Virtual Reality: A Game-Changer in Industrial Automation

Virtual reality (VR) technology is revolutionizing the way industrial automation operates. Transforming the manufacturing sector, VR enables companies to create immersive training environments and digital prototypes that simulate real-world conditions. The benefits of VR in industrial automation are numerous, making it an increasingly popular tool in the industry.

The Brief History of VR

Virtual reality (VR) technology has a history that dates back to the mid-20th century. According to a report by the History of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research group. In the 1960s, computer scientist, Ivan Sutherland created the first device, the”The Sword of Damocles”. It was a crude prototype that consisted of a head-mounted display and a tracking system. The device enabled users in experiencing computer-generated environments in a way that felt more immersive than any previous computer interface.

In the following decades, VR technology advanced rapidly, especially in the field of military simulation and training. The 1990s saw the commercial sector showing interest in VR technology. This led to the development of more advanced VR systems for use in video games, medicine, and other fields. Today, VR technology is more sophisticated and is used in various applications. This ranges from gaming and entertainment to education and training. Over the years VR technology has become more affordable and there has been wider development in VR software. This makes the technology more accessible to a much broader audience as it rapidly evolves.

VR’s Effect on the Industry

There are different significant uses of VR in industrial automation. One is the creation of virtual simulations of production lines, assembly processes, and operating procedures. This enables engineers and operators to experience the manufacturing process from start to finish in a virtual environment. This improves their understanding of the process and reduces the risk of errors. One report by ResearchAndMarkets, estimates the market to grow from $4.08 billion in 2020 to $9.51 billion by 2025.

Another way VR is advancing industrial automation is through the use of digital twin technology. A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical system. It provides real-time data and insights into the system’s performance. This allows manufacturers to monitor and optimize the performance of their machines in real time, reducing downtime and improving efficiency. MarketsandMarkets, predicts, the digital twin market to grow from $5.72 billion in 2018 to $35.8 billion by 2023.

Furthermore, VR is also being used in training and education in the industrial automation sector. Companies can create immersive training environments for employees. This allows them to experience realistic scenarios without putting themselves or others at risk. Additionally, this not only improves employee safety but also helps employees acquire new skills faster and more effectively.

Virtual reality is advancing industrial automation by providing a safer, more efficient, and more effective way to train employees. It simulates production processes and optimizes machine performance. VR’s versatility and ability to provide real-time data and insights make it a vital tool in the industrial automation industry.

Company Spotlight: FANUC

FANUC, (aka FANUC Corporation), is a Japanese multinational corporation. They specialize in the manufacturing and sale of robotics, automation, and CNC (computer numerical control) systems. Founded in 1956, the company has a long history of becoming one of the manufacturing industry’s leading players.

The Beginning

Like any good industry story, FANUC began with three engineers. Seiuemon Inaba, Ichiro Kigawa, and Takeshi Nakamura worked at the Fujitsu Fanuc factory in Japan before establishing FANUC in 1956. The company’s first product, a computerized numerical control (CNC) system, automated turning raw materials into finished products. This revolutionary system significantly increased the efficiency and precision of manufacturing processes. According to the company’s website, Fanuc produced the first CNC system in 1958.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, FANUC continued expanding its product line, developing new CNC systems and other automation technologies. Specifically, the 1970s saw FANUC focus on establishing itself as a leading manufacturer of numerical control (NC) systems. The company’s sales during this decade were modest, as it was still building its brand and reputation in the market. According to the company’s official website, FANUC’s focus on innovation and customer satisfaction helped it establish a strong foundation in the NC systems market. The company also began to establish a global presence. They opened subsidiaries in Europe and the United States. According to MarketsandMarkets FANUC had established itself as a major player in the global CNC market by the 1970s.

Ending the Century Strong

The 1980s saw FANUC entering the robotics market with the launch of its first industrial robot, the FANUC Robot M-1. The M-1’s success established FANUC as a leading player in the robotics industry. In a report from Technavio, by the early 1980s, FANUC had become one of the leading suppliers of industrial robots in Japan. The company continued expanding its robotics product line throughout the 1980s and 1990s, developing new robots for a variety of industrial applications.

The New Millenium

In the early 2000s, FANUC continued to innovate and grow, expanding into new markets and developing new technologies. The company launched a series of collaborative robots, designed to work alongside human operators. It also began developing AI-powered systems. By the early 2000s FANUC had become one of the leading suppliers of collaborative robots in the world.

