How Horror Helps Your Brain

From Peek-a-Boo to Haunted Houses, 'Recreational Fear' Prepares Us for the Real Thing

Fear gets a bad rap. It’s a so-called negative emotion, one that supposedly stands between us and our dreams. It is certainly true that pure fear doesn’t feel good, but that is the whole point of the emotion. Fear tells us to get the hell out of Dodge because Dodge is a bad place. Fear evolved over millions of years to protect us from danger. So, yes, a feel-bad emotion, but also, and perhaps paradoxically, the engine in a whole range of pleasurable activities and behaviors—which inspire what we can …

The Women Who Built the Horror Genre | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Women Who Built the Horror Genre

Before Hollywood’s Scream Queens, the Ladies of Horror Comics Were at the Forefront of Fright

When you think of the iconic directors of horror movies, it’s usually male filmmakers like Wes Craven, George Romero, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, and David Cronenberg that come to mind. …

The Horror Genre’s Unique Autopsy of Our Times | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Horror Genre’s Unique Autopsy of Our Times

Terrifying Films Are Feasting Off Real-World Nightmares—And Experiencing a Global Renaissance

You know it’s been a bad year when making a “Masque of the Red Death” reference this Halloween season seems banal and obvious. What use is there for the genre …

Even the Ghastliest Monsters of Old Were Better Than Real-Life Horrors

How This Rediscovered "Book of Miracles" Calmed the Fear of Massacres, Plagues, and War

“There be monsters here,” old maps warn, of oceans as yet uncharted. But there are monsters even in well-trodden territories.

Let’s start with the blade-wielding clowns lurking in American woodlands …

Why Believing in Monsters Is a Rite of Passage

Creatures of the Night Give Shape to Fears and Put Our Moxie to the Test

Ours was a safe neighborhood. Postwar cinderblock cottages stood unlocked in the shade of date palms that in summer cluttered our yards with vinegary, fermenting medjools and at trimming time …