Psychological Reflections on Cinematic Terror: Jungian Archetypes in Horror Films

Psychological Reflections on Cinematic Terror: Jungian Archetypes in Horror Films

Psychological Reflections on Cinematic Terror: Jungian Archetypes in Horror Films

Psychological Reflections on Cinematic Terror: Jungian Archetypes in Horror Films

Synopsis

In this examination of the psychology of terror, Iaccino uses Jungian archetypes to analyze significant works in the horror film genre. In the past, Jungian archetypes have been used to interpret mythologies, to examine great works of literature, and to explain why sexual stereotypes persist in our society. Here, for the first time, Iaccino applies such models as the "Cursed Wanderers," the "Warrior Amazons," the "Random Destroyers," and the "Techno-Myths" to highlight recurrent themes in a wide range of films, from early classics such as Nosferatu to the contemporary Nightmare on Elm Street and Alien series. With this innovative approach, Iaccino gains a new perspective on the psychology of the often powerful compulsion to be scared.

Excerpt

Ever since my adolescence, I have been an aficionado of the horror film genre. Even today, I continue to pursue this interest by holding weekly seminars where undergraduates critique horror films with respect to some culturally relevant issue (for instance, sex-typing of characters or the technological updating of myths). What prompted me to write this book was thus a desire to share my reflections on this often downgraded and definitely overlooked category, which has apparently long defied scholarly analysis.

The most common response to the question of why audiences watch horror films is that they want to be scared. This "scare drive" is so powerfully addictive to some that they keep coming back to these films over and over again, desiring more terror and craving more thrills with each viewing. Suffice it to say, this rather simple-minded explanation does not really uncover the underlying reasons that there has always been a market for horror. The "psychology of horror," the perspective that I know best, will therefore be the primary focus of this book as I attempt to delve into the mind of the viewer to determine which ingredients truly motivate him or her to watch a horror film.

I believe that there is considerable merit to approaching this topic from the Jungian point of view, namely an archetypal analysis of the horror film. The archetypes originally posited by Carl G. Jung have al-

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