A subgenre of gothic fiction in which supernatural events, occult forces, macabre effects, and obsessive introspection are combined with chilling suspense to produce visceral sensations of fear and revulsion in the reader. Ghosts, hallucinations, monsters, mummies, nightmares, witches, werewolves, vampires, demons, and black magic are common themes. Rooted in the gothic novel of the 18th and 19th centuries, early literary examples include Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein (1818), Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839), and Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. In motion pictures, the earliest examples are The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) directed by Robert Wiene and Nosferatu (1922) by F.W. Murnau, classics of German expressionism. More recent examples include Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Rod Serling's television series The Twilight Zone. The contemporary master of horror fiction is Stephen King. Extreme graphic horror has been dubbed splatterpunk. Synonymous with weird fantasy. Compare with thriller. See also: Horror Writers Association and slasher.
Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science (ODLIS)