Halloween only comes once a year, but the scariest movies and tales of evil can stay with you long after the dusty decorations have been stowed.

From the unthinkable evil acts of Dr Hannibal Lector, the cannibal psychiatrist, to the misguided misdemeanours of Ernest Menville, the submissive plastic surgeon, the horror genre is littered with downright dangerous doctors.

But, characters and crimes aside, why do we even watch horror movies in the first place? The side effects of such viewing in many people include a racing heart, perspiration, goosebumps and even nightmares, so why put ourselves through the mental anguish when we could be watching Scrubs?

Dr Linnie Blake (not included in our list of evil doctors!) Head of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, answers this question. "Horror cinema offers its audience rather more than squealy thrills. In focusing on what frightens us and pushing our endurance to the limit - though in a highly controlled and essentially safe manner, it opens a creaking door on the workings of the human mind and the cultural norms of our societies."

“Horror may make us feel - the racing heart, the laughter of relief, the howl of disgust. It also makes us think - about outsiders and deviants, the monster and those made monstrous by the societies in which they live. It enables us, therefore, to consider the beast within us all and the beastly proclivities of the social world."


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