Horror literature

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term horror literature describes a genre of literature whose object is the description of frightening and often supernatural events. The gruesome motifs of the plot ( monsters , undead , demons , distortions, torments, etc.) come to the fore or focus.

Illustration (1919) by Harry Clarke to Edgar Allan Poe's Premature Burial (1844)

Genre definitions

Horror literature is one of the genres of popular literature, alongside the crime novel , the romance novel , the homeland novel , the adventure novel , the historical and biographical novel, science fiction and western literature. According to the Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory , the word horror comes from the Latin verb horrere for raising one's hair, shaking, shaking off, according to which the horror story is a story that shocks or scares the reader and possibly even feelings of revulsion or hatred in him. According to the dictionary , the main themes of horror literature are murder , suicide , torture , fear , madness , ghosts , vampires , doppelgangers , succubi , incubi , poltergeists , demonic pacts , diabolical possession , exorcism , witchcraft , voodoo , lycanthropy and the macabre.

Another term for horror literature that is used in the lexicon of horror literature is weird fiction, which translates as strange, strange, creepy or eerie prose poetry , which goes further and thus includes more types of text than the term horror . The horror story is especially important for the development of the modern short story ; Edgar Allan Poe was particularly influential in this area . Further meaning it receives through its connection to the Gothic novel (Engl. Gothic Novel ), the Black romance , for ghost / ghost story and thriller .

Horror literature explores the limits of what people are able to do or experience. The depths of the human soul are explored, the level of fear, hysteria and madness that people could endure, the dark side of the soul is illuminated. It deals with hell , which is only the more or less universal symbol of an extreme condition, such as B. deep grief, an overwhelming feeling of irretrievable loss, acute fear, irrational premonitions or physical pain. According to the Dictionary , this concept of inner hell developed in the 16th century, where it was viewed as part of consciousness - as a subjective, internal, psychological, personal and individual source of horror and terror , as the chaos of a disturbed and tormented mind.

The evolution of the horror genre is a process in which people try to cope with fears of death, the uncertain afterlife, punishment, darkness, evil, violence and destruction. The writers of the late Middle Ages devoted themselves in particular to the two subjects of the Ubi sunt and the Danse Macabre , which anticipated later developments. Andreas Nohl also wants to understand the horror story in his accompanying text to The Iron Shroud as a confrontation with death . A similar point of view is presented by Stephen King in Danse Macabre and HP Lovecraft in The literature of horror : Both see horror literature as a genre that the reader with its fears, with the fear of darkness, death, the unknown and inherent in every human being faced the loss of control. This argument borrows from ancient drama theory . There the audience is supposed to experience a psychic purification ( catharsis ) through violent emotions (fear and horror, later in Lessing : fear and pity) . This also corresponds to the argumentation of the literary scholar Hans Mayer in The Unfortunate Consciousness : In a brief digression on William Beckford's Vathek , Mayer denies that Vathek is a horror novel because the author does not aim to arouse fear, but rather cool and uninvolved describe.

Assignment problems and genre combinations

Modern form of the zombie, which mostly “owes” its condition to a scientific reason such as a virus - and no longer has much to do with the original zombie of the Voodoo mythology.

The literary critic Douglas E. Winter put forward the thesis that horror literature is not a genre at all, it is more about "a feeling"; at least the latter statement is also supported by the Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory . According to Winter, it is not reserved for any particular author to create this feeling in his readers, who are generally referred to as horror authors, e.g. This has happened, for example, today with Stephen King or Thomas Harris . Rather, authors from all cultures and epochs have repeatedly dealt with the topics of fear and violence; He mentions James Joyce , Ernest Hemingway , Nathaniel Hawthorne and Carlos Fuentes as examples, some of whose works are also part of horror literature. Against Winter's thesis speaks the fact that one only needs to assign works to the horror genre if the horror motifs, figures, moods, etc. are in the foreground as such - and not the entanglements leading to or emanating from them. In addition, it goes without saying that topics such as fear and violence are not reserved for any particular author. According to Winter's untenable thesis, all other conceivable genres such as science fiction or westerns would have to be declared null and void, because authors can land time travelers in the Wild West - or vice versa: send western heroes into the future - and much more. If the main characteristics of several genres are in balance in a work, it is a genre combination such as horror western, sci-fi horror, horror crime, adventure horror or sci-fi horror comedy.

