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Film Genres

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition for horror films

A large and heterogeneous group of films that, via the representation of disturbing, violent, and dark subject matter, seek to elicit responses of fear, terror, disgust, shock, suspense, and, of course, horror from their viewers. Horror is a protean genre, spawning numerous subgenres and hybrid variants, including gothic horror, supernatural horror, monster movies, psychological horror, splatter films, slasher films, body horror, comedy horror, serial killer films, and postmodern horror.

The horror film’s antecedents in the European gothic literary tradition and Grand‐Guignol theatre are evident in its archaic settings, its fascination with the supernatural, and its melodramatic narratives. Early examples include L’Auberge ensorcelée/The Bewitched Inn (Georges Méliès, France, 1897), Frankenstein (J. Searle Dawley, US, 1910), and Der Golem/The Golem (Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen, Germany, 1913). The roots of the genre can be traced back to German Expressionism, which influenced the mise‐en‐scene of Das Kabinett des Dr Caligari/The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) and Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens/Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (F.W. Murnau, 1922). Influences have also been noted in the Surrealist movement, as seen in films such as La chute de la maison Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (Jean Epstein, US/France, 1928) (see surrealism).

Horror spectaculars such as Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) were popular in the US in the mid 1920s, leading to a cycle of popular Hollywood monster movies in the early 1930s. Associated with Universal Pictures, Dracula (Todd Browning, 1931) is considered seminal; it was followed by Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931), The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932), and Freaks (Todd Browning, 1932), with the term horror film in common critical usage from 1932 (see also cinematic universe). Numerous sequels followed in the 1930s and 1940s, and horror became a staple of B‐movie production, with films such as Cat People (1942) and I Walked With A Zombie (1943), both produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur. Although the horror genre is driven by affect (see emotion), the Universal horror cycle is broadly indicative of the genre’s narrative tendencies and distinctive iconography: a pervasive fascination with the supernatural, monsters, bodily transformations, transgression, fear of otherness, and violent death; and the use of chiaroscuro lighting, low or canted camera angles, distorted images, and restricted point of view; and these have remained central to the genre to the present day.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Horror film. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 Apr. 2022

Getting started in the Library's collections

To find zombie films in the Library's collections, you can click on the subject headings below:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding journals & articles

Articles and other writings about zombie movies can be found in many publications. We don't have journals that look exclusively at zombie films or horror films. We do have a book that looks at the history of monster films. That is listed below. However, you can use either Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles.

A Selected list of zombie films

Find more zombie films.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.