13 Classic Scenes That Explain How Horror Movies Work

Just because Halloween’s over doesn’t mean you have to put away the scary movies. Vox examines 13 horror film scenes for clues on how the genre works.


The grandfather of horror

Any discussion of how horror movies work must begin in one place — the battle between light and darkness. And if we’re beginning there, then there are few better places to dig in than German Expressionism, a movement that arose in post-World War I Berlin that depicted complex emotions through the use of heavily visual language and symbols. Take, for instance, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, a film that’s basically a bald-faced ripoff of Dracula. This vampire, though he’s made up to be a horrifying ghoul, connects to the monstrous side of our own sensuality, the part of us that feels as if it could do anything when out of control with longing. Notice how Murnau balances light and darkness throughout. It’s not what we might be accustomed to in the modern era (when we can film in very low-light situations fairly easily), since this vampire story seems to be set in broad daylight, but the most famous sequence — the creature ascending the stairs to assault a young woman in her bed — is all about the interplay of light and dark. There is a great, big beam of light, and in the center of it, pure black malevolence. There’s not a better single shot to explain what the horror movie is.

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Watch on of Spielberg’s First Films: Amblin

Check out this rarely seen first film of Steven Spielberg – and the source of his company name - Amblin

In 1968, Steven Spielberg was 21 years old and the hippie counterculture was swirling all around, but his mind was focused on one thing only: making movies.

Spielberg had been cranking out 8mm films since he was 12 years old, and he had been hanging around the sound stages and editing rooms of Universal Pictures as an unpaid clerk and errand boy since the summer after his junior year in high school, absorbing everything he could about the process of filmmaking. He hoped someone would give him a chance to direct a project–any project. He tried to generate interest by taking his childhood films around to producers. “I would bundle the pictures in a briefcase and literally carry my projector over to somebody’s office,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly last year. “It was like I was a very young Willy Loman; boxing up my wares and going from studio office to studio office. Not a lot, but maybe 10 percent of the producers that I tried to get to see my films did see my films.”

Spielberg realized he needed something more professional to show. He found a businessman to finance a 35mm short film. Denis C. Hoffman, who ran an optical effects house called Cinefx, read a script Spielberg had written and agreed to give the young man $10,000 to make the film , so long as it featured music by a band he managed, called October Country. The film was to be called Amblin’.

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Ex Machina – Trailer

Alex Garland, writer of “28 Days Later” and “Sunshine,” makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, “Ex Machina.” Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test – charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated, seductive–and more deceptive–than the two men could have imagined.


How to Overcome Being Camera Shy

During the photoshoot, this woman turned to her husband and proclaimed “I can’t stand my face”


And that woman is Miss Universe! If she can’t stand herself, what hope do the rest of us have??

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Professional photographer Peter Hurley and psychologist Anna Rowley have devised a simple way to overcome your fear of the camera lens. They call this unique combination of their two disciplines “psyphotology,” and what they’ve learned can help us shift our perspective away from judgment and criticism and toward better self-acceptance.


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