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The Horror Film is an in-depth exploration of one of the most consistently popular, but also most disreputable, of all the mainstream film genres. Since the early 1930s there has never been a time when horror films were not being produced in substantial numbers somewhere in the world and never a time when they were not being criticised, censored or banned. The Horror Film engages with the key issues raised by this most contentious of genres. It considers the reasons for horror's disreputability and seeks to explain why despite this horror has been so successful. Where precisely does the appeal of horror lie?
An extended introductory chapter identifies what it is about horror that makes the genre so difficult to define. The chapter then maps out the historical development of the horror genre, paying particular attention to the international breadth and variety of horror production, with reference to films made in the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.
Subsequent chapters explore:
- The role of monsters, focusing on the vampire and the serial killer.
- The usefulness (and limitations) of psychological approaches to horror.
- The horror audience: what kind of people like horror (and what do other people think of them)?
- Gender, race and class in horror: how do horror films such as Bride of Frankenstein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blade relate to the social and political realities within which they are produced?
- Sound and horror: in what ways has sound contributed to the development of horror?
- Performance in horror: how have performers conveyed fear and terror throughout horror's history?
- 1970s horror: was this the golden age of horror production?
- Slashers and post-slashers: from Halloween to Scream and beyond.
The Horror Film throws new light on some well-known horror films but also introduces the reader to examples of noteworthy but more obscure horror work. A final section provides a guide to further reading and an extensive bibliography. Accessibly written, The Horror Film is a lively and informative account of the genre that will appeal to students of cinema, film teachers and researchers, and horror lovers everywhere.