Differentiation between horror and science fiction

Drawing a clear line between horror and science fiction is relatively difficult in some cases, as there are many texts that belong to both genres and were crucial for the development of both genres. Usually the science fiction elements are the trigger for the respective horror of the horror stories. So z. B. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is often seen as the founder of science fiction history, but it is undisputed that it also belongs to the horror genre. Same goes for Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde . At HG Wells the mixture of both genres reached a climax, which is why these novels are often referred to as science fiction horror , sci-fi horror or SF horror ; The same applies to the novels by Richard Matheson ( I Am Legend , The Shrinking Man ) and HP Lovecraft ( The Color Out of Space ). In modern zombie stories in particular (e.g. in Stephen King's Cell , in George A. Romero's zombie films and in the Resident Evil video games) there is usually a scientific reason such as cosmic radiation or a virus; However, the stories are counted exclusively in the horror genre, as the horror aspects predominate.

Features of horror literature

Horror, horror and disgust

According to Stephen King, there are three basic types of horror that are applied and, where appropriate, combined in horror stories:

  1. Horror: The sporadic fear of the unknown, of what is now lurking behind the door (e.g. in Die Affenpfote ), is quite surprising, suddenly and frequently used by authors, but disappears relatively quickly.
  2. Horror: The longer-lasting fear of the monstrous first manifests itself slowly and then takes on a more or less fixed form, for example that of a monster (e.g. in Shelley's Frankenstein ) or that of an unbearable noise (e.g. in Poe's Das treacherous heart ).
  3. Disgust: The directly felt fear of the unsavory, the feeling of disgust, immediately overwhelms the reader or viewer with repulsive phenomena such as worms, vermin, cobwebs, slime, poison, stench, putrefaction, feces, innards, injuries, diseases, disfigurements, torture , Perversions of all kinds, etc. Strong disgust can be generated by openly (sometimes exaggerated) depictions of explicit scenes of violence, often death scenes. As in the film genres Splatter and Gore , which are in the tradition of the Parisian Théâtre du Grand Guignol , a lot of blood can flow, mostly through the severing of limbs (as in Saw or Alien ).

In its foreword, the Lexicon of Horror Literature names the following five characteristics for assigning a story to horror literature:

  1. Supernatural
  2. realistically portrayed horror (in the so-called Tales of Terror )
  3. psychological horror components (e.g. anxiety dreams, descriptions of insanity and / or obsession )
  4. Science fiction horror components
  5. Grotesque , bizarre, surreal , black humor

Horror and sociology

According to Stephen King, horror stories (regardless of the medium) are always very popular, but above all they are really successful in sections of around 10 or 20 years, which he has with political and economic crises such as B. the Second World War , the Great Depression or the Vietnam War . The social fears of people are then taken up in horror literature (or in horror films) or also projected into them by the reader.

Archetypal figures

Depiction of a pirate spirit by Howard Pyle
Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost , engraving by Gustave Doré

In every horror novel there is one or more "monsters" that create the horror of the story, although in most horror stories the "monster" is more figurative and can take on numerous forms. Stephen King distinguishes five archetypes in Danse Macabre , on which almost every modern horror story is based:

  • The werewolf : The “dark side” of the human being comes to light and leads him to terrible atrocities, the mental change is accompanied by a physical change, namely the transformation into the animal form of the werewolf. However, King also sees masks and disguises as a physical change, which is why he also sees Norman Bates from Psycho, who disguises himself as his mother, and the Scream killers, who hide behind a mask that is borrowed from Edvard Munch's The Scream , as werewolves understand. King Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), whereby King puts the motifs of the werewolf and the doppelganger on a par.
  • The vampire : King sees cannibalism as the main characteristic of the vampire , for which drinking blood is a symbol, which is why, according to this definition, zombies are basically vampires. The fact that George A. Romero names a vampire novel as the main inspiration for his zombie films starring Richard Mathesons I Am Legend underpins this thesis. With Matheson the background of the vampire moves away from the mythological-religious and gets a scientific background with a virus, which founded the modern form of the zombie and why the novel is also counted as science fiction . According to King Bram Stoker, the original form is Dracula .
  • The thing : As a thing , King describes artificial creatures created through scientific processes, such as B. Frankenstein's monsters or the dinosaurs in Michael Crichton's DinoPark, but also other nameless beings, mostly extraterrestrial species such as Blob - horror without a name (1958) or The thing from another world (1951). He calls Mary Shelley's Frankenstein the original form .
  • The ghost : The ghost of a deceased who returns from the hereafter and causes horror in this world, known primarily from the horror novels of Gothic Fiction. King names several Gothic novels as the original form : Horace Walpoles The Castle of Otranto , Matthew Gregory Lewis' The Monk and CR Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer.
  • The place of evil : a house in which it is haunted, or in which evil manifests itself ( haunted house ). King does not name the original form, but he cites Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and his own novel Shining as examples . Usually the house is an old castle ( haunted castle ) or an empty, decaying mansion, in which a murder or a similar horrific incident usually took place, but a modern house can also become the center of the haunt, such as E.g. in Anne Rivers Siddon's The House Next Door or the house made entirely of glass and metal and made up of 13 ghosts .

The Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory lists, just like King, the vampire, the werewolf and the ghost as figures of horror literature, but also adds the following figures to the list:


Overview and development of the genre


Illustration (around 1882) by Ferdinand Barth to Goethe's ballad The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1797)

The subject of the supernatural in the broadest sense can be found in European literature at least since the romance and mystery games of the Middle Ages. It manifests itself in its pure form, i.e. as an exclusive representation of frightening and supernatural circumstances, but first in English Romanticism.

The Latin novel Metamorphoses (also: The golden donkey , in the original Metamorphoses or Asinus aureus ) by Apuleius is often regarded as the first horror story . However, elements of the supernatural or horror can already be found in Homer's Odyssey (around 8th century BC) and in the biblical stories of Job and King Saul contained in the Old Testament . Elements of horror appear later in Seneca , in Virgil's Aeneis (29–19 BC), in Lucan's Pharsalia (61–65), in Statius , in Silius Italicus , in Valerius Flaccus , in Lucian , in Petronius ' Satyricon , as well as in the Gilgamesh epic, in the Edda , the Icelandic sagas and in other Icelandic sagas . Another well-known early representative of the genre is the Old English epic Beowulf (written around 700).

Dante Alighieri's La Divina Commedia (written in 1321) is also considered the first horror story in some sources. The Pardoner's Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (around 1387) can also be counted as early horror literature. Elements of the supernatural, which is often a feature of horror history, appear in the 17th century in Shakespeare's Hamlet (1603) and Macbeth (1623) as well as in John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) and Christopher Marlowe's Tragic History of Doctor Faustus (1604 ), later also in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (1808), Samuel Taylor Coleridge 's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), Friedrich Schiller's novel fragment Der Geisterseher (1787) and Novalis ' Hymnen an die Nacht (1800). Goethe's ballad vom Erlkönig (1782), singer Antonella (1795), The Bride of Corinth (1797) and The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1797) already belonged to the context of English Romanticism .

In addition, most of the fairy tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm under the title Children's and Household Tales and published from 1812 to 1815, including Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood and the French-speaking fairy tale The Little Thumb (in the original Le Petit Poucet ), should be viewed as early horror stories.

Illustration (1831) by Theodor von Holst to Shelley's Frankenstein (1818)

Gothic Novel: The Horror Novel

The literature of the late 18th century in England reacted to the Enlightenment ideals of the previous period and dealt with the supernatural and the horrific, which initially contributed to the emergence of Graveyard Poetry , which deals with skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms (in German: Skulls and coffins, grave inscriptions and worms ) (an example is Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard ) and later led to the Gothic Novel or Gothic Romance, in German: Schauerroman . These novels create their ominous atmosphere through gloomy landscapes, underground vaults, inexplicable events and many other recurring set pieces. Gothic means medieval and therefore also violent, bloodthirsty and barbaric at the same time. Another important element is the so-called Gothic Villain , one of the typical protagonists of the horror novel: a highly educated, torn and impulsive figure who is capable of both good and evil, but who repeatedly succumbs to evil due to the inner turmoil.

Typical representatives of this era are Horace Walpole with his work The Castle of Otranto (1764), whose subtitle A Gothic Story also gave its name to this genre, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797) or Matthew Gregory Lewis ' novel The Monk , John William Polidoris The Vampyre (1819), one of the first vampire novels , CR Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) and, in the USA, Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), Thomas De Quincey's autobiographical book Confessions of to English Opium-Eater (1821-1822), James Hoggs The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) and finally Mary Shelley with Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus . Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey (1798) is a parody of the famous horror novels.

In the German-speaking countries, the following works are of particular importance for horror literature: Christian Heinrich Spieß ' Das Petermännchen (1791–1792), Heinrich von Kleist's Das Bettelweib von Locarno (1797), Ludwig Tieck's Der blonde Eckbert (1797), Der Runenberg ( 1804), Achim von Arnims Die Majoratsherren (1819), Adelbert von Chamissos Peter Schlemihl's miraculous story (1814) and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqués Undine (1811). In addition, ETA Hoffmann with The Elixirs of the Devil (1815) and his night pieces , including The Sandman (1817), as well as Joseph von Eichendorff with The Marble Picture (1818).

