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Our Favorite Essays and Stories About Horror Films

horror movie college essay

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horror movie college essay

It’s the spookiest day of the spookiest season, but you already had your party last weekend, and now you have to stay home and either hand out candy to grabby children or turn out all lights visible from the street and pretend you’re not home. What makes a night in both fun and seasonally appropriate? Horror movies, of course! So while you’re waiting for, or hiding from, trick-or-treaters tonight, put on a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon and make your way through some of the best stuff we’ve published about scary films.

“ There’s Nothing Scarier Than a Hungry Woman ” by Laura Maw

Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but horror movies contain a lot of scenes of women eating—and not only eating, but eating voraciously. Laura Maw has noticed, and she thinks she understands. This essay is both a sensitive cultural analysis of a horror movie trope and a beautiful personal narrative of coming to terms with both the threat and the banality of hunger.

As a woman, to say that you have found eating uncomfortable at times is not particularly groundbreaking. The anxiety has become mundane because it is so common for women, but isn’t that in itself noteworthy? Horror invites us to sit with this disgust, this anxiety, to acknowledge our appetite, to refuse to let us suppress it. There is something uncomfortable and enthralling about watching a woman devour what she likes with intent.

“ Horror Lives in the Body ” by Meg Pillow Davis

This Best American Essays notable is about the physical experience of horror—both horror films, and the familiar horrors we encounter in our normal lives, the ways we brush up against mortality and violation and fear. Why do we seek out this physical experience—”the pupil dilation, the quickening heart, the sweat forming on your upper lip and the surface of your palms, and the nearly overwhelming urge to cover your eyes or run from the room”?

If those other viewers are anything like me, they watch horror movies because they recognize the horror, because its familiarity is strange and terrifying and unavoidable. It is the lure of the uncanny filtering into the cracks and crevices of the cinematic landscape and drawing us in.

“ What ‘Halloween’ Taught Me About Queerness ” by Richard Scott Larson

Michael Myers wears a mask to hide his face while he kills—but is that the only mask he wears? Richard Scott Larson talks about watching Halloween obsessively as an adolescent, while he was starting to understand that his own desires were also considered monstrous.

The experience of adolescence as a closeted queer boy is one of constantly attempting to imitate the expression of a desire that you do not feel. Identification with a bogeyman, then, shouldn’t be so surprising when you imagine the bogeyman as unfit for society, his true nature having been rejected and deemed horrific.

“ If My Mother Was the Final Girl ” by Michelle Ross

The “final girl” is the one who’s left standing at the end of the film, the one who survives the carnage. But what do you call someone who’s still standing after childhood trauma? This short story is about horror films, but more than that, it’s about mother-daughter relationships—a deeper and more mundane form of horror than the kind in slasher flicks.

The one thing my mother and I share is a love for slasher films. When the first girl gets hacked up or sawed in half or stabbed in the breast, my mother says, “Now there’s real life for you.” And I glance at her sideways and think, you can say that again.

“ A Love Letter to the Girls Who Die First in Horror Films ” by Lindsay King-Miller

Unlike the “final girl,” the girl who dies first doesn’t have a catchy title. Lindsay King-Miller writes about the lost friend who taught her that we don’t all have it in us to be a final girl—and that we should celebrate the girl who dies first, because she’s not living in fear.

To survive a horror story you have to realize you’re in one. The girl who dies thinks she’s in a different kind of story, one that’s about her and what she wants: to dance, to party, to fuck, to feel good. She thinks she is the subject of this story, the one who watches, desires, sees, the one who acts upon the world. She does not feel the eyes on her, does not know she is being observed, that her fate is not to reshape the world but to be reshaped by it.

“ Nothing Has Prepared Me For The Reality of Womanhood Better Than ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’ ” by Sarah Kurchak

Yes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a cheesy horror-comedy hybrid in which women are menaced and their bodies are treated as set dressing. But so is adolescence. Sarah Kurchak writes about the many ways in which this movie taught her what to expect from the world.

Sure, this was, on many levels, a schlocky B-movie with so many of the expected hallmarks of the time — women in hot pants and peril, over-the-top gore. But it was a schlocky B-movie in which a woman faced men’s threats, both implicit and explicit, and was left breathing but almost unrecognizable at the end of it. That felt familiar.

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horror movie college essay

Loneliness Is a Ghost

Miciah Bay Gault, author of "Goodnight Stranger," on non-belonging and writing the supernatural

Oct 31 - Cameron Finch Read

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I Loved “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” Before I Loved Myself

With each rewatch, I got further from the me I was in high school and closer to my truest self

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Horror Gave Me Power to Embrace Queerness in Rural Appalachia

"The Wolf Man" helped me process the things that still remain unspoken and unacknowledged with my father

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horror movie college essay

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horror movie college essay

Horror Essay Examples

We have 13 free papers on horror for you, essay examples, essay topics, amityville horror essay (287 words).

I did my book report on the Book ,”The Amityville Horror”. Let me justsay that this is one of the scariest books I have ever read. Its about a housein Amityville, New York that has some thing very terribly evil and wrong in it. They moved there to get away from city life, and brought…

Capital Punishment Essay – The Horror of the Death

Capital Punishment

The death penalty has existed for well over 4000 years. In 1728 BC the code of Hamurabe was passed to allow legal execution. For centuries capital punishment was a public spectacle: states used executions to demonstrate the ultimate consequence of attacking the state. During the 18th century in England executions attracted tens of thousands of…

Women and Horror in Friday the 13th Essay

Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film revolves around a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one while attempting to reopen an abandoned campground which has a terrible past of murders and deaths including an incident of a drowning…

Genre Studies – The Omen as a Horror Movie Essay

In the 2006 movie, “The Omen,” Robert and Katherine Thorn have just lost their child. Robert makes a deal to replace their son with an orphan child who they later named Damien. As the child grows, Katherine notices something weird with Damien, in which he never gets sick. As the film unfolds, horrible things happen…

What Constitutes Horror in Victorian Gothic Essay

The original use of the term `Gothic” was applied to a group of novels, including Mary Shelley”s `Frankenstein”, written between the 1760s and 1820s. These novels usually employed some or all of the following characteristics, which seem demonstrative of the original use of the term `Gothic”: An emphasis on portraying the terrifying, a common insistence…

Role in a horror movie Essay (1524 words)

I am going to look at two films from the horror genre “The Blair witch” and “Panic room” to what extent do these challenge any of the following women’s roles, conventions of the horror, ideologies before September the 11th? The Blair witch project follows many of the horror conventions despite its originality and I am going…

Gothic horror novel Essay (1029 words)

‘Frankenstein’ is a gothic horror novel written by Mary Shelley. The novel is about death, love, ambition and prejudice. When Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ in the 19th century she was only 18 years old. The novel came to be written because of a challenge set by Mary’s liturgy friends, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. The…

Gothic Horror Essay (2065 words)

Clearly a creature of intelligence, the monster realises that his only chance of friendship is with this poor disabled chap in his lonely house. One day he finds him alone. He enters the hut. He asks for friendship… well, sort of. Everything seems at first to be going bumps-a-daisy. Unfortunately it then shoots downhill like…

Simple horror stories Essay (1468 words)

Gothic novels are not merely ‘simple horror stories’; often the themes used reach a psychological level, tackling human nature, and the imagination. The horror aspect is used as a tool to induce fear in the reader on not only a ‘physical’ level but also a psychological level, themes such as loneliness, revenge, jealousy, victimisation and…

Atmosphere of horror Essay (819 words)

When Harker sees ‘the first dim streak of the coming dawn’ light imagery is used to give a sense of approaching safety. However, Harker then hears ‘the howling of many wolves’. The use of onomatopoeia and the aural imagery adds to the atmosphere of horror. The violence of the wolves is juxtaposed with safety created…

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The Main Concepts of Horror Films

The Human Fondness for Horror Movies

The Film ‘psycho’ by Alfred Hitchcock

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: and The Features of Expressionism

Summary and Analysis of John Carpenter’s Horror Film Halloween

Representation of White Supremacy in The Movie “Get Out”

Monster Creatures from Horror Movies

Life Lesson in Reality Through Horror Movies

Godzilla Movies: Analyzing The Horror Genre Through Theoretical Lenses

horror movie college essay

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Horror College Essays Samples For Students

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No matter how high you rate your writing skills, it's always an appropriate idea to check out a competently written College Essay example, especially when you're dealing with a sophisticated Horror topic. This is precisely the case when WowEssays.com directory of sample College Essays on Horror will come in useful. Whether you need to think up an original and meaningful Horror College Essay topic or examine the paper's structure or formatting peculiarities, our samples will provide you with the required data.

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Stephen King, in his essay Why We Crave Horror Movies, takes a humoristic yet insightful take on the human tendency to revel in freak, absurd and morbid expressions through the medium of horror movies. In his essay, King states that everybody is insane and the sanity is only the degree to which a human is insane. He states that people watch horror movies to feed their inner demons and to lock up their insanity to be acceptable to the society. The essay portrays rather disturbingly the truth behind people’s need to watch horror movies.

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What are the two main themes of the story?

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With reference to movies, horror and comedy are two well-known genres. A walk around a cinema foyer will be enough to convince most people of this.

Perhaps the most obvious contrast between the two is the range of emotions that each is designed to evoke.

Comedies feature light-hearted plots and subject matter. They are designed to amuse viewers and provoke laugher. They achieve this aim by using humorous language, including jokes and one-liners and exaggerating situations, sometimes with over the top action. There are many different types of comedy, some of which include slapstick, spoofs, parodies and black comedy.

