Contagious diseases, the blood sucking undead, villainous mutants, deadly parasites, body snatchers; Horror movies are all filled with common fears held by its audience and the public overall. These fears presented in horror movies are induced by actual events occurring at some point in history. In the past we don’t directly see Count Dracula, Frankenstein and Jason Voorhees attacking society but, reading between the lines, the villains in horror movies are present in the antagonists in real life. Whether it’s the representation of the nuclear war in Night of the Living Dead or societal division in The Hills Have Eyes, there is some truth in the fears present in horror movies. Horror movies throughout history reflect society; its fears, events and over all state.
It’s no coincidence that after some devastating event in history happens, a strain of horror movies emerge in its path: “The fright genre has traditionally flourished in straitened times. Weimar Germany, the Great Depression and the 1970s oil crisis all coincided, not so coincidentally, with new waves of innovative, inventive nightmare visions that hold up a mirror to their eras just as much as the po-faced social-realist dramas of the day” (Billson). Horror movies thrive off the current events because it’s channeling the fears society. In the article “We’re All Dirty Harry Now”, Riegler says that “violent movie genres fed on political and social turmoil” (18), using societies fears to their advantage. Basing the horrors in horror movies off current events only frightens the audience more because it makes them feel as if these fears could come to life and attack.
In the late 1960’s, Night of the Living Dead was not only terrifying to its viewers because images of the flesh eating undead were shown, but also because these villainous beings were created by radioactivity. During the 1960’s, radioactivity during the nuclear war was a fear among society so, the creation of zombies in Night of the Living Dead didn’t seem so far-fetched. Today, horror films have become “steadily more progressive” (Sharrett) and the link between current events and horror movies are still present: “Nowadays, there seems to be more collective anxiety than ever for horror movies to tap into. […] In Cabin Fever, college graduates on a bucolic jaunt succumb one by one to the sort of flesh-eating bug that one can so easily pick up in today's hospitals. And 28 Days Later offers a vision of a Britain overrun by a virus that turns its inhabitants into fast-moving, flesh-eating zombies, only a “few notches down from the rowdy binge-drinkers of tabloid cautionary tales” (Billson). Cinema’s use these realistic fears as a ploy to make profit, tapping into the audiences fear of the realistic horrors in life. People fear that the horrors in every day society may escalate into something much worse; a zombie apocalypse, an alien invasion.
Because horror films are “steadily progressive” in terms of current events as...