Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Horror Movies

It is difficult, when discussing the written word, to differentiate neatly between the genres of Fantasy, Supernatural Fiction, the Psychological Thriller and Horror – not to mention such subgenres as Dark Fantasy and Weird Fiction. The task becomes yet more difficult when dealing with the Cinema, because very few fantasy movies do not stray into one of the other genres (including Science Fiction, although usually in the form of Technofantasy), while many HMs contain a considerable deal of straightforward – and often very good – fantasy: most Vampire Movies, for example, concern themselves with what is in effect a Wainscot society even if, as with most of the Dracula Movies, that society has a population of only one.

HMs that have no element of the Fantastic are clearly outwith our remit. Nevertheless, a considerable number of movies that would often be considered HMs are discussed within these pages. Aside from those in extended series like the Dracula movies and the technofantastic Frankenstein Movies and Jekyll and Hyde Movies, these include An American Werewolf in London (1981), Audrey Rose (1977), The Birds (1963), the Candyman series, Cat People (1942), The Devil Rides Out (1968; vt The Devil's Bride), the Exorcist series, the Fly series, Ghost Story (1974), Ghost Story (1981), the Hellraiser series, the House series – although only the first, House (1986) is of much interest – the various House of Usher movies, the Howling series, The Hunger (1983), Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), The Invisible Man (1933), The Keep (1983), the two Little Shop of Horrors movies, the two Masque of the Red Death movies, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Omen series, Paperhouse (1988), the various Phantom of the Opera movies, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), the two Pit and the Pendulum movies, The Shining (1980), To the Devil a Daughter (1976), Vamp (1986) and The Vampyr: A Soap Opera (1992 tvm), not to mention numerous movies based on the works of Stephen King. It is notable how many of these are Vampire Movies; for some reason Werewolf Movies – like Wolf (1994) and Wolfen (1981) – seem easier to accept as supernatural fictions or even technofantasies. Differently, although some of the HMs noted above do involve Ghosts, the figure of the ghost seems more palatable for general family consumption: at one end of the scale are the various Canterville Ghost movies, which can chill but do not seek to horrify, and at the other is the Poltergeist series, which can be very frightening but which lacks horror's sense that the Wrongness is likely to remain forever unrighted. [JG]

see also: Hammer; Zombie Movies.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.