Since the release of Rosemary's Baby in 1968, the American horror film has become one of the most diverse, commercially successful, widely discussed, and culturally significant film genres. Drawing on a wide range of critical methods---from close textual readings and structuralist genre criticism to psychoanalytical, feminist, and ideological analyses---the authors examine individual films, directors, and subgenres.
In this collection of twelve essays, Gregory Waller balances detailed studies of both popular films (Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, and Halloween) and particularly problematic films (Don't Look Now and Eyes of Laura Mars) with discussions of such central thematic preoccupations as the genre's representation of violence and female victims, its reflexivity and playfulness, and its ongoing redefinition of the monstrous and the normal.
In addition, American Horrors includes a filmography of movies and telefilms and an annotated bibliography of books and articles about horror since 1968.
Tobe Hooper's productions, which often trespassed upon the safety of the family unit, cast a critical eye toward an America in crisis. Often dismissed by scholars and critics as a one-hit wonder thanks to his 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Hooper nevertheless was instrumental in the development of a robust and deeply political horror genre from the 1960s until his death in 2017. In American Twilight, the authors assert that the director was an auteur whose works featured complex monsters and disrupted America’s sacrosanct perceptions of prosperity and domestic security.
American Twilight focuses on the skepticism toward American institutions and media and the articulation of uncanny spaces so integral to Hooper’s vast array of feature and documentary films, made-for-television movies, television episodes, and music videos. From Egg Shells (1969) to Poltergeist (1982), Djinn (2013), and even Billy Idol’s music video for “Dancing with Myself” (1985), Tobe Hooper provided a singular directorial vision that investigated masculine anxiety and subverted the idea of American exceptionalism.
As Cyndy Hendershot demonstrates, the Gothic is more a mode than a rigid historical period, an "invasive" tendency that reveals the imaginative limits of social realities and literary techniques far beyond its origins in late eighteenth century Britain. And as she demonstrates in this first scholarly treatment of its kind, one of the continuing obsessions of the Gothic mode is masculinity. Masculinity is in some sense a Gothic castle of the imagination, haunted by fears of the body, science, and angry colonial subjects.
The book's keen critical insight, meticulous close readings and cross-cultural comparisons interrogate the historically situated function of masculinity in texts and films that range across the two-hundred year history of the Gothic. Matthew Lewis's The Monk is compared to Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers to reveal the "hauntedness" of the male body. Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark" is juxtaposed with J. S. Le Fanu's "Green Tea" to ground the fantastic qualities of the scientific imagination. Conrad's Heart of Darkness converses with Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea about the nature of imperialism. And Jane Campion's film The Piano is figured as an imaginative foray into new forms of masculinity. Utilizing the insights of Lacanian theory, Hendershot demonstrates how the Gothic realm of ghosts, demons, and hidden passages continues to suggest alternative realities to claustrophobic cultural imaginations.
"Masculinity and the Gothic combines solid literary critical insight and close readings in a detailed and lively survey of various manifestations of the gothic within British and American cultural traditions, and admirably explores the connections between various cultural discourses. It will make a fine complement to the numerous recent publications of issues of femininity in the gothic." --Sharon Willis, University of Rochester
Cyndy Hendershot is Assistant Professor of English, Arkansas State University.
Unearthing the fearful flesh and sinful skins at the heart of gothic horror, Jack Morgan rends the genre’s biological core from its oft-discussed psychological elements and argues for a more transhistorical conception of the gothic, one negatively related to comedy. The Biology of Horror: Gothic Literature and Film dissects popular examples from the gothic literary and cinematic canon, exposing the inverted comic paradigm within each text.
Morgan’s study begins with an extensive treatment of comedy as theoretically conceived by Suzanne Langer, C. L. Barber, and Mikhail Bakhtin. Then, Morgan analyzes the physical and mythological nature of horror in inverted comic terms, identifying a biologically grounded mythos of horror. Motifs such as sinister loci, languishment, masquerade, and subversion of sensual perception are contextualized here as embedded in an organic reality, resonating with biological motives and consequences. Morgan also devotes a chapter to the migration of the gothic tradition into American horror, emphasizing the body as horror’s essential place in American gothic.
The bulk of Morgan’s study is applied to popular gothic literature and films ranging from high gothic classics like Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to later literary works such as Poe’s macabre tales, Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” J.S. Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas, H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hillhouse, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game. Considered films include Nosferatu, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Angel Heart, The Stand, and The Shining.
