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“Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself”

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Since its release to the theaters on Sept. 8, 2017, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT” has earned over $500-million at the box office, ending the 44-year reign of “The Exorcist” as the highest grossing horror film of all time. There’s something about well-made horror flicks that draw viewers in and leave them shaken yet wanting more.

According to Ronald Riggio, Ph.D, an author and psychiatrist who wrote an article called “Top Ten Things That Make Horror Movies Scary” on Psychology Today.com, the reason horror movies are so effective is because they play on a person’s greatest phobias. From the fear of death, which he asserts as the ultimate fear both existentially and psychologically, to the corrupted contortion of symbols of innocence, such as dolls and clowns. With this in mind, it’s curious as to why a person would go see a movie that utilizes that person’s fears.

“Sometimes, I have no idea,” said junior Autumn Wells. “But when you get to the end of the movie and justice prevails, you feel like you’ve been on a journey as if you were in the film and survived. I’m kind of addicted to the sense of relief I get at the end.”

Horror films have evolved in great leaps since the very first, “Le Manoir du Diable” made in 1896. They have expanded to stories of monsters and demons, backed by advanced computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects, talented costume designers and extraordinary makeup artists; as well as creepy, suspenseful psychological thrillers.   

“I think as a teenager, the horror movies of that era (the 1980’s) were scary at the time given my age and the available technology,” said history teacher David Owens. “However, when I watch those movies today they seem extremely ‘cheesy’ due to the graphics, music and dialogue. Lacking a few exceptions, I think the plots of most modern horror movies are more captivating, and are enhanced by modern technology.”

On top of changes in technology, horror films have adjusted to the more modern standard of film ratings. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has shaken its rating system repeatedly throughout the years. Movies that were once rated NC-17 could now be considered rated R, and former R-rated movies could now be seen as PG-13.

“What is deemed acceptable by society has changed over the past 30-40 years,” said Owens. “This allows the producers and directors to explore new themes and add theatrical elements to create a better cinematic experience.”

So whether you enjoy the older or new-age films, there will always be something for all horror fans to enjoy; even when today’s movies become “classics.”

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The student news publishing site of Rider High School in Wichita Falls, TX.
“Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself”