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Cinema expert explores horror movie genre during Halloween season

Robert Saucedo knows his horror films. As the Programming Director for Alamo Drafthouse, Saucedo is an expert on all things filmmaking, and the horror film genre is no different. Alamo Drafthouse hosts a month-long horror movie celebration every fall, paying homage to the monsters, ghosts, ghouls, slashers, demons, and aliens that have terrified audiences since the film began.

Saucedo shared his take on the horror film genre and explored some of the more subtle nuances of a horror film.

The horror genre is arguably one of the most versatile cinematic genres. You have campy movies like “Evil Dead”, but you also have powerful social commentaries like “Get Out” and everything in between. You don’t see this swipe in romantic comedies, for example. Why do you think horror movies have such a wide reach?

People watch horror movies for many different reasons. Some look at them to be afraid; some watch them for entertainment the same way you would be entertained on a roller coaster. Frightening is also a subjective concept – what frightens one person may not frighten another. The horror genre is a flexible and breathable genre that can touch so many other genres because people like to experience a thrill of indirect fear and fear can mean so much.


What do you think makes a really great horror movie?

A really great horror movie has to work even if the scares aren’t there. Great horror movies can exist separate from scary moments – either because the characters are strong, the plot interesting, the visual direction or effects impressive, or the concept something audiences have never seen before. When you take a great movie with great performance and great directing, and you make it so scary, that’s where the magic happens.

Alamo Drafthouse is screening horror movies from the past for the Halloween season. Many of these films can be viewed from home. What makes an Alamo screening of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” for example, a different experience than what you get from your couch?

Besides comedies, horror is the highest genre watching with an audience. There is an energy that occurs in a theater full of people reacting to a horror movie. The scares of jumping, the release of tension that comes after something scary, the surprise and shock of a twist the audience didn’t see coming – the audible, electric reaction that comes from an audience living a horror movie together is a truly special experience.

A lot of people can’t stand horror movies, but others are quick to do it. What makes a horror movie fanatic make scary movies so appealing?

I think people who love horror movies get a visceral thrill when they feel their pulse quicken or their imaginations kick in. People like to be afraid of death because it reminds them that they are alive.

What are your 10 best horror movies of all time?

My favorite horror movies: “The Fly”, “Candyman”, “Creepshow”, “Evil Dead 2”, “The Exorcist”, “The Howling”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Santa Sangre”, ” The Shining ”and“ Cire ”.

claire.goodman@chron.com


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