Morganconcludes his physical examination of the Gothic reality with a consideration born of Julia Kristeva’s theoretical rubric which addresses horror’s existential and cultural significance, its lasting fascination, and its uncanny positive—and often therapeutic—direction in literature and film.
Italian filmmaker Dario Argento’s horror films have been described as a blend of Alfred Hitchcock and George Romero—psychologically rich, colorful, and at times garish, excelling at taking the best elements of the splatter and exploitation genres and laying them over a dark undercurrent of human emotions and psyches. Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds, which dissects such Argento cult films as Two Evil Eyes, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Suspiria, and Deep Red, includes a new introduction discussing Argento’s most recent films, from The Stendahl Syndrome to Mother of Tears; an updated filmography; and an interview with Argento.
Although the motion picture industry initially disparaged and feared television, by the late 1950s, studios saw the medium as a convenient dumping ground for thousands of films that had long been gathering dust in their vaults. As these films found their way to local TV stations, enterprising distributors grouped the titles by genre so programmers could showcase them accordingly. It was in this spirit that Chicago’s tradition of TV horror movie shows was born. Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows is the first comprehensive look at Chicago’s horror movie programs, from their inception in 1957 to the present.
A Nightmare on Elm Street. Halloween. Night of the Living Dead. These films have been indelibly stamped on moviegoers’ psyches and are now considered seminal works of horror. Guiding readers along the twisted paths between audience, auteur, and cultural history, author Kendall R. Phillips reveals the macabre visions of these films’ directors in Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film.
Phillips begins by analyzing the works of George Romero, focusing on how the body is used cinematically to reflect the duality between society and chaos, concluding that the unconstrained bodies of the Living Dead films act as a critical intervention into social norms. Phillips then explores the shadowy worlds of director Wes Craven. In his study of the films The Serpent and the Rainbow, Deadly Friend, Swamp Thing, Red Eye, and Shocker, Phillips reveals Craven’s vision of technology as inherently dangerous in its ability to cross the gossamer thresholds of the gothic. Finally, the volume traverses the desolate frontiers of iconic director John Carpenter. Through an exploration of such works as Halloween, The Fog, and In the Mouth of Madness, Phillips delves into the director’s representations of boundaries—and the haunting consequences for those who cross them.
The first volume ever to address these three artists together, Dark Directions is a spine-tingling and thought-provoking study of the horror genre. In analyzing the individual works of Romero, Craven, and Carpenter, Phillips illuminates some of the darkest minds in horror cinema.
An urgent volume of essays engages the Gothic to advance important perspectives on our geological era
What can the Gothic teach us about our current geological era? More than just spooky, moonlit castles and morbid graveyards, the Gothic represents a vibrant, emergent perspective on the Anthropocene. In this volume, more than a dozen scholars move beyond longstanding perspectives on the Anthropocene—such as science fiction and apocalyptic narratives—to show that the Gothic offers a unique (and dark) interpretation of events like climate change, diminished ecosystems, and mass extinction.
Embracing pop cultural phenomena like True Detective, Jaws, and Twin Peaks, as well as topics from the New Weird and prehistoric shark fiction to ruin porn and the “monstroscene,” Dark Scenes from Damaged Earth demonstrates the continuing vitality of the Gothic while opening important new paths of inquiry. These essays map a genealogy of the Gothic while providing fresh perspectives on the ongoing climate chaos, the North/South divide, issues of racialization, dark ecology, questions surrounding environmental justice, and much more.
Contributors: Fred Botting, Kingston U; Timothy Clark, U of Durham; Rebecca Duncan, Linnaeus U; Michael Fuchs, U of Oldenburg, Germany; Esthie Hugo, U of Warwick; Dawn Keetley, Lehigh U; Laura R. Kremmel, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; Timothy Morton, Rice U; Barry Murnane, U of Oxford; Jennifer Schell, U of Alaska Fairbanks; Lisa M. Vetere, Monmouth U; Sara Wasson, Lancaster U; Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Central Michigan U.