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The Use of Genre Theory in The Horror Genre

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Stephen King and His Legacy in The Genre of Horror

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Analysis of The Evolution of Vampires Approaching The Twenty-first Century

Representation of white supremacy in the movie "get out", the film ‘psycho’ by alfred hitchcock, exploring the gothic horror of tim burton, fear and fantasy: intersections of horror and sexuality in bastard out of carolina, theory about horror films popularity, the cabinet of dr. caligari: and the features of expressionism, dark theme in 'it comes at night', tutsi and hutu differences and genocide in "hotel rwanda" by terry george, summary of the movie "the silence of the lambs", portrayal of the civil war horrors in nigeria in tears of the sun, a movie by antoine fuqua, a review of jen frankel’s tale "undead redhead", analysis of the lowest animal by mark twain, review of tim burton’s film edward scissorhands, the horror genre's attractive characteristics, the ways transformations play a role in stories meant to scare us.

Horror is a film genre that seeks to elicit fear or disgust in its audience for entertainment purposes.

Horror films often explore dark subject matter and may deal with transgressive topics or themes. Broad elements include monsters, apocalyptic events, and religious or folk beliefs. Cinematic techniques used in horror films have been shown to provoke psychological reactions in an audience.

Body horror, Comedy horror, Folk horror, Found footage horror, Gothic horror, Natural horror, Slasher film, Supernatural horror, Teen horror, Psychological horror.

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How to Write a Great Horror Movie

There's only one genre out there that everyone is buying. so in honor of halloween, i want to walk you through how to write a horror movie. get your knives ready. .

How to write a horror screenplay

The horror genre is tried and true. It's the one genre every studio and streamer is buying. Why? 

Because it's the one that usually delivers the most profitable movies. Horror films come with a huge audience, and the nature of the stories usually keep them pretty cheap. 

But are there tricks to writing a horror screenplay that makes the process different?

I don't know about any tricks.... but I can assure you this post is a real treat! 

Okay, if that didn't chase you away or horrify you enough to stop reading, let's forge ahead into the unknown...

What's the worst that could happen? 

Table of Contents

Horror movie definition .

What is a horror movie?  

A horror movie is a film whose plot is  designed to frighten the viewer. The story must cause some sort of existential dread and invoke our very worst fears. Horror films are roller coasters for viewers often climaxing in a shocking finale. They can be cathartic or just plain fun. 

What kinds of horror movies are out there? 

There are so many different kinds of horror movies in the world. This genre contains a bunch of subgenres. Before you start writing, you should pick one, or mash a few up.

I want to address something that comes up in the comments a lot. I often get people replying "This is fine, but what actually sold with this stuff?"

I know we aren't supposed to read the comments, but the comments section is my horror movie. 

I usually don't address this stuff but I want to this time. 

Mostly because as a professional writer, horror is where I've found most of my recent work. 

Last year I wrote on a horror anthology series that was on Netflix called Don't Watch This . My episode was called Keep Out.  I've done extensive work for CryptTV .  Keep your eyes out for it. 

My point is: I have worked in this space and I want to help. 

I'm not calling myself "the authority" but I'm only going to give you the things I've used for my screenplay work. 

So let's look at some of the horror sub-genres and see what each entails. 

Horror movie sub-genres 

Slasher movies usually have killers who use knives or hooks or machetes to hack up their victims. They can be like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Scream in tone. There can be one or multiple killers. They have a lot in common with the mystery genre and thrillers. 

From Godzilla to The   Fly , monster movies come in all shapes and sizes. Usually, these monsters terrorize a small community, like in Jaws , but they can also be a global threat, like in Cloverfield . We don't always need a direct scientific explanation for why or how the monster exists, but that might clue everyone in on how you can defeat them. 

Supernatural  

Ghosts, demons, and Satan all exist within these worlds. Your demons can be like Freddy Kreuger or they can be like the possessor in The Exorcist . They can be spirits like in The Others or a riff like in Ghost . Or just straight-up horrific like in Poltergeist . 

Inanimate Objects 

A few years ago it felt like every movie had a scary doll in it. Now, with the Chucky reboot and Anabelle , these dolls don't seem like they're going away. But what about something like The Fog or Christine ? They also fall into these types. 

Found Footage 

I know this is technically a WAY to make a movie, but I wanted to address it last. While these movies are not as popular as they once were, the staples are still the most famous. The Blair Witch, The Visit, and Paranormal Activity  changed the way we viewed cinema. You have to write for found footage for it to be found footage. 

How to Write a Horror Movie (Free Outline)

Before you sit down to write or outline, I wanted to go over some of the tropes within these kinds of films. These tropes can be things you subvert or lean into depending on the situation. You can learn about them here or see them in action by d ownloading 80 Horror Screenplays for inspiration ! 

So let's ask the question...

What are some horror screenplay tropes? 

Guys, I love a great horror screenplay. They make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and make you shake with excitement. 

Common tropes of horror screenplays include:

  • Action : People often creep around with little dialogue. 
  • Suspense: Pacing in horror is a must. Think Hitchcock ! 
  • Jumpscares : Sudden noises or reveals should POP off the page. 
  • Gore : Gruesome death or torture scenes are commonplace in these movies. 
  • A memorable villain: Create someone who will haunt dreams for years to come. 

Okay, you picked your horror subgenre and found our logline and treatment pages so you did your prep work. Now it's time to jump into the outline and then in your screenwriting software to type some pages. 

So what does a horror screenplay outline look like? 

The horror screenplay outline:, 1. unraveling the terror  - do you have an opening scare that defines the movie.

Do you like  Scream ? The opening scene of the  screenplay  sets the tone for the entire story. 

2. The Entry Point  - Who will be involved in these terrifying escapades and what are they dealing with? 

In a movie like  Dawn of the Dead , it's the series of scenes where we meet who will inhabit the mall. 

3. Before It Goes to Shit  - What’s a normal day look like in this world?

Think about the way the family gets by in  Poltergiest  before the ghosts show up. 

4. The Horror Sets In  - What horrific thing sets our characters off on their journey?

Nothing is worse than realizing your daughter is possessed as the characters do in  The Exorcist .   

5. The Uneasy Path - Everyone is together, what keeps them moving this way?

In something like  Godzilla , it's the reason why they deal with the monster at hand? What do they have to gain? 

6. Walking Over Broken Glass - How do our heroes deal with the problems as they go?

In the  Saw  franchise, this is how people try to get out of the sick traps and hunt Jigsaw. 

7. Through The Dark Cave  - Do you have a B story? Set that story off on its own now too.

B-stories, like the marital tension in  Rosemary's Baby , are great scenes to juxtapose against the horror at hand. 

8. Reassess the Terror  - You’re in the middle. Is there another way to get out alive?

In  Shaun of the Dead  its when they decide to go to the Winchester. 

9. People are Going to Die  - Things begin to fall apart, let the body count rise and show how they deal with it. 

In  The Descent , this is when the people in the group begin to be picked off one by one. 

10. The Fall  - The worst thing happens, something so bad you don’t think you can get up.

I n a horror movie like  The Mist , it's when they are forced outside and surrounded by the actual mist. 

11. The Hidden Clue  - What do your characters discover that they never saw before?

Is there a way out? Something they never realized, like in the  Sixth Sense  when David realizes he's a ghost. 

12. Race To the Final (Girl)  - They’re up and running no matter what. They can make it! 

This is the series of scenes that carries us toward your thrilling finale. In  Alien , it's when Ripley is confronted and has to think fast. 

13. The Moment of Relief  - Did they make it out alive? Has life returned to normal?

What does their day feel like with the problem corrected? Think about when  Jaws  finally blows up?

14. Where We Go From Here? - Show us the world in a new light, hint what’s next. Maybe the killer or monster returns for one final scare!

In every horror movie, it feels like there's one last scare. Like in  I Still Know What you did Last Summer  when it turns out the hook-handed man is under the bed! 

Horror Movies and Comedy Movies 

One last thing I wanted to address is the addition of humor to your screenplay. 

So many horror movies use comedy to help bring levity to dark things. Sure, it doesn't happen all the time, but comedy helps ease people into scenes., If you're laughing, you might be more susceptible to a jump scare or a misdirect. 

You can be as funny as Shaun of the Dead , or use the deadpan humor of The Dead Don't Die. 

Even titles as unsettling as Midsommar contain humor that helps the audience engage. 

So consider adding humor to your pages to keep them turning. 

Sam Raimi, one of the best to do it, uses comedy in all his horror films. 

What's next? Learn about Movie and TV genres ! 

Film and TV genres affect who watches your work, how it's classified, and even how it's reviewed. So how do you decide what you're writing? And which genres to mash-up? The secret is in the tropes. 

Add a Compact 24-50mm F2.8 Zoom Lens to Your Sony Alpha Lineup

Sony has just unveiled their fe 24-50mm f2.8 g standard zoom lens as a perfect addition to any alpha camera lens lineup..

Announcing what is now their 72nd addition to their full-frame E-mount lens lineup, Sony has almost quietly developed what might be one of the most versatile (and ultimately most popular) zoom lenses to their arsenal.

The new Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G standard zoom lens , which is compatible with all Sony Alpha cameras, promises to provide an extremely compact and lightweight design that can still maintain high-resolution performance as you might expect to find with Sony’s G lens series.

Let’s take a look at this 24-50mm and its F2.8 maximum aperture to see how it might be a great option for the everyday video pro looking to get the most hybrid photo and video use out of their favorite Sony camera.

The Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Standard Zoom Lens

Promising to provide some of the best-looking bokeh and creative flexibility across their entire zoom range, Sony’s latest standard zoom could end up being one of the better workhorse options for those looking for a true upgrade to their stock lens.

