From chilling tales shared in front of roaring campfires in the dead of night, to terrifying novels or even nerve-jangling movies and video games – we keep inventing new ways to make ourselves scream. For Friday 13th, check out how horror has evolved over the years to make sure we always end up cowering under the covers.
In the beginning, we used to scare ourselves with by listening to someone tell horror stories – perhaps at bedtime or around a campfire (especially at army camps). We would get goosebumps simply from listening to these stories, but these days, there are plenty more ways for us to get our fix.
The printed word
For those who love books, writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz craft tales of terror that one could read alone in their bedrooms in the dead of night, where the slightest sound in the hallway was enough to freeze our blood. Our imagination would be hard at work, and we would see ghosts and ghouls in every dark corner, scaring us so much that we wouldn’t want to go pee alone in the dark.
Some of the scariest have been made into movies, including Stephen King’s Carrie and William Blatty’s The Exorcist.
When Universal Pictures released Dracula in 1931, it drew in millions of moviegoers eager to have the elegant Count chill them to the bone. Watching it today, and you’ll be wondering how it ever managed to scare people. Cue the modern horror movie.
When movie producers realised that audiences love a good scare, the horror genre turned into huge entertainment. From the creep-fest that is Psycho to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic cinema, audiences over the years have been numbed by subtle references and creepy music. Then, in the 80s, a new genre of horror was born: gore.
Everyone’s probably familiar with Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street, and Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th. Just Google ‘horror prank’ and you’ll find plenty of scarers wearing Freddy or Jason masks. Not only was the gore genre scarier than Dracula, they were the first to be serialised. Yes, thanks to the audience’s insatiable appetites for gore movies, you now have horror franchises.
To date, these movies have more installments than your average superhero movie. From Nightmare on Elm Street (9 movies) to Friday the 13th (12 movies), newer franchises include Scream (4 movies), Final Destination (5 movies) and the latest gore favourite, Saw, with 7 movies (and an 8th one on the way). We just love to watch blood splashed across movie screens.
The horror genre also includes scary supernatural beings that literally jump-scare you off your seats. Remember The Conjuring, The Orphanage, or Insidious?
Of course, nothing scares us more than Asian horror stories, simply because of how relevant the stories are to us. We were often spooked by old wives’ tales when we were kids, so it’s only natural that these familiar spooks would freak us out even more as adults. Remember the creepy cling-on girl in the Thai movie, Shutter? Or the scary otherworldly residents that spooked Mun in the HK movie, The Eye?
While FPS games are popular, the horror genre also has a huge following. Whether you’re fighting zombies on Resident Evil, experiencing psychological horrors in Silent Hill, or getting constantly jump-scared on Dead Space, its popularity is evident in the number of sequels these titles have.
Where We Go From Here
These days, thanks to our insatiable appetite for horror (and for being scared), we now have haunted house tours, Halloween-themed everything, and even zombie runs.
Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see what form horror takes on next.