“The Dread of Difference is a classic. Few film studies texts have been so widely read and so influential. It’s rarely on the shelf at my university library, so continuously does it circulate. Now this new edition expands the already comprehensive coverage of gender in the horror film with new essays on recent developments such as the Hostel series and torture porn. Informative and enlightening, this updated classic is an essential reference for fans and students of horror movies.”—Stephen Prince, editor of The Horror Film and author of Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality
“An impressive array of distinguished scholars . . . gazes deeply into the darkness and then forms a Dionysian chorus reaffirming that sexuality and the monstrous are indeed mated in many horror films.”—Choice
“An extremely useful introduction to recent thinking about gender issues within this genre.”—Film Theory
Challenging the classic horror frame in American film
American filmmakers appropriate the “look” of horror in Holocaust films and often use Nazis and Holocaust imagery to explain evil in the world, say authors Caroline Joan (Kay) S. Picart and David A. Frank. In Frames of Evil: The Holocaust as Horror in American Film, Picart and Frank challenge this classic horror frame—the narrative and visual borders used to demarcate monsters and the monstrous. After examining the way in which directors and producers of the most influential American Holocaust movies default to this Gothic frame, they propose that multiple frames are needed to account for evil and genocide.
Using Schindler’s List, The Silence of the Lambs, and Apt Pupil as case studies, the authors provide substantive and critical analyses of these films that transcend the classic horror interpretation. For example, Schindler’s List, say Picart and Frank, has the appearance of a historical docudrama but actually employs the visual rhetoric and narrative devices of the Hollywood horror film. The authors argue that evil has a face: Nazism, which is configured as quintessentially innate, and supernaturally crafty.
Frames of Evil, which is augmented by thirty-six film and publicity stills, also explores the commercial exploitation of suffering in film and offers constructive ways of critically evaluating this exploitation. The authors suggest that audiences will recognize their participation in much larger narrative formulas that place a premium on monstrosity and elide the role of modernity in depriving millions of their lives and dignity, often framing the suffering of others in a manner that allows for merely “documentary” enjoyment.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Tingler, the Mole People—they stalked and oozed into audiences’ minds during the era that followed Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and preceded terrors like Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Chucky (Child’s Play).Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold pulls off the masks and wipes away the slime to reveal how the monsters that frightened audiences in the 1950s and 1960s—and the movies they crawled and staggered through—reflected fundamental changes in the film industry. Providing the first economic history of the horror film, Kevin Heffernan shows how the production, distribution, and exhibition of horror movies changed as the studio era gave way to the conglomeration of New Hollywood.
Heffernan argues that major cultural and economic shifts in the production and reception of horror films began at the time of the 3-d film cycle of 1953–54 and ended with the 1968 adoption of the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system and the subsequent development of the adult horror movie—epitomized by Rosemary’s Baby. He describes how this period presented a number of daunting challenges for movie exhibitors: the high costs of technological upgrade, competition with television, declining movie attendance, and a diminishing number of annual releases from the major movie studios. He explains that the production and distribution branches of the movie industry responded to these trends by cultivating a youth audience, co-producing features with the film industries of Europe and Asia, selling films to television, and intensifying representations of sex and violence. Shining through Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold is the delight of the true horror movie buff, the fan thrilled to find The Brain that Wouldn’t Die on television at 3 am.
The Gothic, Romanticism's gritty older sibling, has flourished in myriad permutations since the eighteenth century. In Gothicka, Victoria Nelson identifies the revolutionary turn it has taken in the twenty-first. Today's Gothic has fashioned its monsters into heroes and its devils into angels. It is actively reviving supernaturalism in popular culture, not as an evil dimension divorced from ordinary human existence but as part of our daily lives.
To explain this millennial shift away from the traditionally dark Protestant post-Enlightenment Gothic, Nelson studies the complex arena of contemporary Gothic subgenres that take the form of novels, films, and graphic novels. She considers the work of Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer, graphic novelists Mike Mignola and Garth Ennis, Christian writer William P. Young (author of The Shack), and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. She considers twentieth-century Gothic masters H. P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, and Stephen King in light of both their immediate ancestors in the eighteenth century and the original Gothic-the late medieval period from which Horace Walpole and his successors drew their inspiration.
Fictions such as the Twilight and Left Behind series do more than follow the conventions of the classic Gothic novel. They are radically reviving and reinventing the transcendental worldview that informed the West's premodern era. As Jesus becomes mortal in The Da Vinci Code and the child Ofelia becomes a goddess in Pan's Labyrinth, Nelson argues that this unprecedented mainstreaming of a spiritually driven supernaturalism is a harbinger of what a post-Christian religion in America might look like.
