How Terror Conquered Young Audiences in Film and TV

Television genre can adapt to a wide range of approaches

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

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 to have a return on investment. For a long time, horror films didn’t target a specific age group, their directors were worried about not having much of the material modified because they were too violent.

However, this “age disinterest” took an unexpected (and most 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 the new configuration of society is perceptible 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.

The filmmakers understood the social change of their time

The year 1974 is interesting to position as the zero point of this dialogue between terror and youth thanks to the launches of Horror Night and 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 visually its cast that managed to produce in parts of the audience a sense of representation that was not common in films of the genre.

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The second follows much of the path mentioned earlier: application of the rules of the slasher and young cast. Although, Chainsaw Massacre it is a potential case of a film purposely designed to dialogue with the chaotic scenario of the period. At some point in the book The Texas Chainsaw Massacresigned by Stefan Jaworzynthe previous career of the film’s director is briefly discussed, Tobe Hooperin addition to a little about his previous work; eggshells from 1969.

The filmmaker himself states that this work was conceived entirely during the explosion of the Hippie movement and that it 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 looking at the main cast’s attire, drug use for fun and the sexual freedom they demonstrate.

“Texas Chain Saw Massacre” subliminally dialogues with the youth of the 70s

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

But that’s in cinema, which in itself already has much wider budgets and the full attention of the big industry references. In television, terror seen as juvenile has a path, since the early years, of always being less scary than it should be and more adolescent than necessary. Better to explain, many of the first examples of youth horror on television came in the 90’s, which from its half to the end was 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 and halloween) and more about how he dialogued with everyday elements of a very specific part of the general public. Buffy the Vampire Slayer it is a typical product belonging to that period; released in 1996, it does a job of merging the traditionally scary figure of the vampire with the teen culture of the time, paving the way for supernatural romance productions that years later would form the grid of channels like the CW.

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

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

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

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