Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film

Think you know what fear is? Think again. EMP presents an in-depth look at horror, and how it’s expressed through cinema, biology, history, and contemporary culture.

  1. A laboratory-worthy wall of artifacts holds a plethora of film props that include the Nighthawk stake from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the axe from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and the facehugger from the 1979 Alien. Originally designed by 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductee H.R. Giger, the facehugger wraps its legs and tail around the victim's head and neck in order to implant an embryo destined to burst forth from the chest of its unlucky host.

    Pictured: Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film gallery.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  2. Guest curator Eli Roth has quickly become one of the most recognizable horror directors of the last decade, creating youth-oriented horror films replete with insightful wit, dark humor, and copious gore, among which include Hostel (2005), where this chair—originally used for actual Cold War-era interrogations in Czechoslovakia—was featured in several gruesome scenes. 

    Pictured: Interrogation chair from Hostel (2005)

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  3. “I've done just about every genre you can think of, but I keep coming back to horror. Horror films were not dependent upon star names or even production quality. They were dependent upon the ability of the filmmaker to get a scream. This appealed to me.” – Roger Corman

    Guest curator Roger Corman is one of the most prolific and influential filmmakers of all time, directing and producing more than 400 films to date, and launching the careers of dozens of actors and filmmakers with features including A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and The Wild Angels (1966).

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  4. Visitors to Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film can peruse the "100 Horror Films to See Before You Die" infographic, representing the best of the bloodcurdlers from the 1920s through the millenium. Get scared stiff with classics like The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (1920), cult favorites like The Exorcist (1973), and the faux found-footage of The Blair Witch Project (1999). Then see actual artifacts used during filming and excerpts from movies by perusing the rest of the spine-tingling exhibit.

    Pictured: Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film gallery.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

Examine the pivotal role that horror plays in the human experience.

Three iconic horror directors—Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth—have curated a selection of their favorite films, providing a solid foundation on which audiences can safely explore the spectrum of cinematic horror, from its inception at the turn of the 20th century to the present day.

Visitors can view artifacts that include the script from Night of the Living Dead, the alien creature suit from Alien, and Jack Torrance's axe from The Shining; watch interviews with the directors; and scream bloody murder. Interactive highlights include a Scream Booth, Horror Soundscapes, Monster Timeline, and Philip Worthington's interactive shadow monster installation.

Beware! Due to the subject matter explored, this exhibition has a suggested rating of PG-13.