Introduction to the UI and Iowa City image crisis

The Iowa City pedestrian mall, a staple of the local social scene for students and residents. It is host to numerous shops, restaurants and bars. ~ Photo by Robbie Lehman.

Image is everything

By Robbie Lehman

The identity of a city is often defined by the character of its citizens. People make a town what it is; without people, a town would be nothing but a geographic location.

People come together to build cities and towns all over the world. They construct them physically, yes, but also culturally, socially, and symbolically as well.

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, naturally branding it with the reputation as a “college town.” But that reputation has ingrained itself into the local culture more than any natives could have imagined.

Recently, the people that have made Iowa City what it is have had to deal with drama in which they caused. Controversy in three relating areas have caused somewhat of a community crisis. New bar entry laws, problems during football tailgating and a top ten party school ranking are behind the uproar. This multimedia package aims to set the scene of these recent events, as well as give perspective on the future relationship between Iowa City and the University of Iowa.

Background and timeline of events

Party time in Iowa City

Tailgating gone wild

Photo/audio slideshow – Hawkeye football tailgating

Video interview with John Rigby, UISG President

For further information on this subject, check out the package on the UI’s recent Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan put together by the Daily Iowan, the independent student newspaper for the University of Iowa. Find it here.


Breast Cancer – 3 Stories, 3 Reminders

Breast cancer is important, it is the second most common cancer in women, next to skin cancer (Web MD). Breast cancer isn’t something that women 40 and up have to worry about, it’s everyone. It is becoming more and more common in younger women.

In my first story, I discuss how women can become more aware of breast cancer, especially younger women. Read it here.

In the second story, I did a profile on Janice Freeman, a student who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 22. She does not go to University of Iowa but I feel many students can learn a lot from her story since we are so close in age. Read it here.

The final story is about some basic facts of breast cancer, and what resources Iowa has to offer for students here. Read it here.

For other related interesting stories read:

Comments are greatly appreciated! Let me know what you think, and what can I do better next time.

(Having some technical difficulties with video…hopefully those will be up later)

Breast Cancer here, in Iowa City

Breast Cancer – How you can become aware here at University of Iowa.

Chelsea Stanley creating awareness on campus

Your body is built to protect you and fix yourself. It’s your personal bouncer and it’s like your mother in the sense it takes care of you. But what happens when a foreign mutation comes in the body?

How cancer happens

Keri Mercer, a Cancer Information Specialist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, explains that your body has a kill switch. When cells divide, sometimes the mutations divides and that shut off the kill switch.

“The cell has orders to die if it can’t fix itself,” Kerr Mercer explains, “With cancer, if the mutation happens and the kill switch is off, it will grow and divide. And that is how a tumor begins. [It is] more common when we are older because our cells have been dividing more often.”

This is why cancer is more rare in younger women, because younger women’s’ cells haven’t been dividing as long. When breast cancer does happen to women under 30 or so, it’s usually because of genetics.

“Genetic links are not as common as we think. The reality sees that only 5-10% of cancers are genetically linked,” Mercer said. “Usually where that comes from is often time we don’t understand that there are so many types of cancer.”

Testing and  awareness

Breast cancer as well has different types, even if you take two women who both have breast cancer and are in the same stage; they may have a different type of cancer than each other.

Here in Iowa City, the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics reaches out to the community to try to help them understand cancer and how to catch symptoms. Sometimes some organizations contact them and ask them to come and speak about a certain cancer.

Because there are so many different types of cancer, the UIHC tries to focus on the cancer involved in the cancer awareness month. For example, breast cancer is the main focus for the month of October, as it is everywhere else.

“There has been a lot of awareness done with primary care doctors,” Mercer said. “Most of the are educated to make sure their patients are getting screened.”

Recently, the protocol for women getting mammograms has changed. It used to be women were advised to get them once they turned 40 years old, now it is 50 years old.

