Man Made Horror

What is the Man Made Horror Subgenre?

Mad scientists and post-apocalyptic wastelands are common tropes in the subgenre of man made horror. Here, you will find no ghosts or ghouls, but instead, there will be terrible disease, rampant pollution, and violent, mutated animals. Man made horror is any type of horror fiction that features something created by humans as the source of terror. This can either be something that is directly created by man through scientific experimentation or can be the by-product of society's rapid industrialization or technical advancement. This is the subgenre where you will find that the zombie apocalypse was started by scientists inventing a miracle cure, or through contact with radioactive waste.

The first, and most notable, work of the man made horror subgenre is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which introduced the mad scientist trope in the form of Victor Frankenstein. As in this seminal work, this subgenre will often include themes of mankind's hubris, as well as many science fiction elements. Human pride is our downfall in man made horror, as these rapid scientific, industrial, and technical advances quickly give rise to humanity's tormentors.

Unlike science fiction, in man made horror, scientific advancement is a source of terror. In this way, man made horror is similar to the rampant technology subgenre, which features post-apocalyptic worlds brought about by humanity's obsession with technological advances. However, the rampant technology subgenre is actually only a part of the man made horror subgenre which is a catch-all for not only technical advancement, but also ecohorror, which highlights humanity's damaging effects on the environment, and of course, all of the mad scientists.

Man Made Horror Characteristics

Level of Plot: The level of plot in man made horror is moderate to low. Themes of man's pride are explored as humanity's creations ultimately become their downfall.

Level of Characterization: Expect moderate to high levels of characterization in man made horror, particularly in works that feature mad scientists, though it is often their creations, and not the scientists themselves which are highly characterized.

Level of Supernatural: Low levels of supernatural can be found in man made horror because the human protagonist is often the source of their own terror.

Level of Scary: Scares will be moderate to high in this subgenre, often caused directly by the creation of a human protagonist or by society as a whole.

Level of Violence: Moderate to high levels of violence are present in man made horror. This subgenre is more action packed than atmospherically creepy.

Typical Setting: Post-apocalyptic worlds feature heavily in man made horror. Remote islands are also a typical setting for this subgenre, particularly when paired with the mad scientist trope.


Related Horror Subgenres

Rampant technology is an offshoot of this subgenre. Additionally, creature and zombie horror could be easily related to manmade horror, and cross-genre horror, particularly horror that is crossed with science fiction is another similar subgenre.



Don't Read Man Made Horror If You Dislike…

Science fiction elements and realistic horror. If you are spooked by the idea that mankind could, in fact, bring about its own downfall, this is probably not the subgenre for you. Also, if you don't like science fiction elements in your horror, this may not be the subgenre for you.



Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- The original monster tale told the story of a creature bent on revenge on his mad scientist creator.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson- When a man named Edward Hyde tramples a young girl, he gives the family a check signed by Dr. Henry Jekyll. Jekyll's friends worry about the connection and wonder what kind of monster has ensnared his friend, particularly when it is also discovered that Jekyll leaves all of his wealth to Hyde. The search begins, and Hyde's spree of violence continues around the city.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston- This nonfiction thriller details the history of viruses, such as the Ebola virus. If you are scared by things that could actually happen, this is the book for you.

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells- When Edward Prednick is shipwrecked on an island, he finds a renowned surgeon who was infamous in London for his gruesome experiments and a colony of half-human creatures, subjects of the doctor's experimentation, who worship the surgeon.

Feed by Mira Grant- First in the Newsflesh series, Feed takes place after the zombie apocalypse, which was caused when the cure for cancer and the cure for the common cold combined to make a deadly supervirus. It is not only the zombies that are the monsters in the series, but often the humans who vie for power that are more monstrous.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton- A billionaire attempts to open a prehistoric biological preserve by cloning dinosaurs using DNA found in amber. As he attempts to assuage his investors' fears about the safety of the park, disaster strikes.

The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson- The victim of exposure to a chance chemical reaction, Scott Carey finds that he is shrinking a little bit each day. As he becomes smaller, his fears loom larger.

Seeders by A.J. Colucci- When George Brookes, a noted plant biologist, dies mysteriously at his remote island home, his daughter and her friend, a plant neurobiologist named Jules, discover that Brookes may have unlocked the secrets to communication with plants, and in the process, awakened something terrible on the island.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon- In the wake of a nuclear war, a battle between good and evil brews as dark forces hunt humanity's last hope in this Stoker award winning novel.

The Bridge by John Skipp and Craig Spector- For years, a salvage company has been dumping its waste into a river near a nuclear power plant in the small town of Paradise, Pennsylvania. One night, a barrel of toxic waste is broken in the river. The next morning, a huge storm is unleashed upon the town, and life, as we know it, ends.


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