Haunting Bollywood is a pioneering, interdisciplinary inquiry into the supernatural in Hindi cinema that draws from literary criticism, postcolonial studies, queer theory, history, and cultural studies. Hindi commercial cinema has been invested in the supernatural since its earliest days, but only a small segment of these films have been adequately explored in scholarly work; this book addresses this gap by focusing on some of Hindi cinema’s least explored genres.
From Gothic ghost films of the 1950s to snake films of the 1970s and 1980s to today’s globally influenced zombie and vampire films, Meheli Sen delves into what the supernatural is and the varied modalities through which it raises questions of film form, history, modernity, and gender in South Asian public cultures. Arguing that the supernatural is dispersed among multiple genres and constantly in conversation with global cinematic forms, she demonstrates that it is an especially malleable impulse that routinely pushes Hindi film into new formal and stylistic territories. Sen also argues that gender is a particularly accommodating stage on which the supernatural rehearses its most basic compulsions; thus, the interface between gender and genre provides an exceptionally productive lens into Hindi cinema’s negotiation of the modern and the global. Haunting Bollywood reveals that the supernatural’s unruly energies continually resist containment, even as they partake of and sometimes subvert Hindi cinema’s most enduring pleasures, from songs and stars to myth and melodrama.
A History of Horror
Wheeler Winston Dixon Rutgers University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN1995.9.H6D59 2010 | Dewey Decimal 791.43616409
Ever since horror leapt from popular fiction to the silver screen in the late 1890s, viewers have experienced fear and pleasure in exquisite combination. Wheeler Winston Dixon's A History of Horror is the only book to offer a comprehensive survey of this ever-popular film genre.
Arranged by decades, with outliers and franchise films overlapping some years, this one-stop sourcebook unearths the historical origins of characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman and their various incarnations in film from the silent era to comedic sequels. A History of Horror explores how the horror film fits into the Hollywood studio system and how its enormous success in American and European culture expanded globally over time.
Dixon examines key periods in the horror film-in which the basic precepts of the genre were established, then banished into conveniently reliable and malleable forms, and then, after collapsing into parody, rose again and again to create new levels of intensity and menace. A History of Horror, supported by rare stills from classic films, brings over fifty timeless horror films into frightfully clear focus, zooms in on today's top horror Web sites, and champions the stars, directors, and subgenres that make the horror film so exciting and popular with contemporary audiences.
Horror films have exploded in popularity since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many of them breaking box-office records and generating broad public discourse. These films have attracted A-list talent and earned award nods, while at the same time becoming darker, more disturbing, and increasingly apocalyptic. Why has horror suddenly become more popular, and what does this say about us? What do specific horror films and trends convey about American society in the wake of events so horrific that many pundits initially predicted the death of the genre? How could American audiences, after tasting real horror, want to consume images of violence on screen?
Horror after 9/11 represents the first major exploration of the horror genre through the lens of 9/11 and the subsequent transformation of American and global society. Films discussed include the Twilight saga; the Saw series; Hostel; Cloverfield; 28 Days Later; remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, and The Hills Have Eyes; and many more. The contributors analyze recent trends in the horror genre, including the rise of 'torture porn,' the big-budget remakes of classic horror films, the reinvention of traditional monsters such as vampires and zombies, and a new awareness of visual technologies as sites of horror in themselves. The essays examine the allegorical role that the horror film has held in the last ten years, and the ways that it has been translating and reinterpreting the discourses and images of terror into its own cinematic language.
The Horror Film
Prince, Stephen Rutgers University Press, 2004 Library of Congress PN1995.9.H6H667 2004 | Dewey Decimal 791.436164
In this volume, Stephen Prince has collected essays reviewing the history of the horror film and the psychological reasons for its persistent appeal, as well as discussions of the developmental responses of young adult viewers and children to the genre. The book focuses on recent postmodern examples such as The Blair Witch Project. In a daring move, the volume also examines Holocaust films in relation to horror.
Part One features essays on the silent and classical Hollywood eras. Part Two covers the postWorld War II era and discusses the historical, aesthetic, and psychological characteristics of contemporary horror films. In contrast to horror during the classical Hollywood period, contemporary horror features more graphic and prolonged visualizations of disturbing and horrific imagery, as well as other distinguishing characteristics. Princes introduction provides an overview of the genre, contextualizing the readings that follow.
Stephen Prince is professor of communications at Virginia Tech. He has written many film books, including Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema, 19301968, and has edited Screening Violence, also in the Depth of Field Series.
