Horror Subgenres

An explanation of the most common subgenres of horror movies.

Serial Killers

Serial killer horror movies delve into the macabre world of murderers who commit series of killings over a period, often with a specific method or motive that defines their character. This subgenre of horror thrives on the psychological thrill and suspense generated by the cat-and-mouse game between the killer and law enforcement or potential victims. Films in this category often explore the dark corners of human psychology, examining what drives individuals to commit such heinous acts. They can be deeply unsettling, as they sometimes draw from real-life cases, adding a layer of realism to the terror they depict.

These movies often employ a combination of suspense, mystery, and outright horror to engage their audience, making extensive use of suspenseful music, dark cinematography, and detailed character development to enhance the eerie atmosphere. The killers in these films are usually characterized by their complex personalities and twisted motivations, which are gradually revealed to the audience, adding depth to the narrative. Serial killer horror movies not only aim to scare but also to provoke thoughts about the nature of evil and the psychology of madness. Whether fictional or based on real events, these films tap into the primal fear of being hunted and the fascination with the mind of a predator.

Comedy

A comedy horror movie is a hybrid genre that blends elements of both comedy and horror. While it contains humor, often through satire, parody, or dark humor, it also includes traditional horror elements such as suspense, scares, and supernatural or monstrous threats. The balance between comedy and horror can vary widely, with some films leaning more heavily towards one genre than the other. Ultimately, a comedy horror movie aims to entertain audiences by evoking laughter and fright, creating a unique and often tongue-in-cheek viewing experience.

Demon

Demonic horror movies typically feature malevolent supernatural entities originating from folklore, religion, or mythologies. These entities, often depicted as demonic beings or evil spirits, manifest to terrorize and torment human characters. A few common elements of these movies include possession, where individuals become vessels for demonic entities, leading to dramatic personality changes and grotesque behavior. Exorcism rituals, conducted by priests or spiritual experts, are common themes, showcasing intense battles between good and evil. Haunted locations, such as houses or abandoned buildings, serve as settings for demonic activity, heightening suspense and fear. Overall, demon horror movies explore themes of faith, fear, and the struggle against ultimate evil.

Found Footage

Found footage horror movies employ a filmmaking style that simulates real-life footage discovered after an event. Presented as if shot by characters within the narrative, often using handheld cameras or security footage, these films create a sense of immediacy and authenticity. The storyline typically follows characters as they encounter terrifying events, such as supernatural occurrences or encounters with monsters. Common tropes include shaky camera work, low-quality video, and sudden cuts or distortions, enhancing the feeling of realism and immersion. Found footage horror movies aim to evoke fear through the illusion of witnessing actual events, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. The idea is to make the footage seem like it’s real this was first done on a large scale for the Blare Witch Project resulting in many debating about it’s authenticity.

Gore

The gore subgenre of horror movies focuses on graphic and explicit depictions of violence, blood, and bodily harm. These films often prioritize shock value and visceral reactions from viewers through extreme scenes of mutilation, dismemberment, and gore. Gore films frequently feature exaggerated special effects to create realistic and gruesome portrayals of death and injury. Themes may include serial killers, splatter, or survival scenarios, with an emphasis on showcasing the brutality of the human body’s destruction. While some viewers enjoy the adrenaline rush and thrill of gore films, they can be unsettling or disturbing for others due to their graphic nature a film like Grindhouse comes to mind which also crosses horror genres. Gore is the specific genre that gave this site our name, and while we always shun jump scares, we embrace actual gore.

Ghost

Ghost horror movies captivate audiences by exploring the supernatural, tapping into primal fears of the unknown. It taps into our human desire to wish that life does not end when we die. They unsettle viewers by challenging perceptions of reality and the afterlife while delving into unresolved trauma and guilt themes. Eerie visuals, haunting atmospheres, and suspenseful narratives create palpable tension, keeping audiences engaged. Ghosts symbolize past regrets or unfulfilled desires, adding psychological depth to the horror. The mystery surrounding their motives and backstory enhances intrigue, compelling viewers to unravel the haunting’s secrets. Through supernatural elements and atmospheric storytelling, ghost horror movies deliver captivating thrills and chilling moments.

Monster

A monster horror film is a subgenre of horror that typically revolves around a monstrous creature or creatures terrorizing protagonists and causing chaos or destruction. These films often feature larger-than-life creatures such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens, other supernatural beings, and mutated or genetically engineered monsters. The focus is on the fear and suspense generated by the monstrous threat, with elements of gore, suspenseful chase sequences, and graphic violence commonly employed. Monster horror films often explore themes of survival, humanity’s relationship with nature, and the consequences of scientific experimentation or hubris. Examples include “Godzilla,” “Alien,” and “The Thing.”

Psychological

A psychological horror movie is a subgenre “of horror that focuses on creating fear and unease through psychological elements rather than relying solely on explicit violence or supernatural phenomena. These films often delve into the human psyche, exploring themes of paranoia, delusion, obsession, and mental illness. The horror arises from psychological manipulation, mind games, and the blurring of reality and illusion. Unlike traditional horror films, psychological horror movies may feature unreliable narrators, ambiguous plotlines, and subtle, atmospheric tension-building techniques. They aim to unsettle viewers by tapping deep-seated fears and anxieties about the mind and perception. Examples include “Psycho,” “The Shining,” “Silence Of The Lamb,” and “Black Swan.”

