Horror Movies This Halloween Give Insight Into Human Nature

Oct 29, 2010, 10:56 ET from Wake Forest University

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This Halloween, as people watch horror films--from the earliest films to modern remakes--viewers will be frightened by a sense of vulnerability, says Wake Forest University communication professor Mary Dalton. Movies about vampires, werewolves and zombies show us that even the best of men and women are bitten and fall victim to the accompanying loss of control.

While loss of control can be a tragedy, it can also be a way to indulge in thinking about how our actions might be justifiable if we cannot restrain ourselves. "People like to escape their daily routine by immersing themselves in these fantastic tales that unleash our collective imagination," Dalton says.

"Vampires are all the rage now with the 'Twilight' series and multiple television shows, but the classic vampire was a nasty, ugly creature. All of this changed in 1931 when Bela Lugosi made the vampire sexy in Dracula. But women in these movies are still (mostly) passive receptacles of male desire in these films," says Dalton

Werewolf stories, she says, are often heartbreaking because they suggest that we cannot control our destiny or overcome our fate. Even the most steadfast of men cannot avoid becoming a beast when bitten.

Zombie movies date back to the early thirties. And the new AMC series "Walking Dead" is proof that their popularity continues. "It's no wonder that television is picking up on the trend. This new series parallels the way that the success of the 'Twilight' series in books and at the movies has motivated several small screen vampire series."

Dalton, an expert on movies, television, Hollywood trends and pop culture says audiences like the extraordinary, and enjoy the emotional rollercoaster of following people in peril. At a safe distance from the screen (big or small), she says, we can feel the adrenaline pulse through our veins when the tension rises without facing the actual decision of fight or flight or, perhaps, submit.

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SOURCE Wake Forest University