Horror Film Genre Essay
The two movies I viewed were Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, which were both directed by Tobe Hopper. Both films displayed the general rules horror films generally follow through the use of horror film genre conventions. For instance, both movies follow the good verses evil story lines and in each the end does ultimately win.
However, this is not entirely true in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The friends represented the good and the chainsaw carrying monster and his family portrayed the evil.
In the end on of the friends, Sally, ultimately does escape from being killed by the monster in the movie. However, her other four friends were taken down and gruesomely killed by the evil killer in the movie. So although in a bittersweet manner, the good ultimately prevails when Sally escapes in the back of a truck as the chainsaw yielding monster is left behind. In Poltergeist, the “good” family overcomes the “evil” ghosts of the house by rescuing their daughter from the other realm she was sucked into and by the whole family escaping the possessed house all together in the very end.
The equilibrium outline in each film was questionable. In most, the daily motions of life are disrupted by some “evil” and in the end regularity is reestablished. The end where normality returns is what is in question in both movies. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the friends are enjoying a trip together and then they encounter the chainsaw killer and his cannibal family and their normal life is flipped inside out with each one getting brutally murdered except for Sally.
In the end normal life is not restored, all Sally’s friends are gone and although she herself escapes and could live a normal life, what she was put through would not leave her the same as she was before. In Poltergeist, the Freeling family seems to portray the typical suburban family in the 1970’s going about their day as any other family would. That ends however when a host of ghosts possess their house and take their daughter to an unknown world. Normality could be said to be brought back when the family escapes from the house and the house is sucked into some portal.
However, we are not left with a definite answer to if everything is restored to what was before for we have no clear understanding of what really happened to the ghosts. Therefore, in both films equilibrium is disrupted and equilibrium is brought back however questionably so. Moreover, one convention apparent in Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist was the plot including a search for resolving the situation they are having trouble getting out of. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Sally was the main one that got so deeply involved in the situation after her friends were all gone.
She went through everything trying to escape such as running from the killer, being at the verge of escape before being tied up and captured, and being tortured by a cannibal family. She never gave up until she hopped in the back of a truck bloody and exhausted but finally at an end to the horrid situation. A similar situation can be found in Poltergeist. The victims, the family, are fighting a number of ghosts in order to rescue their daughter, Carol. As a family would be expected to they do not give up the fight to get their daughter and escape the horrible situation they are in.
By hiring supernatural experts and then finally taking matters in their own hands as the mother risks her life to save her daughters’ by entering the ghosts realm, the family finds an end to the situation and finally escapes from the haunted house. In relation to “The Nightmare World” most movies are thought to revolve around, the convention is relative to Poltergeist more than to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In Poltergeist, the world of ghosts that jumps at the family is not one considered ordinary or one that would have any sort of rationale behind it.
Many would not believe such a thing to be true no matter if they had a house built on top of a graveyard or not. Ghosts and the supernatural do not exist so this showing up in a film brings a sense of irrational thought which would likely keep the audience of the horror film guessing for they do not know what to expect. However, in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, mostly due to the fact the film was based on a true story, there is a rational world where the events taking place could be explained.
An audience can believe that such a monster could exist because there are crazy enough people in the world that could be ruthless murderers and cannibals. It is not something that would be a pleasant thought even if it can be explained however rationale can be given behind it which is not typical in horror films. In addition, although being in the dark about something is more frightening Texas Chainsaw Massacre still did a good job of producing a scare in a rational horror film by still keeping the element of surprise and suspense throughout the movie.
The timing of the appearance of the evil in each movie was just as similar to other movies, delayed. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it takes up to half way through the movie for the chainsaw killer, Leatherface, to appear and attack his first victim. In Poltergeist, the ghosts somewhat appeared throughout the movie but the revelation of the actual monster behind the whole rage finally appeared in the end to most likely build up anticipation and suspense leading up to the sight of the evil in the movie. The technical convention stated kept the audience suspenseful by delaying the appearance of the “evil” in each film.