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Horror films come in a wide variety of styles and subject matter. Three of the most intimate explorations of terror are examined in this study. Intimate in terms of settings (small towns and an isolated motel) and in the emotional links between the characters and the terrors they face. In Psycho, Norman Bates is a darker reflection of his victim Marion Crane and her lover Sam Loomis. They share frustrations, fears and compulsions, albeit at different levels of intensity. In The Birds, Melanie Daniels and her new acquaintances in Bodega Bay share emotional problems which can impel them to act in destructive ways--that are echoed, and then overwhelmed by violence from the natural world. Halloween features a monster, Michael Myers, who has more in common with one of his victims, heroine Laurie Strode, than is evident at first glance. Beyond the link between normality and the violently aberrant, all three films give glimpses of emotional intimacy that is threatened and sometimes tragically destroyed by horror.
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Randy Rasmussen is a library associate at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
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