Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, or disgust. Horror is often divided into the sub-genres of psychological horror and supernatural horror, which is in the realm of speculative fiction. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon, in 1984, defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". Horror intends to create an eerie and frightening atmosphere for the reader. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for larger fears of a society.
Prevalent elements of the genre include ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, the Devil, witches, monsters, extraterrestrials, dystopian and post-apocalyptic worlds, serial killers, cannibalism, psychopaths, cults, dark magic, satanism, the macabre, gore and torture.