“The demand for light and compact standard zoom lenses is increasing, and our new FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lens offers an F2.8 standard zoom option for creators seeking portability, without a sacrifice. It is a lens option ready to go anywhere,” Yang Cheng, Vice President, Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics Inc.

This new FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is the company’s first-ever full-frame F2.8 standard zoom lens in their G series lineup and should bring the ever-popular F2.8 aperture to the masses. Which, truthfully, could be a solid option for those looking to make a bigger investment in their lenses for the first time.

Image Quality and Video Capabilities

Featuring 16 elements in 13 groups, this new zoom from Sony should have great optics and image quality in a variety of shooting situations. With its bright F2.8 constant aperture, it should be capable of capturing images or video in dim lighting conditions with a shallow depth of field.

The FE 24-50mm F2.8 G will also make use of its 11-blade circular aperture to yield a large and smooth bokeh, while still minimizing spherical aberrations and distortion, while also reducing 'onion ring' bokeh that so many photo and video pros have grown to dislike.

The lens also boasts faster-focusing performance, improved close-up shooting, and enhanced controls for the focusing system. And, just as camera design has grown to appeal to both photo and video shooters, this lens has also been updated with attributes that specifically appeal to the needs of video shooters.

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Film Writing: Sample Analysis

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Summary: A sample analysis of a filmic sequence that makes use of the terminology on the OWL’s Writing About Film page .

Written by Kylie Regan

Introductory Note

The analysis below discusses the opening moments of the science fiction movie  Ex Machina  in order to make an argument about the film's underlying purpose. The text of the analysis is formatted normally. Editor's commentary, which will occasionally interrupt the piece to discuss the author's rhetorical strategies, is written in brackets in an italic font with a bold "Ed.:" identifier. See the examples below:

The text of the analysis looks like this.

[ Ed.:  The editor's commentary looks like this. ]

Frustrated Communication in Ex Machina ’s Opening Sequence

Alex Garland’s 2015 science fiction film Ex Machina follows a young programmer’s attempts to determine whether or not an android possesses a consciousness complicated enough to pass as human. The film is celebrated for its thought-provoking depiction of the anxiety over whether a nonhuman entity could mimic or exceed human abilities, but analyzing the early sections of the film, before artificial intelligence is even introduced, reveals a compelling examination of humans’ inability to articulate their thoughts and feelings. In its opening sequence, Ex Machina establishes that it’s not only about the difficulty of creating a machine that can effectively talk to humans, but about human beings who struggle to find ways to communicate with each other in an increasingly digital world.

[ Ed.:  The piece's opening introduces the film with a plot summary that doesn't give away too much and a brief summary of the critical conversation that has centered around the film. Then, however, it deviates from this conversation by suggesting that Ex Machina has things to say about humanity before non-human characters even appear. Off to a great start. ]

The film’s first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace’s dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted. The camera cuts to a few different young men typing on their phones, their bodies partially concealed both by people walking between them and the camera and by the stylized modern furniture that surrounds them. The fourth shot peeks over a computer monitor at a blonde man working with headphones in. A slight zoom toward his face suggests that this is an important character, and the cut to a point-of-view shot looking at his computer screen confirms this. We later learn that this is Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer whose perspective the film follows.

The rest of the sequence cuts between shots from Caleb’s P.O.V. and reaction shots of his face, as he receives and processes the news that he has won first prize in a staff competition. Shocked, Caleb dives for his cellphone and texts several people the news. Several people immediately respond with congratulatory messages, and after a moment the woman from the opening shot runs in to give him a hug. At this point, the other people in the room look up, smile, and start clapping, while Caleb smiles disbelievingly—perhaps even anxiously—and the camera subtly zooms in a bit closer. Throughout the entire sequence, there is no sound other than ambient electronic music that gets slightly louder and more textured as the sequence progresses. A jump cut to an aerial view of a glacial landscape ends the sequence and indicates that Caleb is very quickly transported into a very unfamiliar setting, implying that he will have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in circumstances.

[ Ed.:  These paragraphs are mostly descriptive. They give readers the information they will need to understand the argument the piece is about to offer. While passages like this can risk becoming boring if they dwell on unimportant details, the author wisely limits herself to two paragraphs and maintains a driving pace through her prose style choices (like an almost exclusive reliance on active verbs). ]

Without any audible dialogue or traditional expository setup of the main characters, this opening sequence sets viewers up to make sense of Ex Machina ’s visual style and its exploration of the ways that technology can both enhance and limit human communication. The choice to make the dialogue inaudible suggests that in-person conversations have no significance. Human-to-human conversations are most productive in this sequence when they are mediated by technology. Caleb’s first response when he hears his good news is to text his friends rather than tell the people sitting around him, and he makes no move to take his headphones out when the in-person celebration finally breaks out. Everyone in the building is on their phones, looking at screens, or has headphones in, and the camera is looking at screens through Caleb’s viewpoint for at least half of the sequence.  

Rather than simply muting the specific conversations that Caleb has with his coworkers, the ambient soundtrack replaces all the noise that a crowded building in the middle of a workday would ordinarily have. This silence sets the uneasy tone that characterizes the rest of the film, which is as much a horror-thriller as a piece of science fiction. Viewers get the sense that all the sounds that humans make as they walk around and talk to each other are being intentionally filtered out by some presence, replaced with a quiet electronic beat that marks the pacing of the sequence, slowly building to a faster tempo. Perhaps the sound of people is irrelevant: only the visual data matters here. Silence is frequently used in the rest of the film as a source of tension, with viewers acutely aware that it could be broken at any moment. Part of the horror of the research bunker, which will soon become the film’s primary setting, is its silence, particularly during sequences of Caleb sneaking into restricted areas and being startled by a sudden noise.

The visual style of this opening sequence reinforces the eeriness of the muted humans and electronic soundtrack. Prominent use of shallow focus to depict a workspace that is constructed out of glass doors and walls makes it difficult to discern how large the space really is. The viewer is thus spatially disoriented in each new setting. This layering of glass and mirrors, doubling some images and obscuring others, is used later in the film when Caleb meets the artificial being Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is not allowed to leave her glass-walled living quarters in the research bunker. The similarity of these spaces visually reinforces the film’s late revelation that Caleb has been manipulated by Nathan Bates (Oscar Isaac), the troubled genius who creates Ava.

[ Ed.:  In these paragraphs, the author cites the information about the scene she's provided to make her argument. Because she's already teased the argument in the introduction and provided an account of her evidence, it doesn't strike us as unreasonable or far-fetched here. Instead, it appears that we've naturally arrived at the same incisive, fascinating points that she has. ]

A few other shots in the opening sequence more explicitly hint that Caleb is already under Nathan’s control before he ever arrives at the bunker. Shortly after the P.O.V shot of Caleb reading the email notification that he won the prize, we cut to a few other P.O.V. shots, this time from the perspective of cameras in Caleb’s phone and desktop computer. These cameras are not just looking at Caleb, but appear to be scanning him, as the screen flashes in different color lenses and small points appear around Caleb’s mouth, eyes, and nostrils, tracking the smallest expressions that cross his face. These small details indicate that Caleb is more a part of this digital space than he realizes, and also foreshadow the later revelation that Nathan is actively using data collected by computers and webcams to manipulate Caleb and others. The shots from the cameras’ perspectives also make use of a subtle fisheye lens, suggesting both the wide scope of Nathan’s surveillance capacities and the slightly distorted worldview that motivates this unethical activity.

[ Ed.: This paragraph uses additional details to reinforce the piece's main argument. While this move may not be as essential as the one in the preceding paragraphs, it does help create the impression that the author is noticing deliberate patterns in the film's cinematography, rather than picking out isolated coincidences to make her points. ]

Taken together, the details of Ex Machina ’s stylized opening sequence lay the groundwork for the film’s long exploration of the relationship between human communication and technology. The sequence, and the film, ultimately suggests that we need to develop and use new technologies thoughtfully, or else the thing that makes us most human—our ability to connect through language—might be destroyed by our innovations. All of the aural and visual cues in the opening sequence establish a world in which humans are utterly reliant on technology and yet totally unaware of the nefarious uses to which a brilliant but unethical person could put it.

Author's Note:  Thanks to my literature students whose in-class contributions sharpened my thinking on this scene .

[ Ed.: The piece concludes by tying the main themes of the opening sequence to those of the entire film. In doing this, the conclusion makes an argument for the essay's own relevance: we need to pay attention to the essay's points so that we can achieve a rich understanding of the movie. The piece's final sentence makes a chilling final impression by alluding to the danger that might loom if we do not understand the movie. This is the only the place in the piece where the author explicitly references how badly we might be hurt by ignorance, and it's all the more powerful for this solitary quality. A pithy, charming note follows, acknowledging that the author's work was informed by others' input (as most good writing is). Beautifully done. ]

Best Essays and Books About Horror Movies

Learn more about your favorite frightening films, or film theories of horror itself, with this list of creepy books and essays.

You’ve probably wondered about the inspiration behind your favorite scary movies and the background of some of those horrifying stories. Sometimes the origins of a horror movie are as simple as an author telling a scary story, and at other times films are based on more sinister, true events . You might also be interested in the making of certain horror movies or the impact they have on the audience or the cast. Maybe you're into film theory and want to study the gender dynamics, cultural and political significance, and philosophy of horror, like in Carol Clover's seminal book Men, Women, and Chainsaws . Luckily, there are plenty of resources that explore these exact topics and the development of horror movies in general.

