauntlets, Costumes, Firearms etc).

Common objects include: Weapons, Masks, Icons of the Supernatural, Religious Icons etc).

The iconography of the monsters help to connote extreme fear, disgust and terror: Werewolves, Vampires, Mummies, Frankenstein and many others. Animals may take on a primeval quality.

4.     Narrative Structure

Classic narrative structure largely made applicable to the Horror genre but it can either be left for closure or maybe perhaps leave room for sequel and thus enable a franchise (Like Friday the 13th, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street) There’s always a hero a protagonist, a man or “final girl” of the film, keeping with the normal conventions of the genre. Usually the hero must embark on a mission or quest to kill or solve problems.

Some narratives are very formulaic and this is practically present in sub-genres, most noticeably Slasher films. After some event that turns the killer insane or by some childhood past or even psychotic medical issues, the villain returns to his home-town and always preys on teenagers. These teenagers represent “immorality” and are therefore justifiably killed quickly and there is always (sometimes) a survivor, most likely a female character.

The Main Protagonist – The Villain, often a monster, mutated freak, alien or serial killer. Demonic children (The Exorcist; Village of the Damned).

Also Ghosts, Zombies, Demons, Psychopaths, Stalkers

5. Themes and Sub-genres

Good Versus Evil (The Dracula Films)

Depression and Psychosis (Jacob’s Ladder)

Religion (The Omen, Any Dracula film, The Exorcist)

Childhood (Village of the Damned, The Exorcist, The Wicker Man, Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby)

Supernatural (Poltergeist)

Creature Horror (Alien, Frankenstein)

Beyond Death / the Body Shock (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; The Fly, The Elephant Man, Alien))

Science gone wrong (28 Days Later; 28 Weeks Later)

Zombie Apocalypse (The Dead Series)

Nightmares (Nightmares of A Damaged Brain)

Madness and Insanity (Bedlam)

Slasher (Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween Driller Killer )

Torture (Saw, Hostel)

Section B: British Film Topics Choose one question from this section.

British Film and Genre

You should discuss a minimum of two British films in your answer and base it on one of the following: Horror or Comedy.

To what extent are the narratives of the films you have studied for this topic typical of their genre? [40]

How important is the representation of a particular time and place in the films you have studied for this topic?[40]

To what extent do the films you have studied for this topic try to narrate specifically ‘British’ stories? [40]

In what ways do genre conventions determine how particular characters are represented in the films you have studied for this topic? [40]

How far are the characters in the films you have studied for this topic typical of their genre? [40]

What have you found to be distinctively ‘British’ about the genre films you have studied for this topic? [40]

How are narrative devices used to increase the impact of horror or comedy in the films you have studied for this topic? [40]

How is gender represented in the horror or comedy films you have studied for this topic? [40]






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s