the happy family with a tear/slash between them is the perfect visual for yuppie horror stories!
This name for this category of horror is taken from the horror movie podcast, “With Gourley and Rust”, which I've been enjoying lately. I'm not sure if Gourley and Rust came up with the term - I'd never heard the phrase “Yuppie Horror”. I love it though!
Even though it was a new phrase for me, I had a sense of what it meant as soon as I heard it. “Yuppies” was a term for, I guess, professionals who are upper middle class. Not sure if the term is still used. So the main characters in Yuppy Horror are in that group. The lead character(s) usually make some kind of mistake, and end up with a terrifying threat to their comfortable lives. There are a mountain of movies with this kind of framework.
These are not usually supernatural threats - although they could be I guess. These are horror/thriller stories where the main character makes some kind of thoughtless/selfish mistake and end up having their world infiltrated by a dangerous psychopath. They're not slasher stories; they're not home invasion stories - though there can be elements of those kinds of stories in there for sure. These characters are financially comfortable and face the threat of losing everything.
We're talking about “Fatal Attraction”, maybe the ruler of this genre, where a Yuppy cheats on his wife and faces terrifying consequences for it. Or “Pacific Heights”, where a couple buys a big house and rents part of it to a tenant who makes them wish they'd checked a few references after all. Or movies like “The Good Son” and “Orphan” where it's the adopted child who is the evil threat. I remember “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” with the psychotic nanny/babysitter Rebecca DeMornay. There's also “First Born” and “The Stepfather” where it's an evil step-parent.
What's scary about these stories is that the evildoer is not just going to stab you or kill you; they're going to take apart everything that makes your life what it is: your job, your family and friends, your reputation, and your financial security.
I haven't seen one of these in a long time but I think I want to look up a few of them this Halloween season! I think a favorite of mine was “Sleeping With the Enemy”. It's scary and exciting but also a bit cheesy and over the top, in a good way! Always enjoyed that one.
You know, in pondering this, Sleeping With the Enemy may not quite fit into the usual mold for these stories. It's got more of a slasher vibe to it (but, y'know…sort of a CLASSY slasher?). I suppose that tells me that I don't really gravitate to Yuppy Horror movies overall, since I chose a favorite that doesn't quite fit the usual form.
But I DO enjoy them somewhat. Maybe you like them more?
These were big in the 80's and 90's I think.
What do you think? You fancy a Yuppie Horror Story? What's your favorite?
See you next time!
Yuppie HorrorBanes at 12:00AM, Oct. 6, 2022
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Banes at 1:18PM, Oct. 7, 2022
@Paul - There might be something to that, yeah. Maybe "Midsommar" would fit into a hipster horror genre? That's the one that pops into my head anyway... somewhat smug, arrogant types can be great horror protagonists. It's nice when there's some doubt over whether they're good people or not - that can raise the suspense/debate on whether they deserve the misery they're getting and whether they'll survive!
PaulEberhardt at 10:00AM, Oct. 7, 2022
It has been said before: a lot of the appeal comes from the victims being a kind of character you'd like to punch. Not sure if that's always the case, though, but when I think of Yuppies I usually think less of their financial status than of a slick, slightly arrogant attitude. I've had the displeasure of getting to know quite a number of Yuppies or guys who wanted to become Yuppies and I wish I could say that "know one, know them all" didn't apply, but it kind of does in certain ways. Kind of sad, really. Nowadays, there's sometimes (but not always) a certain hipster element involved and I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time for yuppie horror to get hipster horror in the boat and row. The characteristic elements may be pretty much the same but added to by the lead character getting painful revelations of how he's not nearly as cool as he thought he was.
Banes at 8:06AM, Oct. 7, 2022
@Ironscarf - Pacific Heights fits here, yeah. I remember liking it alot when I saw it way back when. That's one I might revisit now that this genre has been called to my attention again. Michael Keaton plays a very good psychopath!