You might be interested in why people are attracted to horror movies and the act of feeling fear. In which case, you might want to read Stephen King’s essay Why We Crave Horror Movies . Digging even deeper, you might notice horror films can help us examine fears around eating, sexuality, religion, and more. You might even wonder about the characters that often die first and why, which is explained by Lindsay King-Miller in her essay A Love Letter to the Girls Who Die First in Horror Movies . Whatever it may be, in addition to the aforementioned texts, here are the best essays and books about horror movies.

Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares

An American Werewolf in London

Director John Landis ( American Werewolf in London, Twilight Zone: The Movie ) wrote a book on movie monsters covers some of cinema’s most terrifying creatures and their development. Landis explores the design of movie monsters and special effects, both in high and low-budget films. Monsters in the Movies includes interviews with the minds behind the monsters, their historical origins, and tricks behind bringing these ghouls to life.

Nothing Has Prepared Me for Womanhood Better than Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Leatherface

Sarah Kurchak’s essay examines a subject people might not consider in horror movies. The truth is that many scary films express beliefs about women and their experiences via horror and gore. Kurchak dissects how Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 features female stereotypes in hot pants but also explores women facing the threats of men and emerging from adolescence completely altered. Kurchak argues that this horror comedy can teach female viewers about what to expect from the world and adolescence.

Stephen King At the Movies: A Complete History of Film and Television Adaptations from the Master of Horror

Book cover of Stephen King at the Movies

The chilling stories of author Stephen King have made both startling reads and frightening films. King’s works have established more than 60 horror movies and 30 television series. This book covers the making of all of them, including behind-the-scenes material and King’s opinion on some adaptations. If you’re looking to dive deeper into some iconic films based on King’s stories , consider picking up Stephen King at the Movies .

There’s Nothing Scarier than a Hungry Woman

Rosemary eating raw meat in Rosemary's Baby

Remember how we said that horror movies can contain messages that don’t appear obvious on the surface? Laura Maw notices how in many horror movies there is always a scene of a ravenous woman eating, and her fascinating essay considers the meaning behind that.

Related: Best Performances in Horror Films of All Time, Ranked

Maw writes that “horror invites us to sit with this disgust, this anxiety, and to acknowledge our appetite and refuse to suppress it.” Maw presents a feminist analysis of hungry women in well-known horror movies in a way which both explores and challenges preconceptions about women.

Behind the Horror: True Stories that Inspired Horror Movies

Demon girl Linda Blair from The Exorcist

Dr. Lee Miller’s research into the origin stories of movies like The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street are compiled in this handy book. Miller details the true accounts of disappearances, murders, and hauntings that inspired these hit movies.

Behind the Horror explains the history of the serial killers featured in Silence of the Lambs and takes a good look at the possessions that motivated the making of The Exorcist and The Conjuring 2 .

My Favorite Horror Movie: 48 Essays by Horror Creators on the Film that Shaped Them

My Favorite Horror Movie Book Cover

Arguably one of the best books to read if you are curious about the makers behind famous horror movies. My Favorite Horror Movie features over 20 essays from filmmakers, actors, set designers, musicians, and more about the dark works that solidified their careers.

The films discussed include It , Halloween , The Shining , and others. It’s a good book for looking at horror movies from different angles and recognizing the many minds that contributed to these iconic works.

The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History

The Cover of The Art of Horror

Yet another great book for establishing a rounded perspective of horror movies, this time in a much more visual way. The Art of Horror sorts through famous illustrations, movie posters, cover art, comics, paintings, photos, and filmmakers since the beginning of horror with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s infamous Frankenstein . Learn about these talented artists, their chilling work, and their impact on the direction of horror.

Wes Craven: Interviews

Drew Barrymore in Scream

If you’re trying to hear from the best horror directors themselves, the Wes Craven interviews are a great place to start. Craven is responsible for films like Scream , The Hills Have Eyes , A Nightmare on Elm Street , and The Last House on the Left , and is often considered one of the greatest horror filmmakers of all time.

Related: The Best Scream Queens of All Time, Ranked

Craven established a particular style in his films that changed the way horror movies are made, and this book pulls information from the master himself. Wes Craven: Interviews includes almost 30 interviews with the director ranging from the 1980s until Craven passed away in 2015.

101 Horror Movies You Should See Before You Die

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Ever wonder if you’re missing a great horror film from your spooky collection? This is the book for you. 101 Horror Movies You Should See Before You Die covers the absolute essentials of every kind of horror film, from gothic to slasher and international horror classics as well. Horror can take on so many different forms and this book is one of the best for finding horror films you might have missed.

The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects Stunts, and Stories Behind Your Every Fright

The cast of the The Haunting of Hill House

Authors Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence examine women in horror movies in this book that explores feminist horror films , and more misogynistic ones from the standpoint of feminist film theory. The Science of Women in Horror recalls the history of women in horror movies and goes on to analyze more recent, women-centered horror flicks and series such as The Haunting of Hill House and Buffy the Vampire Slayer . If you want to know more about the women on and off-screen in horror movies, check out this book!

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The work of horror films

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How late capitalism is the underrecognized monster lurking in modern American horror.

“Sometimes I wonder what it was exactly, that led me to pull The Dead Zone by Stephen King off of my parents’ bookshelf when I was in fourth grade,” says Jason Middleton. “It was the first ‘grown-up’ novel I ever read. There were certainly parts of it that I found kind of upsetting, but also magnetic. It almost felt as if the world was opening up in a new way.”

Middleton is an associate professor of English and of visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester . He also directs its film and media studies program . His captivation by King’s novel led to a lifelong love of horror films. Although horror is just one of the film genres Middleton has immersed himself in—both as a fan and a scholar—it’s a genre whose appeal he thinks is especially durable.

In horror, “normality is threatened by a monster,” he says. “What’s so wonderfully expansive about the horror genre is that the monster keeps forming and reforming in relation to the fears and anxieties of its time. And on the flip side, normality, and the depiction of normality, keeps evolving and changing based on the historical period as well.”

Work as the American nightmare

There have been some clear trends. In the post-World War II era, the monster was often a stand-in for anxieties about the atomic bomb. During the feminist movement of the 1970s, the monster often suggested anxieties about female power and female bodies.

That critique has extended into a new era—late capitalism, a phrase coined to describe a world of globalized commodification that’s both unsettling and absurd . The essays focus overwhelmingly on 21st-century horror films. Those depict a world of economic precarity and a hollowed-out middle class that make up “a new ‘normality’” of survival, or of just getting by. And even that bleak environment is vulnerable to new monsters that threaten what stability protagonists have been able to muster—or that they are striving to attain in the first place.

In Labors of Fear: The Modern Horror Film Goes to Work (University of Texas Press, 2023), Middleton has joined with Aviva Briefel, who teaches literature and film at Bowdoin College, to make the case that there’s been another kind of monster lurking in American horror films all along: the post-industrial world of work.

In the essay collection, which they coedit, Middleton and Briefel suggest that ambivalence about work is a theme that has roots stretching back to classic horror , when it usually came in the form of the mad scientist. In modern horror films, starting roughly in the 1970s, ambivalence evolved into a fuller critique. Middleton and Briefel describe the critique as reflecting “social fears and anxieties that took root in the 1970s and 1980s in response to deindustrialization, automation, globalized labor, union busting, and rising income inequality.”

An easy example is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , a pathbreaking film that’s 50 years old this year. Rural, unemployed slaughterhouse workers are never shown performing slaughterhouse labor, but are shown “repeating the trained motions of this labor upon their human victims,” they write.

New categories of uncompensated work

Middleton is especially interested in forms of uncompensated work, which he argues fall disproportionately on groups that are already marginalized. He isn’t just talking about such uncompensated labor as housework or family caregiving. In his own contribution, “No Drama: Emotion Work in Midsommar, ” Middleton explores “emotion work” in the 2019 film directed by Ari Aster.

He describes emotion work as “suppressing and modifying, and maybe not expressing one’s own feelings in order that a spouse or partner has the kind of optimal experience that they themselves expect to have in the relationship.” It has a long history in the quest of women to get by but has proven resilient even as women have achieved greater economic independence.

Midsommar (2019) depicts the arduous efforts of a 20-something female protagonist, Dani, to hold onto her relationship with her distant and disengaged boyfriend, Christian. The couple attends a summer festival in Sweden that turns out to be an annual ritual of a murderous cult.

Its horrors mirror Dani’s labors in preserving her attachment to Christian. But she also attains a level of power within the cult, and the film’s cathartic ending shows Dani ending the relationship by sacrificing Christian.

It’s actually a breakup story, Middleton explains. But in showing the slow, laboriousness process in which Dani comes to recognize Christian’s neglectfulness, it’s the inverse of many lighter breakup films. “It’s kind of the horror movie version of a breakup film like Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun ,” he says. “The semantic elements are mostly the same—travel, exotic location, meeting different people, food, all of these things. But whereas in those films, the work of a breakup is frictionless and fulfilling and idealized, Midsommar uses the horror genre to instead express the work of a breakup as just agonizing, laborious, and painful—and ultimately, in the end, cathartic.”

The horror of stagnation—and of leisure

The essays in the collection also demonstrate how the experience of economic precarity can differ along racial lines. Briefel’s essay, for example, is subtitled “The Hard Work of Leisure in Jordan Peele’s Us .”

“In a 2019 interview for Vanity Fair, Jordan Peele explained that one of his objectives in the film Us was to represent Black leisure,” Briefel begins. “Yet relaxation is a major source of horror in the film.” Us shows a Black family living with a constant threat of merely letting their guard down.

In another essay, Mikal Gaines, an assistant professor of English at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, coins a subgenre of “Buppie horror,” which reworks the conventional home-invasion thriller. Lakeview Terrace (2008) is an archetype, Gaines explains, of a subgenre that “seems to say that entry into a rarified class status historically reserved for whites must be paid in blood.”