Horror films provide a guide to many of the sociological fears of the Cold War era. In an age when warning audiences of impending death was the order of the day for popular nonfiction, horror films provided an area where this fear could be lived out to its ghastly conclusion. Because enemies and potential situations of fear lurked everywhere, within the home, the government, the family, and the very self, horror films could speak to the invasive fears of the cold war era. I Was a Cold War Monster examines cold war anxieties as they were reflected in British and American films from the fifties through the early sixties. This study examines how cold war horror films combined anxiety over social change with the erotic in such films as Psycho, The Tingler, The Horror of Dracula, and House of Wax.
Horror films have for decades commanded major global audiences, tapping into deep-rooted fears that cross national and cultural boundaries in their ability to spark terror. This book brings together a group of scholars to explore the ways that this fear is utilized and played upon by a wide range of filmmakers. Contributors take up such major figures as Guillermo del Toro, Lars Von Trier, and David Cronenberg, and they also offer introductions to lesser-known talents such as Richard Franklin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Juan López Moctezuma, and Alexandre Aja. Scholars and fans alike dipping into this collection will discover plenty of insight into what chills us.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out: Political Horror is a collection of sixteen essays devoted to exploring Get Out’s roots in the horror tradition and its complex and timely commentary on twenty-first-century US race relations. The first section, “The Politics of Horror,” traces the influence of the gothic and horror tradition on Peele’s film, from Shakespeare’s Othello, through the female gothic and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, to the modern horror film, including the zombie, rural, suburban, and body-swap subgenres of horror. The second section, “The Horror of Politics,” takes up Get Out’s varied political interventions—notably its portrayal of the continuation of slavery and the deformation of the black body and mind in white, so-called progressive America. Contributors address Peele’s film alongside African American figures such as Nat Turner, W. E. B. Du Bois, and James Baldwin. Taken together, the essays illuminate how Get Out stands as both a groundbreaking intervention in the horror tradition as well as a devastating unmasking of racism in the contemporary United States.
How work and capitalism inspire horror in modern film.
American ideals position work as a source of pride, opportunity, and meaning. Yet the ravages of labor are constant grist for horror films. Going back decades to the mad scientists of classic cinema, the menial motel job that prepares Norman Bates for his crimes in Psycho, and the unemployed slaughterhouse workers of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, horror movies have made the case that work is not so much a point of pride as a source of monstrosity.
Editors Aviva Briefel and Jason Middleton assemble the first study of horror’s critique of labor. In the 1970s and 1980s, films such as The Shining and Dawn of the Dead responded to deindustrialization, automation, globalization, and rising numbers of women in the workforce. Labors of Fear explores these critical issues and extends them in discussions of recent works such as The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Midsommar, Survival of the Dead, It Follows, Get Out, and Us. Covering films ranging from the 1970s onward, these essays address novel and newly recognized modes and conditions of labor: reproductive labor, emotion work and emotional labor, social media and self-branding, intellectual labor, service work, precarity, and underemployment. In its singular way, horror continues to make spine-tingling sense of what is most destructive in the wider sociopolitical context of US capitalism.
When you think of British horror films, you might picture the classic Hammer Horror movies, with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and blood in lurid technicolor. Yet British horror has undergone an astonishing change and resurgence in the twenty-first century, with films that capture instead the anxieties of post-Millennial viewers.
Tracking the revitalization of the British horror film industry over the past two decades, media expert Steven Gerrard also investigates why audiences have flocked to these movies. To answer that question, he focuses on three major trends: “hoodie horror” movies responding to fears about Britain’s urban youth culture; “great outdoors” films where Britain’s forests, caves, and coasts comprise a terrifying psychogeography; and psychological horror movies in which the monster already lurks within us.
Offering in-depth analysis of numerous films, including The Descent, Outpost, and The Woman in Black, this book takes readers on a lively tour of the genre’s highlights, while provocatively exploring how these films reflect viewers’ gravest fears about the state of the nation. Whether you are a horror buff, an Anglophile, or an Anglophobe, The Modern British Horror Film is sure to be a thrilling read.
Once we've terrified ourselves reading Anne Rice or Stephen King, watching Halloween or following the O. J. Simpson trial, we can rely on the comfort of our inner child or Robert Bly's bongos, an angel, or even a crystal. In a brilliant assessment of American culture on the eve of the millennium, Mark Edmundson asks why we're determined to be haunted, courting the Gothic at every turn--and, at the same time, committed to escape through any new scheme for ready-made transcendence.
