How Terror Conquered Young People in Film and TV

Genre on television can adapt to a wide range of approaches

The horror genre’s ability to dialogue with diverse ideas, probably well beyond what any other genre can, is not only fascinating but ensures its survival over time thanks to the public’s interest never really waning. It is from this characteristic that revolutions such as The Exorcist to simple slot machines from famous brands like Dracula 2000.

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Determining which age group will consume the product is also an important moment in pre-production, especially for producers to have an idea of ​​how long it will take them to get a return on their investment. For a long time, horror movies weren’t aimed at a specific age group, their makers were worried about not having too much of the material modified because they were too violent.

However, this “age disinterest” suffered an unexpected (and very likely accidental) setback in the 1970s; a period marked by greater political engagement by younger citizens and by ideological clashes with their own parents or any older people. The confusion of society’s new configuration is noticeable in the events that followed, such as the sexual liberation led by Playboy magazine, the pacifism of the Hippie movement and the increase in violence in urban centers caused by increasingly younger criminals.

Filmmakers understood the social change of their time

1974 is an interesting year to position as ground zero of this dialogue between terror and youth thanks to the releases of Horror Night e Chainsaw Massacre. Both are the first known specimens of the slasher faithfully following the formula of an assassin chasing young people and killing one by one. The first is a great example to note how the rules of the famous subgenre emerged but its charm, for the time, was its visual cast that managed to produce in parts of the audience a sense of representation that was not common in films of the genre.

The second follows much of the path mentioned above: applying the rules of slasher and young cast. Although, Chainsaw Massacre is a potential case of a film purposely designed to dialogue with the chaotic scenario of the period. At a certain point in the book The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, signed by Stefan Jaworzyn, the previous career of the film’s director is briefly discussed, Tobe Hooper, in addition to a little about his previous work; Eggshells 1969.

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The filmmaker himself says that this work was conceived entirely during the explosion of the Hippie movement and that he directly dialogues with them. So, his next production doesn’t accidentally repeat many elements seen in Eggshells such as a visually youthful cast and an unexpected representation of the alternative culture of the time – which is noticeable when you look at the main cast attire, drug use for fun and the sexual freedom they demonstrate.

“Massacre da Serra Elétrica” dialogues subliminally with the youth of the 70s

As the years and decades passed, the slasher it got stronger and showed that it could generate a positive financial return. This led to its dominance during the 1980s and its eventual erosion, when the market was already saturated with sequences of famous franchises and the new brands that emerged were basically remakes of established ones.

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But that’s in cinema, which by itself already has much more spaced budgets and full attention from the big references in the industry. On television, terror seen as juvenile has a path, since the early years, of always being less frightening than it should be and more adolescent than necessary. To put it better, many of the first examples of juvenile horror on television came in the 1990s, which from its half to the end were dominated by the metalanguage proposed by the franchise’s films. Panic.

Now the horror was much less about an intimidating setting or atmosphere (as it was in the past with Psychosis e Halloween) and more about how he dialogued with everyday elements of a very specific portion of the general public. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a typical product belonging to that period; released in 1996, it does a work of blending the traditionally scary vampire figure with the teenage culture of the time, paving the way for supernatural romance productions that years later would form the grid of channels like the CW.

The “Scream” revolution came from its ability to understand its target audience.

From 2010 onwards, there was a sudden interest in programs involving the aforementioned theme slasher, the most famous being the visit of the producer Ryan Murphy to gender with your Scream Queens. Murphy he had previously given proof that he was ready to deal with this type of plot or the quality horror in the first seasons of American Horror Story or for knowing how to work reasonably well a modern teen tone for television with Glee.

Of course, you can’t forget to Scream, even though this one had much greater limitations than the competing series released in 2015. As much as it had no links with the homonymous film franchise, the difference in the cast quality of the two series is noticeable, which it did Scream appeal to scenes from gore much more often than Scream Queens. Another weakness presented by the show was that while the production of Ryan Murphy he bet a lot on incorrect humor so he wouldn’t be stuck only in murder scenes, Scream did not offer the same versatility to the public.

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