Ever since the 1970s, camp grounds have been a very popular horror setting. As a writer who likes to focus on horror movies and horror symbolism, I am sometimes asked why camp grounds are so popular in horror movies. There are many levels to the horror symbolism involved.
Purity and Innocence
One aspect that can not be denied when talking about camp grounds is the fact that they are a location which represents the innocence and purity of childhood. While many horror movies focus on the actions of the camp councilors that have noting to do with innocence or purity, the fact remains that most of these kinds of campgrounds are for young children. These camp grounds are locations where kids can get together and have fun in the sun for weeks at a time.
The elimination and de-sanctification of purity and innocence have been mainstays for a very long time, not only in horror literature and horror movies, but in real life as well. Consider the fact of how so many of the common pictures from the Nazi concentration camps include children. These camps were symbolized by these pictures because of the elimination of purity and innocence. Hollywood directors have done a lot to bring at least some of this real life horror onto the screen.
Children automatically figure that camp grounds are going to be a safe place in which adults will do anything to keep them from harm. Any location where one might have a strong sense of security is a prime location for a horror movie. Camp grounds are no exception.
Unlike a dark gothic castle, or an abandoned government facility, camp grounds are a location that a large number of people can directly relate to. Horror movie directors in Hollywood have realized for years that if there are more people that can relate to your chosen location, the more people will be drawn into the movie and share the fears with the character involved.
Many of us grew up telling stories around the campfire about ghosts, creatures, or killers that might be hiding out in the woods. There are very few that have forgotten about the chills that we got out of those old camp ground stories. Since many Hollywood directors grew up the same way that we did, they realize the fears that could be installed in an audience with the manifestation of these old campfire stores in a horror movie.
The next time that you see the revelation of camp ground in a horror movie, do not just brush the scenes off as a horror movie cliché. There are many reasons why directors keep returning, and have us keep returning, to camp grounds in horror movies.