Nightmare on Main Street depicts a culture suffused with the Gothic, not just in novels and films but even in the nonfictive realms of politics and academic theories, TV news and talk shows, various therapies, and discourses on AIDS and the environment. Gothic's first wave, in the 1790s, reflected the truly terrifying events unfolding in revolutionary France. What, Edmundson asks, does the ascendancy of the Gothic in the 1990s tell us about our own day?
And what of another trend, seemingly unrelated--the widespread belief that re-creating oneself is as easy as making a wish? Looking at the world according to Forrest Gump, Edmundson shows how this parallel culture actually works reciprocally with the Gothic.
An unchecked fixation on the Gothic, Edmundson argues, would result in a culture of sadomasochism. Against such a rancorous and dispiriting possibility, he draws on the work of Nietzsche and Shelley, and on the recent creations of Toni Morrison and Tony Kushner, to show how the Gothic and the visionary can come together in persuasive and renovating ways.
Defying industry logic and gender expectations, women started flocking to see horror films in the early 1940s. The departure of the young male audience and the surprise success of the film Cat People convinced studios that there was an untapped female audience for horror movies, and they adjusted their production and marketing strategies accordingly.
Phantom Ladies reveals the untold story of how the Hollywood horror film changed dramatically in the early 1940s, including both female heroines and female monsters while incorporating elements of “women’s genres” like the gothic mystery. Drawing from a wealth of newly unearthed archival material, from production records to audience surveys, Tim Snelson challenges long-held assumptions about gender and horror film viewership.
Examining a wide range of classic horror movies, Snelson offers us a new appreciation of how dynamic this genre could be, as it underwent seismic shifts in a matter of months. Phantom Ladies, therefore, not only includes horror films made in the early 1940s, but also those produced immediately after the war ended, films in which the female monster was replaced by neurotic, psychotic, or hysterical women who could be cured and domesticated. Phantom Ladies is a spine-tingling, eye-opening read about gender and horror, and the complex relationship between industry and audiences in the classical Hollywood era.
Horror is one of the most enduringly popular genres in cinema. The term “horror film” was coined in 1931 between the premiere of Dracula and the release of Frankenstein, but monsters, ghosts, demons, and supernatural and horrific themes have been popular with American audiences since the emergence of novelty kinematographic attractions in the late 1890s. A Place of Darkness illuminates the prehistory of the horror genre by tracing the way horrific elements and stories were portrayed in films prior to the introduction of the term “horror film.”
Using a rhetorical approach that examines not only early films but also the promotional materials for them and critical responses to them, Kendall R. Phillips argues that the portrayal of horrific elements was enmeshed in broader social tensions around the emergence of American identity and, in turn, American cinema. He shows how early cinema linked monsters, ghosts, witches, and magicians with Old World superstitions and beliefs, in contrast to an American way of thinking that was pragmatic, reasonable, scientific, and progressive. Throughout the teens and twenties, Phillips finds, supernatural elements were almost always explained away as some hysterical mistake, humorous prank, or nefarious plot. The Great Depression of the 1930s, however, constituted a substantial upheaval in the system of American certainty and opened a space for the reemergence of Old World gothic within American popular discourse in the form of the horror genre, which has terrified and thrilled fans ever since.
Planet Auschwitz explores the diverse ways in which the Holocaust influences and shapes science fiction and horror film and television by focusing on notable contributions from the last fifty years. The supernatural and extraterrestrial are rich and complex spaces with which to examine important Holocaust themes - trauma, guilt, grief, ideological fervor and perversion, industrialized killing, and the dangerous afterlife of Nazism after World War II. Planet Auschwitz explores why the Holocaust continues to set the standard for horror in the modern era and asks if the Holocaust is imaginable here on Earth, at least by those who perpetrated it, why not in a galaxy far, far away? The pervasive use of Holocaust imagery and plotlines in horror and science fiction reflects both our preoccupation with its enduring trauma and our persistent need to “work through” its many legacies.
Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer’s work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media—and what that can tell us about King, about adaptation, and about film and TV horror. Starting from the premise that King has transcended ideas of authorship to become his own literary, cinematic, and televisual brand, Screening Stephen King explores the impact and legacy of over forty years of King film and television adaptations.
