Darkness… scary places… the unknown… maybe a killer on the loose… all classic elements you’d expect to find as part of the horror genre. How we love this genre that terrifies us! And the media and world of commerce know it, with industries incorporating the genre into their products so we can get our gore fix. This article is a look at the different ways you can enjoy the genre. There’s certainly no shortage! We start with movies….
The world has seen some truly classic horror films grace the screens in its time, many with outstanding lead characters. Who can forget Leatherface, from ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, which the makers based on real events? Or the bladed-gloved killer Freddy Kruger, who would stalk people in their dreams in ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’? Thankfully, this latter character wasn’t real!
Then there’s all that eerie music. The shower scene in ‘Psycho’ has buried itself into our memories, partly because of the music that accompanies it (Hitchcock was one of the first to understand the power of music to add suspense, if not the first). ‘The Exorcist’, considered the scariest movie made, has that haunting ‘Tubular Bells’ theme, by the musician Mike Oldfield. You’ve got the chanting in Latin on the soundtrack to ‘The Omen’ and there’s also the spooky musical score of Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’.
When it comes to horror books, one man sits head and shoulders above the rest on a throne from which not even the most powerful forces in the universe could knock him off: Stephen King. The king of horror has captivated millions by playing on our fears and grounding his stories in reality, which, ultimately, is what makes them so scary. People can relate to his characters, too, and the chances are we know someone who’s just like them.
But Stephen King can’t take all the limelight. Clive Barker, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice have all been able to lend readers a perfectly good scare. Going back further, we have the more classic horror writers such as Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft and, of course, Edgar Allen Poe.
Horror has provided video gamers some excellent games. One of the most popular has been ‘Silent Hill’, which some fans are itching to make a return to next generation consoles. This series of games is one of the scariest of all time and fans would love to see the original first three make a comeback. There are disturbing elements of psychological horror and a creepiness that the spin-offs just don’t feature. There’s also some weird symbolism.
The original ‘Dead Space’ is another one for the ages. This survival action-horror game places the player in the scary situation of having limited ammo but being trapped on a spaceship with flesh-eating creatures. You just don’t know where they are. The audio is one of the game’s main strengths, which it uses to build an almost overwhelmingly chilling atmosphere. The sequels went easy on the horror in favour of upping the action, which makes the original more of a classic in the horror game genre.
Horror and online slots
One industry in which the genre has led to some inspiration has been the online gaming industry, with horror providing the basis for some marvellous online slots. Makers of online slots are always creating games with new themes to attract new players and give existing ones more choice. Horror movies and the genre itself allow makers to ramp up the suspense in games and create excitement for the player.
Horror themed slot games are highly popular among players, not only delivering fun and scare but also the opportunity to hit the jackpot while at it.
What horror slots are out there? Well, our friend Freddie Kruger has his own slot. As the player of ‘Nightmare in Elm Street’, you’re chasing two progressive jackpots while attempting to keep the murderous villain out of your dreams and survive the night. In the ‘Never Sleep Again’ bonus game, you have to make it through four levels and can choose an item to help you stay awake.
Another nerve-shredding movie that has hit the online slots world has been Halloween. The silent psychopath Michael Myers, who murdered his sister when he’s just six years old, returns to finish the job. Players can relive moments from the move in the win animations. There are other neat touches, too, such as the Wandering Reels, which reward players with higher pay-outs if they stop in the leftmost position, and the murder weapon symbols on reels.
The impact of horror on us
Horror movies makes us feel fear… that’s kind of the whole point, but it’s because they play on fears such as the human fear of death and on common phobias. Spiders, rats and other creepy, crawly type animals are another — the thought of them touching our skin is bad enough; the notion that they might do it in the dark is even worse to us. The sense of not knowing can also make us fearful… that suspense is a powerful technique in horror movies.
In the world of online horror slots, the use of suspense transfers well to the games. Meanwhile, the music, which triggers emotions, can intensify the feeling of suspense or shock and, in the case of the movie, can accentuate the events happening on the screen. Music is vital in a game because it helps to keep the player engaged and is part of the overall experience.
There has been the suggestion, too, that horror games in general can help us to come to terms with the fear of forces out there outside of our immediate awareness. The games help us to acknowledge these fears and overcome them. They’re cathartic.
Horror — both scary and wonderful and there’s lots of it about. Books, movies, video games and online slots can all provide us with that suspense we crave from the genre. The media know we want it. The commerce world knows we want it. We get it from them and everyone wins. It’s the stuff of dreams, not nightmares, and we wouldn’t want it any other way!