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Jaws Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Is Jaws A Horror Movie?

First, I will intend to take you on a brief journey through the horror genre and the conventions that have been associated with this type of film. Second, I will show you how these conventions are used in Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). To get started, we are going to investigate the first era or as it was called, the silent era. This era was based on monsters such as Frankenstein (1910), Dracula (1912) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). These black and white horror films were all about the make-up and the clever use of lighting, to add their thrills and chills. The first conventions that we see are the ‘revealing of the monsters’ and the use of ‘isolated houses’ where the monsters are based, this shows the isolated aspects. This left audiences feeling panicky and unnerved. These films had to rely on the music, yet they still lack the big horror genre fear factor. Through the talkies (1930s-1940s) little changed, they still had the monsters, the same monsters, the same storylines, but the Atomic Phase of the 1950s soon made its impact. Sci-fi and hammer movies took centre stage, Godzilla (1954) and The Blob (1958) were hug box office hits because the films grabbed the audience attention as they were based at nuclear war as science was really important then.
From here horror moved on to the witchcraft and the undead, films such as Peeing Tom (1960) and The Night of Dead (1990). New films brought with them new conventions. Zombie films trapped the audience, where claustrophobic attack scenes where a key feature. Zombies travelled closer towards the audience and crowded camera leaving the audience terrified. Horror finally became horror we know today, with the slasher movie era. Horror films became more realistic but also they became more stylised. Based on a real life tragic such as, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978) and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), our screens where awash with blood. This is where we see the introduction of new conventions, male psycho, the unwilling hero and teenager in trouble. There are also soul survivors that continue the sequence with such films as Friday the 13th (1980) clocking up 11 sequels. The only horror genre that arrived focused on suspense, such as the Ring (2002) and the Grudge (2004). Towards the end of the era we see excessive blood and gore, more victims, violence and sadism and finally torture, Saw (2004) and Hostel (2002) are well known Hollywood examples.

As I have already mentioned Jaws is an important movie because it was the first real blockbuster, grossing $450 million. A common discussion is whether Jaws is a horror or thriller, I am going to analyse two key scenes to help you decide. The film starts under water from a shark’s point of view, at the depths in the bottom of the ocean, the music is unnerving. Only the audience don’t know it’s a shark. We then switch to a calm atmosphere on the beach, students are gathered round the fire drinking, smoking...

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