Today, FANUC stands as a global leader in the manufacturing industry. They provide products and services used in a wide range of industries. This includes automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical devices. The company has a strong reputation for innovation and quality, and it continues to invest in R&D to develop new technologies that can improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes. According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, FANUC is the world’s largest supplier of industrial robots, holding a market share of over 30%.

The company has a long and storied history that has seen it become one of the leading players in the global manufacturing industry. FANUC has established itself as a company dedicated to innovation, quality, and efficiency. They continue to invest in R&D, developing new technologies that can improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes.

Industrial Automation: Job Growth

The industrial automation sector has seen significant job growth in the past decade. A report by MarketsandMarkets, estimates the global industrial automation market to reach $296 billion by 2023. From 2018 to 2023 the CAGR saw a growth of 6.6%. The adoption of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, rising labor costs, and a growing need for improved efficiency and productivity have been contributing factors.

This growth in the industrial automation market has also led to an increase in job opportunities in the sector. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) found industrial automation jobs increased by 2.6 million worldwide between 2010 and 2016. The study also predicted continued job growth in the sector reaching 2.8 million by 2019.

Manufacturing roles aren’t the only jobs increasing in the industrial automation sector. Additionally, industrial automation technologies have led to a growing need for skilled professionals in other areas. These include engineering, programming, and data analysis, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of industrial engineers, for example, projected 8% growth from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

In addition, the industrial automation sector is also a significant contributor to the growth of the economy. The IFR estimates that every robot installed in the manufacturing industry creates an average of 1.6 jobs. Furthermore, the increasing adoption of industrial automation technologies is also expected to lead to new jobs. These areas can include the installation, maintenance, and repair of automation systems.

In conclusion, the industrial automation sector has seen significant job growth in the past decade, driven by the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 and IoT technologies, rising labor costs, and a growing need for improved efficiency and productivity. Experts continue to expect this growth in the coming years, leading to an increase in job opportunities not just in manufacturing roles but also in areas such as engineering, programming, and data analysis.

Harassment in the Work Place

Workplace harassment is a pervasive problem that affects individuals across all industries. In a survey conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men reported experiencing harassment in the workplace. This number is likely even higher, as many incidents go unreported.

In an effort to address this issue, many companies have begun implementing harassment training programs. A 2020 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that approximately 90% of companies with 50 or more employees provided some form of harassment training. This is a significant increase from just a few years prior. One 2018 survey found that only about 60% of companies offered such training.

Another report done in 2019 by EMBROKER found that 19% of EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance) claims were due to workplace harassment. In 2020 the number in claims drastically spiked 115%.

Harassment training can be effective in reducing incidents of harassment in the workplace. A meta-analysis of research on the topic found that such training can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of the harassment. However, it is important for companies to ensure that their training programs are comprehensive and tailored to the specific needs of their workforce.

Progress has been made in addressing workplace harassment, but it still remains a significant issue. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 37% of women and 13% of men reported experiencing some form of harassment or discrimination at work. This highlights the need for continued efforts to address harassment in the workplace. This includes training programs and other measures to promote a safe and inclusive work environment.

The History of “The New Year”

For thousands of years, New Year celebrations have changed and evolved. Some of the oldest celebrations evidently located in ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt.

In Ancient Times

Ancient Mesopotamia celebrated the new year around the time of the vernal equinox, around March 21st. The Akkadian people, who lived in ancient Mesopotamia, celebrated the new year with a festival called Akitu. This festival included crowing a king and honoring the gods.


Ancient Egypt celebrated the new year around the time of the inundation of the Nile, which typically occurred in the month of September.

One of the most important of these was the festival of Wepet Renpet, which honored the god, Ra. During this festival, the Pharaoh would lead a procession to the temple of Ra and offer sacrifices to the god.

Other rituals and ceremonies associated with the Egyptian new year included the reading of the “Book of the Dead.” These were a collection of spells and incantations used to protect the deceased in the afterlife. There also existed an “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony. This gave the deceased the power to speak and eat in the afterlife.

The Egyptians also celebrated the new year with feasts and celebrations. They would decorate their homes and temples with flowers and other decorations. They also held large banquets in honor of the gods.


The Roman calendar, which was based on the movements of the moon, originally had only ten months. They celebrated the new year on March 1st, calling it the “New Year’s Day of the Consuls.” Later, the Romans reformulated the calendar and the new year moved to January 1st.

