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Conventions of Horror genre

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Harriet Edwards

on 21 November 2012

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Transcript of Conventions of Horror genre

Conventions Of
The Horror Genre By
Harriet Edwards Mise-en-scene
Iconography Typical themes Promotional Package Conventions Institutional Details Common Objects Colour and Lighting Costumes Props Typical features Typical Characters Typical Setting There is usually an element involving death for example, a murder, a ghost presence, living dead (Vampires and Zombies), dead body shown. The setting is usually rather isolate or perhaps even in a rather small community. This can include large cities and ghost towns (typically abandoned). Urban environment with dark streets and back side alleys where shadows are lurking. Basically to sum it up anything that suggests isolation or gives a feeling of being alone. There is usually a form of Hero or protagonist in the piece which must embark on a form of mission to kill/solve the problem/s at hand. This role is traditionally undertaken by a male yet from time it can be a female.
There is also usually a victim who either is subject to the monsters/evils/villains madness/tortures or more often then not ends up dead.
The Heroes/victims ofter are the main protagonist in the piece. Certain props can be associated with specific Villain or character. For example, Knife, chainsaw, machetes, claw gauntlets, fire arms etc. an example where this is used is Sweeney Todd where his weapon of choice being his cut throat razors. The horror genre often uses dark colours to portray a more sinister feel. These colours usually include red and black which link closely to the blood, evil, and danger. common features in horror films.
Colours can also be used to show evil within characters. for example the usage of white to show innocence and purity, and the usage of darker colours to represent the darkness within the monster/villain. yet this does not always follow these conventions as their are films where the monster is presented wearing white such as in the grudge and the ring where they are not so innocent as would be perceived. Costumes in horror films tend to rather dark to keep in style with the piece. They usually use black or darker colours in their costumes to represent the evil in the piece, yet sometimes white comes into play. Typically the lighter colours are used to represent the good guys/hero/heroine in the piece. Some become iconic/familiar such as the hockey mask in Friday the 13th, where we can see the image and think of the film itself. Most Horror films tend to have some kind of weapon featured in the film itself. This is either used by the Villain against the victim or by the hero character against the monster. The weapon can be a visible object such as a knife, saw or fire arm or it can be a psychological weapon which prays upon the victims emotional/instinctual response to the situation. Revenge
Childhood issues
Good VS Evil
Living Dead
Zombie Apocalypse/invasion Posters and magazine covers tend to focus on either the main monster/main character in the piece, the main setting for the film or an iconic image which the audience will be able to identify from the trailer or film.
The colours tend to keep in style of the traditional conventions of the horror genre, which basically gives them a rather dark colour palate to work with. Twisted Pictures-biggest grossing film series being the 'Saw' films. Grossed more then half a billion dollars. Their primary focus is horror film production. A film company becoming more present in the industry around the year 2003. They also created remakes of Walking with zombies (from 1943) and The body snatcher (from 1945) There is often a monster/evil that the main characters have to face/defeat. for example hiding from and killing Zombies in 28 days later. Blood tends to be a common feature in horror films. It can be seen after/during/before and attack usually on a person/animal. As it is a common spectacle to see in horror films then a film without this feature would seem exceptional odd to the viewer. Horror films usually have an element designed to frighten and or unsettle the audience in some way. This may involve the monster popping up where you least expect it and making you jump or an action carried out by the monster/s or monstrous character that is unnerving. It may even be as simple as an evil laugh. The films typically either simply end their stories in the one film alone or they leaves room for a sequel. Those leaving space for sequels can result in franchises much as the Saw films, and Friday the 13th did. The narrative usually presents sub-genres which are more noticeable in slasher films, in which the villain/killer after either a psychotic medical episode or mearly turning insane heads of to kill some strangers (typically teenagers, where there is usually a survivor) thus the genre is horror but it is also focusing on medical issues. Sometimes in horror films the setting is somewhere with a dark past (history). These can be places such as Hotels, Hospitals, Insane asylums,or old houses which a usually abandoned or gaining a new occupant. There is often some sort of villain typically seen in such films as saw, human centipede, or Sweeney Todd who is either the murderer, the creator of the evil/monster, the evil/monster itself, or the person instigating what will happen to the characters involved. The Villain can be either a monster, mutated freak, alien, or a serial killer. Children if featured in horror films usually play a more sinister role. examples of this can be seen in 'let the right one in' and 'The ring'. If the child is playing the monster then they are more likely to be girls rather