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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 monster boots from Frankenstein, 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. Hundreds of frightened faces line a winding stairwell that ushers unsuspecting guests into EMP's hair-raising exhibition Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film. Make a mug shot of your own in the gallery's scream booth, an interactive installation that allows visitors to cinematically capture the part of victim or victimizer at will.

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

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  3. 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.

  4. Director Stanley Kubrick originally requested that Jack Nicholson chop down a fake door in one of The Shining's climactic scenes, but when Nicholson, who had previously worked as a fire marshall, tore it down too quickly a real door took its place. Cast as a possessed writer stuck in a haunted hotel, Nicholson hacks through the door to hiss an improvised line—now famous—from Ed McMahon's introduction to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: "Heeeere's Johnny!"

    Pictured: Axe from The Shining, 1980. From the Paul G. Allen Family Collection

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  5. Vampires breathing down your neck? The Nighthawk stake was used by Buffy, Xander, and Faith in the critically acclaimed Buffy the Vampire Slayer to fight off forces of darkness. The television show, based on the adventures of young slayer Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, won three Emmy awards and brought the then little-known WB television network into the light.

    Nighthawk stake, 1998. Courtesy of Wesley Cannon.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

Open all summer!

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.


Did you scream in our Scream Booth? Find your photos.

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