Simon Brown first examines the reasons for King’s literary success and then, starting with Brian De Palma’s Carrie, explores how King’s themes and style have been adapted for the big and small screens. He looks at mainstream multiplex horror adaptations from Cujo to Cell, low-budget DVD horror films such as The Mangler and Children of the Corn franchises, non-horror films, including Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, and TV works from Salem’s Lot to Under the Dome. Through this discussion, Brown identifies what a Stephen King film or series is or has been, how these works have influenced film and TV horror, and what these influences reveal about the shifting preoccupations and industrial contexts of the post-1960s horror genre in film and TV.
Screening the Gothic
By Lisa Hopkins University of Texas Press, 2005 Library of Congress PR408.G68H67 2005 | Dewey Decimal 820.911
Filmmakers have long been drawn to the Gothic with its eerie settings and promise of horror lurking beneath the surface. Moreover, the Gothic allows filmmakers to hold a mirror up to their own age and reveal society’s deepest fears. Franco Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet are just a few examples of film adaptations of literary Gothic texts. In this ground-breaking study, Lisa Hopkins explores how the Gothic has been deployed in these and other contemporary films and comes to some surprising conclusions. For instance, in a brilliant chapter on films geared to children, Hopkins finds that horror resides not in the trolls, wizards, and goblins that abound in Harry Potter, but in the heart of the family. Screening the Gothic offers a radical new way of understanding the relationship between film and the Gothic as it surveys a wide range of films, many of which have received scant critical attention. Its central claim is that, paradoxically, those texts whose affiliations with the Gothic were the clearest became the least Gothic when filmed. Thus, Hopkins surprises readers by revealing Gothic elements in films such as Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, as well as exploring more obviously Gothic films like The Mummy and The Fellowship of the Ring. Written in an accessible and engaging manner, Screening the Gothic will be of interest to film lovers as well as students and scholars.
In this examination of the monster as cultural object, Judith Halberstam offers a rereading of the monstrous that revises our view of the Gothic. Moving from the nineteenth century and the works of Shelley, Stevenson, Stoker, and Wilde to contemporary horror film exemplified by such movies as Silence of the Lambs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Candyman, Skin Shows understands the Gothic as a versatile technology, a means of producing monsters that is constantly being rewritten by historically and culturally conditioned fears generated by a shared sense of otherness and difference. Deploying feminist and queer approaches to the monstrous body, Halberstam views the Gothic as a broad-based cultural phenomenon that supports and sustains the economic, social, and sexual hierarchies of the time. She resists familiar psychoanalytic critiques and cautions against any interpretive attempt to reduce the affective power of the monstrous to a single factor. The nineteenth-century monster is shown, for example, as configuring otherness as an amalgam of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Invoking Foucault, Halberstam describes the history of monsters in terms of its shifting relation to the body and its representations. As a result, her readings of familiar texts are radically new. She locates psychoanalysis itself within the gothic tradition and sees sexuality as a beast created in nineteenth century literature. Excessive interpretability, Halberstam argues, whether in film, literature, or in the culture at large, is the actual hallmark of monstrosity.
Saw, Hostel, The Devil’s Rejects: this wave of horror movies has been classed under the disparaging label “torture porn.” Since David Edelstein coined the term for a New York magazine article a few years after 9/11, many critics have speculated that these movies simply reflect iconic images, anxieties, and sadistic fantasies that have emerged from the War on Terror. In this timely new study, Aaron Kerner challenges that interpretation, arguing that “torture porn” must be understood in a much broader context, as part of a phenomenon that spans multiple media genres and is rooted in a long tradition of American violence.
Torture Porn in the Wake of 9/11 tackles a series of tough philosophical, historical, and aesthetic questions: What does it mean to call a film “sadistic,” and how has this term been used to shut down critical debate? In what sense does torture porn respond to current events, and in what ways does it draw from much older tropes? How has torture porn been influenced by earlier horror film cycles, from slasher movies to J-horror? And in what ways has the torture porn aesthetic gone mainstream, popping up in everything from the television thriller Dexter to the reality show Hell’s Kitchen?
Reflecting a deep knowledge and appreciation for the genre, Torture Porn in the Wake of 9/11 is sure to resonate with horror fans. Yet Kerner’s arguments should also strike a chord in anyone with an interest in the history of American violence and its current and future ramifications for the War on Terror.
Under modernity, time is regarded as linear and measurable by clocks and calendars. Despite the historicity of clock-time itself, the modern concept of time is considered universal and culturally neutral. What Walter Benjamin called “homogeneous, empty time” founds the modern notions of progress and a uniform global present in which the past and other forms of time consciousness are seen as superseded.