than boys. This puts forward the idea that little girls are alot creepier then little boys. There is always a monster in one form or another whether this be a ghost, Zombie, Werewolf, Deamon, Psychopath, Stalker, mutant, alien, Vampire, poltergeist. These are but a few of what monster types there are as the list is practically endless. Props can also be used as a starter to the horror itself for example in sinister the monster is brought out after the main character watches a piece of footage with him on unleashing him into the real world. And in the ring the monster is brought into reality again when a tape is played containing her image. There are also props which cause a change to the main character such as in Cronos where the main protagonist is transformed into a vampire by a scarab beetle. Lighting also helps to give a darker/sinister atmosphere to the piece. The usage of low-key lighting is used in many horror films to create dark shadows and unfamiliar shapes. It can also be used to give atmosphere to one of the characters, for example the villain/monster may be mostly in shadow to represent the dark nature where as the victim/hero may have more light around them to show the good/light/innocence within them. Some costumes tend to link with a particular evil/monster in horror films. For example mummies are usually rapped in layers of dusty old cloth, are decaying and can sometimes be found with scarab beetles. And Zombies are usually seen in shredded blood stained clothing with a particular diranged look about their face. They also have a rather traditional walk and usually make a moaning sound. Traditional vampires tend to have floor length black capes and two fangs. Werewolves are half human and half wolf and pretty much all fur. So with each of these styles the audience tends to be able to pick out which monster is which. Masks are another common feature in horror films, particularly in slasher movies or films such as Scream or Texas chainsaw massacre. They help to hide the monster from the audience and leave a distinctive image in our minds. In many horror films there are often icons which focus on the supernatural. For example a crystal ball, a witches grimoire or cauldron, or Ouija boards used to communicate with spirits. their may be an artifact relating to the ghost such as a necklaces or a charm. there might even be objects used to awaken the dead such as in 'The Mummy'. Religious items are often featured in horror films . These can be small and hardly seen perhaps only every know and then such as a crucifix around a characters neck. They may be big and obvious such as a hand held cross when going up against a vampire. There may be a bible present if the film involves an exorcism. It can be a vile of holy water given by a priest or wine and bread blessed or broken by a priest. Yet more often the not religious items do tend to crop up in a vast number of horror movies. Monsters Monsters in horror films a specifically designed to connote either disgust, terror or fear. This fear can either be a rational response to something that we see on the screen for a short period of time or tap into our subconscious and remain with us for a while after the film has ended making us want to talk about it. Fear of the monsters help the audience to relate to the characters dealing with them. The more human like the monster or the more realistic it is can tap into a specific wavelength in some people getting them to contemplate whether or not it is in fact possible for the monster to at some point exist. These may be things such as ghosts, zombies and aliens. the things that leave you thinking are always better then the ones that do not as that keep interest withing the sub genre. Then there are the monsters that are themselves human. The serial killers and psychopaths, the murderers and deranged people with mental issues which are already in existence. The real monsters if you will, that people have already had to deal with. These can be anybody, a person you pass in the street, somebody you work with perhaps, maybe a person you live next door to, even your best friend or a member of your own family. These are people who surround us from day to day and we won't even know until it was too late. The reality of these types of monsters is what keeps our interest in them and thus they continually tend to crop up in the films. Religion
Science gone wrong
Questioning reality
Freedom/Control The trailer tends to either link with the poster or promotional image on front of magazines. The colours are usually the same and it usually features the main character often present on one or both of the other promotional pieces. In basic of the film and terms it shows the genre of the film and presents the standard story without giving enough away for the audience not to have to see the film. This is typical of most film trailers yet these are designed to scare and make the audience realize this will be good to see if they want to be scared. The posters and magazines promoting the film take elements from this that they believe the audience will recognize the most and work them into their design. Universal Pictures have dove into the horror film industry creating such films as Dawn of the Dead( budget $28,000,000, Gross $102,356,381) and sequels to Romero's Living Dead series such as Land of the dead(Budget $15,000,000, Gross $46,770,602). Perhaps the most well known production company for the horror film industry is "Hammer Horror Productions". They have been successful with dozens of films since they began in 1934. Such as Dracula (budget £81,000, gross not found), The Curse Of Frankenstein (budget £65,000, gross $7,000,000), and more recently The Woman In Black(budget $17,000,000, gross $54,322,273).
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