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April 3, 1972


JAMA. 1972;220(1):90-91. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010076013

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Movies fall into many different categories: historical extravaganzas, mysteries, adaptations of literary classics, slapstick comedy, drawing room (or bedroom) farces, Westerns, the pornies, science fiction, horror stories, gangster films, and many others. For a great many movie goers the horror stories make a particularly strong appeal.

There is a vast chasm between the science fiction and the horror films. Even though some of the props may be comparable, with the same kind of complicated apparatus, the same kind of scientist, whether austere or jovial, mad or sane, the physiological effects on the spectator are different. Science fiction movies produce impulses which tend to ripple across the cerebral cortex, skipping lightly from one Brodmann area to another, occasionally burrowing down as deep as the second or third cell layer, and even sending an occasional hit-and-run impulse into the thalamus. But the horror movies set up reverberations through the gut, tie knots