“Some [doctors] saw some data that there are false positives. To reduce risk they changed the age range to 50 and up,” Mercer said. “There are still arguments against it. We typically tell patients to start talking to docs to see when to start mammograms.”

Mercer said they are waiting to do testing later because breast tissue is different. When younger the tissue is denser, which makes it harder to see cancer cells.

Genetic Testing

For younger women there is no screening. Mercer says that if you are in a high risk family and have women in the family who diagnosed younger than 40 – they look at your history and recommend the patient who had/has the cancer, get testing done to see if he/she has a mutation (because of insurance). Doctors tend to tell the patients to have the person with the cancer to be tested for the gene and if its positive then see if the person with the mutation has it and if has it there are some things to think about doing from there.

Chelsea Stanley, a junior here at UI, has a long history of breast cancer being common in her family.

“No, I’m not going to get tested for the gene because it’s expensive,” Stanley said. “And having the gene doesn’t mean you’re going to get breast cancer…and not having the gene doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it either. However, getting mammograms, yes, that I’ll do. And feel my boobies of course.”

Mercer says that the awareness not only comes from families, and family history or knowing someone with breast cancer, but it also comes from primary care doctors. Ask you primary care doctors about symptoms, have them check something if you think it is suspicious and they can also refer you to more information or a doctor who may be a specialist in cancer.

What you can do

Here at University of Iowa, student may make an appointment with Student Health Services to speak with a doctor or to get something checked out. They also may have some extra information. University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics also have a lot of resources available to students.

In Johnson County, there have been 342 cases of breast cancer from 2003-2007 according to the Iowa Cancer Registry, 42 of which have died from it.

A Breast Exam Saved Janice.

Profile Story: Janice Freeman

Janice Freeman

Janice Freeman was at the ripe age of 22, a senior in college and was determined to continue onto graduate school — just like many of us students here at University of Iowa.

With graduation in sight, just three weeks away, Janice was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I found my own lump while doing a self-breast exam, [which is] so important to do,” Janice said. “I went to my gynecologist a couple months after I had found it.”

Janice found the lump in December and after her gynecologist check it in March 2008, he sent Janice to a breast specialist to have it checked out.

On April 18, 2008, Janice found out it was breast cancer.

“’Lo and behold, such is the life,” said Janice.

After Graduation & Diagnosis

While Janice still planned on obtaining her graduate degree, she had to postpone it so she could start treatments.

“Fortunately, the school let me defer the start of my grad degree for a semester,” said Janice. “I worked full time that summer, while undergoing treatment. It was my first salary paying job.”

While her life was “pretty much routine,” she went to work, did chemotherapy once a week and in the fall when she was supposed to start school she had surgery: mastectomy and reconstruction.

“I did my best to be a normal college graduate,” said Janice. “But it was definitely difficult to be excited to go out and be with friends when my body was completely depleted of energy.

From start to finish

From the time Janice was diagnosed to her final surgery, 16 months had passed.

“I underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy on a three week cycle. The entire therapy took 4.5 months,” said Janice. “I was allowed to ‘heal’ for a month and then had my surgery and reconstruction, where I took 5 weeks to recover from.”

Janice had three surgeries, in which her first surgery took 8.5 hours long.

Janice had found her lump in her breast while doing a self-breast exam, which on average, many women do not do.

Life goes on

Janice says her life is relatively normal now. She had a wonderful boyfriend who stayed by her side and helped her through everything.

“A year after my diagnosis, my wonderful boyfriend, who was with me through the whole process, proposed to me,” said Janice.

On top of planning her wedding, Janice also works full time, goes to school where she plans to graduate in December from Georgia Tech with a civil engineering degree, and she works with other young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I also spend time doing fundraisers which help support both awareness about the disease and to raise funds for research and support to other women.”

Is she worried the cancer could return? “Absolutely.”

About every week, once a wee Janice thinks about the haunting idea that it could return.

