Horror and mood

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror (1929) are examples of the same genre: horror. As works of horror, moviegoers to the former and readers of the latter expect a number of things from each work. For example, when we are told that Dawn of the Dead is a horror film, we may have a certain set of expectations about the kind of atmosphere or images we will experience if we watch it. More specifically, we do not expect to see a snooty cat and a courageous dog, with their celebrity voices, work together to save an abandoned kid in trouble. On the contrary, we expect to see blood, possibly murder, and to experience a dark atmosphere. The fact that we have specific expectations and intuitions about horror films (or novels, paintings, or other works) does not imply that we are always able to classify what is and what is not a horror film. Consider, for example, Roman Polanski’s “apartment trilogy,” which comprises Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and The Tenant (1976). Rosemary’s Baby is generally considered a horror movie, whereas the other two are hybrids: thriller/psychological-horror films. Other examples are the Italian giallo movies, such as Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso [Deep red] (1975). Profondo Rosso is generally considered a horror film, but with many elements particular to the detective and noir genres. Exploitation films are also hard to classify: some of them can be considered examples of horror films, such as Wes Craven’s shock film Last House on the Left (1972).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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