Science Fiction Films Definition Research Paper

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Do you agree with Noel Carrol when he argues that “science Fiction is a sub-class of the horror film”? please use at three-four films (two from each genre) in your answer and consult the Noel Carrol reading in the course pack.

Science fiction films developed as the next step in the progress of horror films. In the article on the character of horror films, Noel Carroll states that science fiction films can be discussed as the sub-class of horror films. It is possible to agree with Carroll’s idea while referring to the argument that science fiction films are monster films (Carroll, 1981, p. 17). As a result, the main task of the science fiction film is to demonstrate the monster which can fear the audience. Carroll notes that such ideas as the representation of the alternate societies are only of minor importance (Carroll, 1981, p. 17).

The same task is performed by horror films that portray the other type of monsters to fear the public. Furthermore, science fiction films can be considered as the sub-class of horror films because both genres depend on the Discovery Plot which focuses on establishing the presence of the specific monster in the film, and on the Overreacher Plot, according to which the main characters of the film are interested in conducting experiments (Carroll, 1981, p. 23).

To understand this tendency, it is necessary to refer to examples of science fiction and horror films. The Exorcist (1973) and Carrie (1976) are selected as examples of horror films where the Discovery Plot is used to accentuate the presence of supernatural forces. Such science fiction films as Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) are directed by Steven Spielberg, and they also depend on the Discovery Plot like in horror films because of the necessity to find and fight the monster. As a result, science fiction films are more exploratory variants of horror films, where the other types of monsters are represented.

According to James Kendrick, Vertigo (1958) primed audiences for Psycho (1960); using these arguments take mass cultural theory, can a similar conclusion be made for other films viewed or discussed in the class? Please use only one film viewed in the class for this answer.

Alfred Hitchcock presented Vertigo in 1958, but it was not accepted by the audience with that great effect as Psycho in 1960. In his research, James Kendrick explains this phenomenon while focusing on the priming effects model (Kendrick, 2010, p. 5). According to Kendrick, unusual approaches used in Vertigo primed the public and made the viewers use their stored knowledge and associations to react to Psycho which represented similar approaches (Kendrick, 2010, p. 6). Thus, the audience in 1960 was prepared to perceive Psycho because it learned the approach with the focus on Vertigo.

The priming effects model is closely connected with the mass culture theory. Films present certain messages which are communicated to the public (Kendrick, 2010, p. 4). However, the audience can perceive the messages differently, and the “mass audience” can be divided into smaller audiences that can understand or not the communicated messages (Kendrick, 2010, p. 5). The largest part of the mass audience became interested in Psycho because of being affected by Vertigo previously. Although the audience did not expect such development of the plot in Psycho, at this stage, the viewers were prepared to see the results as the “mass audience” was affected by the changes in the genre.

The same conclusion can be discussed about The Sixth Sense (1999) because the audience chooses to make assumptions referring to the previously watched films. In this case, the priming effects model works in such a way that the viewers are inclined to draw conclusions referring to the films where the main characters are alive and active. As a result, The Sixth Sense is perceived in the context of the previous knowledge, and the priming effect is produced by the other films where the characters are not ghosts.

Do you agree with the statement that horror is a masculine genre? Both Tim Snelson and Richard Nowell argue that because of the gender dominated critical evaluations of horror films, they have been mislabeled as male genre films. Using both of these articles defend or refute the assertions that gender has clouded the horror genre and made it difficult for the films such as The Spiral Staircase and Rebecca or Holloween and Friday the 13th to be considered through anything other than the feminist critical light that has until recently dominated the discussion.

Horror films are traditionally discussed as the masculine genre, but it is impossible to agree with all the aspects of this opinion because today horror films are interesting for many females, and the female protagonists represented in these films are also the characteristic feature of the genre. According to Richard Nowell, the focus on gender to categorize horror films is typical for the modern film industry. Thus, there is an opinion that males attend horror films more actively than females, but this idea is far from reality (Nowell, 2011, p. 33). As a result, today’s horror films present strong women’s characters, demonstrate young females, or boyish heroines. From this point, horror films are mistakenly discussed as films for the male audience.