“Being involved with different programs doesn’t always help that, but it does help others, and in some ways, it eventually helps me,” said Janice. “There is always going to be a worry and concern that this horrible disease will rear its ugly head once again in my life. The best way that I can prevent that is to listen to my doctors, listen to myself, and to maintain the positive attitude that is absolutely needed to get through the diagnosis.”

Advice for the Future

The biggest advice that young women need to hear is that self-breast exams could save your life. There is no way out there right now for women under the age of 40 to monitor their breast health according to Janice.

Janice says that by doing regular self-breast exams and by being honest with yourself, you can drastically reduce the effects that cancer can have on your body.

“Its no perfect method, but it is always better to stop things before they are allowed to get any worse,” said Janice. “The only other advice that I would give to young women is to do what makes you happy. Life is too short and too precious to stress over a bad grade. Enjoy life, go where you want to go, do what you want to do.”

Understanding the Link: Connecting Business, Community, and Sustainability

Adam Werbach, author of Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto said that being a sustainable business means thriving in perpetuity, and that a successful business stands on four pillars of sustainability: social, economic, environmental, and cultural. Perhaps the most important of these four pillars is the one that targets our decisions as a society. The cultural pillar is defined as actions through which communities manifest their identity and cultivate traditions from generation to generation.

Whether the choice to maintain a sustainable lifestyle is done on an individual or professional basis, the community that interacts with these lifestyles is a viable link, not only for how people can benefit from these decisions but for what people can do as agents for change.

Having little to no negative impact on the environment or society takes this type of community effort. On a local level, retailers and producers that embrace this strategy are essential.

The following is series of articles that introduce microbreweries that have chosen to embrace local production, various Iowa restaurants and bars that are working towards developing a sustainable business, and ideas of where one can learn to start.

Iowa Microbreweries Find Niche in Local Production

Photo by: Kara Bennett

Success starts with the support from area community

Producing locally made beer and wine is gaining popularity across the country, and companies in the beer brewing business are beginning to implement more sustainable methods of production. According to the Iowa Brewers Guild, the state of Iowa is home to over twenty different microbreweries, many of which have only started production in the past ten years.

These new companies are flourishing not only for their innovation in the production process, but because of community passion for local processing and quality made beer. Peace Tree Brewing Company of Knoxville, Old Man River Brewing Company of McGregor, and Millstream Brewing Company of the Amana Colonies, are three of the largest microbreweries in Iowa, and each of them are bringing better products to their local communities while working to minimize environmental impact.

One of the main goals of the Iowa Brewers Guild, an organization that represents a collection of Iowa’s brewers, is to advocate for the promotion of a local brewing community. Connecting with the community increases the likelihood of a microbrewer’s longevity. It is an important factor in any sustainable production, and its something that Millstream Brewing Company has known for years.

“Our brewery is essentially the hub to the Amana Colonies,” said Teresa Albert, co-owner and marketing manager of the Millstream Brewing Company. “We’re involved in ninety percent of the events in the Amana Colonies. I want to make sure that we are doing our part, so we take it upon ourselves to organize and plan for things that will help Amana grow and bring tourism into the area.”

Millstream organizes a wide range of events throughout the year, including beer festivals to raise money for charities and a bike riding beer tour where donations go to the local bike trail.

The company also is conscious of recycling and the amount of waste they produce. “At Millstream, everything is recycled. The only waste that is generated from the brewing process is spent grain. We then donate this to a local farmer for his livestock feed,” said Albert. “Part of our cost savings comes from this commitment to recycling and reducing waste.”

But it is not just the Amana Colonies that Millstream Brewing Company supports; it is the entire state of Iowa. “We kind of sat back and thought, why are we trying to go out of state? We’ve dedicated ourselves to letting Iowa know who we are. By staying in Iowa, customers know they are getting a fresher, more local product,” said Albert.

Outreach and Authenticity

Although Millstream Brewing is the oldest brewery in Iowa, they share the same commitments with those that are newer to the business. Down south, Peace Tree Brewing Company also considers investing in the community as an important part of local, sustainable production. Part of their success as a new microbrewery is due to the positive community response. “We are helping to bring tourism to Knoxville,” said Megan McKay Ziller, co-owner of Peace Tree.

