Horrors of Society

The Reflection of Societal Fears in American Horror Films

  • Brooke Lilek Ball State University


The foundation of the Hollywood horror film industry has always been constructed with metaphors of what haunts American society. By utilizing what society fears in daily life and representing it with ghosts or monsters, Hollywood was able to make movies scarier than they appeared to be on the surface. In the 1970s and 1980s, children’s television programming began to take the place of reading or playing as the number of shows and channel rose. Parents began to fear that television programming would take over their children’s lives. Moving through the decades and into the 2010s this fear only grew as cellphones, tablets, and laptops became the obsession of American youth. The Hollywood film industry capitalized on these fears in movies such as Poltergeist (1982) and Poltergeist (2015). These two films worked to represent current issues in society while also predicting what America would become if these issues were not properly dealt with. 1980s America did not resolve the issue of television and technology invading homes; thus, the problem grew as Americans relied more heavily on technological advances. Looking through the lens of Poltergeist (1982) and Poltergeist (2015) reveals the fears of past decades, how those fears have developed in 2010s American culture, and where these representations of cultural fears will lead us next.

How to Cite
Lilek, B. (2020). Horrors of Society: The Reflection of Societal Fears in American Horror Films. Digital Literature Review, 7. https://doi.org/10.33043/DLR.7.0.%p