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Horror movies have long served in a wide variety of capacities for the society and culture from which they spring. On a visceral level, there is the elemental, practically biological catharsis provided by the genre’s best causing the hair on the back of our necks to jump to attention, the obscuring of vision through barely-spread fingers over our eyes, or—of course—the yelp or even scream we swore we wouldn’t yield but nevertheless do! But, the genre has had a long history of doing much more than being a purveyor of adrenaline jolts. Horror on film has always tended to also serve as manifestations and representations of some of our most deeply held, firmly entrenched, rarely countenanced or admitted fears – these are the fears we have in common, in our capacities as members of a society and culture, the ultimately existential fears we have as parents, children, workers, leaders, etc.
In American culture, few examples from the horror genre better epitomize this power to unearth nightmares from our collective subconscious selves than George A. Romero’s zombie-defining flicks, like Night of the Living Dead and the many movies which followed in its footsteps – current horror hits in our serialized, prestige TV-obsessed age, like, of course, The Walking Dead, are descendants in much more than the sharing of their shambling, mindless, ravenous, deceased antagonists. From the travails and terrors of Vietnam-era American to current, not dissimilar, existential fears regarding personal and collective survival and the moral ambiguities of life, horror has worked to both depict—in its twisted ways—and tap into these deepest of fears.
The Japanese, and not those of us on this side of the Pacific, are masters of the horror genre – few things evidence this more than Hollywood’s love of remaking...
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