In Translating Time, Bliss Cua Lim argues that fantastic cinema depicts the coexistence of other modes of being alongside and within the modern present, disclosing multiple “immiscible temporalities” that strain against the modern concept of homogeneous time. In this wide-ranging study—encompassing Asian American video (On Cannibalism), ghost films from the New Cinema movements of Hong Kong and the Philippines (Rouge, Itim, Haplos), Hollywood remakes of Asian horror films (Ju-on, The Grudge, A Tale of Two Sisters) and a Filipino horror film cycle on monstrous viscera suckers (Aswang)—Lim conceptualizes the fantastic as a form of temporal translation. The fantastic translates supernatural agency in secular terms while also exposing an untranslatable remainder, thereby undermining the fantasy of a singular national time and emphasizing shifting temporalities of transnational reception.
Lim interweaves scholarship on visuality with postcolonial historiography. She draws on Henri Bergson’s understanding of cinema as both implicated in homogeneous time and central to its critique, as well as on postcolonial thought linking the ideology of progress to imperialist expansion. At stake in this project are more ethical forms of understanding time that refuse to domesticate difference as anachronism. While supernaturalism is often disparaged as a vestige of primitive or superstitious thought, Lim suggests an alternative interpretation of the fantastic as a mode of resistance to the ascendancy of homogeneous time and a starting-point for more ethical temporal imaginings.
The Uncanny Child in Transnational Cinema illustrates how global horror film depictions of children re-conceptualised childhood at the turn of the twenty-first century. By analysing an influential body of transnational horror films, largely stemming from Spain, Japan, and the US, Jessica Balanzategui shows how millennial uncanny child characters resist embodying growth and futurity, unravelling concepts to which the child's symbolic function is typically bound. The book proposes that complex cultural and industrial shifts at the turn of the millennium resulted in these potent cinematic renegotiations of the concept of childhood. By demonstrating both the culturally specific and globally resonant properties of these frightening visions of children who refuse to grow up, the book outlines the conceptual and aesthetic mechanisms by which long entrenched ideologies of futurity, national progress, and teleological history started to waver at the turn of the twenty-first century.
When Lieutenant Uhura took her place on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek, the actress Nichelle Nichols went where no African American woman had ever gone before. Yet several decades passed before many other black women began playing significant roles in speculative (i.e., science fiction, fantasy, and horror) film and television—a troubling omission, given that these genres offer significant opportunities for reinventing social constructs such as race, gender, and class. Challenging cinema’s history of stereotyping or erasing black women on-screen, Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before showcases twenty-first-century examples that portray them as central figures of action and agency.
Writing for fans as well as scholars, Diana Adesola Mafe looks at representations of black womanhood and girlhood in American and British speculative film and television, including 28 Days Later, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Children of Men, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Firefly, and Doctor Who: Series 3. Each of these has a subversive black female character in its main cast, and Mafe draws on critical race, postcolonial, and gender theories to explore each film and show, placing the black female characters at the center of the analysis and demonstrating their agency. The first full study of black female characters in speculative film and television, Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before shows why heroines such as Lex in AVP and Zoë in Firefly are inspiring a generation of fans, just as Uhura did.
Winner of the the 2021 Best Edited Collection Award from BAFTSS Winner of the 2021 British Fantasy Award in Best Non-Fiction Finalist for the 2020 Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Runner-Up for Book of the Year in the 19th Annual Rondo Halton Classic Horror Awards
“But women were never out there making horror films, that’s why they are not written about – you can’t include what doesn’t exist.”
“Women are just not that interested in making horror films.”
This is what you get when you are a woman working in horror, whether as a writer, academic, festival programmer, or filmmaker. These assumptions are based on decades of flawed scholarly, critical, and industrial thinking about the genre. Women Make Horror sets right these misconceptions. Women have always made horror. They have always been an audience for the genre, and today, as this book reveals, women academics, critics, and filmmakers alike remain committed to a film genre that offers almost unlimited opportunities for exploring and deconstructing social and cultural constructions of gender, femininity, sexuality, and the body.
Women Make Horror explores narrative and experimental cinema; short, anthology, and feature filmmaking; and offers case studies of North American, Latin American, European, East Asian, and Australian filmmakers, films, and festivals. With this book we can transform how we think about women filmmakers and genre.