That is why it is possible to state that gender is the main category according to which horror films are classified today. To attract the audience and avoid mislabeling, modern filmmakers focus on developing the images of female heroines in horror films. As a result, any other categories seem to be irrelevant to discuss horror films. At this stage, horror films are perceived through the feminist critical light, and Rebecca (1940), The Spiral Staircase (1946), Halloween (1978), and Friday the 13th (1980) are often discussed from the point of their possibilities to address the needs of the female audience or the used ways to represent the female characters. In this context, Nowell pays much attention to analyzing the changes in the representation of the female characters in horror films as the main aspect to discuss the attractiveness of horror films for the public (Nowell, 2011, p. 35).

What are the two causes of fear in 1950s America, and how are they reflected in the films from the period? Please use at least four films as examples.

The two causes of fear in the United States during the 1950s are associated with the development of the Cold War. Thus, the Americans were feared by the risks of degeneration as a result of using the radioactive weapons or the atomic bomb and by the risks of spreading Communism which was reflected in the fear of invasion (Hendershot, 1999, p. 89). These two causes of fear were reflected in the plots of films produced in the United States during the 1950s.

The fear of the atomic war, radiation, and the use of the atom weapons is reflected in the film Them! (1954) directed by Gordon Douglas. This science fiction film represents the giant ants that are the result of the radiation effect. This film intends to fear the public and demonstrate the catastrophic effects of using nuclear weapons. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) is directed by Jack Arnold, and it also represents the effect of using the nuclear powers on the nation while focusing on the man working in the laboratory with radioactive tests. These films present the possible results of using nuclear weapons for the degeneration process.

The main reason to use nuclear weapons is to fight against Communism. Thus, the second group of films is anti-Communism films which discuss the fear of the red invasion. Red Planet Mars (1952) directed by Harry Horner represents how Communists can be a threat to the USA because of intentions to destroy America. In its turn, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) directed by Don Siegel demonstrates the possible invasion of the Communists in the metaphorical form (Hendershot, 1999, p. 112). These films are the reflections of the Americans’ thoughts associated with the risks of the Cold War in the 1950s.

In Cyndy Hendershot’s article, she argues that American audiences were looking for scientists to act as saviors, and yet at the same time vilified them for their creations. How is this expressed in films from the period she discusses? Please use the article in the course pack as your major source for this question.

Atomic scientists represented in the films of the 1950s can be perceived as saviors and destroyers because of their powers in changing the world for the better. The development of the Cold War made filmmakers focus on atomic scientists as the superheroes who could change the world, policies, predict wars, and stabilize the situation.

In her article, Cyndy Hendershot notes that the atomic scientists represented in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth and Killers from Space are both the heroes who save the United States from the risk of the Communists’ invasion and destroyers who develop the atomic bomb which can ruin the whole world (Hendershot, 1997, p. 31). This tendency to accentuate the dichotomy in characters is reflected in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, and Killers from Space which are discussed in Hendershot’s work (Hendershot, 1997, p. 31).

According to Hendershot, the scientists represented in the above-mentioned films are not only heroes but also mad persons. The heroism of these scientists is exaggerated because they can change the political situation, improve the policies, and predict the wars. On the other hand, these scientists are portrayed as mad and obsessed persons who pay their attention only to their discoveries which can destroy the nation and the world. For instance, the mission of the scientist in This Island Earth is to save the world. The mission of the other scientists from The Day the Earth Stood Still and Killers from Space is to increase the scientific and war potential (Hendershot, 1997, p. 35). As a result, these scientists are the saviors and destroyers who affect people’s life significantly.

Reference List

Carroll, N. (1981). Nightmare and the horror film: The symbolic biology of fantastic beings. Film Quarterly, 34(3), 16-25.

Hendershot, C. (1997). The atomic scientist, science fiction films, and paranoia: The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, and Killers from Space. Journal of American Culture, 20(1), 31–41.

Hendershot, C. (1999). Paranoia, the bomb, and 1950s science fiction films. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.

Kendrick, J. (2010). Disturbing new pathways: Psycho and the priming of the audience. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 38(1), 2-9.

Nowell, R. (2011). “The Ambitions of Most Independent Filmmakers”: Indie Production, the Majors, and Friday the 13th (1980). Journal of Film and Video, 63(2), 28-44.

Read more