Film symposium to explore the heart of horror

Classic films like 1973’s The Exorcist will screen at the film symposium. Linda Blair stars as Regan, a girl possessed by the devil.

By Jess Scanlon

Fake blood, zombies and a vampire slayer named Buffy — oh my.

Rider will dedicate its second annual film symposium, titled “A Mini Course in Horror,” to the genre. The four-day event will feature screenings of popular shows such as The Twilight Zone, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Simpsons; classic films such as The Wolf Man, Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; panels about the various aspects of horror; and a student film competition.

“It’s one of the most diverse genres in film, with countless sub-genres, and no true definition of what makes a horror film,” said Zach Bowen, a senior English major with a concentration in cinema studies. “Everyone has their own opinions of how they like their horror and how they would characterize the genre.”

The events show exactly how broad the horror genre can be, as their subject matter ranges from popular television programs to obscure foreign films. House, a Japanese cult film that was just released in the United States, will make its New Jersey premiere at the Horror Film Symposium (see Review, p. 7).

“What makes horror so unique is that it can act as the perfect metaphor,” Bowen said. “Stories are meant to have purpose and meaning behind them.”

To make those meanings clearer, the event will host a number of panels on the topic, starting with “What is Horror and Why Do We Like It?” A second panel, “The Horror, the Drama, the Comedy, the Industry: Life in Television,” will focus on television horror in Hollywood that same day.

Hollywood’s definition of horror will not go unchallenged. The second day features the Korean monster movie The Host and a Swedish vampire flick, Let the Right One In, as well as a panel on international horror films.

“There’s a lot of basic tenets that hold true for both,” said Dr. Daria Cohen, associate professor of Spanish and a participant in the panel. She will most likely be focusing on the French film High Tension and the Argentine Sangre de Vírgenes (Blood of the Virgins).

Rider students will also get a chance to demonstrate their own flair for creating works of horror. The last day of the event features a student film festival where short films will be screened and students can vote for their favorite.

“The creativity’s been wonderful,” said Dr. Barry Janes, professor of communication. Despite admitting that “horror is not my forte,” he is helping to run the student film festival and is participating in the “What is Horror” panel.

Slasher, zombie, vampire and monster movies will share the spotlight with popular television shows and classic movies. Stories will be shown on the screen as academia explain them in social, political and feminist contexts as well as gallons of fake blood and dozens of fake limbs.

“There’s a tongue-in-cheek quality about horror,” said Dr. Cynthia Lucia, associate professor of English and director of the film and media studies program.

The Horror Film Symposium kicks off on March 2. For a complete list of events, see p. 2.

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