Sci-fi

Science fiction horror movies combine elements of science fiction and horror genres, often featuring futuristic or speculative settings, advanced technology, and extraterrestrial or otherworldly threats. These films explore themes of existential dread, the unknown, and the consequences of scientific experimentation. Science fiction horror movies may involve alien invasions, genetic mutations, dystopian societies, or scientific accidents, resulting in terrifying scenarios for the characters involved. They blend the imaginative possibilities of science fiction with the visceral scares and suspense of horror, creating a unique and often chilling viewing experience. Examples include “Alien,” “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” “The Thing,” and “Event Horizon.”

Slasher

Slasher horror movies are popular for several reasons. Firstly, they often tap into primal fears related to violence, survival, and the unknown. The idea of a relentless, masked killer stalking victims elicits fear and suspense, appealing to audiences’ adrenaline-seeking tendencies.

Additionally, slasher films often feature simple yet effective narratives focusing on the pursuit and confrontation between the killer and the victims. This straightforward structure allows for intense and thrilling sequences, keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.

In slasher movies, characters typically face punishment for their perceived sins or transgressions, incorporating elements of morality and punishment. This moralistic aspect deepens the story, enabling viewers to engage with guilt, redemption, and justice themes.

Furthermore, iconic slasher villains such as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger have become cultural icons, contributing to the genre’s enduring popularity. Their distinctive appearances and ruthless nature have left a lasting impact on popular culture, inspiring countless sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations.

The combination of fear-inducing scenarios, simple yet effective storytelling, moralistic themes, and memorable villains makes slasher horror movies a perennial favorite among audiences.

Vampires

Vampire movies encompass several vital elements contributing to their enduring popularity. At their core are the vampires: charismatic and dangerous beings who sustain their existence by feeding on the blood of the living. Vampires can live forever, their main weakness being a stake through the heart. These creatures are often depicted in Gothic or haunted backdrops such as ancient castles or dark alleys, adding to the sense of mystery and dread. Human protagonists typically encounter or are targeted by vampires, leading to conflicts exploring themes of romance, seduction, and mortality. Traditional vampire weaknesses like sunlight and garlic are featured, along with themes of eternal life, immortality, and the existential implications of living forever. Blood, violence, and mythological elements enrich the narrative, weaving a complex web of themes and imagery that captivate audiences in these beloved films.

The original vampire character was Dracula, a seductive, evil vampire lord whose dark charisma ensnares his victims. Originating from the Gothic landscapes of Transylvania, Dracula’s castle stands as a foreboding monument to his reign of terror. Within these ancient walls, he plots his sinister schemes and feasts on the blood of the innocent. Opposing Dracula’s unholy ambitions is the legendary vampire hunter, Van Helsing. Armed with knowledge, courage, and an unwavering resolve, Van Helsing confronts Dracula in a relentless battle between light and darkness, where the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Witch

Witchcraft and Occultism

These films typically explore the dark arts of witchcraft and occult practices, showcasing rituals, spells, and arcane symbols used by witches to wield their powers.

Curses and Hexes

Witches in horror movies are often depicted as cursing their enemies or victims, unleashing malevolent forces to cause harm, suffering, or even death.

Supernatural Powers

Witches utilize supernatural abilities such as telekinesis, mind control, shape-shifting, and summoning familiars or demons to manipulate and terrorize their targets.

Coven

In the context of witches and horror movies, a coven refers to a gathering or group of witches who come together for various purposes related to their practice of witchcraft. Covens are often depicted as secretive and ritualistic, with members sharing knowledge, performing spells, and conducting ceremonies to harness their collective power. In horror movies, covens may serve as the central antagonistic force, orchestrating malevolent plots or curses against protagonists, or they may be portrayed sympathetically as misunderstood outcasts facing persecution. The concept of a coven adds depth and complexity to the portrayal of witches in horror narratives, highlighting themes of community, loyalty, and the occult.

Hexed Objects

Objects imbued with dark magic, such as cursed artifacts or haunted relics, play a significant role in witch horror movies. These objects bring misfortune or unleash malevolent spirits upon those who possess or interact with them.

Zombie

Zombies are terrifying creatures in horror lore for several reasons. Firstly, their origin often involves a contagious virus or supernatural phenomenon that turns ordinary people into mindless, flesh-eating monsters. This idea taps into fears of pandemics, loss of control, and the breakdown of society.
Secondly, zombies are relentless in their pursuit of living flesh. They have no emotions, conscience, or sense of self-preservation, making them unpredictable and unstoppable predators.
Furthermore, the sheer number of zombies depicted in apocalyptic scenarios overwhelm survivors, creating a sense of hopelessness and despair. Being outnumbered and surrounded by a horde of ravenous undead is terrifying.
Additionally, zombies represent the decay of humanity and the inevitability of death. Their rotting bodies and grotesque appearance evoke disgust and hatred, adding to their horror.
In essence, zombies embody primal fears of mortality, loss of identity, and the collapse of civilization, making them perennially terrifying creatures in horror fiction.

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