A variety of traditions and customs marked the Roman new year. One important tradition, the exchange of gifts, brought good luck for the coming year. The Romans would also decorate their homes with greenery and other decoration. Like the Egyptians, they also held feasts and parties to celebrate the new year.

The Roman Empire also marked the new year by performing religious rituals. The Romans believed that the gods had a special role to play in the new year. They offered sacrifices and perform other rituals to honor them.

Medieval Europe

The celebration of the New Year in Medieval Europe landed on different dates depending on the region. The British Isles celebrated the new year on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation. For the Catholic Church, December 25th was the feast of the Nativity. They celebrated by singing Christmas carols and exchanging gifts.

Overall, the celebration of the new year in medieval Europe was a time of renewal and a time to look forward to the future. It was a time to come together with family and friends and celebrate the blessings of the past year.


In Africa, the celebration of the new year varies among different tribes and cultures. Some African tribes mark the new year as a time of renewal and celebrate with rituals, ceremonies, and feasts.

For example, the Ashanti people of Ghana celebrate the new year with the festival of Homowo, which is a time to honor their ancestors and give thanks for the blessings of the past year. During this festival, the Ashanti people hold traditional dances, perform rituals, and prepare special foods.

Other African tribes celebrate the new year with different traditions and customs. The Zulu people of South Africa mark the new year with the Umkhosi woMhlanga, or Reed Dance, which is a celebration of womanhood and fertility. The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania celebrate the new year with the Eunoto, a rite of passage for young warriors.

Overall, the celebration of the new year in Africa is a time of renewal and a time to honor the past and look forward to the future. It is a time for families and communities to come together and celebrate the blessings of the past year.

The Modern Celebration

The modern celebration of New Year’s Day on January 1st traces back to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII implemented the calendar as a way to reform the Julian calendar which had become inaccurate over time. Presently, the Gregorian calendar is the uniform system for determining the dates of holidays and other important events.

Today, countries all over the world celebrate New Year with a variety of traditions and customs. Many countries mark New Year’s Eve with parties, fireworks, and the ringing of church bells at midnight. In other countries, New Year’s Day is a time for family gatherings and the exchange of gifts.

The Origins of Santa Clause

The Origins of Santa Clause

The History

Santa Claus is a popular Western cultural figure associated with the Christmas holiday season. Other aliases he goes by are “Saint Nick”, “Kris Kringle”, and “Santa”.

Portrait of Saint Nicholas

Santa Clause’s mythos resides in cultural psyches throughout the world. He is a large man in red. He can traverse the entire Earth overnight at breakneck speeds with his team of flying reindeer to deliver presents. Despite his robust size, Santa can change his body to fit down a chimney. As extraordinary as this mythos sounds like many tall tales, it actually has roots in history.

The modern image of Santa Claus is based on the 4th-century Greek bishop, Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was born in the town of Patara in modern-day Turkey. Nicholas became recognized for his charitable acts during his time as bishop. Most notably, giving gifts to the poor and helping to fund the education of young students. After Saint Nicholas’s death, he became the patron saint of children, sailors, and merchants

Over time, various cultures adopted Saint Nicholas’s legend, each with its own version. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas was known as Sinterklaas while in Germany he was called Kris Kringle. The Dutch version of the story, Sinterklaas, in the United States, became anglicized to Santa Claus.

Modern Depiction

Actor, Edmund Gwenn’s performance as Santa Clause (Miracle on 34th Street, 1947) is probably one of the most iconic depictions of the character in modern cinema.

The modern depiction of Santa Clause is of a plump, jolly man in a red suit with a white beard and black boots can be traced back to the 19th century. In 1823, Clement Clarke Moore published, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” also known as “The Night Before Christmas”. In his poem, Clarke introduced many of the elements that we now associate with Santa Claus today. This included the red suit, white beard, and the use of a sleigh and reindeer to deliver gifts. Later, in 1870, cartoonist, Thomas Nast’s illustration of the character further popularized this modern image.

Big Red’s depiction hasn’t only been in stories and illustrations, but in tv shows and movies as well. Directors have taken many liberties with retelling and portraying this mythical figure throughout the years. While many films do portray his traditional characteristics of a jolly and cheerful individual spreading holiday cheer, Santa has also been portrayed as a superhero saving the world while brandishing a sword, or even an antihero possessing many deadly skills and killing bad guys in different ways.