Victorian era

An 1880s poster of Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Illustration (1894) by Aubrey Beardsley to Poe's The Black Cat (1843)

But even in the Victorian era , despite the penchant for realism, there are always representatives who can more or less be attributed to horror and horror literature. Thus, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights are (1847) certainly belongs to this area, just like Jane Eyre (1847) by her sister Charlotte . Finally, as the most prominent representative of the Victorian period, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson should be mentioned, who combines typical elements of Black Romanticism with the naturalism of the late Victorian period by trying to give the initially seemingly supernatural events a scientific background. Even Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) should be mentioned here.

Other important novels from the Victorian era are Charles Dickens' ghostly Christmas tales A Christmas Carol and The Chimes (1843), as well as his last, unfinished novel The Secret of Edwin Drood (1870), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanus Uncle Silas (1864) and Carmilla (1872 ), Wilkie Collins ' The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), WW Jacobs ' The Monkey's Paw (1902), MR James ' Count Magnus (1904) and Oh, Whistle And I'll Come to You, My Lad !, Arnold Bennett's The Lost of Cities (1904), The Ghost: A Fantasia in Modern Times (1907), The Glimpse: An Adventure of the Soul (1909), Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and The Lost World (1912), and in the USA Henry James ' The Turn of the Screw (1898). Even Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling dealt in some works with elements of horror, such as revenants , spirits and lycanthropy , examples include The Phantom Rhikshaw (1885), The Return of IMay (1891), The Mark of the Beast (1890) and They (1904).

In Germany, Jeremias Gotthelf in particular drew attention to themselves with The Black Spider (1847) and Theodor Storm with Der Schimmelreiter (1888).

At HG Wells there was a mixture of horror and science fiction , so he took part in The Island of Dr Moreau (1898), The Invisible Man (1900), The War of the Worlds (1901), The First Men in the Moon ( 1901) and The Time Machine (1904) anticipated things like travel through time or space and genetic experiments and mixed them with horror elements. The popularity of Wells' stories, which continues to this day, is demonstrated by numerous film adaptations, most recently by Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005).

In France, above all Honoré de Balzac's La peau de Chagrin (1831), Le livre mystique (1835), Melmoth réconcilié (1835), a continuation of CR Maturin's story, Contes drolatiques (1837) and Théophile Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) ) and Le roman de la momie (1858), Charles Baudelaire's collection of poems Les Fleurs du Mal (1857–1868) and Gaston Leroux ' Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (1910) are important representatives of horror literature.

The most outstanding representative of American horror literature of the 19th century is Edgar Allan Poe . With its numerous short stories, such as B. MS. Found in a Bottle (1833), Ligeia (1838), The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), The Masque of the Red Death (1842), The Pit and the Pendulum (1842), The Tell-Tale Heart (1843 ), The Black Cat (1843) and The Cask of Amontillado (1846), his only novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) and his most famous poem The Raven (1845), he is considered the founder of modern horror history. Poe was also the first to incorporate psychological elements into his stories.

In addition, Nathaniel Hawthorne has also written some works that must be classified as horror literature, such as Young Goodman Brown (1835) or The House of Seven Gables (1851). Finally, in the late 19th century, Robert W. Chambers found himself with The King in Yellow (1895).

Nikolai Gogol is considered the most important representative of fantastic literature and also horror literature in Russia , and his most famous and influential works include: Wij (also Vij, Russian: Вий , 1835), The nose (Russian: повесть, Нос , 1836) and the mantle (russian: Шинель, Schinel , 1842) and Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy , a cousin Leo Tolstoy , with the stories of the family of the vampire (russian: Встреча через триста лет, Sem'ya Vurdalaka , 1839) and the vampire (russian: Упырь, Upyr , 1841).

20th and 21st centuries

The fictional deity Cthulhu , who plays a major role in HP Lovecraft's horror literature.

Finally, an important American representative of the early 20th century is HP Lovecraft , who in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature (1936) also deals with the theoretical aspects of horror literature. His works (including The Color out of Space , 1927, and the Cthulhu-Mythos novels) contain direct allusions to Poe. In addition, they live on the one hand from the pseudo-mythology created by Lovecraft, on the other hand - like the works of Hawthorne - from the puritanical atmosphere of New England.

