Movies are awesome and people get a lot of joy from watching stories unfold in front of their eyes and not knowing what’s going to happen next. Horror movies have people divided, though. Some absolutely love horror films, others avoid them as much as possible.
Watching horror films can stimulate our senses and cause fright, which triggers a release of adrenaline. This results in heightened sensations, which explains why we love watching these scary movies.
Do you love the thrill of a horror movie as well? Then you probably have a favorite kind of horror genre. There are many different kinds of horror films, and I invite you to join me as I take a closer look at them.
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1. Demonic Possession Horror
These films play into the unknown of human experiences with ‘the devil’ or ‘demons’. Demons are part of our historical storytelling and have been for centuries. For as long as people can remember, they’ve been frightened by tales of demons and their possession of humans.
These demons also represent evil in various forms, be that supernatural, religious, or mythical.
One of the most popular demonic possession horror films has to be The Exorcist, the 1973 film directed by William Friedkin. If you love horror films, chances are you have watched this one at one point or another.
The Exorcist is probably to thank for today’s wide range of horror films, and it helped shape the demonic genre of scary movies.
2. Paranormal Horror
This genre is closely related to demonic horrors but can dive into different kinds of scary topics. Ghosts, ghouls, demons, and spirits are brought to life in paranormal horrors to scare viewers and make them look over their shoulders uncomfortably.
Paranormal horrors can also feature demons, though in these films they don’t possess people but haunt and torment them instead. Furniture moving on its own and creepy reflections are a common occurrence in these films.
There are many paranormal horrors with demonic spirits and events that are worth watching, and the most famous one could easily be Poltergeist.
3. Monster Horror
As the genre name suggests, monster horrors are all about grotesque, creepy, weird, and scary monsters that scare the main characters of the film. The antagonists of these films are never human and could even be aliens or enormous sea creatures.
Monsters terrorizing people seem to be thrilling to watch, but in most cases, we always cheer for the heroes to somehow defeat them and save the day.
There are so many monster horrors that listing them all would keep us busy for a long time. But if you’re interested in getting to know the genre, A Quiet Place is a great film to get started with.
4. Body Horror
In body horror films, we are shown the scary things that can happen when human bodies turn into something disgusting and fearsome.
The aim of these films is often to make viewers think about the abominations that are within us. Though, in most cases, we don’t do that. We just enjoy the gruesome special effects and screams of those who inevitably die in the film.
The Fly is one of the most well-known body horror films and is definitely worth a watch. It doesn’t matter if you watch the 1958 version or the later one made in 1986 featuring Jeff Goldblum, you’ll enjoy the stories these films tell.
5. Slasher Horror
In slasher horror films, the villains are always human, but often with unnatural powers such as great speed or strength. Typically, slasher horrors feature serial killers that terrorize a group of people or a city.
The killers will stalk their prey and kill them in the most brutal and gruesome ways possible. No one can stand against these killers, except the main protagonists, of course.
One of the best-known slasher horrors has to be Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, though his character has a supernatural twist as he murders teens while they sleep. Michael Myers is also a famous slasher killer who strikes fear into anyone who has the misfortune of getting in his way.
6. Zombie Horror
Zombie horrors are some of the most-watched because people like to see the main characters not only face off against monsters but also survive in apocalyptic environments.
We like to imagine how we would have acted in the same situations and laugh about how much smarter we would have been. Also, the special effects are awesome and make us feel like zombies could be real if the right kind of thing goes wrong (all it takes is an infection!).
Zombies are difficult to kill when they come in hordes and seeing the main characters escape and fight them off is quite thrilling. 28 Days Later was an introduction to zombie horrors for many of us and remains a must-see to this day.
7. Gore Horror
As you might gather from the name of this horror genre, these films are all about graphic violence and lots of blood. Body trauma and guts falling out of bodies are to be expected, and in generous amounts.
The special effects of these films have to be really good to convince viewers that they’re seeing some truly awful things happen to the characters on screen. Dismemberment and maiming are almost always demanded in gore films.
The Evil Dead is a great example of this kind of horror and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should add it to your ‘must-watch’ list.
8. Witchcraft Horror
This is a smaller genre of horror than the zombie or monster genres, but still has a loyal following who know witchcraft horrors can be fantastic.
Witches are always a source of scary stories and they make for brilliant antagonists. In these films, they can do horrible things to people and enjoy doing so. Much like paranormal horrors, these films have supernatural elements that help make the stories believable.
Films like Susperia and The Witch are good examples of witchcraft horror that will make you think twice about messing with women who know how to cast spells and curse folks.
9. Vampire Horror
Thanks to English literature, vampire stories have become very popular and resulted in many great vampire horrors being made. These films can come in two forms: the kind where the vampires are ugly and not at all human, and the kind where the vampires are attractive and alluring but deadly.
There are many good vampire films to enjoy the horror of vampires, such as the classic movie, Dracula. Not all of them romanticize vampires, but if that’s something you like, you’ll enjoy Interview with a Vampire.