The Conclusion

Conclusively, the origins of Santa Clause personify our romanticizing of what a simple act of kindness can become. Saint Nicholas lived as a humble man dedicated to simple charity. However, his story has continuously echoed throughout time as larger than life.

The Best U.S. States for Storm Chasers

Title image of the best U.S. States for Storm Chasers.

If “fear” is not in your vocabulary and “danger” is your middle name, storm chasing may be right up your alley. For individuals who are fearless enough to add “Storm Chaser” to their resume, MRO Electric determined the best states to keep a pulse on hurricanes, tornadoes, and tropical storms in the country. 

In this study, we ranked the top 50 states across the country to chase cyclones based on several factors, including the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes within the past 5 years, average nightly price of temporary accommodations, average travel expenses, and more. Read on to find out if you’re in a hotspot for hurricanes or if you’ll have to venture a little further out to enter the eye of the storm.

Taking the Nation by Storm: The 10 Most Turbulent States

Map depicting the top 10 U.S. states for storm chasing.

Storm chasers looking for a chance to be in the middle of the action should plan a trip to the southern and southeastern regions of the U.S. Our friends down south made up 8 of the top 10 states, making it the place to be for storm chasers all over the nation.

Florida is undoubtedly the place to be for any aspiring storm chaser. The Sunshine State comes in first on our list with a storm chaser score of 80.23. Florida reports more days of tropical storms than any other state in the country and frequently faces other natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes. Average airfare to Florida is also cheaper than any other U.S. state, making it accessible to storm chasers who plan on trekking from parts unknown to catch a glimpse of the carnage.

If you feel tempted to chase after terrible tornadoes, your best bet might be to travel to Illinois or Kansas. These two states are the only states in our top 10 not located in the southern or southeast part of the country. Interestingly, they are also the only states in our shortlist to have reported impacts by only one of the storm types. Their impact from tornadoes being so exceptionally high was enough to put the pair in the top 10.

The Danger Zone: States That Get Hit the Most

Map depicting the U.S. states that get hit the most by storms.

Texas had the highest number of storms at nearly 200 impacts in the past five years alone. When it comes to the sheer number of natural disasters, no one else comes close to touching the Lonestar State. In five years, Texans have had to grapple with 158 days of tornadoes, 7 days of hurricanes, and 12 days of tropical storms. If you’re a veteran storm chaser looking for a challenge, remember everything’s bigger in Texas.

Even though Illinois doesn’t even receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal for states most frequently hit by storms, it definitely deserves an honorable mention. With only reporting impacts from one of the three storm types, it is the 4th state overall to get banged up regularly by storms. In just five years, it has reported nearly 20 tornadoes on average a year.

Though Texas was the state to experience storms the most frequently beyond any doubt, Georgia takes a surprising second for most areas hit by storms. Geographically, Georgia shares borders with four states on our top 10 states with the most areas hit by storms list. Residents in Georgia have to deal with disasters coming from every direction since Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina are more than happy to share some of the action with them.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re no stranger to danger and love the thrill of hunting down disaster, storm chasing might be the perfect hobby for you. Storm chasers who are up for a challenge and a little traveling should head down south if they really want to test their mettle against some of the country’s most terrifying storms and natural disasters. Just remember to keep safety and the cost of accommodation in mind.

Storms pop up in various regions and cause disruptions to our natural way of living. Storm chasers are crucial in tracking the patterns and reporting the conditions of these storms. More often than not, one common occurrence with these harsh weather conditions is power outages across hundreds of neighborhoods. That’s why MRO Electric is committed to ensuring people across the country have access to trustworthy electric and power systems they can depend on during an emergency.

Full Data

That wraps up our state ranking for The Best States for Storm Chasers. Interested in diving deeper into the numbers for all of the states, or wanting to see how your state stacks up if it’s not listed within the above map? 

We’ve compiled our full data study for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia analyzed into the interactive data table below. Search for the state you call home or click on the heading of each column to sort by that category!


To find out the best states for storm chasers, we began with a list of all 50 of the U.S. states and the District of Columbia. We collected data on 10 factors that pertain to or impact storm chasers. We assigned states with a score of 0-5 for each factor, with a score of 5 representing the most favorable conditions. We determined each state’s total score from the total of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their impact on storm chasers. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each state a final score from 0-100. Higher scores indicated states that are better for storm chasers. Details on our ranking factors can be found below.