Important works of horror literature of the 20th century in Great Britain and the USA are Sakis The Open Window (1917), Walter de la Mares Seaton's Aunt (1921) and A Recluse (1926), HP Lovecraft 's Cthulhus Ruf (1928), Schatten über Innsmouth ( 1936) and Berge des Wahnsinns (1936), William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily (1930), Ray Bradbury 's Dark Carnival (1947) and Something Wicked this Way Comes (1962), Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery (1948) and her novels The Sundial (1958) and The Haunting of Hill House (1959), William Goldings The Lord of the Flies (1954), Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend (1954), which marked the transition from the classic vampire to the modern zombie, The Shrinking Man ( 1956) and Hell House (1971), which once again mix horror and science fiction, Jack Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Roald Dahl's weird and black-humored stories Someone Like You (1953) and Kiss, Kiss (1960), Daphne du Maurier's The Birds (1952), Don't Look Now (1971), Robert Bloch's Psycho (1959), Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby (1967), The Stepford Wives (1972), William Blatty's The Exorcist (1971), Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden (1978), and Anne Rice 's vampire novels Interview With the Vampire (1976) and The Queen of the Damned (1988) and Bret Easton Ellis ' novel American Psycho (1992), which was indicated for a while in Germany due to the explicit depiction of violence . With the brilliant scientist and brutal cannibal Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris created one of the most famous modern villains, who is the main character of four books so far: Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999) and Hannibal Rising (2006 ). Elements of horror such as B. werewolves, vampires and ghosts can also be found in Joanne K. Rowling's Harry Potter series (1997–2007) and in the guardian series by Russian author Sergei Lukjanenko (1998–2007).

The literary genre of dystopia also often contains elements of horror. Examples of this are room 101 and the events there in George Orwell's dystopia Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) (1949), the exercise of the most brutal violence and the horrific “healing” of the protagonist Alex, which is hidden behind the curtain of the artificial language Nadsat in Anthony Burgess ' A Clockwork Orange (1962) or the fact that in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 not only books but also people are burned alive by the "fire department" and enemies of the system are chased through the streets by mechanical bloodhounds and poisoned.

In the German-speaking countries, among others, elements of the supernatural and horror can be seen in Franz Kafka in Die Metamorphosis (1915) and In der Strafkolonie (1919). The following authors and their stories are also worth mentioning: Hanns Heinz Ewers ' Die Spinne (1908) and Alraune. The story of a living being (1911), Karl Hans Strobls Eleagabal Kuperus (1910), Gustav Meyrinks Des Deutschen Spießers Wunderhorn (1913), Der Golem (1915), Georg Heyms Das Schiff (1913), Alfred Döblins Der Ritter Blaubart (1911) , Die Helferin (1911), Willy Seidels Die Magische Lanterne des Herr Zinkeisen (1930), Gerhart Hauptmanns Das Phantom (1927), Das Meerwunder. An Unlikely Story (1934) and The Pickaxe (1934), Hans Erich Nossack's Nekyia. Report of a survivor (1947), interview with death and no later than November (1955), Ilse Aichinger's Der Gefesselte (1953) and Spiegelgeschichte (1954) as well as Marie Luise Kaschnitz 's Vogel Rock. Eerie Tales (1969) and Patrick Süskind's Das Parfum (1985).

Stephen King has been the most famous, successful and influential horror writer since his debut with Carrie (1974). His best-known novels include, among others, Salem's Lot (1975), The Shining (1977), The Stand (1978/1990), Cujo (1981), Pet Sematary (1983), It (1986), The Dark Half (1989 ), Bag of Bones (1998), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999), Dreamcatcher (2001) and Cell (2006) and the Dark Tower Cycle (1982-2004). With Danse Macabre (1981), King also wrote a highly acclaimed theoretical work on horror literature, films and radio plays.

Contemporary horror authors

Current authors include (international): Isabel Allende , Martin Baresch , Clive Barker , Jorge Luis Borges , JG Ballard , Jack Cady , Ramsey Campbell , John Crowley , Harlan Ellison , John Farris , Christopher Fowler , Ray Garron , Charles L . Grant , Dave Gore , James Herbert , Joe Hill , Brian Keene , Stephen King , Dean Koontz , Richard Laymon , Edward Lee , Fritz Leiber , John Ajvide Lindqvist , Brian Lumley , Graham Masterton , Patrick McGrath , Kim Newman , Joyce Carol Oates , John Saul , John Shirley , Dan Simmons , Curt Siodmak , RL Stine , Peter Straub , Thomas Ligotti and F. Paul Wilson - as well as in German-speaking countries: G. Arentzen , Tobias Bachmann , Cornelia Funke , Marc Gore , Markus Heitz , Wolfgang Hohlbein , Rainer Innreiter , Markus Kastenholz , Markus K. Korb , Thomas Körner , Jens Lossau , Christoph Marzi , Michael Siefener , Malte S. Sembten , Torsten Sträter , Uwe Voehl , John Aysa , Vincent Voss , Earl Warren and Wrath James White .

