Thursday 1 May 2014

Guest Post - Synergy: How Influence Shifts From Page to Screen and Back Again

Synergy: How influence shifts from page to screen and back again
by Kit Tinsley

The horror genre is one of the oldest forms of story in the world. Tales of the supernatural, and the horrific can be found in the folklore of virtually every civilization that ever existed on this planet we call
home. The arguments as to why this is the case are long and broad. It is enough to say that horror stories, thrill and entertain us like no other genre can. They offer us a chance to face up to our own fears and mortality in a safe way.

In the twenty first century there are two main exponents of horror for us, literature and film ( for the sake of simplicity I will include television in with film). These two mediums are the most common and
popular sources of horror in hour lives.

Trends in the horror genre seem to go around in circles, both in literature and film. Often with a specific sub genre being more popular in one medium than the other.

Yet there seems to be a cross over, so the question is which way does influence travel? Is it the popularity of a genre in books that influences it's popularity in film, or is it the other way round.

In the early days of cinema the pattern of influence was easy to see. Most of the early horror film were based on books. In fact in the twelve years between 1908 and 1920 there were no less than eight adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, three of them released in the same year.

From silent cinema into the golden age of the Universal horror movies, and beyond to the Hammer horror films, the classic horror novels were revisited time and time again.

Then things started to change in the 1960's, cinematic horror got it's own language, and started to build it's own set of rules. Films such as Night of the Living Dead, we're original ideas, that took horror into a far more visceral and visual realm than ever before.

The Italian directors like Argento, Bava, and Fulci pushed these boundaries even further. Zombie movies have become a staple of horror cinema that have never really gone away. Zombie novels were not a particularly rich sub genre prior to the cinematic explosion. Nowadays there seem to be more zombie novels than anything else, it is a very popular genre. This is a clear example of cinema influencing literature.

It is still true that a lot of horror films are based on books, and I think that the classics will continue to be revisited as long as mankind continues to make movies. However I feel that in the world we live now there is a lot more cross pollination of influence. Many readers want to read novels that remind them of their favourite movies, and many authors are as equally influenced by their favourite filmmakers as they are authors.

It really is a wonderful time, one where we need not define ourselves by our chosen medium, instead we are all merely storytellers.

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