In the craft-brewing world, any outreach benefits the business. For Earth Day, owners of the brewing company handed out sycamore saplings, a tree native to Iowa. When in season, the brewmasters use ingredients from Knoxville farmers.

“We incorporate Iowa ingredients into our beer whenever we can,” said Ziller. Their “Cornucopia” beer, a farmhouse style ale, is brewed with Iowa sweet corn from Dan-D Farms, a local farm in Knoxville. “The response to this beer has been overwhelming, people love knowing that it is produced in Iowa with Iowa ingredients.”

Fermenting tanks for yeast, one of only four ingredients in Old Man River Brewing Company's beer. Photo by: Kara Bennett

Not every microbrewery is able to use local ingredients, but there are other ways to locally “sell” craft beers to a community. Farther north in Iowa, Old Man River Brewing Company is favored by the town of McGregor because of their outlook: simplicity. Their motto to ‘slow down and appreciate the simple things’ developed from their simplistic style of production and their appeal to the down-to-earth Iowan lifestyle.

“We stick to German Purity Laws, where beer has only four main ingredients: water, hops, malted barley, and yeast,” said Jacob Simmons, the head brewmaster at Old Man River Brewing. The Purity Laws result in a beer free of preservatives and additives.

But they are also doing something else along the lines of sustainable production: energy conservation and reuse.

The brewery is in the planning process for their next plant, and sustainability is on their minds as they begin designing. “We plan to use state of the art equipment to reduce energy outputs. Our cleaning system will be reusing cleaning chemicals and recapturing rinse water,” said Jacob Simmons, the head brewmaster at Old Man River Brewing.

“Energy savings coincide with quality brewing,” said Simmons. “It is something that our customers appreciate.”

The benefit of supporting communities is gaining a retailer’s appreciation for a local product. Any company that supports its network of suppliers, customers and community will continue to thrive. In Iowa City, like-minded restaurant and bar owners respond to the microbreweries’ appreciation for community with eagerness to supply their product.

“Iowa City is our biggest customer by far,” said Teresa Albert of Millstream Brewery. “They like craft beers, they like unique things, and they just embrace us. Locally produced beer is a niche that has worked really well for Iowa City businesses.”

To learn more about how Iowa restaurants are becoming more sustainable, read this related story about retailers in Iowa City who are sourcing locally.

Iowa City Businesses Make Moves Towards Sustainability

The Red Avocado uses 100% biodegradable and combustible to-go containers, a simple step any business can take to reduce waste.

These days, even restaurant owners know there are benefits to building a sustainable business. In Iowa City, a number of restaurants are developing strategies that are putting their businesses ahead of curve.

What does it mean to work towards having a sustainable business?

A sustainable approach means building your business to have little to no negative impact on the environment or society.

Now more than ever, local Iowa City restaurants are considering their ecological footprint on the environment. And evaluating where their food is purchased, how much waste is produced, and how materials can be reused is a path of progress they are willing to take.

“Most businesses work toward sustainability because it is a good business decision, period,” said Sheila Samuelson, a Sustainable Business Consultant for Bright Green Strategy of Iowa City, Iowa. “Developing a reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible business helps attract and retain both customers and top-level staff.”

Local Brews

Shorts Burgers and Shine, 18 S. Clinton St, Iowa City, is one restaurant that has made a step towards sustainability, by sourcing locally for their food and alcohol.

“Our burgers, our beer, and most of our vegetables all come from this community,” said Tia Tiefenthale, a long time waitress and bartender at the establishment. Shorts gets their 100% black angus beef 26 miles away from Iowa City, at Ed Smith Farms, and vegetables when they are in season from the Iowa City Farmer’s Market.

