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Monsters and Masks

Monsters and Masks

(Horror and Terror, Part 1)

(p.154) Chapter 6 Monsters and Masks
Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s
David Roche
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter opens with a critical discussion of the notions of horror, terror and dread, which are defined according to a dialectic between the presence and absence of “monstrous” stimuli. The analyses show that the 1970s films consistently undermine the opposition between human and monster, revealing that the monster and the “monstrous” are not discrete concepts but shifting values within the films, and surely within the viewers’ cultural frameworks. As for the 2000s remakes, they significantly increase the danger factor by playing up the “monstrous” characters’ superhuman strength and omnipotence. This contemporary trend affects both the politics and the aesthetics of contemporary horror films: first, it somewhat downplays the “monstrous” characters’ status as victims that enabled a progressive subtext in the 1970s films, even though the contemporary films emphasize these characters’ motives on the diegetic level; secondly, it leaves less time to contemplate the “monstrous” stimuli that are, quite simply, too effective.

Keywords:   Monster, Horror, Terror, Danger, Disgust

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