Novel books and comics

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the 'horror and horror fiction is one of the popular genres in Heftroman area . Particularly successful examples of this are: Larry Brent , John Sinclair , Tony Ballard , Demon Killer or Professor Zamorra .

In the field of comics , too, there are numerous series that belong to the horror genre, such as For example, the Sandman series, written by Neil Gaiman and released by DC Comics between 1988 and 1996 , the Hellblazer series (best known for the 2005 film adaptation of Constantine with Keanu Reeves in the lead role) and the Swamp Thing -Line.

Medial interactions

Horror literature and film

In the course of the 20th century, with the emergence of the film, there was also a mixture of horror film and horror literature: At first, primarily "classic" horror stories were filmed, including Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920), Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). In addition, more and more contemporary horror novels were processed with the special means of film art . From the end of the 20th century, screenplay productions were predominantly the most successful.

Movie title Erstauf-
Director Title of the book / story First
The fall of the House of Usher
Jean Epstein The fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe
White zombie
Victor Halperin White Zombie (screenplay)
Garnett Weston
King Kong and the white woman
Merian C. Cooper The Beast (screenplay)
Edgar Wallace et al.
The Return of Dr. X
Vincent Sherman The Doctor's Secret (short story)
William J. Makin
The wolf man
George Waggner The Wolf Man (screenplay)
Curt Siodmak
The Mad Ghoul
James P. Hogan The Mad Ghoul
Hanns Kraly
House of Horrors
Jean Yarbrough House of Horrors
Dwight V. Babcock
The thing from another world
Christian Nyby Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell
The horror of the Amazon
Jack Arnold The Creature from the Black Lagoon
John Russell Fearn
Jack Arnold Tarantula (screenplay)
Jack Arnold et al.
The demonic
Don Siegel Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Jack Finney
The fly
Kurt Neumann The fly (short story)
George Langelaan
Alfred Hitchcock Psycho
Robert Bloch
The birds
Alfred Hitchcock The Birds (short story)
Daphne du Maurier
Leslie Stevens Inkubo (screenplay)
Leslie Stevens
Rosemary's baby
Roman Polanski Rosemary's baby
Ira Levin
The omega man
Boris saga I am legend
Richard Matheson
Steven Spielberg Duel (short story)
Richard Matheson
The exorcist
William Friedkin The exorcist
William Blatty
The White shark
Steven Spielberg Jaws
Peter Benchley
The Omen
Richard Donner The Omen (screenplay)
David Seltzer
Amityville horror
Stuart Rosenberg The Amityville Horror
Jay Anson
The horror
Peter Medak The Changeling (screenplay)
Russell Hunter et al.
Stanley Kubrick Shining
Stephen King
dance of the Devil
Sam Raimi The Evil Dead (screenplay)
Sam Raimi
John Carpenter Christine
Stephen King
Stuart Gordon Herbert West - The reawakening
HP Lovecraft
Clive Barker The Hellbound Heart
Clive Barker
Warlock - Satan's son
Steve Miner Warlock (screenplay)
David Twohy
The silence of the Lambs
Jonathan Demme The Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris
Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg DinoPark
Michael Crichton
Wes Craven Scream (screenplay)
Kevin Williamson
Blair Witch Project
Myrick / Sánchez The Blair Witch Project (screenplay)
Myrick / Sánchez
Jeepers Creepers
Victor Salva Jeepers Creepers (screenplay)
Victor Salva
Wrong turn
Rob Schmidt Wrong Turn (screenplay)
Alan B. McElroy
James Merendino Trespassing (screenplay)
James Merendino
The Descent
Neil Marshall The Descent (screenplay)
Neil Marshall
Matt Reeves Cloverfield (screenplay)
Drew Goddard
Let me in
Matt Reeves So dark the night
John A. Lindqvist
The woman in Black
James Watkins The woman in Black
Susan Hill
Conjuring - The Visitation
James Wan The Conjuring (screenplay)
Chad & Carey Hayes
The manor house at Gut Panker : Such and similar buildings are repeatedly the setting for horror video games.

