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Video: Horror Masks: Ghost, Zombie, Werewolf & More - Reviews
Let's look at the horror genre from a special angle: to cause fear in the viewer is far from the most important task.
In Steps to the Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson writes that life is a set of complex circuits of interaction, from which consciousness is able to grab only parts corresponding to its intentions. Art, on the other hand, "corrects an overly focused view of life and turns it into a more complete systems approach."
The true engine of horror is some culturally significant ethical issue wrapped in some kind of actual fear. Each of them is associated with a specific "archetype" of the genre.
This is all that we have created or released due to stupidity or false motives, and now are unable to control. Literally - from Frankenstein to Vincenzo Natali's Chimera. Metaphorically - from environmental disaster to bacteriological weapons. At the heart of all films about a nameless creature (which can take absolutely any form) is the question of what is better: to take a step into the unknown (and accept the unknown consequences of your actions) or to maintain the xenophobic status quo. And each new "new technology" brings with it an avalanche of horror stories about a nameless creature, which reflects our next fears of another possible future.
All stories about the unworked past are associated with this character. What you diligently forgot will come back and haunt you in your dreams - this is not only the common truth of psychology, but also the plot of "A Nightmare on Elm Street". Yes, and in psychosomatic manifestations, of course. Ghosts scare you, injure and spoil your life in every possible way, and behind each of them lies some kind of mystery in the past.
The plots are associated with the fear of being absorbed by society. Zombie films raise many ethical questions about the impact of media, propaganda, advertising, and other brainwashing technologies.
The first great zombie movie
"White Zombie" was released in 1932. In it, an evil sorcerer turns people into zombies so that they work in his sugar factory. Whether zombies were a tool of deliberate political satire, I will not venture to assert. But George Romero, the filmmaker who created the zombie film genre as we know it, used them as such deliberately. By this time, the great necromancers Hitler and Stalin had long since disappeared from the scene, and classical capitalism in America was replaced by consumer capitalism. That is why in Romero's films there are no sorcerers-zombie owners, zombies are completely autonomous and obey only their lower instincts and the desire to consume human blood.
Everyone who was once drawn into this circle of consumption soon becomes a zombie himself. In Dawn of the Dead, zombies wander thoughtfully through the supermarket, knocking goods off the shelves, and when the heroine asks why they are here, one of the heroes replies: "Instinct, residual memory was an important place for them while they were alive." …
If zombies embody the fear of losing individuality, then the freak archetype symbolizes the fear of “losing face,” the mask; fear of rejection by society.
Since in a primitive society, being expelled from a group meant almost guaranteed death, some evolutionary psychologists generally equate the fear of death and the fear of ostracism. In any case, the fear of rejection is closest to the Great Fear that, like the ring of Sauron, stands behind all others.
So close that Tod Browning's 1932 film Freaks, in which he collected real circus freaks from various booths, lay on the shelf for over 30 years and is still technically banned in some states. A significant part of the impact of this film is provided by the ending, which shows how easy it is to be on the other side of the line between "us" and "them": in it, a very beautiful, but evil heroine is forcibly turned into a circus freak. Viewers write in reviews that “the end would have turned out much more positive if they had just killed her,” which once again underlines the painfulness of this archetype: for many people, it is better to die than live a freak.
We can talk as much as we like and even believe that the main thing is inside and not outside, but our attitude to beauty and ugliness is sewn into our biology. Many studies of the so-called “stereotype of physical attractiveness” have shown that we automatically perceive beautiful people as smarter, kind, honest, etc. In addition, other things being equal, beautiful people earn a little more and move up the career ladder a little faster than others. And vice versa: to a person with external defects, we tend to attribute many internal defects.
And nobody wants to be identified with freaks. There are many works that romanticize madness, murder, vampires and even zombies (as in last year's "Heat of Our Bodies"), but the freaks are always them, not us.
And therefore, rarely being the central theme of the film, this motive is found in almost every horror, often even at several levels: the ugliness of the antagonist, the fear of being disfigured by a maniac, the situation of rejection, when the main character talks about a monster, but no one believes him, they try to kill him in a psychiatric hospital, accused of something that he did not do.
These are stories about inner evil. A classic werewolf plot: a man struggles with what is part of him and what he cannot control, and loses. As a central character, a werewolf is interesting to us as a metaphor for struggling with oneself, with emotions that capture and carry away, fear that at some point suddenly blow the roof off and you will do something irreparable. By and large, this archetype is about the fear of insanity, the fear of losing control. Jack Torrance in The Shining is the same werewolf, only without fangs and hair.
The ethical dilemma in this case is about the boundaries of personal freedom and predetermination, about how much a person who commits evil can be justified as a victim of circumstances, upbringing, genes … Usually, until the very end, the hero has periods of free will and the last opportunity to voluntarily rid the world of himself …
As a secondary character, werewolves such as Hannibal Lecter are interesting to us because we, like many people in life, cannot determine our attitude towards them. It is difficult not to admire Lecter and it is impossible not to feel disgust for him, and therefore such characters help to explore our ability to live and act in a non-black and white world.
And these are already stories about external evil, about a collision with the Other. You cannot understand him, you cannot agree with him, you are not guilty of anything, you just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. These stories raise the question of power and innocence. Are you ready to take your salvation into your own hands, are you ready to stop running away and turn around to meet the pursuer, is it permissible to kill the one who wants to kill you, and are you capable of it?