For many white Americans, however, the threat is losing what they have—or living with the dread of having already lost. Middleton’s colleague at Rochester, Joel Burges, finds in David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 film It Follows a depiction of “the precarity of white working-class identity.” The film shows a group of young adult friends in a desolate and stagnant postindustrial Detroit. It’s a reworking of the stalker films of the 1970s and ’80s, explains Burges, like Middleton, an associate professor of English and of visual and cultural studies. It Follows adheres to the slasher convention of punishing people for sexual acts. Sexual encounters between the characters—men as well as women, in this film—infect characters with “It,” a stalker who lurks after them, and takes changing forms, but always of mangled middle- and working-class white bodies.

In these bodies, however, Burges found something beyond the slasher convention in which sex equals death. In It Follows , the work of getting by literally takes place mostly in low-level, dead-end service occupations that fill the young adults with dread to have. There’s emotion work, in other words, in surviving the bleak landscape through which “It” stalks victims. “Dread is slow,” Burges writes. “Its menace bears down on you with steadily intensifying pressure that never relents.”

Horror films in the post-COVID era

When Middleton and Briefel got started on their project, COVID-19 was sweeping across the globe. No one knew at the time just how much the pandemic would transform the world of work. Have these changes started to play out in horror films? And if so, how?

Says Middleton: “Something that I noticed during the last few years is that some really interesting horror movies take place not only entirely in a house, or entirely within an enclosed space, but entirely just a person and their laptop. For example, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021). The whole film is just from the perspective of an isolated teenage girl on her laptop, as she’s on it every night to do these internet challenges that grow increasingly dangerous and threatening as she does them.

“It’s just the horrific experience of being on the internet on your laptop all the time.”

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Jason Middleton in a mask teaches his film class.

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Essays on Horror Movies

2. Introduction-A monologue introduction of hosts and the topic of discussion. 3. Discussion- Talk for about 5 minutes. 4. Closing remarks- A vote of thanks to the audience guests hosts. 5. Closing musical jingle. Stacey is the host...

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Common entertainment in modern culture Common entertainment in modern culture is primarily in the form of violent media content seen on televisions, movies, and video games. Violent movies, horror movies, news on our television about countries fighting, and even violent media games like world champion wrestling (WCW) and other contents on...

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Best Movies Essay Examples

Why we crave horror movies: cause and effect.

340 words | 2 page(s)

Stephen King writes in his essay “Why We Crave Horror Movies” of the reasons humans indulge in low-brow and low-quality entertainment: to see campy and low-brow films to satisfy the “mentally ill” parts of us that are otherwise quelled by societies. The blood, guts and gore in horror movies are somehow of sick satisfaction to us as we see fun in other people being harmed and killed.

Seeing horror movies does not present causation of murderous and psychopathic tendencies, but it speaks to a “psychic relief” of being able to allow emotions free rein, as King puts it. While there is no formal definition for low-brow entertainment, the Internet has provided several examples in the form of movies, television and leisure activity. Answers from a Reddit forum demonstrate slapstick comedy, monster truck shows and “stoner films” like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and the chronicles of Harold and Kumar as low-brow entertainment that is still widely enjoyed. Reality television have taken over as the new soap opera: scripted, yet set against the backdrop of a certain lifestyle which many of us will never attain.

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What is low-brow entertainment is dependent upon personal taste and characteristics, so there will never be a definitive, one-size-fits-all answer. I believe that what it is about low-brow entertainment that attracts popularity is the complete and total aberration and escape from the mundaneness and stress of life. Seeing the struggles of women who have earn (or married into) more money than we will see in a lifetime allows us to, for no more than an hour, escape the reality of knowing we will never make that money. The combined glamour and drama of it all is what attracts viewers.

For most, myself included, it is simply entertainment. For critics, it is a shallow, uneducated and uncultured display of human life. Vapid housewives dominate the screen and are offering no intelligent discourse, especially to the minds of the young that indulge in it too. The cultural elite turns down their noses at anything not of pop culture.

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The Best College Horror Movies

A list of horror flicks that revolve around college students (some of these are set on university campuses, and some aren't).

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1. Black Christmas (1974)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Olivia Hussey , Keir Dullea , Margot Kidder , John Saxon

Votes: 47,966 | Gross: $4.05M

2. Suspiria (1977)

R | 92 min | Horror

An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.

Director: Dario Argento | Stars: Jessica Harper , Stefania Casini , Flavio Bucci , Miguel Bosé

Votes: 104,241

3. Friday the 13th (1980)

R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A group of camp counselors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake, which has a grim past, are stalked by a mysterious killer.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham | Stars: Betsy Palmer , Adrienne King , Jeannine Taylor , Robbi Morgan

Votes: 156,179 | Gross: $39.75M

4. Hell Night (1981)

R | 101 min | Horror, Thriller

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier.

Director: Tom DeSimone | Stars: Linda Blair , Vincent Van Patten , Peter Barton , Kevin Brophy

Votes: 8,650

5. Final Exam (1981)

R | 89 min | Horror, Thriller

A psycho killer shows up on college campus to slash up pretty co-eds and dumb jocks.

Director: Jimmy Huston | Stars: Cecile Bagdadi , Joel S. Rice , Ralph Brown , DeAnna Robbins

Votes: 4,561

6. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director: John Landis | Stars: David Naughton , Jenny Agutter , Joe Belcher , Griffin Dunne

Votes: 119,242 | Gross: $30.57M

7. The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)

R | 88 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Four college students are stalked by an unknown assailant while staying on campus over the Christmas holidays to help clear out a dormitory which is to be demolished.

Directors: Stephen Carpenter , Jeffrey Obrow | Stars: Laurie Lapinski , Stephen Sachs , David Snow , Pamela Holland

Votes: 2,439

8. The House on Sorority Row (1982)

R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.

Director: Mark Rosman | Stars: Kate McNeil , Eileen Davidson , Janis Ward , Robin Meloy

Votes: 9,840 | Gross: $1.29M

9. Splatter University (1984)

R | 78 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A sociology instructor finds her new teaching duties at a private college interrupted by the presence of a killer mental hospital patient.

Director: Richard W. Haines | Stars: Forbes Riley , Ric Randig , Dick Biel , Kathy LaCommare

Votes: 1,925

10. Re-Animator (1985)

Unrated | 84 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Jeffrey Combs , Bruce Abbott , Barbara Crampton , David Gale

Votes: 70,892 | Gross: $2.02M

11. Sorority House Massacre (1986)

R | 74 min | Horror

College student Beth and her sorority sisters are stalked by an escaped psychopathic killer who shares a strange telepathic link with her.

Director: Carol Frank | Stars: Angela O'Neill , Wendy Martel , Pamela Ross , Nicole Rio

Votes: 3,857

12. Night of the Creeps (1986)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.

Director: Fred Dekker | Stars: Jason Lively , Tom Atkins , Steve Marshall , Jill Whitlow

Votes: 25,848 | Gross: $0.59M

13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

R | 96 min | Fantasy, Horror

A psychiatrist familiar with knife-wielding dream demon Freddy Krueger helps teens at a mental hospital battle the killer who is invading their dreams.

Director: Chuck Russell | Stars: Heather Langenkamp , Robert Englund , Craig Wasson , Patricia Arquette

Votes: 89,474 | Gross: $44.79M

14. Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent must face more vampires, out for revenge.

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace | Stars: William Ragsdale , Roddy McDowall , Traci Lind , Julie Carmen

Votes: 14,123 | Gross: $2.98M

15. Flatliners (1990)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Five medical students experiment with "near death" experiences, until the dark consequences of past tragedies begin to jeopardize their lives.

Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Kiefer Sutherland , Kevin Bacon , Julia Roberts , William Baldwin

Votes: 92,741 | Gross: $61.49M

16. Scream 2 (1997)

R | 120 min | Horror, Mystery

Two years after the first series of murders, as Sidney acclimates to college life, someone donning the Ghostface costume begins a new string of killings.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Neve Campbell , Courteney Cox , David Arquette , Jada Pinkett Smith

Votes: 208,036 | Gross: $101.36M

17. Urban Legend (1998)

R | 99 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A college student suspects a series of bizarre deaths are connected to certain urban legends.

Director: Jamie Blanks | Stars: Jared Leto , Alicia Witt , Rebecca Gayheart , Michael Rosenbaum

Votes: 71,084 | Gross: $38.07M

18. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

R | 100 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

The murderous fisherman with a hook is back to once again stalk the two surviving teens, Julie and Ray, who had left him for dead, as well as cause even more murder and mayhem, this time at a posh island resort.

Director: Danny Cannon | Stars: Jennifer Love Hewitt , Freddie Prinze Jr. , Brandy Norwood , Mekhi Phifer

Votes: 78,280 | Gross: $40.00M

19. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Directors: Daniel Myrick , Eduardo Sánchez | Stars: Heather Donahue , Michael C. Williams , Joshua Leonard , Bob Griffin

Votes: 282,690 | Gross: $140.54M

20. The Skulls (2000)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A senior at an ivy league college, who depends on scholarships and working on the side, gets accepted into the secret society The Skulls. He hopes it betters chances at Harvard but The Skulls is not what he thought and comes at a price.

Director: Rob Cohen | Stars: Joshua Jackson , Paul Walker , Hill Harper , Leslie Bibb

Votes: 33,562 | Gross: $35.05M

21. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

R | 97 min | Horror, Mystery

A film school is the center of a fresh spate of killings based on urban legends.