Films like Priest make the vampires evil and an enemy to defeat rather than fawn over, and are ideal for viewers who don’t like their vampires with pretty smiles and witty lines.
This genre of horror films became very popular in the 2000s after the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. The film, which tells the story of three missing people who encountered something spooky and disappeared, was a hit and is still a cult classic.
Found footage films are scary because they are told in a way that makes us think that the events could easily happen to us.
Although the ‘true stories’ are obviously exaggerated, these films have a more believable vibe and can scare viewers without the use of lots of gore or jump scares.
Unlike most horror films that are all about visuals and sounds, psychological horrors are focused on how they make viewers feel. These films are meant to play tricks on the viewers’ minds and make them question what they think.
Psychological horrors can greatly influence the viewers’ emotional states and mess with their minds. They can also feel a little too real for some people, making them truly scary.
Typically, the main characters of these films are mentally unstable or emotionally disturbed and act accordingly. One of the best examples of a psychological horror movie is The Shining, starring a masterful Jack Nicholson.
12. Folk Horror
Folk horror is not as well-known as most of the other horror genres, and these films often go unnoticed by the general public. Folk horror is all about the terror of the unknown in rural and natural areas: places where people don’t go too often but aren’t supposed to be scary.
Us horror lovers seem to find rows and rows of corn and wide, open spaces very scary and imagine horrible things to happen there. Add a creepy-looking barn and children laughing eerily to the mix and you get goosebumps!
If you enjoy this kind of film, Children of the Corn, Midsommar, and The Wicker Man are a few of the good ones you should give a watch.
The last horror genre on our list is also the least intimidating one. Comedic horrors are meant to poke fun at the scary things that happen in horror films, but they can still be pretty gruesome and disturbing.
Typically, you can expect to laugh a lot when watching comedic horrors but also wince at the violence and feel bad for the characters that die horrible deaths as the movie progresses.
If you need a few suggestions, Shaun of the Dead and The Cabin in the Woods are two classic examples of comedic horrors that are as funny as they are grisly and scary.
The History of Horror in TV and Entertainment
Spooky stories are nothing new – we’ve been telling each other scary tales since the dawn of time. Getting together and trying to make each other yelp with fear is something that people take a lot of joy in. What’s more fun than telling your friends about a creepy urban legend and seeing them look around in fear?
The history of horror is long and much of it isn’t even recorded, it’s just passed on from one generation to the next with the help of ‘old wives’ tales’ and myths.
As for the history of horror in the film and television industry, that’s a bit easier to keep track of. The very first horror film was ‘Le Manoir Du Diable’, which is French for ‘The Devil’s Castle’ or ‘The Haunted Castle’. It was made by Georges Melies, a French filmmaker, all the way back in 1896.
Since then, many horror films have been made, including Frankenstein, made in 1931, and classics like Dracula, released in that same year. Today, there are thousands of horror films, some of them really good, some not so good.
The Characteristics of Horror Movies
So, what makes a horror film a horror film? There are many elements that are important and should be present in order for a movie to be truly scary and worth the time of a horror fan.
Note that this list is based more on my personal opinion than any scientific facts, and you’re allowed (and encouraged) to have a different view on things.
Although many horror fans complain about how jump scares are ‘cheap tricks’ to make people react, they are also a big part of what makes horror movies so popular. Not everyone likes the sudden noises and images, but jump scares can also be good for a chuckle, even if it’s a nervous one.
Horror movies without gore just don’t feel right (unless you’re watching a psychological horror). At some point in the movie, someone has to be hurt so badly that their insides fall out or they lose a limb or something in that vein.
Gore can become annoying if not done right, so the right amount and the right kind of gore are important!
A horror film, especially psychological horrors, has to play with your mind and mess you up a bit. The important thing is that the viewer is scared mentally and/or emotionally and thinks about the film long after the end credits roll.
Although most horror films don’t need a really well-written story, if you watch a horror with a great story, it elevates the experience. Watching gore, enjoying jump scares, and rooting for the heroes (or monsters if you want) while getting treated to a good backstory is quite satisfactory!
Interesting Angles and Shots
Unique perspectives, interesting camera angles, and unexpected shots are always welcome in horror films. Of course, sophisticated camera work isn’t necessary, but it makes a movie a lot more interesting and enjoyable.
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Great Music and Sounds
The music and special effect sounds used in a horror film can make or break just how scary it is. Good, scary music and effect sounds that are natural and well-timed can help immerse you in a film and make it a lot scarier.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Scares People in Horror Movies Most?
Horror films are supposed to play to the viewers’ greatest fears and phobias and make them uncomfortable.
Here are some of the elements that scare people the most and are used in horror films:
- Abandoned places and buildings
- The dark
- Crawly, creepy things
- Disfigurement and dismemberment
- Scary music
What Are the 5 Elements of Horror?
This isn’t a simple question to answer as it can depend on personal opinions and preferences. However, here are the five elements that are considered the most important:
- Timely Spoilers
What Was the First Horror Movie?
It is believed that the very first horror was the three-minute short film ‘Le Manoir du Diable’, which was released in 1896.