Ranking FactorWeightSource
Number of Days with Hurricanes Reported (in last 5 yrs)1.75NCEI
Number of Days with Tornadoes Reported (in last 5 yrs)2.75NCEI
Number of Days with Tropical Storms Reported (in last 5 yrs)2.75NCEI
Number of County/Zone Areas Affected by Hurricanes1.75NCEI
Number of County/Zone Areas Affected by Tornadoes2.75NCEI
Number of County/Zone Areas Affected by Tropical Storms2.75NCEI
Average Price of Airbnb/Hotels1.50Airbnb
Average Gas Costs by State1.50AAA
Average Airfare Into a State1.00BTS
Average Car Rental Fees1.50Kayak

Covid’s Effect on Automation

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the industrial automation industry, with both positive and negative effects.

The Positive

On the positive side, the demand for automation has increased as companies look for ways to reduce the number of workers on the factory floor and minimize the risk of virus transmission. Automation can help to maintain social distancing guidelines and reduce the need for close contact between workers. In addition, many companies have turned to automation to increase the efficiency and speed of their operations in the face of supply chain disruptions and other challenges caused by the pandemic. According to a report by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), “the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred increased interest in automation as a means to reduce the risk of infection, improve efficiency, and maintain or increase production levels in the face of supply chain disruptions and other challenges.”

The Negative

On the negative side, the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for automation equipment and components, leading to delays and shortages. Many manufacturers and suppliers have had to deal with disruptions to their operations due to lockdowns and other measures taken to control the spread of the virus. This has made it more difficult for companies to obtain the equipment and components they need to automate their operations. According to the A3 report, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for automation equipment and components, leading to delays and shortages.”

The pandemic has also had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industrial automation industry. Many businesses have had to deal with reduced demand and lower revenues due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. This has led to a decrease in investment in automation and a slowdown in the growth of the industry. According to a report by the International Association of Automation (IAA), “the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industrial automation industry, leading to a decrease in investment in automation and a slowdown in the growth of the industry.”


Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a mixed impact on the industrial automation industry. While the demand for automation has increased in some sectors, the disruptions caused by the pandemic have led to delays and shortages in the supply chain and have had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industry.

A Decade of Horror: The 1980s

Death to Disco

In our last article, we explored the 1970s and highlighted how films of that era pushed the envelope of horror.  By the end of the 70s, as the Vietnam War came to an end, another war sprung up at home.  This war found its way into the living rooms of Americans across the country. By the 1980s it would significantly affect the film industry as a whole.  As a result, the horror industry would also feel the effects of this as well.

The 1980s was a unique time marked by being a cultural starting point for a lot of things that remain culturally relevant today.  The 80s introduced us to Hip-Hop, portable music devices, and mobile phones.  This decade birthed some of the most iconic movies that remain in our collective psyche today.  This especially is true when regarding horror.  Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface are a few examples of timeless horror characters that emerged from this period.

The Betamax

Released by Sony in 1975, the Betamax was the first commercially available cassette tape. It allowed families to be able to record their favorite programs off their televisions for a later time. By plugging their television into a special device known as a VCR, a family could insert the cassette into the VCR’s slot and then hit record on whatever program they wanted.  Not only that but the format of Beta as well as the VCR allowed for features like “fast forwarding” if there were parts that someone wanted to skip. As well as “rewind” in the event, a scene needed rewatching.  The Betamax system exploded all over the market and was a big hit among consumers.  However, this would be a very short-lived success.

Enter the 80’s

A comparison of the Betamax to the VHS.

The Format Wars

Two years after the release of Betamax, JVC released its own cassette player with its own format known as VHS and the video format wars began!  Despite the Betamax’s higher quality resolution (with some versions of it on par with DVD quality).  Sony completely failed to read what consumers wanted.  While the Betamax was indeed the superior format, it was its $2200 price tag (compared to the VHS’s $1000) that really did it in. Not only that, but a Betamax cassette was able to hold up to one hour of recording. This contrasted with the VHS which could hold up to 4 hours.  The average consumer valued getting more for less. Additionally, outside of professional industries, nobody really cared about resolution. By 1986, the format wars had officially ended with VHS being victorious.

