Rhymes for Young Ghouls. 2013. Canada. Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby. Courtesy of Prospector Films

In the six decades since Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho reinvented horror as a mainstream box office attraction, the genre has morphed and mutated to become arguably the most complex and radically provocative in cinema. Much like musicals and gangster films during the Depression of the 1930s, or science-fiction amid the threat of McCarthyism and nuclear war in the 1950s, horror movies reflect the major concerns of our times. They are often a testament to the plagues of escalating factionalism and disfunction in the world, to humanity’s collective inability to address the conditions that threaten its future, from impending environmental collapse to racial, economic, and gender-based injustice and inequity. Rooted in reality and fueled by the fantastic, these works question the supremacy of humankind, and visualize a dizzying array of consequences for our folly. No other genre so effectively explores the mixtures of shock, fear, brutality, and grim humor that result from acknowledging the fragility of existence and accepting the ultimate end that awaits us all.

This 10-week series will highlight foundational works and key films that capture horror’s uncanny ability to embody the lurking fears evoked by evolving social, cultural, and political change in the world. Organized according to fluid themes that shaped how the works were conceived—Slashers, Horror of Place, Gender and Horror, Race and Horror, the Undead, Body Horror, Women Make Horror, Folk Horror, Eco Horror, and Creatures—the series comprises more than 100 features and an international selection of shorts by seasoned masters and important new filmmakers.

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, with Caryn Coleman, guest curator.

Film series