Horror literature and video games

The influence of horror literature on the development of horror video games is unmistakable. The survival horror genre, in particular, is often based on traditional motifs from horror literature, especially Gothic fiction . The action often takes place in an old and abandoned building, such as a mansion (examples are the Spencer Mansion and the police station of Raccoon City in Resident Evil , the Derceto Mansion in Alone in the Dark , the Clock Tower from the game series of the same name or the Villa Himuro in Project Zero ), which resembles the haunted castles from Walpole's The Castle of Otranto or Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho . In addition, above all, vampires and zombies, just like in numerous books, are often encountered as opponents in video games.

Some games are also based directly on horror literature. For example, the Alone-in-the-Dark series on HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu myth , in which the actors are confronted with unspeakable monsters that cannot be grasped by the sane mind. The game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth , which is set in the fictional town of Innsmouth and mentions Lovecraft's myth in the title, also refers to this myth . The well-known horror author Clive Barker even wrote a backstory especially for a video game, the result is Clive Barker's Undying .

Literary found objects in horror video games

In particular with Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil , documents play a major role within the game, as the player has to keep collecting letters, diaries, notes, protocols, etc., as they create clarity about the events. Particularly noteworthy is a fictional diary, the so-called Keeper's Diary, from the first Resident Evil part, which describes the gradual transformation of a person, the Keeper, into a zombie and whose language, which is becoming ever simpler from entry to entry, depicts intellectual decline and depicts the dehumanization of the keeper . The diary ends with the description of how the keeper eats his own gradually sloping pieces of skin and meat.

Literary references in horror video games

Resident Evil series
The Cerberus in a drawing by William Blake , an inspiration for the zombie dogs in Resident Evil

Some games also contain direct allusions to authors or works of horror literature, among other things, most of the creatures that you have to defend yourself against in the various Resident Evil games are based on mythological figures: Examples are the Chimaira , the Cerberus , the Neptune , the Nemesis , the Nosferatu , the Nyx and the Pluto , the Nautilus to Jules Vernes Vingt mille lieues sous les mers and the Bandersnatch to Lewis Carroll's well-known nonsense poems Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark ( Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun / The frumious Bandersnatch! ).

Alone-in-the-Dark series

The name of the main character in the game series, Edward Carnby, is a reference to John Carnby, a character from the Cthulhu myth story Return of the Sorcerer , written by Clark Ashton Smith .

In Alone in the Dark you will find a translation of Homer's Odyssey , which gives the player valuable tips for defeating two opponents, more precisely: two Medusa . Other books that can be found in Alone in the Dark include the Necronomicon , the Unspeakable Cults and the De Vermis Mysteriis , which, like the entire game, are based on H. P. Lovecraft's stories. A book also reports that the mansion's name, Decerto, is one of many names for the deity Shub-Niggurath - a kind of sinister fertility goddess for Lovecraft. The name De Certo appears again in the fourth part of the game series as the last name of a certain Judas De Certo, who is described as a malicious clairvoyant , even a demon.

A document in Alone in the Dark 2 reports that one of the pirates you have to fight against, named Frederick DeWitt, had an affair with the Marquise of O ... : an allusion to Heinrich von Kleist 's novel of the same name . The ship of this cursed pirate crew is also called the Flying Dutchman : an allusion to a mythological figure. Another piece of writing is entitled Ich defiegte Voodoo - Unpublished Chapter from “ MS. Found in a Bottle and thus quotes the title of a well-known short story by Edgar Allan Poe , which in turn is based on the saga of the Flying Dutchman .

The fictional Cthulhu deity Shub-Niggurath, also known as Decerto, gives her name to the
Decerto Mansion in Alone in the Dark .

In Alone in the Dark 4: The New Nightmare , the protagonist Aline compares the scientist Alan Morton with Dr. Moreau - an allusion to the story The island of Dr. Moreau by the English writer HG Wells , in which a mad researcher tries to turn animals into humans through cruel experiments. In his diary, which must be read during the game, Obed Morton also compares his grandfather Jeremy Morton's workspace with Ali Baba's cave. As Aline , the ghost of the aforementioned De Certo appears to the player in a mirror, who asks one to come through the mirror, just as Alice did - a reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice behind the mirrors (similar to Silent Hill, see below). In addition, as Aline , one finds a book by Jean-François Champollion in one of the rooms , who laid the foundation for the scientific exploration of dynastic Egypt by deciphering the first hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone . To end the game you have to search for and find the statues of the seven fictional Indian gods Hecatonchires, Gilamesh, Ouphenos, Anticoalt, Heliopaner, Melacanthe and Hemicles . At least the names of the first two can be explained by allusions: Hecatonchires alludes to the Hekatonchires of Greek mythology, Gilamesh to the Gilgamesh epic , one of the oldest surviving literary poems of mankind and the most famous literary work of Babylonia .

