Horror is an ancient art form. We have tried to terrify each other with tales which trigger the less logical parts of our imaginations for as long as we’ve told stories. From the ballads of the ancient world to modern urban myths, audiences willingly offer themselves up to sadistic storytellers to be scared witless, and they are happy to pay for the privilege.
Horror movies deliver thrills by the hearseload, as well as telling us stories of the dark, forbidden side of life (and death) – cautionary tales for grown ups. They also provide a revealing mirror image of the anxieties of their time. Nosferatu (1922) is not simply a tale of vampirism, but offers heart-rending images of a town beleaguered by premature and random deaths, echoes of the Great War and the Great Flu Epidemic fatalities.
As we move on into the twenty first century, the ghosts and zombies are back in vogue as Eastern and Western superstitions converge, and once more we yearn for an evil that is beyond human. In an era of war and water boarding, supernatural terror is more palatable than the fear inherent in news headlines.