What is the role of the helpful animal in folk tales?
How does this role translate to horror cinema?
Using Joseph Campbell’s monomyth concept and the theories of Jung and Freud as a guide, my thesis explores the role of the “helpful animal” archetype in folktales and horror cinema. In folktales, animals generally represent the subconscious aspects of humanity—the primitive places in nature and the mind where intuition and instinct dwell. In narratives where an animal serves as a guide or guardian, going against their advice or warnings can prove to be a detriment. In horror cinema, minorities and children often serve as the voice of the helpful animal archetype, and when the warnings of these characters go unheeded—regarded as nothing more than superstition or the trivial imaginings of youth—the results are almost always fatal.
Introduction: Folktales and Culture
The “Helpful Animal” in Folktales
Explanation of the helpful animal archetype
Analysis of the contradictory nature of folktales
The helpful animal as the exception to the rule of contradiction
The helpful animal as Threshold Guardian
The function of the helpful animal within the narrative
The helpful animal as representation of instinct
The cost of disregarding instinct
“The Water of Life”
“The Pear Drum”
The “Helpful Animal” in Horror Movies
As Hero in Night of the Living Dead and I Am Legend
As Threshold Guardian in Skeleton Key and Candyman
As transgressors of the ethnocentric ideal in Freaks
Continuation of the ethnocentric ideal and the uncanny nature of children in The Shining and Child’s Play
As Threshold Guardians in The Devils’ Backbone and Paranormal Activity 3 1. The child as threshold warning instead of threshold guardian in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Ju-on
As Shadow in Who Can Kill a Child? and Ringu