Archive for Horror TV

Horror TV: Supernatural (2005 to present)

Posted in Horror TV with tags , on April 22, 2010 by gobbets

Dean: Damn cops.

Sam: They were just doing their job.

Dean: No, they were doing our job, only they don’t know it so they suck at it.

Premise:

Hunting down supernatural creatures, and rescuing people terrorised by them, is the Winchester family business.  Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester grew up moving from hunt to hunt with their father John, but eventually Sam goes off to college, leaving Dean and their father to work jobs alone. When John goes missing during a hunt Dean turns to Sam for help. Reluctant to return to the life of a hunter, Sam grudgingly agrees to search for a few days. They can’t find John so Sam returns to college, just in time to see his girlfriend Jessica killed by the same demon that killed their mother. Enraged, Sam quits college and he and Dean take to the road, hunting down their father, Jessica’s killer and anything else nasty that gets in their way.

Main Characters:

Sam Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki): the youngest of the Winchester boys, studying to be a lawyer. Sam is a trained fighter but is also a skilled researcher, who doesn’t relish hunting, but sees it as a means to an end.

Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles): takes his role as a big brother seriously and hates that he can’t protect Sam from everything. He follows his father without question, always putting himself last. Dean is popular with women and comfortable with the subterfuge hunting requires. He is also very, very fond of his 1967 Chevy Impala and drives his brother crazy playing classic rock.

Themes:.

Family, the bonds of brotherhood, and the tensions between family duty and individuality.

The reality inherent in supernatural and urban legends.

Why you should watch it:

Supernatural manages a great mix between monsters of the week and a larger story arc about the Winchester family. The banter between the two very different yet very similar brothers is hilarious, and creates a clever dichotomy between their humour and the day-to-day horror in the life of a hunter. The classic rock soundtrack compliments the action and the brother’s approaches to life.

Weaknesses:

Supernatural can be subjected so some of the same criticisms as horror narratives in general: a tendency to depict women as either victims, villains or a temporary distraction, few characters of racial minority, and a generally cavalier approach to violence.

Ongoing Influence:

Supernatural is still a relatively new show so its long range influence is still to be determined, however it has revived interest in classic rock, which is perhaps unfortunate…

What’s your favourite Supernatural moment? Your favourite Winchester? Let us know!

Advertisements

Horror TV: From Anthologies to Series

Posted in Reviews with tags on March 30, 2010 by gobbets

There is always a lot of debate of what exactly falls into the ‘horror’ genre (as opposed to fantasy, sci-fi, thriller etc). In terms of television the definition is pretty fluid, and most shows of this type contain a fair portion of elements from each genre. However to be fully conversant with horror in popular culture, the medium of television is crucial as it gives us some of the best known (and most loved) characters in the genre. Horror TV has existed since the 50s, usually in the form of anthology series with a new story, new monster or scenario and new characters every week. Some of the better-known series are listed below:

50s and 60s
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965)
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
The Outer Limits (1963-1965)
Dark Shadows (1966-1971)

70s
Night gallery (1970-1973)
The Sixth Sense (1972)
Kolchak; The Night Stalker (1974)

80s
Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988, produced by zombie legend George A Romero)
Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996)
Monsters (1988-1991)
The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985- 1987)
Hammer House of Horror (1980)

However from the 90s we see a shift from Horror anthologies to serial television with long-range plots and season-length story arcs, extended analyses of key themes and ideas and recurring characters. There were still a few new anthology series launched in the 90s (The Outer Limits was revived from 1995-2002 and The Hunger ran from 1997-2000, Masters of Horror 2005-2007) but serial horror is now the most prominent form of horror TV. Listed below are some of the best horror series in the last 20 years:

The X-Files (1993-2002)
American Gothic (1995-1996)
Millennium (1996-1999)
Buffy (1997-2003) and its spin-off Angel (1999-2004)
Supernatural (2005-present)

This is not an exhaustive list but these series have had a significant influence on both the genre and popular culture. To help you get acquainted with them Gobbets will be providing you with guides to these series over the coming weeks.

Do you have a favourite horror series? Have fond memories of any of the above? Tell us about it!