Horror is a genre of literature, film, and television that is meant to scare, startle, shock, and even repulse audiences. The key focus of a horror novel, horror film, or horror TV show is to elicit a sense of dread in the reader through frightening images, themes, and situations. In the horror genre, story and characters are just as important as mood and atmosphere. A horror story often shocks and provokes with its exploration of the unknown.
The horror genre in literature dates back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, where horror stories explored themes related to death, demons, evil spirits, and the afterlife. Examples include the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides, a gruesome story about how jealousy and a lack of empathy can lead to tragedy; and Parallel Lives by Plutarch, a series of biographies highlighting the many moral failures of man.
The gothic novel, a genre of horror that focuses specifically on death, originated in the eighteenth century and is exemplified by the author Edgar Allan Poe. Horror literature in the nineteenth century and twentieth centuries often focused on tales involving occult ideas, like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818) or Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
Modern horror novels have expanded the genre to include new elements and contemporary themes, like serial killers and slasher stories—Stephen King’s The Shining (1977) is a perfect example—as well as genre mashups that combine horror with historical fantasy, and modern interpretations of fantastical creatures, like ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Continue reading from MasterClass