From Subtle Scares to Gory Gougings

         After watching The Innocents, directed in 1961 by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, I realized how much horror movies have changed in the past thirty or so years. Do not get me wrong: this movie was a frightening movie, but my how times have changed. The older movies had much more subtle ways of creating fear, whereas the movies of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s relied far more on shocking gore to scare their audiences.

         In the older movies, such as The Innocents, to create scary concepts, it seemed that a whole lot of fans were used to generate wind in order to signify a ghost or another entity, for example in the scene, in which the candle held by Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is suddenly blown out as she talks with Miles (Martin Stephens) in bed. Another device used in older movies was sound effects of some sort. A noise always symbolized that something frightening or unfriendly was about to happen. Often when Miss Giddens spies the ghosts, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) and Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop), there is a strange humming sound in the background.

         I always notice how many of the horror movies of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were more gory, with their special effects, than the older ones. These later movies include Halloween, directed in 1978 by John Carpenter, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven in 1984, both of which spawned even more disgustingly gory sequels, which ironically made them less scary.

         I have to say that I enjoyed The Innocents, even though I am intrigued to think about the differences in the usage of scary techniques of the past and later Although, advancements in technology have created new ways to make horror movies more gory and scary, I still find the subtler, less gory older movies are still some of the scariest ever made.

Wendy Barger

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