Video Kills the Industry

The advent of home video technology and the format wars exploded an entire industry. By the 80s the “direct to video” market had completely taken off.  The VCR gave smaller studios access to millions of homes across the country. They no longer had to market their ideas to big-wig Hollywood execs in order to catch their break. .  Traditionally, movie studios really considered the sensibilities of the audience.  While there were horror films that played on the big screen, getting an entire movie to the silver screen was quite an undertaking. It was an expensive process that forced executives to really think about the sensitivities of a broader audience.  During the 1970s a lot of the more extreme films were played in private theaters often referred to as “grindhouses”.  However, with the VCR, studios could simply film what they want, produce a few thousand copies, and release them. Under this business model, horror absolutely thrived. 

The Rise of Horror Film Studios

The lessening of constraints brought on by the need for a wide enough audience created the opportunity for niche studios to start up.  While larger companies like Dimension and Warner Bros were leaning into horror movies. Studios like Full Moon and Troma dedicated themselves to producing movies designed to shock and horrify the audience.  These films leaned heavily into blending terrifying visuals with unnerving sound effects, and absurd plots.

Notable Films of the Era

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Italian director, Rugero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust has gone down in history as one of the most controversial films in the horror genre.  No horror list would be complete without it.  In the movie, an anthropologist goes into the rainforest to rescue a disappeared film crew.  However, what he recovers is the final footage they filmed and its contents are absolutely gruesome.
Cannibal Holocaust is probably one of the earliest examples of the “found footage” format of filmography that would go on to inspire other horror films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. This style was so new and unknown at the time that after the film was released, Deodato was arrested and charged with murder.  It wasn’t until after he was able to prove that the entire cast was indeed alive that they were dropped.

The biggest and most problematic controversy of the film was the lengths that the director went through to push the boundaries of horror.  While no cast member was harmed during filming. It portrayed multiple scenes of animal cruelty that were later discovered to be absolutely real.  This garnered not only major criticism from animal rights groups but also the disdain of governments as well.  This unethical choice ultimately caused the film to be banned from 50 countries including the United States. 

Shock value aside, Cannibal Holocaust, has been lauded as a critique of colonialism and the western world encroaching on indigenous lands.  It flipped the script on western ideas of savagery, raising questions about the perception of western societies regarding our own civility.

Videodrome (1983)

David Cronenberg’s, Videodrome, is considered a masterpiece in not just horror but cinemas as well. The film’s message of warning against mass media and being too obsessed with media technology is one that is still relevant today.  It uses extreme portrayals of violence and horrific imagery to convey the question: “What is acceptable in society in regard to our entertainment and human suffering?”  

The Satanic Panic

During the 1980s, a moral panic that would become known as the Satanic Panic, spread across the US causing senseless alarm and confusion.  Mass misconception that Satanic cults performed ritual sacrifices on children, perforated the American psyche through media outlets of all kinds.  The news outlets were covering hysterical allegations of child abuse and sacrifices throughout the nation. The book, Michelle Remembers, hits shelves exacerbating the already growing wildfire of hysteria gripping the country.  Against the backdrop of all this, horror films continued to purvey supernatural and satanic themes that would continue to shock and scare audiences nationwide.  While not directly contributing to the spread of misinformation, this genre did capitalize off this fear and in the same step sewed more lingering fears throughout society.

Poltergeist (1982)

The supernatural horror, Poltergeist, features an evil spirit or entity latching onto a child to haunt an entire family.  Along with the idea of otherworldly beings coming to abduct children, Poltergeist also played into another trope that was often got included in many horror movies of the era.  The trope of the “mystic Native American” or “cursed Native American” was often used by scriptwriters to explain an evil supernatural force.  This would be problematic by today’s standards, but for the time it was a plot device that played into the fears of Christians in the US.  The idea is that there’s another culture that’s the catalyst for supernatural happenings.

Pumpkinhead (1988)

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While at its surface, Pumpkinhead, is your run-of-the-mill monster movie. It not only plays into the fear of “our children are in danger” and of the supernatural that was circulating in the US. It also reconnects with another fear that horror movies often reflect. This fear comes from the unfamiliarity with rural America. Far off on the fringes of society, these locations often are depicted with strong ties to spiritualism and folklore. The titular character is a creature summoned by magic from deep within Appalachia, which is a location that does have a rich history of local mythology. Like this film which portrays the use of revenge, rural magic in films often is depicted to be a malevolent force that the protagonists must overcome.