Banes at 8:04AM, Oct. 7, 2022
@bravo - ah, interesting! As far as thriller/horror, I always used to notice how actors promoting their scary films would so often say "It's not a horror movie; it's more of a thriller" ...horror being such a trashy or undignified genre in some circles, I guess? Eventually they started embracing it more (cuz of the dollar signs and devoted audiences methinks!)
Banes at 7:46AM, Oct. 7, 2022
@dpat - absolutely! That's another part of the complex appeal of stories like that (well, when Rebecca DeMornay is involved anyway!)
Banes at 7:43AM, Oct. 7, 2022
@ozone - I think the 'sin' part of it is there for sure, for the better versions of this story. It's just more complete. Maybe there's an element of bringing them down a peg. I think for an audience, it taps into that horrifying thought of losing everything. The characters are usually better off than most of the audience, and then brought down. Something in that is appealing to people! xD
Ironscarf at 3:51AM, Oct. 7, 2022
Hadn't heard the term Yuppie Horror, but usage of the the word Yuppie died out along with upward mobility over here. The film Pacific Heights spring to mind, probably because it has Heights in the title - can't remember if it was any good but definitely of this genre.
bravo1102 at 2:07AM, Oct. 7, 2022
When the upward mobility died off with a couple of bubbles bursting it was redefined from young upwardly mobile professional people to young, urban professional people. I was working in shirts and ties at the time so witnessed it first hand. I graduated high school 1983, this was pretty much my generation-the tail end of the Baby Boomers into whatever came next. I remember seeing that the only real difference between a thriller and horror story was thriller wasn't supernatural. But if in the payoff the supernatural monster is just Mr. Hamm from the old fairground (as the mask is pulled off) or the demented antagonist is really a demon they can cross over. ;)
dpat57 at 1:53AM, Oct. 7, 2022
It's weird how, even when you know Rebecca de Mornay's character is a psycho, you look at her pic and still think meh, I'll take the risk anyway. ...Or is that just me?
Ozoneocean at 9:20PM, Oct. 6, 2022
Part of the attraction was that they deserved it- a sort of comeuppance for their hubris, you know? Part of the purpose of the story is to punish them for being too big for their boos and to bring them down.
Banes at 9:24AM, Oct. 6, 2022
@InkyMoondrop - Agreed that these are more thrillers than horrors. I'm glad you liked The Hand That Rocks the Cradle - I saw it so long ago and barely remember it but I'm going to check it out again. Cape Fear is a standard-bearer for this genre; thanks for mentioning that one!
Banes at 9:22AM, Oct. 6, 2022
@bravo - "So I Married An Axe Murderer" is great, and I wouldn't have thought of it in this context, but it fits! Love that one. I remember hearing the term "Yuppy" defined as "Young, Upwardly-mobile, Professional People." I guess they refined it since.
InkyMoondrop at 6:21AM, Oct. 6, 2022
Oh yeah, although I consider most of these to be thrillers, they really had their moment in the 80s and 90s. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or the 1991 Cape Fear are probably my favorites. I think stories like these used to put more emphasis on the drama and class struggle (a tradition Parasite elegantly dusted off) before their golden age, The Servant from 1963 or The Housemaid from 1960 comes to mind. I enjoy the suspense in these kind of movies or that they usually give the antagonist enough screen time and some relatable motive that you'll end up wondering who'll end up winning this?
bravo1102 at 12:38AM, Oct. 6, 2022
Yuppie stands for Young, urban professional. For what a yuppie looks like see Friends or Sex in the City. Friends is almost definitive in its depiction of yuppies. the generation aged (reached the 4-0) they came to be called Gruppies or Grown Up, urban professional which is what Sex in the City morphed into during its long run. These are broad stereotypes and not anything real, though the world was and is full of posers who want the label "Yuppie " or who actively fight against it or deconstruct it. By definition a Yuppie can never be a veteran unless a ROTC graduate.
bravo1102 at 12:28AM, Oct. 6, 2022
Michael Myers did something in that vein with So I married an Axe Murderer. Being a black comedy it's more my speed.