Director: John Ottman | Stars: Jennifer Morrison , Matthew Davis , Hart Bochner , Loretta Devine

Votes: 18,864 | Gross: $21.47M

22. Dracula 2000 (2000)

R | 99 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

A group of thieves breaks into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead they release the count himself, who travels to New Orleans to find his nemesis' daughter, Mary Van Helsing.

Director: Patrick Lussier | Stars: Gerard Butler , Justine Waddell , Jonny Lee Miller , Christopher Plummer

Votes: 36,214 | Gross: $33.02M

23. Joy Ride (2001)

R | 97 min | Action, Mystery, Thriller

Three young people on a road trip from Colorado to New Jersey talk to a trucker on their CB radio, then must escape when he turns out to be a psychopathic killer.

Director: John Dahl | Stars: Steve Zahn , Paul Walker , Leelee Sobieski , Jessica Bowman

Votes: 75,348 | Gross: $21.97M

24. Ripper (2001)

R | 114 min | Horror, Thriller

A massacre survivor (A.J. Cook) studies serial killers under a famous expert (Bruce Payne), but her classmates soon start dying at the hands of a Jack the Ripper copycat.

Director: John Eyres | Stars: A.J. Cook , Bruce Payne , Ryan Northcott , Claire Keim

Votes: 3,009

25. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

R | 90 min | Horror, Thriller

Three years after he last terrorized his sister, Michael Myers confronts her again, before traveling to Haddonfield to deal with the cast and crew of a reality show which is being broadcast from his old home.

Director: Rick Rosenthal | Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis , Busta Rhymes , Brad Loree , Bianca Kajlich

Votes: 48,911 | Gross: $30.35M

26. American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002 Video)

R | 88 min | Horror, Thriller

A girl named Rachael Newman has developed a taste for murder and will stop at nothing to become a college professor's assistant.

Director: Morgan J. Freeman | Stars: Mila Kunis , William Shatner , Geraint Wyn Davies , Robin Dunne

Votes: 17,706

27. Cry Wolf (2005)

PG-13 | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Eight unsuspecting high school seniors at a posh boarding school, who delight themselves on playing games of lies, come face-to-face with terror and learn that nobody believes a liar - even when they're telling the truth.

Director: Jeff Wadlow | Stars: Julian Morris , Lindy Booth , Jared Padalecki , Erica Yates

Votes: 28,382 | Gross: $10.05M

28. Hostel (2005)

R | 94 min | Horror

Three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.

Director: Eli Roth | Stars: Jay Hernandez , Derek Richardson , Eythor Gudjonsson , Barbara Nedeljakova

Votes: 189,844 | Gross: $47.33M

29. Black Christmas (2006)

R | 95 min | Horror

On Christmas Eve, an escaped maniac returns to his childhood home, which is now a sorority house, and begins to murder the sorority sisters one by one.

Director: Glen Morgan | Stars: Michelle Trachtenberg , Mary Elizabeth Winstead , Lacey Chabert , Katie Cassidy

Votes: 30,469 | Gross: $16.24M

30. Pulse (I) (2006)

PG-13 | 90 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

When their computer hacker friend accidentally channels a mysterious wireless signal, a group of co-eds rally to stop a terrifying evil from taking over the world.

Director: Jim Sonzero | Stars: Kristen Bell , Rick Gonzalez , Christina Milian , Ian Somerhalder

Votes: 30,594 | Gross: $20.26M

31. Sorority Row (2009)

R | 101 min | Horror, Mystery

A group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.

Director: Stewart Hendler | Stars: Briana Evigan , Rumer Willis , Carrie Fisher , Teri Andrez

Votes: 32,256 | Gross: $11.96M

32. The Roommate (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

When college freshman Sara arrives on campus for the first time, she befriends her roommate, Rebecca, unaware that the girl is becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Director: Christian E. Christiansen | Stars: Minka Kelly , Leighton Meester , Cam Gigandet , Aly Michalka

Votes: 41,134 | Gross: $37.30M

33. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Five college friends head out to a remote cabin for a getaway, but things don't go as planned when they start getting killed. They soon discover that there is more to the cabin than it seems.

Director: Drew Goddard | Stars: Kristen Connolly , Chris Hemsworth , Anna Hutchison , Fran Kranz

Votes: 446,799 | Gross: $42.07M

34. It Follows (2014)

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter.

Director: David Robert Mitchell | Stars: Maika Monroe , Keir Gilchrist , Olivia Luccardi , Lili Sepe

Votes: 266,192 | Gross: $14.67M

35. The Final Girls (2015)

PG-13 | 91 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom's most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film's maniacal killer.

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson | Stars: Taissa Farmiga , Malin Akerman , Adam Devine , Thomas Middleditch

Votes: 51,317

36. The Bye Bye Man (2017)

PG-13 | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind unspeakable acts.

Director: Stacy Title | Stars: Douglas Smith , Lucien Laviscount , Cressida Bonas , Michael Trucco

Votes: 25,829 | Gross: $22.38M

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The horror movies essay

The following essay will contrast the horror movies of the 1940’s and 1950’s with today’s plethora of gore and mayhem. The basis of the paper’s thesis will rest upon these previous films having greater cinematography and creativity than the bombardment of today’s high tech industry. “Shots of Gothic manors lit by lightening, of shadows glimpsed under doors, or of a hand gliding along a banister, are examples of the ‘spectacular means’ of horror; they are the kind of devices that have been used so often that they have come to define the genre of the horror movie” (White The Poetics of Horror 1).

This is the common definition for both previous horror movies and those created in today’s industry. It is veracious to state that today’s horror movies rely too heavily upon the amount of gore and blood seen in the movie and less on plot and character development (although there are exceptions to this rule). The horror movies of the 1940’s and 1950’s although sometimes cliche in their development give to the audience a wonderland of cinematic detail and emotional impact that is not replicated. Such movies are often also defined by their talented actors.

One such movie is The Body Snatcher (1945). This film, directed by Robert Wise (who also directed The Haunting in 1963), brings in elements of gore but also suspense. This dichotomy of conceptual realization in the film is what lends it as a classic horror film. The performance given by Boris Karloff is what truly heightens the story line of the film. That is one great difference between these two eras of movies; character development has become strained and non-existent in today’s genre but in Boris Karloff’s character Gray.

The character has a true identity and is itself dichotomized from a man who gets along with children and animals but whose cold nature allows him to black mail the doctor. This film’s greatness does not hinge upon its graphic detail and gore but instead its subtle ability to incorporate into the story line such special effects as lightening and the covert viewings of bodies leads the viewer to image for themselves to a certain extent the gruesome details of the plot. This is one point of contrast between these two different styles of horror films.

Related essays:

  • Similarities between Frankenstein and Monster essay
  • Film analysis essay
  • Subject essay
  • Reaction to Stephen King Statement about Horror Movies essay

The 1940’s and 1950’s horror films presented something that does not exist in today’s horror films as did during this time; the theme of paranoia. Paranoia was not just presented by the character’s depiction of the feeling but through different effects such as lighting and sound that suggestively pointed towards paranoia and accomplished not only the main character’s involvement with the feeling but by extension of these effects the audience’s involvement also, as White states, “Because we all fear death and try to protect ourselves from it, even the most clinical presentation of a murder is apt to interest us.

But the arousing of our fear of death by itself is not enough to produce horror; horror requires a certain manipulation of that fear. ” (White 7). This type of fear, and involvement of death in horror as represented in the 1950’s film era is seen in The Curse of Frankenstein. The psychology of this film is riveting. It is the classic horror tale of man trying to cheat death or more aptly put it is man trying to be God. In the scenes that depict the creation of Frankenstein’s monster and the camera angles (both the low and the high angles) reveal to the audience the otherworldliness of the moment.

The film also has a very strong use of light and shadow especially in scenes with the monster and Frankenstein together. This is especially true when in the film the stray bolt of lightening brings the creature to life; in the symbolism of nature bringing the creature to life where science failed is also a small evidence factor that contributes to the idea of these effects having a greater sway on an audience because of their metaphorical qualities than the slasher films of today whose main purpose is to frighten but not seduce.

The movie The Curse of Frankenstein seduces the audience by giving them a chance to feel compassion for the creature and diabolical understanding for the doctor, but none of these emotions would be possible is not for the camera angles aiding in this portrayal and the use of light and shadow (especially in the lab). Another effect in the movie was the depiction of the monster. The monster was created to embody a very animalistic side of nature and thus the creature was more of a blank canvas (Noel Nightmare and the Horror Film 17).

The monster was violent yet in the film the audience, through the course of the movie and the lighting effects as they represented and lingered on each character in certain fashions (i. e. the progression of the film increasingly shadowed Dr. Frankenstein while the monster became increasingly vivid) allowed the audience to relate more with the monster and to associate the animalistic symbols in the film with Dr. Frankenstein; for it is Dr.

Frankenstein who is the monster, “The fact that audiences tolerate, even seek out and enjoy, a film designed to horrify them, can tell us a great deal about what it is in these films that makes them inspire fear or dread” (White 7). The horror movies of the 1940’s and 1950’s brought something different to cinematic history; the empathizing of the audience with the monster. In today’s horror movies the anti-hero has overswamped the screen, the lighting effects are nonexistence as digital has taken the place of talent.

Choices are being made in the film that allow CGI to almost be a viable character instead of emotions as portrayed through effects such as lighting and camera and sound. The vampire films have definitely changed dramatically than when Horror of Dracula was conceived. The replacement film of this genre is more about action. This can be seen in such movies as Blade (each version) and Dracula 2000. There is no real possession of the audience in these films.

