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HomeEducationAcademia Hernando presents “A History of Horror Films”

Academia Hernando presents “A History of Horror Films”

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As Halloween approaches, ‘tis the season to enjoy some spine-tingling horror movies! And if you’ve ever wondered about the history of this pervasive and ever-popular film genre, then make it a point to attend “A History of Horror Films” by Rick Kistner, a presentation of Academia Hernando that will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 20, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill.

Academia Hernando is a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization providing quality instruction and learning experiences for adult students throughout Hernando County and beyond. Their goal is to inform, educate and inspire adult learners through a series of weekly lectures on a wide variety of topics.

“Frankenstein” movie poster. [Credit: Public domain photo]

One of the most enduring and beloved film genres still captivating audiences today is the realm of horror cinema. It all began in 1896 with the groundbreaking ‘House of the Devil,’ marking the birth of a genre that has since given us timeless classics during the silent movie era. As the film industry evolved, it introduced us to iconic figures such as ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula,’ along with an abundance of ghosts, monsters, extraterrestrials, and things that go bump in the night. The enchantment of horror movies persists, and this Halloween season, we invite you to explore the rich history, the triumphs, and the missteps of these spine-tingling cinematic masterpieces that have thrilled generations of moviegoers. Dive into this immersive experience, complete with captivating film clips from some of the finest in the genre.

Kistner believes that, especially at this time of year, horror films play a vital role in the childhoods of many viewers. “As people prepare for the annual visitation of ghosts and goblins appearing at our doors on Halloween, we hearken back to our own younger days and recall the things that gave us goosebumps,” he said. “More often than not, we recall the scary movies that had us pulling the bedcovers over our heads on dark and spooky nights.”

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In his presentation, Kistner will whisk viewers away on a spooktacular journey through the history of classic horror. “The horror film genre has been with us since the beginning of cinema, with the first such film appearing in 1896, and has always been a reflection of the social environment existing at the time they were made. It remains today as one of the most popular of Hollywood’s offerings,” he said. “In my lecture, we trace the horror movie back to its literary roots and move forward through the classics of the silent era, such as ‘Nosferatu,’ then on to the Universal Studios classics of the 1930s and 1940s, such as ‘Dracula,’ ‘Frankenstein,’ and the ‘Wolfman,’ and all the way down to today with the cinematic re-creations of the works of horror master Stephen King.”

Presenter Rick Kistner. [Photo provided by Rick Kistner]

Kistner has been lecturing for Academia Hernando since 2017. His diverse series of lecture topics is a reflection of his dual career. He spent 30 years in law enforcement, including twenty years as a chief of police in cities in Ohio, Kansas, Connecticut and Florida. Simultaneously, he maintained a career in the performing arts that began at the age of 16 and continues to the present, appearing on stage, in TV and radio commercials, and the occasional film, a career profiled on “CBS This Morning.” A voice artist, he can be heard reading many classics of literature on the Lit2Go website. Kistner holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Wright State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Dayton. He also studied theater arts at Connecticut’s prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. His deep interest in American history is reflected in his lectures on historical eras and notable personalities of the 19th and 20th centuries. At the same time, his background in the performing arts forms the basis of his programs on film and theater topics. Since 2007, he has delivered nearly 550 programs at many venues in Florida and elsewhere, including on Carnival Cruise Lines. A Largo resident since 1993, he and his wife Karen have been married for 49 years, raised three children and are the proud grandparents of four.

He also happens to be a major fan of horror films. “I’ve been a fan of horror movies ever since my older sisters took me to a screening of ‘Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein’ when I was about eight years old,” he said. “I got hooked, and when I began lecturing on Hollywood and its impact on American culture, the scary movie genre seemed like a natural topic for discussion.”

Sharon Printz, a board member of Academia Hernando, looks forward to welcoming this popular presenter back to the Academia stage. “Rick Kistner’s diverse series of lecture topics reflect a dual career of 30 years in law enforcement and a lifelong interest in performing arts that began at age 16,” she said. “The program he has prepared on the history of horror films will be entertaining and educational, with a touch of nostalgia. Rick gives us a dynamic performance and reveals a surprise or two to his audience.”

The most recent presentation in Academia Hernando’s Fall 2023 series, “A History of Horror Films,” covers a wide range of fascinating subjects with the help of the subject matter experts who know them best.

Academia Hernando presentations begin promptly at 10 a.m. and last two hours with a 15-minute intermission. Walk-in admissions are available at $15 per presentation. Visit https://www.academiahernando.org/ for more information, or call (352) 345-8345.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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