Since the restaurant has made the switch to serving all Iowa ingredients, business has picked up, especially with alcohol sales. “One thing we have also noticed is we rarely serve bottles of beer, most people only request drafts from the Iowa Craft beers,” said Tiefenthale. “I did not think it would be nearly as popular as it has been, but it has, especially during football season.

Shorts recently switched all of their beers on tap serving only Iowa breweries, including Old Man River, Peace Tree, and Millstream brews. These brewing companies rely on restaurants like Shorts for garnering interest. Their locally produced beers are creating a growing market for customers who want beer on a local level.

An Organic Menu

Deciding to make this shift in business strategy is not just about production and profits; it’s also about meeting customer demands. And David Burt, the owner of The Red Avocado, 521 E. Washington St, Iowa City, knows that customers want tasty, nutritional, well-prepared food that doesn’t come at the sacrifice of the world around them.

Their 100% organic vegan menu is why customers come to the Red Avocado.

“They come here because they understand that we are the only Iowa City restaurant that is 100% organic, and we have literally zero food waste,” said Burt. “The Red Avocado composts every item of food that is left over, from our kitchen and our customers.” The compost is then given away to various members in the community, from goat farmers to gardeners.

According to Sameulson, developing a green business is a long term process and starts with initial assessments of how a business is performing in respect to energy, waste, water, pollution, and education.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The shining star of local Iowa City restaurants undergoing a sustainable transformation may be that of Her Soup Kitchen, 625 S. Dubuque St., owned and operated by Barb Farnsworth. Since their opening over a year ago, Her Soup Kitchen stresses the importance of composting, reuse, recycling, and buying locally.

“We reused bricks from a demolished building for our patio, tables and chairs that customers have brought us, coffee mugs, plates, we’ve bought cooking appliances from auctions, almost everything here has been reused,” said Jason Farnsworth, son of Barb Farnsworth and head chef and Her Soup Kitchen.

“We compost everything we can. We’ve had more vegetables grow out of our compost this year than our own garden.”

For Barb Farnsworth, bragging about how the restaurant produces only one bag of trash a day is not something she is interested in. “I want the community to see us as environmentally conscious, sure, but the main reason we run our restaurant this way is because we believe in nourishing the neighborhood,” Farnsworth said.

Her willingness to prove that a business can significantly reduce it’s waste with little effort might make Her Soup Kitchen the most sustainable restaurant in Iowa City. Their ability to thrive on reuse has set an example, not just for other businesses in the area, but for patrons as well.

“Sustainability is just as much as a social practice as an environmental one,” said Farnsworth.

When asked if she thought her business has flourished in part because of her connection with the community in advocating sustainability, she said, “Absolutely. It’s something we’re very willing to teach people about.”

So what is the best advice for restaurants that are looking to better the environment and their community?

It’s important for businesses to understand that they do not necessarily become sustainable, they work toward sustainability in a process of continuous improvement, Samuelson says. “Sustainability is something that every type of business has an opportunity to work towards.”

And the efforts of businesses like Shorts, The Red Avocado, and Her Soup Kitchen do not go unnoticed in the community.

The City of Iowa City Environmental Coordinator, Jennifer Jordan, has nominated Her Soup Kitchen for the Iowa Recycling Association to receive an award for Best Business Recycling Program of 2010.

The city is also in the process of developing a sustainable business certification for Iowa City businesses, said Brenda Nations, Environmental Coordinator for Iowa City.

“It would be great to reward those businesses who are already doing great things and get ideas out to others who might decide to start up and join in,” Nations said.

There is a wealth of information for those interested in transforming their business to meet the growing demands of a market that is environmentally friendly. See a related post that contains tips and feedback from other bars and restaurants in Iowa.

Getting Greener with your Bar or Restaurant: Tips for more cash and a better environment

image courtesy of

A related post about various restaurants in Iowa shifting their business strategy towards sustainability looks at how business owners are beginning to practice environmentally friendly and community driven methods of energy use, waste reduction, and local food sourcing.

But just how easy is it for a business to begin making these changes? And where to start?