Blade especially does not do the genre justice as its characters are ill developed and its light focus is minimal as it only delves into the use of sunlight and lamplight (on the street scenes and in warehouses). The darkness in the film is not a weighty character, and even the night scenes are too bright. The only truth behind this film in regards to it being a horror film is the club scene where the lights are flickering at fast speeds and the dancing crowd is being consumed by vampires.

But even in this scene the focus is about the gore and the technique utilized to represent the gore. It seems to be increasingly true that a horror movie in today’s market is only a horror movie if it uses the right amount of blood and guts. In contrast to this film, The Horror of Dracula is strikingly different. The highlighting effect that emotionally drew in the audience is the films underscore.

The musical development of the film as it fits with key scenes allows the film to transcend the genre of horror and allows it to be at once horror, tragedy, and surprisingly romantic. The musical underscore tied the characters together in a love triangle and even without the films marked up-angle shots of the monster and the castle angles, the films music make a definite impression. The association between the monster and the music is completely riveting.

Although music is used in horror films today their portrayal is mixed with a rock star atmosphere (as mentioned in the club scene in Blade), or the fact that the film wants to associate with the younger generation and so places guitar riffs into the action scenes. This effect merely produces a lot of hype that does nothing to replace the character development and scene development that a truly great musical score (as is witnessed in The Horror of Dracula) can bring to a picture (Internet Zombie Production). In the Curse of the Werewolf the use of lighting is essential.

Although the makeup of the creature is slightly less than believable as compared with the genres advancements in this area (even American Werewolf in London had a great make-up team and From Dusk Till Dawn showed innovations in the field) for current day movies, the abundance of dream sequences relaying to real life and the use of darkness is captivating, as White states about these past horror films, “Their mixture of comedy and tragedy, reality and fantasy, captures something of the chaos of the world and some of the ways men go about giving that chaos the illusion of order” (14).

This statement is especially true in application to The Curse of the Werewolf. One special effect used in the film is when the mute servant girl gives birth in Alfredo’s home on Christmas day and the sound effect of bells chiming is paired with the simultaneous crying of a new borne babe. The implications and symbolism in this sound effect is stunning.

The film renders symbolism in the birth of Christ but the juxtaposition of the animal in place of the divine is an element that makes this film especially harrowing. Although the werewolf movies of today such as The Howling have a brief focus on the birth of a werewolf no version or continuous sequel of The Howling produces quite the same effect as this sound bit even thought he make-up and artistry is of a superior quality in this more modern day horror film.

The Curse of the Werewolf also includes dream sequences where the character Leon begins dreaming like an animal and goes to confess these dreams to the parish when a flock of sheep is discovered to have been eaten, as White states about dreams in horror movies, “As the dream can express what the character cannot normally express consciously, the aberration elements of the dream can become confused with normal life providing a character with a way of doing what he wants to do while denying that he has done it or desires to do it” (15).

Thus, in comparison of the techniques used by the 1940’s and 1950’s horror movies with today’s special effects the quality of the former is much more impressive in context and is utilized in such a way as to cause empathy from the audience and to reveal a solidly conceived character.

Agel, Henri. What is a Cursed Film? “Hollywood Quarterly. ” Vol. 4 No. 3. pp293-297. Autumn 1984. Carrol, Noel. The Nature of Horror. “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. ” Vol. 46, No. 1. pp51-59. Autumn 1987. Carrol, Noel. Nightmare and the Horror Film: The Symbolic Biology of Fantastic Beings.

“Film Quarterly. ” Vol. 34, No. 3. pp16-25. Spring 1981. Harrington, Curtis. Ghoulies and Ghosties. “The Quarterly of Film Radio and Television. Vol. 7 No. 2. pp191-202. Winter 1952. Internet Zombie Production. House of Horrors. (Online). Available: <http://www. houseofhorrors. com/hammer. htm> White, Dennis L. The Poetics of Horror More than Meets the Eye. “Cinema Journal” Vol. 10, No. 2. pp1-18. Spring 1971. Williams, Linda. Horror and Humor. “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. ” Vol. 57, No. 2. pp145-160. Spring 1999.

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The Morning

Three questions about rafah.

A looming battle in the southern Gaza city embodies the brutal dynamics of the conflict.

Several people prepare food by a tent in a makeshift camp for displaced Palestinians.

By David Leonhardt

The looming battle for Rafah — a city on the southern end of Gaza, farthest from where Israel’s invasion began — embodies the brutal dynamics of the conflict. The war is both a military operation against Hamas, an extremist organization that has vowed more terrorist attacks against Israel, and a humanitarian crisis that has brought death, hunger and displacement to Gazan civilians.

The humanitarian crisis is clear. During its four-month invasion of Gaza, Israel has killed more than 29,000 people, many of them children. The civilian toll, as a share of the population, is among the highest from any modern war. Many more Gazans have fled their homes and are struggling to find food. An assault on Rafah, which has become a refuge for more than half of Gaza’s population, would worsen the misery.

But the military importance of Rafah for Hamas is also real, experts say. On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded Israel, murdering, sexually assaulting and kidnapping civilians. Since the attack, Hamas’s leaders have refused to release dozens of Israeli hostages. With Israel having taken control of much of northern and central Gaza, at least some Hamas leaders and their weapons seem to be in tunnels under Rafah.

Two things, then, are simultaneously true: To defeat a violent enemy, Israel may need to invade Rafah. And an invasion of Rafah would almost certainly worsen the war’s awful civilian toll.

In today’s newsletter, I’ll examine three questions: What does Israel hope to accomplish by invading? What might forestall an invasion? And how might the civilian toll be reduced if an invasion happens?

Israel’s goals

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has set an ambitious goal: Eliminating Hamas. The goal is also contentious.

Some Israelis wish their government would instead prioritize the release of hostages. Many U.S. officials, meanwhile, believe the elimination of Hamas is unrealistic. “Operations that kill militants often radicalize others,” my colleagues Julian Barnes and Edward Wong note .

Still, an invasion of Rafah could debilitate Hamas. Without control of Rafah, as Yonah Jeremy Bob, The Jerusalem Post’s senior military correspondent, has written , “Hamas would lose its last major remaining battalions, its last large city for hiding its leadership and human-shield hostages, and its only remaining way to rearm and smuggle in weapons from outside of Gaza.”

One sign of Rafah’s importance to Hamas came during a nighttime raid last week, when Israeli forces stormed a building there and rescued two hostages.

Can it be avoided?

The most likely path for avoiding an invasion would involve an extended cease-fire in exchange for the release of about 130 hostages that Hamas is still holding in Gaza. “Either our hostages will be returned, or we will expand the fighting to Rafah,” said Benny Gantz, a centrist Israeli politician who joined the government after the Oct. 7 attacks.

There are certainly impediments to a deal. For one thing, Hamas’s leaders understand that the hostages give them leverage: Israel’s military might be even more aggressive if no hostages remained. For another, Netanyahu has often seemed more interested in destroying Hamas than winning the hostages’ release. Israel has also balked at releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

Still, Netanyahu faces domestic pressure to bring home the hostages. Hamas leaders, for their part, may be able to spare their own lives in a cease-fire.

Protecting civilians

If Israel does invade, officials around the world have called on it to protect civilians in Rafah. President Biden and the leaders of many other countries say Israel has been callous about civilian lives in the war’s first four months. Last week, the International Court of Justice declined to oppose an invasion of Rafah but reiterated its order that Israel protect civilians. The court has also ordered Hamas to release the hostages.

How might Rafah’s civilians be protected? In many wars, civilians find safety in a neighboring country, but Egypt has largely refused to accept refugees. It is instead building a wall near Rafah.

Some military experts say that Israel has already taken steps to protect civilians, such as creating humanitarian corridors that allow civilian Gazans to flee battle zones — even though disguised Hamas militants might escape too. “Israel has adjusted almost everything in their approach to evacuate civilians,” John Spencer of the Modern War Institute at West Point said. Over the past two months, the daily death toll in Gaza has declined to about 150 (including both fighters and civilians), according to Gazan officials, down from more than 400 per day in October.

But 150 daily deaths is still a terrible toll, and many human rights experts say Israel could reduce it. In Rafah, that could involve several actions: less aerial bombing; the creation of both humanitarian corridors to leave Rafah and temporary safe zones within the city; and fewer restrictions on the humanitarian aid that Israel allows to enter.

Biden administration officials are frustrated that Netanyahu does not have a clearer plan for protecting civilians in Rafah, according to my colleagues in Washington. Some congressional Democrats argue that the U.S. should interrupt its flow of weapons to Israel unless Israel gives a higher priority to protecting innocent Gazans.

Inside Rafah, many people are simply scared. “We’re trying to live with the war conditions, but they are very difficult,” Salem Baris, 55, who has fled to Rafah, told Al Jazeera . Ten children in his family have been wearing white hospital coveralls — intended for adults — to stay warm. “I hope this nightmare ends, and I can go home soon,” Baris said.

More on the war

The U.S. is negotiating a U.N. resolution that warns Israel against invading Rafah and calls for a temporary cease-fire.

Israel has said Hamas has been active in hospitals in southern Gaza. Military operations have left two medical facilities barely functioning .

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, recalled his ambassador to Israel , escalating a diplomatic dispute about the war.

For many in Rafah, displacement is a recurring nightmare , Hiba Yazbek writes.

Israelis, newly vulnerable after the Oct. 7 attacks , remain traumatized and mistrustful.

THE LATEST NEWS

Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of the deceased opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, pledged to continue her husband’s work. Watch her speech .

Navalny spent the end of his life in brutal prison conditions. He also read books and kept his mind active, letters from his cell show .

Donald Trump spoke about Navalny’s death, but he didn’t condemn Vladimir Putin .

