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Fear can release adrenaline, satisfy audience curiosities about humanity, and make them feel a sense of adventure.
‘Tis the season to be scared—and what better way to accomplish that than with a horror movie?
The very first horror film, “Le Manoir du Diable,” or “The House of the Devil,” came out in 1898. And since then, horror has expanded to include even more monster movies, slasher flicks, psychological thrillers, and everything in between.
A 2021 poll found that just half of Americans enjoy scary movies, so what’s driven the history of horror?
“Horror is a cyclical thing where what’s popular on day one, at the end of the year, is no longer popular and something else is," said Darren Lynn Bousman.
Bousman has directed horror movies for over two decades, including several films in the “Saw” franchise. His latest, "Spiral,” made over $40 million worldwide in 2021.
“When I started off making the ‘Saw’ films, gore and violence was a gimmick. I used it to try to gross out the audience, as well as one-up other horror filmmakers," said Bousman.
While the 70s and 80s were known for slasher franchises like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” the early 2000s started a trend of violent gore. Today’s era of horror centers more on psychological suspense and social commentary.
But throughout the decades, what exactly has drawn audiences to horror?
A Harvard Business Review report found fear can release adrenaline, satisfy audience curiosities about humanity, and make them feel a sense of adventure.
The three highest grossing horror movies are the 1975 monster movie “Jaws,” the 2007 apocalypse thriller “I Am Legend,” and the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s “It."
“Sometimes, the monsters are actually very normal things that we then have to sort of breathe life into and make them terrifying. And so sometimes that’s even more exciting than just recreating something from scratch," said Joran Soles.
Soles is part of the team at Rodeo FX, the studio behind some of the scariest monsters in recent horror history: the Demogorgons of “Strangers Things,” the giant caterpillar of “Resident Evil,” and Pennywise the Clown from “It."
Scripps News Correspondent: “You guys are probably 90% responsible for the nightmares I had for like a whole year."
Soles: “You’re welcome."
Villains like Pennywise the Clown personify some of our greatest fears, but beyond the monsters, gore, and jump scares, what exactly makes something scary?
“It’s the story. That’s the thing that’s causing all of the tension and all of the fear, and those are the things that we love being a part of," said Soles.
Love them or hate them, horror stories aren’t going away anytime soon—even if you cover your eyes throughout.
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