“The first thing I tell most businesses to do is to conduct a waste audit,” said Shelia Samuelson, a sustainability strategy consultant at Bright Green Strategy of Iowa City, Iowa. “We look at what they are purchasing, and what materials they are currently sending to the landfill.”

A waste audit looks at the business’ composition of the waste (what materials you are disposing of and in what quantities), the weight or volume of the materials you are disposing of, and the sources of waste (to determine where the waste is being generated and how the material can be reduced, reused, or recycled).

“If results show significant quantities of material that can be diverted from a landfill, I work with owners to set up systems internally, and partnerships externally, to make that happen,” said Samuelson.

Most restaurants in Iowa are aware of the amount of waste they generate but do not consider alternative methods that can save their business money in the long run.

“Most of our waste comes from our use of plastic, for alcoholic drinks and shots,” said Dani Montag, long time server at Airliner Bar, of Iowa City, Iowa. “I think there are several things we could do to change that.”

At one time, Airliner used to allow the sale of reusable mugs for their “mug club night” where patrons could get discounted drinks if they brought their mug. The decision could lower the amount of waste production and save the business money when purchasing plastic cups.

The Airliner, like most bars in Iowa City, do recycle their glass beer bottles and cardboard. “We save the glass bottles and return them to the distributors. They then recycle them and the deposit gathered for recycling gets credited back to the bar,” said Montag.

The following tips, some of which are taken from the California government’s “Restaurant Guide to Waste Reduction and Recycling“, are great ways to reduce waste and keep a productive business.

  • Buy bar mixes in concentrate form and portion them into reusable serving containers instead of buying ready-to-use mix.
  • Use refillable condiment bottles and refill them from condiments purchased in bulk containers. Stray away from using portion-controlled individual packets.
  • Purchase paper products made from recycled materials. This can include toilet tissue, paper towels, napkins, bags, menus, place mats, etc.
  • Switch to paper packaging if you use styrofoam to-go containers. Styrofoam takes up four times the amount of storage and disposal volume than paper in the landfill.
  • Use reusable coasters instead of paper napkins when serving drinks at the bar.
  • For delivery orders, consider hiring an employee who can take deliveries on bike for orders that are close to the business location.
  • Advertise a “mug club” where on certain nights, patrons can purchase reusable mugs and receive discounted pricing for drinks when they bring back their mugs.
  • Buy food locally from farmer’s markets or other local producers when in season.
  • Buy alcohol from local breweries to support their local production.
  • Purchase cleaning products that are safe for the environment. Look for products that don’t contain harmful toxins or large amounts of chemicals.
  • Purchase energy efficient lightbulbs.

These small changes could potentially have a big impact on cost savings. It is likely that the members of the community will take note of these efforts as well. It is a great way to increase sales if your customers know you are making an effort to make your business more sustainable.

For more information, view this short video:

Underage Drinking Alternatives

These next three posts I have created focus on alternate activities for underage drinking. Night Games is a program at the recreational center that provides free activities and special events. CAB is an activities directory for the IMU that also provides free activities including movies on the weekends. Then, the Salt Company is a local worship group here in Iowa City that meets at the bar Third Base. All three of these events are cheap, entertaining and a great way to meet new people. Read on to learn more!

Horror Films: Seasonal or Classic?

Ever since cinema began in the late 1800’s, audiences have been fascinated with the simplest of pictures; let it be a crying baby or an arriving train. As film genres began to form throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, one genre in particular shocked audiences all over the world. That genre is horror.

However, along with these mind numbing narratives, the horror genre faces different troubles than their genre counterparts. Horror films are almost always associated with Halloween time which as we know, only happens once a year. Horror films have to try that much harder in order to generate a mass appeal for a genre overlooked by most audiences.


With the dawn of cinema, came the horror genre. Take a look at this slideshow to get a visual feel for the movies that started it all.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Film Poster (Courtesy of

One of the most famous and earliest horror films of all time is the German film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was released in March of 1920. Although this film is silent, the imagery and set design are just a few reasons why many directors find this film so influential.

