Exploring the Distinctions Between Horror and Terror - Taverna da Ilsa


Exploring the Distinctions Between Horror and Terror

C. A. Saltoris | 05 January, 2022

            Exploring the Distinctions Between Horror and Terror

Have you ever found yourself in a bookstore or browsing online, trying to choose between a horror and a terror-inducing experience? The confusion between these two genres is not uncommon, but did you know there's a clear difference between horror and terror? In this discussion, I'll use four well-known movie trailers—The Blair Witch (1999), Chain of Evil, Summoning of Evil, and Annabelle—to shed light on the distinctions between horror and terror.

The confusion often arises from the blurred boundaries between these two fantastical categories. This is not a recent dilemma; even in the 19th century, prominent Gothic writers attempted to articulate the difference. For instance, a notable English Gothic writer explained that terror expands the soul, while horror contracts and freezes it. However, a more contemporary perspective, as articulated by Stephen King, a master of American horror, suggests a more dynamic approach. King emphasizes the importance of both categories, noting that while he aims to scare the reader, if unsuccessful, he transitions to horrifying them, and failing that, resorts to explicit horror. This perspective highlights the nuanced nature of horror, requiring more skillful manipulation from the writer or filmmaker.

Terror, etymologically rooted in the Latin word "terrere" meaning to cause fear, operates on a psychological level. This is evident in movies like The Blair Witch and Chain of Evil, where the focus is on creating tension and anticipation through psychological elements. On the other hand, horror, derived from the Latin "horrere" meaning to make one's hair stand on end, invokes physical reactions, as exemplified in The Evil Summoning. Scenes like the clapping hands of the devil induce a visceral response, making our hair stand on end and creating a chilling effect on the audience.

It's common to witness the blurred lines between terror and horror in movies. Take, for example, a scene where a mother hears mysterious sounds, leading her to a dark place. This scenario represents terror as it plays with our expectations and psychological responses, gradually setting the stage for horror—the direct encounter with something monstrous. This transition is a common narrative technique seen in various films, emphasizing the connection between psychological tension and physical horror.

In the case of Anabelle, a film centered around possessed objects, terror initially sets the stage by emphasizing the psychological presence of the monstrous. However, it is horror that takes center stage during the encounter with supernatural entities, providing a more physical and visceral experience.

Another fantastical genre to consider is the thriller, which shares similarities with horror but excludes supernatural elements. Thrillers, exemplified by movies like "Jaws," rely on suspense without invoking the supernatural to generate fear.

Video link: TERROR X HORROR: What's the difference? - YouTube

Unraveling the Mystery of Lilith: Adam's Enigmatic First Wife

Who is Lilith, and why does she continue to captivate our imagination? In the commonly known Genesis narrative, Adam's first companion is believed to be Eve. However, the enduring presence of Lilith in popular culture, spanning literature, films, comics, and even video games, raises intriguing questions about this enigmatic figure.

Lilith makes appearances in various forms in popular series like Supernatural and True Blood, often portrayed as a powerful vampire queen. Even in childhood memories, Lilithmon from the Digimon series is a vivid example of Lilith's enduring influence.

The controversy surrounding Lilith traces back to the biblical account in Genesis 2:23, where Adam declares, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man." The ambiguity arises from the mention of Eve being created from Adam's rib, leading some interpretations to question if there was a prior existence, perhaps Lilith.

adam and eve in the garden eden with snake and aple

Doubt is further fueled by the book of Isaiah (34:14), where Lilith is mentioned alongside nocturnal beasts, hyenas, and satyrs. The translation variations add complexity, as Lilith's name was later replaced with terms like "night beast" or "owl" during the creation of the Vulgate Bible by the medieval Catholic Church.

The connection between Lilith and Jewish folklore dates back to ancient civilizations like Sumeria and Babylon, where Lilith was perceived as a winged female demon associated with the night. This association persisted when Hebrews were exiled to Babylon, introducing them to Lilith's influence.

In medieval texts, particularly the Alphabet of Sirach from the 9th and 10th centuries, Lilith's story as Adam's first wife gained prominence. According to this narrative, both Lilith and Adam were created from primordial clay as equal partners. However, Lilith's refusal to submit to Adam during their first sexual encounter led to her exile to the Red Sea. The subsequent curse, as described in the Alphabet, perpetuated the association of Lilith with nighttime attacks on Adam's descendants.

The debate around Lilith's existence intensified in the Middle Ages, where she was linked to various nocturnal phenomena, including the medieval notion of "night pollution." Lilith became a symbol of seduction, portrayed as a succubus in artistic interpretations, tormenting Adam and Eve through the ages.

The medieval Catholic Church's decision to omit Lilith from the Genesis narrative during the Council of Trent in the 16th century further obscured her presence. Despite this omission, Lilith continued to thrive in Jewish folklore, maintaining her status as a captivating and controversial figure in the tapestry of cultural and mythical narratives.

Artists throughout history, like Richard Westall and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, have depicted Lilith in various forms, reflecting the enduring fascination with her complex and mysterious character. Whether portrayed as a seductive witch in Faust or as a malevolent force in biblical tales, Lilith's allure persists, leaving us to ponder the enigma of Adam's first wife.

The original content you can find on the Fantasticursos YouTube channel.

Taverna da Ilsa uses the material with the permission of Prof. Alexander Meireles da Silva, creator of the channel and its content.