Do horror films mirror our society’s fears and social problems? Horror movies gives audiences a jolt of fear as the most frightening scene takes place on screen, but is that scene of horror connected to the horrors of our everyday life. The problems we fear everyday are coming alive on the big screen. Creators of these films are cleverly disguise our fears of isolation, change, and the unknown into their films. Or do we as a society have a sick need to have these fears scare us? Throughout the years of film history movie monsters have mirrored our social problems and fears; as our society changes through the years so do the monsters on the big screen.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) ...view middle of the document...
Francis, Jane and Cesare are all inmates of the insane asylum, and Dr. Cagliari is the asylum director.
The social problem would have been symbolized in the original script for Caligari stood for the authority of Germany, while Cesare represented the sleepwalking masses who had been sent by the millions to kill and be killed (Skal, 41). Also exposing the madness inherent in authority, but it was transformed by Wiene to a framing story which has Francis as the madman. Film historian, Siegfried Kracauer comments on this change, “A revolutionary film was thus turned into a conformist one- following the much-used patterns of declaring some normal but troublesome individual insane and sending him to a lunatic asylum (Kracauer,67).” The changes was made not to please Weien himself, but to please the masses and give the audience what they desired.
Caligari did however predict or had a premonition of the coming of Hitler. Dr. Cagliari uses hypnotic power to force his will upon his tool, Cesare. A technique that is foreshadowing, manipulation of the soul which Hitler was the first to practice on a massive scale (Kracauer, 73).
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was the first horror film of its kind, but it wasn’t till a decade later that the real movie monsters started to come alive.
Movie monsters became a form of escapism for people of the 1930’s when the U.S. stock market crashed and plunged America into the Great Depression. Americans found themselves in their own fears and nightmares of their broken American dream. The poor people when to the movies, with tickets priced at a nickel a film, the movies provide a cheap escape from the horrors of their life to forget their troubles for an hour or so (Eggersten). The horror films of the Great Depression included: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Freaks (1931) and The Mummy (1932). These films displayed more about the thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears of Americans and these creatures reinforced those fears that these Americans had (Poupard).
Frankenstein (1931) become the most famous horror film of the Great Depression, maybe because it showed their fear and dreams more than the...