The concept of horror spectatorship has long been a site of contention with stereotypes of deviance attached to it. This comes mainly from the pleasure viewers are assumed to (if not expected to) derive from what Isabelle Christina Pinedo describes as "the spectacle of the wet death". However, such an argument ignores the potential for a horror film to create such fear and tension from mere atmosphere - from story, to cinematography, to music; all of these elements can work together to create wonderfully effective horrors, without the on-screen bloodshed. Here are 8 of the most powerful classic horror films, arranged chronologically, working mainly through the power of suggestion; so well, in fact, that often in our memories we see them as being far more gory than they really are.
7 Strangers on a Train
6 The Tingler
5 Peeping Tom
3 The Haunting
2 Black Christmas
In 1978, Halloween forever changed the face of the slasher, making it known for its strikingly violent images and high body counts. From the blank white mask (originally a William Shatner), to his voicelessness, to his ability to apparently appear and disappear at will - or perhaps in your own mind, Michael Meyers is one of the scariest villains of all time. This is mostly because we don't know his motives, nor his abilities which seem supernatural at times. What we do know is that John Carpenter can make a sunny day in Haddonfield look like the most dangerous place in the world. The chilling music doesn't hurt his cause. When Michael escapes the institution for the criminally insane on Halloween and returns to the scene of his crimes, 3 teen girls become easy targets for his aggression. Surprisingly though, there are only four murders in the film and none are particularly gruesome, often visually obscured by various elements including tight restrictive framing. This film was probably the last of its kind since it incited a whole new level of crazy in the genre, inspiring Friday the 13th which prides itself only on how many deaths it can squeeze into the 90 minutes for each sequel. Halloween itself, went on to spawn many sequels, all of which are bloodier than the original, adding to its specious infamy as one of the goriest films of the time.
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