By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Halloween is the perfect time to gather round for a scary movie, but for students in GCC Albion’s “Horror in Film” class, every Monday is a fight night.
The class, part of a series of film courses offered at Genesee Community College’s Medina and Albion campus centers, goes beyond popcorn and jumping out of your seat when the monster jumps from around the corner.
Instructor Shawn Adamson’s students focus on analyzing the films and the impacts they’ve had on film and popular culture.
”The students are always surprised to learn how much meticulousness goes into making a film,” said Adamson, who uses Psycho’s constant bird imagery and symbolism. “They begin to understand its not just putting people in a room.”
Adamson said the genre is underrated in showing the mood of the times, whether it’s the fear of nuclear war and communism in 1950s movies like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or the worries about moving away from family values in the 1970s leading to films like “The Exorcist” and “The Omen”.
”The misconception is that it’s the junk food of the american filmgoer’s diet,” Adamson said. “(Horror films) are representative of what we as a society are afraid of ... it’s a convenient way to address those fears indirectly.”
Each week, the class views a different film representing a time period or sub-genre of horror. Adamson mixes early films like Nosferatu with psychological horror films like The Innocents, genre parodies like Tucker & Dale vs Evil, and recent movies like Insidious.
”I try to chose ones that are well respected in the industry, have longevity or ones that i think they may not have seen,” Adamson said.
The coursework does provide for a natural experience.
”We do like to be scared,” Adamson said. “There’s a shared experience of knowing other people are gasping and screaming at the same parts.”
Had class not been cancelled Monday due to weather concerns, Adamson would have shown John Carpenter’s Halloween. He recommends the 1978 introduction of Michael Myers as good one to see tonight.
Although the timing won’t be perfect, he will show it next week do the film’s importance.
“It’s father of modern day slasher films,” Adamson said. “Carpenter was the first to use the killer’s point of view shots on steady cam. It was a film made for very little money but became one of the most successful horror films of all time. There’s very little gore, but much of it is the mood and the music.”
Adamson, who is a full-time English professor at GCC’s Batavia campus, has taught courses on comedy in film, women in film, thriller films and popular cinema at the Orleans County campuses. He is teaching a course on american cinema in the spring at GCC Albion.
”I’ve always been a bit of a movie freak,” Adamson explained. “There’s a difference between being a passive and active moviegoer, looking for messages.”
That can have a haunting effect.
”I always tell my students that they’ll hate me after the class, because they’ll be constantly picking apart movies for the rest of their lives.”• Halloween, so many reasons it's important -- father of modern day slasher films, JC first to use killer's point of view shots, steady cam, a film made for very little money (800k) but one of the most successful horror films of all time. very little gore, but much of it is the mood and music. - will do it in class. shared experience of knowing other people are gasping and screaming at the same parts. structured class for some flexibility. • In theatres, students said they found sinister very scary. • On video, Insidious, quite frightening, references many other horror films. almost a post-modern horror film, like scream.