[FOUNTAIN]The only thing to fear . . .Mr. Werewolf, along with Dracula and Frankenstein, you were considered to be among the most frightening characters in horror movie history. Since “Nosferatu the Vampire” featured the first Dracula in 1922, the three of you have dominated the horror genre for five decades.
What is your secret? “We display amazing physical strength and brutality, and anyone can become a vampire or a werewolf when he or she is bitten by one of us. This is a horror setting at its best.”
American author Diane Ackerman wrote in “An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain,” that horror intensifies as it is repeated. In other words, people tend to feel more terrified of something they are used to. Dracula and Frankenstein were popular in Gothic literature in the 18th and 19th centuries, and there are many familiar legends and myths about them.
Mr. Werewolf, could you tell us more about your background? “My roots go back to Greek mythology. Zeus turned Lycaon into a wolf when he tried to serve the god human flesh. In the medieval period, a mental condition named after me prevailed.”
You mean clinical lycanthropy, a syndrome of delusional belief that the patient can transform into a wolf. I believe the illness almost disappeared in the 20th century. “Yes, the condition faded away just when wolves became extinct in Europe. Until the early 20th century, wolves were the most feared carnivorous animal in Europe. I debuted in the 1935 film, ‘Werewolf of London.’ People still dreaded wolves at the time.”
Is there a trend in horror films? “Of course, there is. In the 1970s, “Exorcist” and “Omen” added demons and religion to the horror codes. The horror icon of the 1980s was the serial killer, most notably in the series “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” These days, text messages on mobile phones can be horror material. The Asian ghosts landed in Hollywood long ago.
Does a horror movie really give people a chill? “The hippocampus in the brain, more precisely the amygdala, is in charge of temperature and it actually goes down. That is why all the horror flicks are released in the summer.”
A dozen Korean horror films are coming out this summer. Share your tips about choosing a good, chilling horror film. “Behavioral scientist Stephen Juan said humans feel fear of everything in the world. There are phobias about books, beards, beds and even fear itself, phobophobia. There are 267 known phobias at present. So you should ask yourself. ‘What am I afraid of the most?’”
by Yi Jung-jae
The writer is a deputy business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.