Decapitation, torture, disembowelment, fright… These are all things that no one wants to see or experience in real life, and yet people flock to watch movies online for free, or even paid—through streaming services like The Viewlorium or Netflix respectively—to see them.
Psychologists have long struggled to learn the truth behind the mass appeal of horror movies like Poultrygeist, The Boneyard, and The Toxic Avenger. Why would someone who naturally seeks out peace and happiness want to watch the horrific scenes that these films are known for? A FilmmakerIQ.com article attempts to answer the question through a few interesting theories on people’s attraction to horror.
The Psychoanalytic theory purports that the human fascination for horror stems from the emergence of images and thoughts of the primitive id that were being repressed by the civilised ego. Carl Jung in particular, believed that horror movies tapped into the images and thoughts buried deep within one’s subconscious. This theory, however, is hard to test empirically.
The Catharsis theory—created by famous Greek philosopher Aristotle—claims that people were attracted to stories of horror and violence because it allowed them to release suppressed feelings of aggression. Although plenty of research has shown the opposite, there may still be something about the correlation between watching horror films and the reduction of fear that’s worth delving into.
The Excitation Transfer theory suggests that residual excitation produced by one stimulus will intensify one’s excitatory response to another stimulus. In 1978, Dr. Dolf Zillmann argued that the negative feelings stimulated by horror actually amplify the positive feelings the viewer will have when the hero triumphs in the end. The theory is refuted by the fact that movies where the hero doesn’t triumph can still achieve high viewing numbers.
The Dispositional Alignment theory adheres to the idea that people enjoy meting out punishment to those who deserve it; however, though the theory gives insight into what viewers want to see, it doesn’t quite explain why they like watching horror movies in the first place.
Perhaps horror films are popular because they represent the basic human fear, something that everyone will likely have to face at one point or another. Nevertheless, whatever your reason for loving horror films may be, you can satiate all your horror cravings when you stream movies online for free through sites like Viewlorium.
(Source: The Psychology of Scary Movies, FilmmakerIQ.com)