Marathon of Horror Creeps into Campus Film Studies

Published: October 23, 2014 | Author: Jessica Young | Read Time: 3 minutes

Clicking off the TV after watching a scary movie and that feeling enters your heart that the shadows in your bedroom might be more than just shadows. You begin to realize that something has been watching you and that noise in the basement is more than just a noise.

The science and art behind those Goosebumps running down your arms is excessively exploited in Hollywood’s blockbuster hits and has further defined the effects of film on one’s psyche, according to Dr. Kyle Bishop, Southern Utah University professor and nation’s leading horror academicians — yes, that’s a real thing — who founded the state’s first film studies minor at SUU, which has students completing an analysis of the effects of films, including horror movies.

The film and screen studies minor allow students to explore and investigate across screens, from the theatre to the tablet, and now students can even analyze the aesthetics of video games, which according to Bishop is the most effective form of horror.

“Video games can be so much more scary than anything else because we are in control of it. You have to decide if you want to turn that corner and possibly get killed, “ explained Bishop.

And though it may sound like all fun and games, Bishop said one of the program's greatest challenges will be to help students parse through the video that surrounds them on a daily basis.

“The video game course will be all about studying the right video games, and that's indicative of all topics,” he explained. "Just like we don’t study all books in a literature course, we study the right books.”

Just one of many students who see film as a way to supplement their education is Christopher Clark, a creative writing major from Wetumka, Oklahoma. Using his lifelong love of horror films, Clark will be unrolling an inaugural event of horror film marathons at the Gerald R. Sherratt Library, the first one being Monday, October 27 at 6 p.m., giving all a taste of what a film studies minor life is like.

Screening the Utah-filmed Carnival of Souls and the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, Clark has invited Bishop to kickoff the evening, which will act as Clark’s EDGE (Education Designed to Give Experience) project.

Stating his reasoning for choosing horror films as his EDGE project, Clark said, “I have always been fascinated by the ways in which horror film and horror fiction tend to influence each other. Horror films give you a certain pleasure in being scared in a safe environment.  But it's a different kind of fear than, say, going on a rollercoaster.  In a supernatural horror film, the rules of the world as we know it are subverted, and there is something both terrifying and liberating about that.”

But why do we enjoy being scared?  Dr. Grant Corser, SUU associate professor of psychology stated it’s completely chemically. “With fear, there is a certain chemical response that happens with the body. There’s that feeling of being energized, that feeling of almost an adrenaline rush. At the psychological level, once we face a fearful situation and get through it, there is a feeling of empowerment and relief that comes along with it.”

Whether to academically examine the quality of the two horror films or to get into the Halloween spirit, all are invited to attend the free and open event in the Sherratt Library room 002 from 6-11 p.m. Along with Bishop’s introduction, the evening will also feature an original ghostly narrative written by Clark. 

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