Politics in Horror

Your highschool Government teachers would be so proud…

In a genre that’s often still seen as mindless terror, it’s surprising how many political messages you can find. Oftentimes the reasons that the horrific acts on screen are taking place are politically motivated or have political undertones. Honestly, these political horror films are more interesting than any debate I’ve ever seen. Here are some of the best political horror films and why they’re amazing. 

Purgers approaching a house in The Purge (Credit: Universal Pictures)

The Purge

The Purge, and its several sequels, could be passed up as a silly bloodbath, if not for the horrifying bits of truth to it. A desperate government, much like we’re currently seeing, might start reaching for desperate solutions. While it’s funny to consider what you might do during a real Purge, the actuality of a day with no laws is chilling. In the original movie we get an especially interesting look into how a Purge might affect those that can’t afford fancy security systems to protect them. As the series progresses we get more of a look into the politics of how an actual Purge might come about, but they all do an excellent job of making their audiences think a little harder about who they might plan on voting for. 

Betty Gilpin in The Hunt (Credit: Blumhouse Productions)

The Hunt

A new edition to the political horror scene, The Hunt takes an unusual swing at genre. While we often think of our political horror villains as being more on the political right, The Hunt makes fun of the more political left side. The film is centered around a group of over-correcting Limousine Liberals trying to kill the group of politically conservative people that they kidnapped. It’s a cool take on the genre and one that I’m honestly surprised was released during 2020. While The Hunt has some hilarious moments and does take some pretty good shots at the political left, it has been criticized for not going hard enough. If you’re going to point out the flaws of elite liberals, then really go in. We came for a roast, not a campfire. 

Duane Jones shooting zombies in Night of the Living Dead (Credit: Image Ten)

Night of the Living Dead

The inclusion of Night of the Living Dead on this list is something that I’m sure the director, George A. Romero, never wanted. When this film was released in 1968 having Duane Jones as the hero of the movie was a choice that some could have been upset by. It was rare for a person of color to be cast in a film with predominantly white actors, especially as a protagonist. Romero claims that he cast Jones due to his superior performance in his audition, and we can see that ability shine through in his portrayal of Ben. In Night of the Living Dead, Ben is intelligent and resourceful. He’s the character you root for to make it until the end. However, Ben’s death doesn’t come at the hands of the zombies outside his door, but at the hands of the people who were supposed to be his rescuers. Amongst the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, this movie feels especially painful. 

Part of the “shunting” in Society (Credit: Society Productions Inc.)

Society

Society’s message is anything but subtle. The elite members of society are quite literally a different species, evolved from humans, that feed on the lower class in order to thrive. While this film is mainly only known for its insane “shunting” scene, it’s also filled with hilarious one-liners, disturbing body horror, and uncomfortable underlying class issues. Society is amazing at depicting its upper-class characters as alien-like creatures that look like everyone else, but behave in a gross, bizarre manner. It might make you a bit weary of your rich neighbor, Tom. If you’ve never seen Society prepare to feel ill, things get gooey. 

By Joey Warren

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