This introductory chapter provides an overview of horror cinema. Since its inception, horror has been one of the most universally derided and dismissed of film genres. Yet at the same time it has consistently been one of the most enduring and commercially popular. While there have been periods where it seemed to have reached a dead end, it has always managed to re-invent itself and rise again. Today, horror cinema is experiencing something of a renaissance, enjoying box-office success and even critical acclaim. The chapter discusses the concept of film genre and traces the history of horror. As with other genres, over time horror developed codes and conventions that became typically associated with what one would now term a traditional horror film. Since the arrival of the 'modern' horror film in the early 1960s, the genre has displayed a degree of freedom from many of its more traditional conventions.
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