Essay Horror Films: The Haunted Castle by George Melies

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Since the release of George Melies’s The Haunted Castle in 1896, over 90,000 horror films have been made. However, none have been more frightening and influential than that of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Each a product of horror’s 1970’s and 80’s golden era, the films have a reputation of engulfing viewers in fear, without the use of masked killers, vampires, or other clichés. Instead, Kubrick and Spielberg take a different approach and scare audiences on a psychological level. The Shining and Jaws evoke fear through the use of three different film aspects: the use of a “danger” color, daunting soundtracks, and suspenseful cinematography. Looking for peace and quiet to write his novel, Jack Torrance (Jack…show more content…
One way The Shining evokes fear is through the use of a “danger” color. In the film, Kubrick highlights the use of many colors, including yellow, blue, black and white, but he places the greatest emphasis on red. He uses different shades of the color throughout the film, in the form of clothing, hotel décor, and blood. For example, Lloyd the bartender is wearing a red jacket, the bathroom behind the Gold Room is red, the infamous room 237 key is red, and the elevator scene paints the walls and floor of the hallway red with blood. However, Kubrick is not just emphasizing the color of red for the fun of it. Instead, he is using the color of red to warn viewers of an eminent threat. According to a study by Andrew J. Elliot and Henk Aarts, when a test subject is shown the color red, “the person is instilled with a feeling of threat, fear, and danger, a phenomenon similar to a wild animal behavior where red may be seen as a threat, inducing a rapid preparation for defense or flight” (“Perception of the color red”). And in The Shining, Kubrick uses red in crucial scenes to cause tension in the viewer’s mind and to foreshadow death in the Overlook Hotel. Similarly to The Shining’s use of red, Jaws also uses a “danger” color to scare viewers. Since the film takes place on the New

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