Question: Is Jurassic Park a horror movie?

Yes or no?

It’s an interesting question and one I’ve mulled over since its release back in 1993. When I first saw the movie – around the age of 11 – I thought it was truly terrifying and pure horror, and all these years on I still wonder.

If you’ve stumbled across the post, possibly through a Google search, you’ve probably wondered about Jurassic Park‘s status as a horror film too. This suggests that a.) I’m not alone in my thinking and b.) there is enough scares in the movie to at least place this in the category of horror. But is it?

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Let’s consider a few things about the story:

  • The helpless humans cut off from the outside world
  • Terrifying creatures picking humans off one by one
  • The velociraptors (that nerve-shredding kitchen scene in particular)
  • All the deaths – especially Nedry’s
Image: ©Universal Pictures

Now add to this the use of lighting (the creepy night time scenes for the T-Rex and the dilophosaurus); the use of ear-piercing sounds to create a reaction with the audience; and the scene where Ellie Sattler discovers Ray Arnold’s severed arm. All pretty scary stuff, right?

So, JP has to be 100% horror, surely?

Image: ©Universal Pictures

In my quest to find the answer I did a little bit of research, starting with that fountain of knowledge – Wikipedia! Wikipedia classes Jurassic Park as a science-fiction adventure movie, so not a horror at all.

Let’s try something else.

IMDB offers up a similar classification, calling Jurassic Park an adventure, sci-fi, thriller. Head on over to Box Office Mojo and Jurassic Park is filed under four genres: Creature Feature, Dinosaur, Sci-Fi Adventure and Sci-Fi Based on Book.

Hmm…

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All of the above (especially the ‘dinosaur’ genre classification) are of course valid and correct, yet not one of these sites mentions horror.

Bugger.

Before I give in and accept the movie isn’t a horror, let’s try one last thing – some words from director Steven Spielberg, via the documentary, Return to Jurassic Park.

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Speaking on the documentary (which is on the Blu-ray release of the film), he said:

“The second I read (Michael Crichton’s) book, I realised that we weren’t dealing with monsters and this was not going to be a genre of horror, science-fiction, fantasy or back to the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine culture, but instead this was a really credible look at how dinosaurs might someday be brought back alongside modern mankind – and that really fascinated me and immediately set my own template for not making this a monster movie.”

So, when he directed Jurassic Park, Spielberg didn’t set out to make the film a monster movie and he didn’t want to place it within a particular genre.

Damn.

However, Jurassic Park DOES borrow elements from various genres, including science-fiction, action, adventure, fantasy… and I believe horror!

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For me, Jurassic Park contains enough elements to at least recognise it as a horror movie, even if it is not 100% horror. Plus it scared the heck out of me as a kid, so that must count for something, right?

But what do you think? Is Jurassic Park a horror movie?

I believe it has enough shades of horror to place it near the genre. But sound off in the comments section and let me know what you think.

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