In Alone in the Dark 5 you get a message from a mysterious lightbringer; here the sculpture Le Génie du Mal by Guillaume Geefs depicting Lucifer in St. Paul's Cathedral (Liège)

At the beginning of Alone in the Dark 5 , the French poet Charles Baudelaire is quoted: The Devil's foremost deception is convincing you that he does not exist. (In German: The greatest deception of the devil is to convince you that he does not exist. ) Later, receives a message from a certain Light Bringer, so Lichtbringer, whereupon the figure Sarah the Carnby, and thus the player says that lightbringer means Lucifer in Latin . It is confirmed in the course of the game that you are dealing with Lucifer himself. He is looking for the Philosopher's Stone , which he created himself in the reality of the game in order to save his soul through all ages.

A prophetic poem also makes it clear that Carnby and Sarah did not get into their current situation by chance: The hands of Venus will shape the lock to this door. / While Mars will fight and bring the key back to the core. (In German, for example: Venus' hands will soon form the lock on this door. / While Mars fights and brings back the key for it. ) It then turns out that Sarah represents Venus, while Carnby plays the role of Mars.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

As mentioned above, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth builds directly on Lovecraft's myth of the same name. Call of Cthulhu is one of the best known stories of Lovecraft, the game is based largely on Lovecraft's story Shadow over Innsmouth, which is why characters from this story, such as the drunkard Zadok Allen, appear. Zadok explains to the player, if he gets a bottle of alcohol for it, a lot about the past of Innsmouth and sometimes even uses the same text as in the story. Some scenes also take place at Arkham Asylum, Lovecraft's infamous mental hospital . In addition, the deities Dagon and Hydra appear as final bosses . The Book of the Dagon must be used to decipher various inscriptions and to solve various puzzles. Contrary to expectations, Cthulhu himself does not come into action, but is omnipresent with numerous statues and in various texts, prayers and the like . The Great Race of Yith plays an important role in the plot ; the Elder Beings are mentioned in a document, as are the Mi-Go mentioned in the epilogue . Another boss plunges Shoggoth on. The deep beings are one of the most common enemies in the game.

One of the inmates in Innsmouth, Henry, complains about The Rats in the Walls (a reference to Lovecraft's story of the same name The Rats in the Walls ). Henry exhibiting serious mental health problems, presumably insane, and deliberately banging his head against the wall of his cell, which Dr. Halsey in Lovecraft's story Herbert West - Reanimator (German: Herbert West - The Reanimator ) does. A Greek version of the Pnakotian Manuscripts , an edition of the Unspeakable Cults and the Book of Eibon can be found in the game. A newspaper clipping alludes to the authored by Lovecraft short story The Music of Erich Zann ( The Music of Erich Zann on).

Silent Hill series

The first part of Silent Hill in particular is bursting with literary references. Among other things, there are:


Modern sagas / urban legends

Modern legends (Engl. Urban legends , dt. Urban legends ) as the story of the hook , The Monkey's Paw , The spider in the Yucca , the pet in the microwave or the Vanishing Hitchhiker are examples of typical campfire stories with which one side toasty want to scare - often as a test of courage or a thrill. Their apparent authenticity results from "that the acquaintance of an acquaintance of a relative of a friend" is supposed to have actually experienced them, hence the name FOAF tales ( Friend of a friend tales ).

Bram Stoker Award

The Bram Stoker Award is a literary prize that has been presented annually by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) since 1987 in various categories (including best novel, best first work, best novel and best short story ) for exceptional contributions to horror literature. The winners are chosen by election by the members of the HWA. The name was chosen in memory of Bram Stoker , the creator of Dracula . Members include Ramsey Campbell , Nancy Kilpatrick , Joyce Carol Oates and Peter Straub . Previous winners include Clive Barker , Robert Bloch , Ray Bradbury , Neil Gaiman , Stephen King , Richard Laymon , Dean Koontz , Richard Matheson , JK Rowling and Dan Simmons .

See also


Web links

Source documents

  1. Moritz Baßler: Poetics of popular realistic narrative literature. In: Ralf Simon (Hrsg.): Basic themes of literary studies: poetics and poeticity. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-041064-8 , p. 225 (accessed from De Gruyter Online).
  2. See JA Cuddon et al. (1977), A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory , André Deutsch Ltd, London, pass.
  3. See HJ Alpers et al. (1999), Lexicon of Horror Literature , Fantasy Productions, Erkrath, pass.