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Psycho Horror Location
“City / Countryside”
This is yet another horror theme created in ‘Psycho’, and which would be developed in films such as ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ (dir. Wes Craven, 1977) ‘Wrong Turn’ or‘House of 1000 Corpses.’
The reoccurring theme revolves around the confrontation, and misunderstanding, between the city, the urban landscape, and that of the wilderness or countryside. ‘Psycho’ offered us this desolate place, far from the city, for the first time in the Bates Motel, located on an abandoned solitary road, due to the recent construction of a highway. Marion (Janet Leigh) leaves the safety of the city (Phoenix), (which is shown constantly in daylight) and comes across this creepy motel out in the middle of nowhere (in darkness.)
The same theme, but taken to the extreme is featured in many horror movies. It plays on societies fears of the unknown and that age old tale of what is really hiding out in the woods? The theme is still carried on now with films such as ‘Wrong Turn.’
‘Psycho’ also played on the reoccurring theme of the ‘haunted house’, which had already been established, with the Bates home looking ominously over the Bates motel, and hiding a deadly secret.
The confrontation and ideas that Wes Craven brings up in the film ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ is a very interesting one to look at; here, it’s not only the urban landscape versus the countryside, but also two different ways of understanding existence and human relationships.
On the one hand, we have the Carters, a middle-class family from Los Angeles whose caravan and vehicles break down in the middle of the desert. The other side of this, the contradiction, is a primitive clan of scavengers and inbreeds ruled by a monstrous figure named Jupiter. As the film progresses we are shown many things. Craven shows that when the family unit is threatened, both families; both educated and inbred, resort to violence to save themselves; they resort to their basic instincts. The inbreeds start the violence, but the Carters in the end have to fight back just as brutally to survive. Craven succeeds in showing that both families are more similar than the audience originally thought.
The same is shown in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’; five teenagers go on a road trip to encounter a family of insane cannibals. There is a solitary roadside gas station and a gruesome family home. Again though, all the rules that the urban teens feel should be in place are thrown out, and they have to behave in the animalistic, primal way of the cannibals to live.
Content copyright © 2014 by Steven Casey Murray. All rights reserved.
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