Scream and The Faculty – The Birth of Teen Horror

So I recently stumbled upon The Faculty late at night channel surfing, and I love this film. I remember watching it when I was about 12 years old, crushing on Josh Hartnett. Admittedly I was probably a couple of years younger than the intended target audience for this film, but nevertheless, I still enjoyed it.

In the wake of horror revitaliser Scream, teen horrors and teen supernatural films became their own sub-genre of horror. As with any trend emerging from youth culture or embraced by youth culture, controversy isn’t far behind. Some blamed Scream for inspiring teen killers, blaming the excess of gore and violence in the new wave of horror/slasher films for an increase in violent behaviour. The controversy quickly died down as the genre grew.

Mmmm... corn syrup. Same stuff they used for pig's blood in "Carrie."

Mmmm… corn syrup. Same stuff they used for pig’s blood in “Carrie.”

One of the more successful releases was The Faculty in 1998, an almost psychotic version of the Breakfast Club with skin slicing, ear diving aliens. Production companies rejected The Faculty, that is until Scream became a box-office smash, and a couple of rewrites later to add a cool/hip edge, and The Faculty was on screens.

Cast of The Faculty

Cast of The Faculty

The mixture of tame horror, fairly timid gore/violence (I stand by that, cutting someone’s fingers off in a shot which lasts less than a second can be classed as timid, whereas implanting an axe in someone’s head in a full on 5minute shot, slightly less timid) combined with ‘teen’ issues; angst, isolation, sex, puberty, grades, sports teams, interfering parents and drugs was box office gold.

Horror films have always struggled being taken seriously, Scream changed that. Scream was hailed as a revolutionary film, which rejuvenated the horror genre. The self-awareness, the black-as-night humour and not shying away from teenage issues spawned some of the best horror films since the video nasty trend of the 1980s. Despite some of these films being throw away and very disposable, they signified a change in horror cinema. Final Destination for example, a result of this resurgence in horror appealed to teen markets. A sense of rebelliousness, inherent in the teen psyche, appealed to audiences on a wide scale.

Final Destination

Final Destination

From the late 1990s, The Exorcist was no longer the film that you didn’t want your kids to see. With a higher expendable income, teens had buying power, and arguably, the first time in cinema where they were taken seriously as a market (aside from the John Hughes generation of the 80s). Teenagers had seen all the films they weren’t supposed to way before their parents had even heard of them.

3 thoughts on “Scream and The Faculty – The Birth of Teen Horror

    • It’s one of those ‘rights of passage’ films for our generation! I can remember everyone at school coming in talking about The Faculty!

  1. Pingback: Frankly Filmic | Elijah Wood

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