A Decade of Horror: The 1970’s

Horror Through the Lense of the 1970s

Over the years Halloween has evolved into more than just a single night where costumes, candy, and mischief all converge. October has become synonymous with the holiday. While it is one night a year, we’ve come to treat it with the same build-up as Christmas. That is; an entire month of deciding decorations, costumes, and get-togethers.  For the family, it means trick-or-treating for the kids and figuring out what designs to carve into pumpkins. Our repressed fascination with the spooky, the creepy, the macabre all comes out in one month of morbid indulgence.

So naturally the same goes for our choice of movies.  Horror is not a genre specifically for the ghoulish holiday. People get in the mood for the genre the same way fall puts them in the mood for pumpkin spice.  Of course, there are definitive “Halloween” movies that appeal to a wide audience.  The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and Frankenweenie are syonymous with Halloween. These also are films that the family can enjoy. As well as those that are light in the horror department.

For those who aren’t as squeamish and are seeking to dive deeper into the genre. Film franchises like Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, and the namesake, Halloween are movies that tend to attract an older and bolder crowd. 

These are all great movies during Halloween, but there are great hidden gems that viewers will often overlook. In commemorating the season, I will be highlighting a few amazing but often overlooked gems throughout the decades.  This series will explore a few cultural shifts within each decade through horror films.

The 1970s — Satanic Panic at the Disco!

The 70s emphasized pushing the envelope on what could be shown to an audience. It introduced the exploitation genre. This often portrayed depictions of gratuitous violence and sex.  Naturally, the overlap of horror would not be farfetched.  Here are a few notable movies from the 70s that aren’t as well-known but still worth watching.

The Omen (1976)

Films like The Exorcist would take the world by storm sewing the seeds for the future, ‘Satanic Panic’. However,  while The Exorcist, played into the fears of the human experience with demonic forces on an individual level, The Omen, explores the larger anxiety of “The End Times”.  What if (similar to Jesus) Satan was born into the flesh and lived as a child among us?  An anti-Christ destined to bring about the end of times.

House (1977)

While the horror genre in the US continued to push the boundaries of what a western audience could stomach watching. Back east in Japan, was also experimenting and pushing the envelope of what horror could become.  Nobahiku Obayashi’s, House, utilized diverse special effects that would still be considered terrifying and disturbing even by today’s standards.  Not only that, but House has inspired many modern Japanese horrors and well into Western horrors as well.

The Horror Genre Takes on Feminism

One thing that the horror genre tends to do is act as a reflection on larger societal fears and anxieties. The 1970s was a very crucial decade for the feminist movement. It emphasized the of end domestic violence against women, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the womens’ role at home. One of the biggest tropes in horror is of the terrified and helpless woman running and screaming for her life. 

While there were plenty of films during this era that continued to portray women as scared and fragile.  There was beginning to be a social pushback against strong women protagonists. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film, Alien, with the main protagonist, Eleanor Ripley, is an example of this.  Played by Sigourney Weaver, Ripley has to survive insurmountable horrors while in space.  Alien’s success prompted more sequels, with the character Ripley being more fleshed out and explored each time.

Ripley (Weaver) encountering a xenomorph

The Stepford Wives (1972)

The feminist movement of the 1970s pushed the boundaries of a woman’s place in society. Traditionally seen as domesticated and reliant on men, women across the country began to push back against these attitudes and demand more autonomy.  The Stepford Wives,  is a film that portrayed the frustrations and fears of women in modern society.  The protagonist is an independent woman who moves into a place where women take on a submissive role to their husbands.  The film makes a point to highlight the struggles that women go through.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Unlike Stepford Wives, which addresses the issues women face on a subversive level. I Spit on Your Grave,  is unabashedly direct and violent and doesn’t shy away from the physical violence against women. The movie is visceral in showing the protagonists in uncomfortable situations that many women can relate to.

The Baby (1973)

Unlike Stepford Wives and I Spit on you Grave, The Baby features not only a female protagonist, but also casting women as the antagonists. What really stands out about this film (besides its really bizarre premise), is how the men in the movie are more just passive characters. The only male protagonist is literally infantilized and is more there as part of the plot. While it has some darkly funny moments. Psychologically, The Baby, does not shy away from being unsettling leaving the viewer horrifically curious as the movie progresses.

Concluding the 70s

The 70s saw a lot of cultural change and in the social psyche change often invokes fear and uncertainty. It’s this fear and uncertainty that inspired some really great horror films from that era. Not only that but it was the starting point for some of the most iconic horror directors. George Romero, John Carpenter, Wes Craven had all their careers take off around that time.