This paper examines a social and cultural history of horror films through the keyword “technology”, focusing on The Spark of Fear: Technology, Society and the Horror Film (2015) written by Brian N. Duchaney.
Science fiction film is closely connected with technology in film genres. On the other hand, horror films have been explained in terms of nature/supernatural. In this regard, The Spark of Fear, which accounts for horror film history as (re)actions to the development of technology, is remarkable. Early horror films which were produced under the influence of gothic novels reflected the fear of technology that had been caused by industrial capitalism. For example, in the film Frankenstein (1931), an angry crowd of people lynch the “monster”, the creature of technology. This is the action which is aroused by the fear of technology. Furthermore, this mob behavior is suggestive of an uprising of people who have been alienated by industrial capitalism during the Great Depression.
In science fiction horror films, which appeared in the post-war boom, the “other” that manifests as aliens is the entity that destroys the value of prosperity during post-war America. While this prosperity is closely related to the life of the middle class in accordance with the suburbanization, the people live conformist lives under the mantle of technologies such as the TV, refrigerator, etc. In the age of the Vietnam War, horror films demonize children, the counter-culture generation against a backdrop of the house that is the place of isolation and confinement. In this place, horror arises from the absolute absence of technology. While media such as videos, internet, and smartphones have reinforced interconnectedness with the outside world since the 1980s, it became another outside influence that we cannot control. “Found-footage” and “torture porn” which were rife in post-9/11 horror films show that the technologies of voyeurism/surveillance and exposure/exhibitionism are near to saturation.
In this way, The Spark of Fear provides an opportune insight into the present day in which the expectation and fear of the progress of technology are increasingly becoming inseparable from our daily lives.