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Horror Films Codes and Conventions Media Studies @ KBA
Codes <ul><li>Codes are systems of signs, which create meaning. Codes can be divided into two categories – technical and s...
Conventions <ul><li>Conventions are the generally accepted ways of doing something.  </li></ul><ul><li>There are general c...
Why Are They Important? m <ul><li>Codes and conventions are used together in any study of genre – it is not enough to disc...
Common Conventions In  Horror Films Media Studies @ KBA
Be Prepared <ul><li>You are going to be introduced to some of the more frequently used conventions of horror films – these...
Secluded Location <ul><li>Generally, horror movies enjoy placing their characters in a locale where there's no one around ...
Characters Forget  About Threat <ul><li>Many times, there is danger, death, a curse, or worse and people know about it, bu...
Power Is Cut <ul><li>At the scariest moment possible, the lights suddenly go out! An ancient staple, probably leading back...
Phone Lines Are Cut <ul><li>The killers always take out the phones, even in their own home ( Misery - 1990) so that no one...
Someone Investigates A Strange Noise <ul><li>This is one of the most unbelievable, yet most overused horror movie conventi...
Someone Runs Upstairs Instead of Outside <ul><li>Taken word-for-word from  Scream , this is when . . . wait, I think you g...
Victim Cowers In Front  Of A Window Or Door <ul><li>An old, easy scare in ‘slashers’ is to have someone hiding from the ki...
Victim Inexplicably  Falls Over <ul><li>Self-explanatory. Why do they do that?  </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
Vehicle Won’t Start <ul><li>Do you really need an explanation here?  </li></ul><ul><li>This can happen with any vehicle, f...
The Fake Scare <ul><li>A Fake Scare is one of the oldest and most over-used conventions in horror films. They can take on ...
Warning Goes  Unheeded  <ul><li>It is human nature to go where one is told not to go, and do what one is advised against. ...
Someone Is Killed  In The First 5 Minutes <ul><li>You know, this isn't really a BAD thing, it's just something that happen...
X Years Before / Later <ul><li>This indicates either a prologue, setting up the events that happened before our story (suc...
The Stormy Night <ul><li>Since the days of Victorian Horror, and even before, this has been one of the genre's most overus...
The Short Cut <ul><li>If you are driving somewhere, why not go off the beaten track and take a short-cut?  </li></ul><ul><...
Task 1 <ul><li>Produce a post for your blog titled  </li></ul><ul><li>Conventions Commonly Found In Horror Films </li></ul...
Task 2 <ul><li>As a group, devise a questionnaire which gathers information about audience expectations of horror films. <...
Quantitative <ul><li>Age – give ranges to select (12-18, 18-25, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Sex – male or female </li></ul><ul>...
Qualitative <ul><li>Why do you / don’t you enjoy watching horror films? </li></ul><ul><li>What things do you expect to see...