Middle East

Iranian-backed Houthi militants claim to have shot down a U.S. military drone off the coast of Yemen.

A crew abandoned a cargo ship in the Red Sea after a Houthi missile attack.

More International News

Autocrats are abusing Interpol resources , like its database of lost and stolen passports, to pursue dissidents, a Times investigation found.

French officials promised to use Olympic funding to transform a Parisian suburb known for poverty and crime. Government programs have failed there before .

Doctors in South Korea protested a government plan to admit more students to medical school .

A judge charged the widow of the assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moïse with conspiring in his 2021 murder .

Wall Street’s money managers are already thinking about how November’s election could alter the mood in the markets .

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor signed new state legislative maps that reduced a Republican advantage , giving Democrats a chance to win control.

Biden’s great-great-grandfather got into a brawl at a Union Army camp during the Civil War. Documents show how Abraham Lincoln pardoned him, The Washington Post reports .

In Michigan, a hub for car manufacturing, the Biden administration’s embrace of electric vehicles has raised both hopes and concerns .

Capital One announced it would acquire Discover , a deal that could combine two huge credit card companies.

Anthropic, an artificial intelligence start-up, has raised more than $7 billion in a year — a sign of the A.I. investment boom in Silicon Valley.

Other Big Stories

Teachers in some school districts are taking more sick days since the pandemic , and there is a national shortage of substitutes.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on murder charges related to the fatal shooting of two people in a Colorado dormitory.

An atmospheric river brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to California . More rain is expected through Wednesday.

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett ’s son received treatment for a fatal neuromuscular disease . The F.D.A. should support getting the treatment to more patients, she argues.

Ukraine wants to create a future with fewer graves and more art , Olena Stiazhkina writes.

Here is a column by Paul Krugman on Tom Suozzi .

MORNING READS

Shane Rose: An Olympic equestrian rode a horse in a “mankini.” His stunt has won him public support in Australia.

Love story: Eliza and Miles’s love persisted through slavery and Civil War .

Home cooking: Across the U.S., developers are transforming clusters of old homes into micro restaurants .

Lives Lived: Rabbi Jules Harlow helped redefine Conservative Jewish prayer, translating it into English from Hebrew with a poet’s sensibility and a musician’s cadence. He died at 92 .

M.L.B.: The Lerner family won’t sell the Washington Nationals , changing course after nearly two years of searching for a buyer.

Women’s college basketball: A former Nebraska player filed a lawsuit accusing a coach of sexual grooming.

“I made a mistake”: Sheryl Swoopes, the women’s basketball legend, addressed comments she made about Iowa guard Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking season .

ARTS AND IDEAS

It’s alive!: Comic books, known for subversive horror and sci-fi, will return with two new anthology series . William Gaines, EC Comics’ original publisher, closed the outfit amid the “moral panic” of the 1950s.

The new anthologies, “Epitaphs From the Abyss” and “Cruel Universe,” will arrive in the summer featuring comic book writers including Jason Aaron and Rodney Barnes.

More on culture

The Met has opened its second survey of Black art , “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism,” more than 50 years after its first such exhibition was criticized.

Kanye West’s first album since a string of antisemitic comments in 2022, “Vultures 1,” a collaboration with Ty Dolla Sign, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 .

Jon Stewart discussed Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin on “The Daily Show.”

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Marnia Lazreg, wide-ranging scholar of women in Muslim world, dies at 83

Marnia Lazreg at Hunter College in 2018.

Marnia Lazreg, an author and scholar who used her experiences in French colonial Algeria as starting points for studies into the struggles and aspirations of women across the Muslim world, including her stance decrying the traditions of Islamic coverings such as headscarves, died Jan. 13 at a hospital in New York. She was 83.

She had been treated for endometrial cancer, said her son Ramsi Woodcock.

Dr. Lazreg’s books and lectures over five decades roamed across history, religious expression, and ways that power is wielded — politically, culturally, and intellectually. She ranked among the most respected academic voices on women’s affairs in North Africa and helped expand Arab viewpoints in Western feminist scholarship.

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Her work also carried autobiographical underpinnings. Some of her most acclaimed research and writing had roots in her witnessing of brutality and repression in Algeria’s war for independence, and reflected her personal stance — even as a preteen — of rejecting the billowing cloth coverings commonly used by Algerian women at the time.

“My work,” she once said, “reflects my horror of dogma, be it theoretical, methodological, or political.”

Dr. Lazreg built her academic career in the United States, but Algeria remained a polestar. She often recounted the joy and pride the country felt in 1962 after victory in Algeria’s long and bloody battle for independence, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

“We had this incredible awakening,” she said in a 2011 interview at a forum for the City University of New York system, where she had led the Hunter College women’s studies program since the late 1980s. “You woke up and you said, ‘Ha, it’s going to be different.’”

What replaced French rule, however, was nearly three decades of a single-party state and then, after multiparty elections in 1991 were suspended, almost a decade of civil war seeking to crush the rising political influence of Islamists. The symbolism of those eras from the 1950s to the 1990s — resistance, then hope, then sectarian turmoil — pulsed through much of Dr. Lazreg’s research.

Her contributions to the historical record of Algeria include “The Eloquence of Silence” (1994), a survey of how Algerian women navigated more than a century from pre-colonial times to the fight against French rule. Dr. Lazreg asserted that one of the pernicious legacies of European control was the “colonial mythification” of Arab women as passive spectators to history.

As a powerful counterpoint, later editions of the book noted the waves of women in the Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa and elsewhere. “These events,” she wrote in an essay in 2012 during the height of the protests, “should be an opportunity for social scientists, especially those studying women, to pause and think.”

In “Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad” (2008), Dr. Lazreg detailed French repression in Algeria and drew parallels with the “wanton abuse of prisoners” in places that became synonymous with the US-led wars, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay. (France in 2018 acknowledged its use of systematic torture in Algeria.)

She described the book as a cautionary tale. “A democratic country,” she said, “is always in danger of reverting to torture because it is a source of absolutely boundless power.”

Yet the question of “the veil,” the various Islamic coverings wore by many women across the Muslim world, became perhaps Dr. Lazreg’s defining issue. As a girl, she said she refused to wear the coverings used by nearly everyone around her, including her sister, mother, and grandmother. “It controls a woman instead of being controlled by her,” Dr. Lazreg wrote in a 2009 essay, “it defeats her power to choose.”

Her book “Questioning the Veil” (2009) was constructed as a series of arguments for Muslim women — and men — attempting to dismantle reasons for the veil, or hijab, including modesty, to avoid sexual harassment or as a display of piety. In Dr. Lazreg’s view, the hijab was essentially a tool of misogyny that has no grounding in Quranic teachings.

“I can no longer stay quiet on an issue, the veil,” she wrote, “that in recent years has become so politicized that it threatens to shape and distort the identity of young women and girls throughout the Muslim world as well as Europe and North America.”

The book was banned in countries with strict enforcement of Islamic morality codes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Protests and threats by some Muslim students at Hunter forced Dr. Lazreg to move her office inside the university to a more secure location.

For Dr. Lazreg, her decision to break from family and local traditions involving the wearing of the hijab was one her first acts of independence. She also never forgot the image of her mother, who could not come to her aid when a boy was harassing her when she was about 7. Her mother did not have her hijab nearby and refused to leave the house. She hurled a wooden clog instead.

“The clog landed on my forehead, making a bloody gash,” Dr. Lazreg remembered. “I had a half-inch scar for many years to remember the incident by.”

Marnia Lazreg was born in Mostaganem, on Algeria’s Mediterranean coast, on Jan. 10, 1941. Her father sold dry goods at a local market, and her mother was a homemaker.

Under the colonial system, nearly all Algerian students were sent to what were called “native schools.” At one point, the young Marnia came down with a cold that her mother blamed on the drafty classroom. Marnia was allowed to attend the school for children of French families until the weather warmed. She never left, and graduated in 1960.

After independence, her family moved to Algiers and took over an apartment vacated by French tenants who fled the country. She worked in the municipal administration of Algiers but was being denied a pass to leave the government building during the day for non-job activities. She forged the document and enrolled at the University of Algiers. She graduated with a degree in English literature in 1966.

She took a job with Sonatrach, the national oil company, and was assigned in 1967 to open its first office in the United States, in New York’s Rockefeller Center. She received a master’s degree in sociology from New York University in 1970 and a doctorate in 1975. Dr. Lazreg’s first book, “The Emergence of Classes in Algeria” (1976), was based on her dissertation about class differences growing in postcolonial Algeria after decades of collective subjugation.

Her other books include a groundbreaking study on the French philosopher Michel Foucault, “Foucault’s Orient” (2017), which put forward a case that Foucault possessed strong Western bias and considered the intellectual traditions in Asia, the Arab world, and elsewhere incapable of full rational thought.

She taught at Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1970s and then took associate professor positions at various intuitions, including Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. Dr. Lazreg returned to Hunter as a professor of sociology in 1988 and remained there until her death.

Outside academia, she played a role in building programs at the World Bank from 1999 to 2000 to introduce development loans that gave more attention to expanding opportunities for women and girls. Dr. Lazreg was also a longtime adviser to the UN Development Program.

As a novelist, she wrote under the name Meriem Belkelthoum. Her 2019 French-language novel, “The Awakening of the Mother,” was based on her family’s life in Algeria.

Her marriage to Mark Woodcock ended in divorce. Survivors include two sons, Ramsi and Reda; and a granddaughter.

Dr. Lazreg described her books and research as a process of excavating the stories of her homeland. Under colonial rule, only French history and French perspectives were presented in schools.

“Writing about Algeria,” she said, “is an endless discovery of a history I was never taught.”

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