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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint: Subtle imagery can also elicit responses

Zombie+Hands+reaching+out+from+the+ground.+Photo+by+Daniel+Jensen+on+unsplash.
Zombie Hands reaching out from the ground. Photo by Daniel Jensen on unsplash.

Logan Evans
campus editor

I love horror movies, but when I think of them, I don’t think about the scary parts. 

At least not the big, chaotic, loud parts, as fun as those often are. 

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’’ is a movie about a man in a mask who kills a group of young hippies, but it’s also filled with striking images and ideas that suggest more about our world. A desolate farmhouse stands in a rough-hewn clearing, calling out to a lost woman. A maniac fails to catch his prey and instead, dances in the bleeding sunrise. 


The movie has deeper themes about the effects of automation in the South, but even that doesn’t grab me as much as the images that evoke a vague sense of the beyond.

“Halloween,” another staple in the slasher tradition, is a taut masterpiece of thriller filmmaking, but it also runs deep with a unplaceable cold. Michael Myers stands with his dark clothes and white mask in the distance of a suburban street, the only thing out of place. He isn’t a crazed killer, as the internal movie logic would have us believe, but an empty slate for all the possibilities of cosmic darkness. 

This is why some of the Halloween sequels fall short to the original. They have the thrills and violence that any slasher needs, but they don’t leave space for something bigger to come in and haunt the celluloid. Horror is most effective when the very makeup of the images you’re watching feels even more sinister than the story they tell. 

Even movies dealing directly with the supernatural are often full of visuals that reach a strangeness beyond their own worlds. We know that witches exist in “The Witch,” but when we finally see a coven of them floating, off-kilter, into the sky, we’re filled with something dreamlike. We know that Nosferatu is a vampire, and we know the rules of what a vampire should be, but when we see his crooked silhouette ascending a shadowy staircase, all of that disappears. 


Good horror is good fantasy, and good fantasy isn’t an escape from the possibilities of our world. It’s recognizing something in the fabric of it we can’t understand.

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