Deadline <ul><li>Evidence available on your blog for Tuesday 27 th  September </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
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Codes and conventions in Horror Films

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Codes and conventions in Horror Films

  1. 1. Horror Films Codes and Conventions Media Studies @ KBA
  2. 2. Codes <ul><li>Codes are systems of signs, which create meaning. Codes can be divided into two categories – technical and symbolic. </li></ul><ul><li>Technical codes are all the ways in which equipment is used to tell the story in a media text, for example the camera work in a film. </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic codes show what is beneath the surface of what we see. For example, a character's actions show you how the character is feeling. </li></ul><ul><li>Some codes fit both categories – music for example, is both technical and symbolic. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  3. 3. Conventions <ul><li>Conventions are the generally accepted ways of doing something. </li></ul><ul><li>There are general conventions in any medium, such as the use of interviewee quotes in a print article, but conventions are also genre specific. </li></ul><ul><li>All genres of film have certain conventions which the audience will expect to see. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  4. 4. Why Are They Important? m <ul><li>Codes and conventions are used together in any study of genre – it is not enough to discuss a technical code used such as camera work, without saying how it is conventionally used in a genre. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, the technical code of lighting is used in some way in all film genres. It is a convention of the horror genre that side and back lighting is used to create mystery and suspense – an integral part of any horror movie. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  5. 5. Common Conventions In Horror Films Media Studies @ KBA
  6. 6. Be Prepared <ul><li>You are going to be introduced to some of the more frequently used conventions of horror films – these are particularly relevant to the sub-genre of the teen-horror. </li></ul><ul><li>Make notes as you are listening – you will be asked to use the information you are given to write a post for your blog. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  7. 7. Secluded Location <ul><li>Generally, horror movies enjoy placing their characters in a locale where there's no one around to help them (i.e. the woods, a ghost town, a summer camp, a dormitory during the off season, an abandoned amusement park, a house out in the middle of nowhere), when the evil comes a callin'. You remember what they said about space ( Alien 1979). </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  8. 8. Characters Forget About Threat <ul><li>Many times, there is danger, death, a curse, or worse and people know about it, but they conveniently put it out of their mind. </li></ul><ul><li>It is almost always a negative thing in a movie. &quot;So, lots of campers have been disembowled here?&quot; &quot;Yeah, and they found Jimmy a few minutes ago. Someone had eaten his head.&quot; &quot;Oh, that's too bad. Who wants to play Scrabble?&quot; </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  9. 9. Power Is Cut <ul><li>At the scariest moment possible, the lights suddenly go out! An ancient staple, probably leading back to a time BEFORE there was electricity. </li></ul><ul><li>Note to would-be serial killers: make sure you cut the power before you begin your killing spree. Chances are, no one will think it's out of the ordinary. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  10. 10. Phone Lines Are Cut <ul><li>The killers always take out the phones, even in their own home ( Misery - 1990) so that no one will attract the attention of any pesky policemen, concerned civic leaders, or vampire hunters. Almost all horror films where a phone can be seen will have the phone lines cut. It's the law. </li></ul><ul><li>In the recent age of cellular phones, things have changed - a phone's battery runs out, the mobile phone is damaged, or goes somewhere where there is no service. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  11. 11. Someone Investigates A Strange Noise <ul><li>This is one of the most unbelievable, yet most overused horror movie conventions. </li></ul><ul><li>Let's look at this for a minute: All of your friends have been brutally butchered and eaten by an unseen maniac. You hear something odd coming from the woods. Is that the sound of someone dragging a dead teenaged body across a bridge with exposed nails in it? Now would you, even on a dare, walk into the woods alone to investigate? I wouldn't either, but it seems every movie character would. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  12. 12. Someone Runs Upstairs Instead of Outside <ul><li>Taken word-for-word from Scream , this is when . . . wait, I think you get this one. </li></ul><ul><li>You will frequently see potential victims running past open doors to the outside world (and safety) in a desperate attempt to get upstairs where they can lock themselves in a ‘safe’ place. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  13. 13. Victim Cowers In Front Of A Window Or Door <ul><li>An old, easy scare in ‘slashers’ is to have someone hiding from the killer against a door/wall/window only to have the killer's hand break through the door/wall/window and grab them. </li></ul><ul><li>Or the victim looks out the window (car windows too), sees nothing, and when they turn away, the killer jumps through. </li></ul><ul><li>There are hundreds of possibilities, and this particular scare can certainly be done effectively. But usually, it just isn't. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  14. 14. Victim Inexplicably Falls Over <ul><li>Self-explanatory. Why do they do that? </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  15. 15. Vehicle Won’t Start <ul><li>Do you really need an explanation here? </li></ul><ul><li>This can happen with any vehicle, from snowmobiles to motorcycles to spaceships to the chain falling off a bicycle or Tim’s scooter not starting… </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  16. 16. The Fake Scare <ul><li>A Fake Scare is one of the oldest and most over-used conventions in horror films. They can take on any shape and size, but in general, any scare in a film that is not connected to the threat (a friend jumps out, a door slams, someone looks into a mirror, someone new enters the room unnoticed, the phone rings, someone bumps into a department store mannequin, something falls, someone is tapped on the shoulder or grabbed, a policeman knocks on the car window, a balloon pops, a bird flies out of the trees, etc.) is a fake one. </li></ul><ul><li>They are easy to do, and can be very effective or completely stupid. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  17. 17. Warning Goes Unheeded <ul><li>It is human nature to go where one is told not to go, and do what one is advised against. </li></ul><ul><li>This can be achieved in many ways: someone has a dream that something nasty will befall all who go on that ski-trip (yet they go anyway), there is a rumoured curse regarding a discovered object (and they take it anyway), there is a sign which clearly states: &quot;Portal to Hell nearby, NO SKINNY-DIPPING&quot; (they do it anyway), etc. You get the point. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  18. 18. Someone Is Killed In The First 5 Minutes <ul><li>You know, this isn't really a BAD thing, it's just something that happens in some horror movies, and almost all ‘slashers’. </li></ul><ul><li>When well done (ie Jaws , House , Halloween , or Scream ), it's used to set the mood of the rest of the film and can be very effective. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  19. 19. X Years Before / Later <ul><li>This indicates either a prologue, setting up the events that happened before our story (such as the first couple minutes of Halloween or The Descent ), or a film where we see the latter effects of an incident (like I Know What You Did Last Summer ), or an extensive flashback used to explain things (why the boarding house is haunted, why Jimmy is in the mental institution, why Leslie can't remember her parents, what lurks in the crawlspace under the house, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Many times (but it is not required), words like &quot;15 Years Later&quot; will be superimposed on the screen. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  20. 20. The Stormy Night <ul><li>Since the days of Victorian Horror, and even before, this has been one of the genre's most overused cliches. </li></ul><ul><li>It may stem from the fact that we have a childhood fear of thunder, or that lightning and rain create atmosphere. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  21. 21. The Short Cut <ul><li>If you are driving somewhere, why not go off the beaten track and take a short-cut? </li></ul><ul><li>Better still, go somewhere completely out of the way where there is absolutely no chance of being able to find anyone to help you. </li></ul><ul><li>Even better still, take the advice of a creepy local and head down that deserted road. You’ll be alright. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  22. 22. Task 1 <ul><li>Produce a post for your blog titled </li></ul><ul><li>Conventions Commonly Found In Horror Films </li></ul><ul><li>If you want to earn more marks, include images from films which use the convention. </li></ul><ul><li>If you want to be a really girlie-swot, embed a few videos from Youtube into your post which illustrate the convention in action in a real film. </li></ul><ul><li>Embedding a video from Youtube is very easy. </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  23. 23. Task 2 <ul><li>As a group, devise a questionnaire which gathers information about audience expectations of horror films. </li></ul><ul><li>This needs to illicit a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data and should be completed by a cross-section of ages and sexes. </li></ul><ul><li>The questionnaire results need to be analysed and posted to your blog, together with some explanation of what you think your research tells you. </li></ul><ul><li>Questions? </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  24. 24. Quantitative <ul><li>Age – give ranges to select (12-18, 18-25, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Sex – male or female </li></ul><ul><li>Do you enjoy watching horror films? Yes or no </li></ul><ul><li>What do you find most frightening in a horror film? – list </li></ul><ul><li>What is your favourite horror film? </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  25. 25. Qualitative <ul><li>Why do you / don’t you enjoy watching horror films? </li></ul><ul><li>What things do you expect to see in a horror film? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think your age has anything to do with your opinion of horror films? </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA
  26. 26. Deadline <ul><li>Evidence available on your blog for Tuesday 27 th September </li></ul>Media Studies @ KBA

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