You think North Korea is scary, then you must have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.
Put away the mask. Keep your gore and ghouls. And forget about villains who live in your dreams. As a director through much of Hollywood's Golden Age, Hitchcock (Aug. 13, 1899 - April 29, 1980) created fear through suspense and dominated the genre long before there would be a horror section at your local video store.
In fact, Cerritos film student Bo PeÃÂ±a sees a vast difference between today's modern horror genre that seems to dominate the box offices at Halloween and what Hitchcock did.
"The genre that Hitchcock worked on is quite a different animal. In horror you show stuff (blood, guts, gore) in suspense you intimate to horrific things, but you always keep the adrenalin flowing in the audience. It's the fear of what may happen that keeps the audience on the edge of its seats. 'Alien' No. 1 was a suspense film, the rest of the Aliens- crap."
Sir Hitchcock, as he was posthumously knighted, is seen by many as a precursor to the modern day horror genre since he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres.
"What Sir Alfred Hitchcock did for Cinema, horror in particular, was (done through) mastering of suspense. His nickname is (the Master of Suspense)," says Gayle Parks, film major. "His combining of mystery and suspense had humor to it. Hitchcock had a storyline that provide suspense that was scary, not a bunch of blood or gore."
Parks feels that "he is one of the greatest film directors in the history of cinema" and isn't alone as the Master of Suspense was given named greatest film director ever by "Entertainment Weekly."
He directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades, from the silent film era to the color era.
Hitchcock was among the most consistently successful and publicly recognizable directors in the world during his lifetime due in large part to the fact that he was one of the first directors to have his own publicist. He also gained notoriety through his TV show "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
Way ahead of his time, Hitchcock was an outspoken advocate of the growth of the television medium. In fact he defied industry standards when he used his TV show's crew to film his movies.
But those were just little things according to film major Lefifia Lewis, who has been studying film and film history at Cerritos for more than two years.
"Hitchcock created a new film culture," she says. "He defined suspense! He virtually invented the thriller genre in film making with his brilliant use of sex, suspense and humor to shape his films."
"He (also) encouraged the eclipse of black and white film to color," Lewis adds. "When he converted his film from silent to sound this gave him free play to expressive manipulation of sound effects and music to entice and engage his audience in the unfolding story."
"He is most famous for engaging his audiences with terror by filming shots of the actors being victims of a heinous crime and not showing the actual crime itself, but showing the terror in the victim's eyes with the sound effects to punctuate it. His brilliance has never been duplicated."
Despite the fact that Hitchcock is widely considered the greatest of his time, he never won an Oscar of merit instead only winning an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1967.
But there was more to the man than the terrorizing images he put on screen.
"He went above the call of duty in his films," says Anna Marie Gfeller, a film major who specializes in horror. "When one of his films went to theaters he had a rig made and at a certain partof the movie the stage guys would release a skeleton."
Although Hitchcock's films, like "Psycho," "The Birds," and "Dial M for Murder," weren't necessarily horror, they were as close to it as it comes.
According to Gfeller some "of his movies had special tickets. If you got too scared in the middle of the movie and wanted to leave you would get part of your money refunded. They also had ambulances standing by."
In fact Parks sees "Psycho" as the landmark horror flick.
"'Psycho' is definitive film of cinema not just horror, it was all (parts of) American cinema. The acting, directing and plot compared with today standards still stand out."
Although Sir Suspense was born in London, many critics agree with Parks And cite "Psycho" as one of the most effective horror films and even the most profound American film to date..
The movie is partly based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein The character in the movie is Norman Bates.
Although Parks feels that movies like the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and " The Silence of the Lambs" are on par with that kind of storytelling, there is a general consensus that today's horror flicks lack the true suspense that Hitchcock was so famous for.
"The shower scene," Parks says, "the women running off with the money, the crazy house of horrors- horror movies today would never come that close to what Alfred Hitchcock created with 'Psycho.' I highly doubt any film will really ever. There's a feeling of real and pure raw terror, that creates the real thing not that blood."
Lewis also feels that cinema has changed. "The time constraints are more tighter today. Big production companies want movies filmed, produced and completed in shorter time lines than the early years. The early years didn't require special effects, color, sound manipulation and big-name Hollywood stars."
PeÃÂ±a on the other hand believes that the horror industry has hit new lows.
"Horror films are only done by film makers to make a quick buck, because they know there is always a small but paying audience, nerdy kids with no life experience, ready to eat this stuff up. "The advent of computer effects and the mounting gullibility and disassociation from reality by the new youth has increased the horror market to new heights. These films are populated by kids and by adults with low levels of education."
Weather or not Sir Hitchcock is rolling over in his grave remains to be seen, but maybe we'll just have to wait and watch for a surprise ending.
For more information on Alfred Hitchcock visit Wikipedia or for more information on the Cerritos College film program visit www.cerritos.edu/shirohama.