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Horror fiction is a genre of fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle and horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the "horror" experience has often been the intrusion of a disturbing supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called "horror". Horror fiction often overlaps science fiction or fantasy, all three categories of which are sometimes placed under the umbrella classification speculative fiction.

Haunting is sometimes used as a plot device in horror fiction and paranormal-based fiction. Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. For example, the Arabian Nights tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad" revolves around a house haunted by djinns. The influence of the Arabian Nights on modern horror fiction is certainly discernible in some of the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

Achievements in horror fiction are recognized by numerous awards. The Horror Writer's Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror novel Dracula. The Australian Horror Writers Association presents annual Australian Shadows Awards. The International Horror Guild Award was presented annually to works of horror and dark fantasy from 1995 to 2008. Other important awards for horror literature are as subcategories included within general awards for fantasy and science fiction in such awards as the Aurealis Award.

Zombies are a popular feature in many horror works.

Selected horror profile

James Whale (22 July 1889 – 29 May 1957) was an English film director, theater director and actor, who spent the greater part of his career in Hollywood. He is best remembered for several horror films: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), all considered classics. Whale also directed films in other genres, including the 1936 film version of the musical Show Boat. He became increasingly disenchanted with his association with horror, and many of his non-horror films have fallen into obscurity.

At the height of his career as a director, Whale directed The Road Back (1937), a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. He was openly gay throughout his career, something that was very unusual in the 1920s and 1930s. As knowledge of his sexual orientation has become more common, some of his films, Bride of Frankenstein in particular, have been interpreted as having a gay subtext and it has been claimed that his refusal to remain in the closet led to the end of his career.

Selected horror work

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula: Sougetsu no Jūjika (悪魔城ドラキュラ 蒼月の十字架, lit. "Devil's Castle Dracula: Cross of the Blue Moon"), is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami. It is part of Konami's Castlevania video game series and the first Castlevania game to be released on the Nintendo DS. The game is the sequel to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and incorporates many elements from its predecessor. Dawn of Sorrow was commercially successful, selling more than 15,000 units in its first week in Japan and 164,000 units in the United States three months after its initial release.

Dawn of Sorrow continues the story of Aria of Sorrow, in which Dracula has been completely defeated, and his powers assumed by his reincarnation, Soma Cruz. With the help of his allies, Soma avoids becoming the new dark lord. A cult forms to bring forth a new dark lord by killing Soma. Soma and his allies move to ensure that a new dark lord is not created.

Dawn of Sorrow incorporates many features from previous Castlevania games: the combination of elements from platform and role-playing video games, the "Tactical Soul" system featured in Aria of Sorrow, and a dark, gothic atmosphere. Dawn of Sorrow also introduces new gameplay elements, such as the "Magic Seal" system, which requires the use of the DS stylus to draw a pattern in order to defeat powerful enemies, a distinctive anime character design, and a multiplayer mode, where two players compete for fastest times on a prerendered level. The game received high scores from many video game publications, and was considered one of the best games on the Nintendo DS for 2005. The game was re-released in Japan on June 29, 2006 and later in North America during 2007 as part of the "Konami the Best" line.