Horror

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Figure 21 from Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Caption reads "FIG. 21.—Horror and Agony, copied from a photograph by Dr. Duchenne."
Horror is barely ever on the side of the powerful or the mean. The good writers and filmmakers of the genre can tap into our very real fears and follow them to their logical conclusions. ~ April Wolfe
When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime. I’d seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. So seeing horror depicted on film doesn't affect me much. ~ Christopher Lee

Horror is the feeling of revulsion that usually follows a frightening sight, sound, or otherwise experience. It is the feeling one gets after coming to an awful realization or experiencing a deeply unpleasant occurrence. In other words, horror is more related to being shocked or scared (being horrified), while terror is more related to being anxious or fearful.

Quotes[edit]

  • I will make this city an object of horror and something to whistle at. Every last one passing by it will stare in horror and whistle over all its plagues.
  • I look before me at my lighted candles,
    I don’t want to turn around and see with horror
    How quickly the dark line is lengthening,
    How quickly the candles multiply that have been put out.
    • Constantine P. Cavafy, Candles (Κεριά), as translated by Manolis, in Constantine P. Cavafy: Poems (2008) edited by George Amabile.
  • Recent history has reminded us that racial terror makes for an effective freak show, as anyone following the cycle of police shooting, to protest, to grand jury acquittal already knows. H.P. Lovecraft once wrote of the difference between "mere physical fear" and "cosmic fear": the difference between being grossed out and, in the cosmic extreme, of having one’s sense of how the world works upended. True horror is cosmic fear. It’s there when I pass by cops at night, or when there’s a Confederate flag waving from the truck of a customer in the same restaurant as me. Horror, as Lovecraft described it, beckons "unexplainable dread." Keyword: unexplainable. Racism is no mystery. But whether it’s in store, at any given moment, certainly is.
  • When I finally took my husband to see Pet Sematary a few months ago, I looked over during the film, and my husband had his hands over his face...it was too funny.
    Women are wired to give birth, so maybe there's something in us that makes us more immune to horror, films with girls in bikinis getting raped and killed make me angry, but a really chilling horror film where it really gets under your skin and like it really could happen, those are the ones I like.
  • Emotions prepare us for action. They motivate seeking out rewarding stimuli, increasing alertness and avoiding threat (Bernhardt and Singer, 2012). Fear has a strong developmental and evolutionary function as a primordial reaction to danger that elicits a distinctive physiological and psychological response. The endocrine system releases epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol that excites the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and releases glucose into the bloodstream, preparing the body for physical action (Rodrigues et al., 2009). A concomitant increase in attentional vigilance (Finucane, 2011) and a bias toward threatening stimuli (Öhman et al., 2001) serve to heighten perceptual awareness, and learning/memory mechanisms (Öhman and Mineka, 2001). Fear is associated with changes in both the central and peripheral nervous system (Ekman, 1992; Kreibig, 2010; Nummenmaa and Saarimäki, 2017; Panksepp, 1982) and is also characterized by an idiosyncratic subjective experience (Nummenmaa et al., 2014a, Nummenmaa et al., 2014b; Nummenmaa et al., 2018b, Nummenmaa et al., 2018a; Volynets et al., 2019) and overt expression (Smith et al., 2005).
  • Acute fear in response to encountering threat is associated with a distinctive pattern of neural activity distributed through the cerebellum (Ploghaus et al., 1999), limbic system (Knight et al., 2004; LaBar et al., 1998), and cortex (prefrontal: Phelps, Delgado, Nearing and LeDoux, 2004; sensory: Morris et al., 2001; cingulate: Milad et al., 2007; insula: Critchley et al., 2002; motor: Lissek et al., 2014). This distributed network (Saarimäki et al., 2016) enables the rapid detection and appraisal of threat, its saliency to oneself, the employment of executive functioning and memory for decision making and action planning, and the implementation of action plans (Zhu and Thagard, 2002).
    In addition to generating immediate survival responses, fear systems also modulate vigilance in anticipation of threat caused by environmental cues, perceptual uncertainty, and ambiguity that elicits a sustained fear prior to actual encountering of threat (Fanselow, 1994; Lang et al., 2000; Lehne and Koelsch, 2015). This gives rise to subjective feelings of anxiety, tension, suspense, dread, or foreboding that reflects a generalized anticipatory preparedness for the possibility of potential danger. Several recent studies have shown that spatiotemporally distant threats elicit activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus and amygdala, which are associated with a cognitive mechanism of fear that reflects the need for complex information processing and memory retrieval to generate an adaptive and flexible response. A threat that is proximal in space or time, on the other hand, elicits a reactive fear response of immediate action and fight or flight, and which elicits activity in the periaqueductal gray, amygdala, hypothalamus, and middle cingulate cortex (Mobbs et al., 2007; Qi et al., 2018).
  • The horror genre has changed throughout the years depending on what’s going on in the world. A lot of feminists will say the slasher films where women were being butchered were, in some ways, because women were becoming emancipated. They think killing women was a reaction to that, but a lot of times the women, in the end, were the heroes and the only one who lived so it had a feminist edge there. Then when we were all afraid of nuclear weapons there were all these films with Sci-Fi edge things that had been created out of nuclear waste. Who knows, they will always find something that is scary that is relevant to what we are going through. The resurgence of the Mummy came around when the gulf war was going on because people have always found the Middle East kind of mysterious. I think society can breathe “death”, as The Crypt Keeper would say, into horror.
  • What was the whole literature of supernatural horror but an essay to make death itself exciting?—wonder and strangeness to life’s very end.
  • The horror experience is most scary when the player really isn’t sure whether their character is going to live or diedeath and survival need to be on a constant see-saw. If there’s a situation where you’re not 100% sure that you can avoid or defeat the enemies, if you feel maybe there’s a chance you’ll make it – that’s where horror lies. Creating that situation is vital. Also, I don’t want to just stand there shooting dozens of enemies. Die! Die! Die! I don’t have the energy for that.
  • ...murder, mayhem, robbery, rape, cannibalism, carnage, necrophilia, sex, sadism, masochism ... and virtually every other form of crime, degeneracy, bestiality and horror.
  • What is almost universally true of horror is that it’s been used as a tool to express social and political discontent for the marginalized since its creation. It’s a kind of popcorn propaganda that’s allowed writers and filmmakers to voice their anxieties while couching them in titillating narratives that would fly below any political censors.

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