“I would say the most influential horror film of all time is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho,” commented Alison Wielgus, a graduate student at Iowa, who teaches a horror film class. “Although it’s not even close to being the first horror film, or part of the first cycle of horror films…almost every slasher film made today lives in the shadow of Psycho…”

With the influence from several foreign horror films and the classics, much like Psycho, sub genres of horror began to form. Slasher films, like Wielgus mentioned, became very popular with such films as Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in the early to late 1970’s. These films pronounced violence, gore, high body counts and the iconic psycho serial killer.

From then on, horror films continued to build from their predecessors. With slasher films came psychological thrillers like The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project in the 1980’s and 1990’s. These films took a turn from their murderous ancestors and began to toy with their audiences in a more physical and mental way.

Now in the 2000’s, horror films have moved on to the more torturous side of human behavior. The Hostel films as well as the Saw franchise, are the forerunners for the sub genre of “torture porn”. Unlike psychological horror, these films exploit the human body to its fullest. Gore, sex and murder are all present in these films.

So the question is, why do audiences pay money to see these frightening images on the big screen?


The appeal of horror is quite simple, most people loved to be scared. Unlike many other genres, horror films cause a physical reaction in audiences that excites, scares and really affects them. However, the appeal for moviegoers across the globe is different for each person.

For Wielgus, she believes that the stories are the reason for the success of horror films. “…the narratives of horror films are very similar to many traditional narratives throughout civilization: the hero (or heroine) endures a number of trails and tribulations only to emerge triumphant in the end.”

For people go to the movie theater, they usually like to support the good guy, the guy who reminds them of a normal person, maybe even one of their friends or themselves. People enjoy seeing the good guy get their revenge, which happens in almost every horror film to date.

Unlike other genres, horror films are allowed to surpass the standard, realistic plot lines. Horror films have more freedom when it comes to delving into uncharted waters. Part of the appeal of these films is that the world of horror, however frightening they are, is in fact not real.

“We can watch certain things happen onscreen (both violent and sexual) that we can’t/don’t want to in real life, and reassure ourselves that it’s only a film,” stated Wielgus.

Even though for most people horror films are very frightening, there are some horror films that are not scary in the slightest but rather funny in their own regard. Horror films can leave us with two different types of emotions depending on how good or bad the film is. If it is a successful horror film, it can leave us in a state of anxiety. On the other hand if the film is not any good, it can leave us with the ability to mock it.


Whether a horror movie can make it big outside the realm of the popular Halloween season has always been an issue. However, horror films are definitely just as likely to be popular and make money outside of the month of October.

“I absolutely think horror films can be successful when they’re not released around Halloween,” commented Wielgus. “Although there has been the trend of releasing a few horror films at that time, I think the youth market is often game for horror films at any time of the year.”

According to Forbes’ “Top 20 Grossing Horror Movies of All Time” list, only two (The Ring, released on October 18, 2002 and the original Halloween, released on October 25, 1976) of the top 20 were released in the “appropriate” horror movie time release.

"Jaws" - The #1 Highest Grossing Horror Film of All Time (Courtesy of

Nine of the top 20 were actually released in the summer months (June, July and August). It would make more sense to market a horror film in the summer months, for a variety of reasons. Kids are not in school, they tend to be bored and summer releases always seem to make the most money. Some of these films include Jaws (#1, June), Psycho (#5, June) and The Blair Witch Project (#14, July).

However, we cannot forget the other popular high grossing films that did not make the cut. In more recent releases, the Saw films have been released on the same weekend in October for the past six years. Similar to this, by releasing horror films in the October month it allows audiences to get excited about the Halloween traditions present in so many towns.

It’s obvious that the facts don’t lie, horror films can in fact stand on their own with or without the appeal of Halloween. Their appeal relies more on what the films are about rather than what time of the year they were released.