american nightmare essays on the horror film

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American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film

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American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film Paperback – January 1, 1979

  • Print length 99 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Festival of Festivals
  • Publication date January 1, 1979
  • Dimensions 8.2 x 0.2 x 6 inches
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  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0088L1XUE
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Festival of Festivals; First Edition (January 1, 1979)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 99 pages
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.2 x 0.2 x 6 inches

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The Bedlam Files

THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE: ESSAYS ON THE HORROR FILM

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Here was have what may be the most widely discussed yet least read genre study of all time. Readers of non-fiction books and articles about horror cinema have likely seen THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE referenced, as I’m sure have most David Cronenberg fans—Cronenberg has bitched at length about this book and its editor, the late Robin Wood, who’s became well-known among genre scholars for the anti-Cronenberg views he airs in THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE. As to why the book is so obscure, the reason is simple enough: it was a 100-page booklet given out to patrons of the 1979 Toronto Film Festival that was never made available to the public. It’s also an over-intellectualized bore.

To be fair, THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE deserves credit for being one of the first publications of its kind. Back in 1979 the idea of writing scholarly analyses on horror and exploitation movies was somewhat novel (THE PSYCHOTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM and Re/Search’s INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILMS, the tomes generally credited with popularizing such fare, were still several years in the future). This explains why the book was so widely discussed, but doesn’t change the fact that its contents are of scant interest to anyone outside the academic set.

Over-intellectualizing horror movies is always a mistake. While I despise the derisive manner in which so many mainstream film critics treat horror cinema, it’s a fact that such films generally aren’t made by or for intellectuals.

Clearly nobody told Robin Wood. He makes his intent clear in the opening paragraph of THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE’S introduction, invoking the “confluence” of Marx and Freud, and “the recognition that social revolution and sexual revolution are inextricably linked and necessary to each other.” The horror film, Wood argues, offers an ideal representation of this confluence. Elsewhere in the introduction Wood castigates Cronenberg’s SHIVERS and THE BROOD for their “reactionary” politics, with the latter film dismissed as “the precise antithesis of the genre’s progressive potential.”

Of the rest of the book, Andrew Britton contributes a perilously long-winded dirge on “The Symbolism of Evil” that invokes William Blake, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, along with brief references to some popular horror movies (which are secondary, if not entirely incidental, to the bulk of the essay). Britton also provides a piece on THE EXORCIST, focusing on its themes of sexual repression and patriarchal subjugation ( zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ). Wood contributes a typically rambling essay on Brian De Palma’s SISTERS and its feminist subtext, while Richard Lippe discourses on FULL CIRCLE, apparently “a neglected horror film that demands from its audience an emotional responsiveness to mood and an intellectual awareness of how tensions are built through audience identification with characters” (got all that?).

Further essays, all of them drafted in the same suffocatingly academic tenor, include an (overly) admiring Robin Wood penned overview of Larry Cohen ’s filmography and a piece on NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD, which Wood claims (for once without any academic pomposity) “are among the most powerful, fascinating and complex of modern horror films.” On that point, at least, Mr. Wood and I are in full agreement.

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  • Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews ed. by Barry Keith Grant (review)

  • Khara Lukancic
  • Center for the Study of Film and History
  • Volume 49, Number 1, Summer 2019
  • 10.1353/flm.2019.0009
  • View Citation

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Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews ed. by Barry Keith Grant [book review]

Profile image of Khara D Lukancic

2019, Film & History

Related Papers

Open Screens

John Lynskey

american nightmare essays on the horror film

James Aston

The proliferation of North American horror films in the 21st century has engendered an increase in critical and academic response which has almost exclusively focused on the conventions of mainstream horror cinema. That is, films sanctioned by classificatory bodies, released through mid to large production companies and exhibited via selected to wide theatrical releases. While academic work, drawing from film and cultural studies, has provided a much needed engagement with the popularity and themes of contemporary U.S. horror they have tended to exclude marginal or ‘hidden’ horror film examples. Therefore, working from Antonio Lázaro-Reboll’s work on the ‘archaeology of horror’ put forward in The Spanish Horror Film (2012), this paper (which is part of a monograph on the subject) will similarly seek to “reintegrate marginal filmic and cultural practices” (p.7) into 21st century U.S. horror. Within the paper an account of the aesthetic and thematic strategies of the films will be provided which will work toward supplying a definition of the term hardcore horror. A number of filmic examples will be given (such as films by Fred Vogel, Shane Ryan and Lucifer Valentine) and areas such as production, marketing, and consumption will be addressed. The importance of looking at hardcore horror is that these films operate outside of normative filmmaking practice and in doing so provide a wider examination of the cultural field of U.S. horror in terms of how it is made and experienced. The paper will hope to provide a redefinition of the boundaries of the genre within the context of contemporary U.S. horror, so that overlooked horror films and their revisions and alterations of commercial production, marketing and consumption practices can be included. In turn, this will help to better understand the interface between filmmaker and audience (and scholar), especially when it comes to cultural representations of and experience toward horror.

Crossing Boundaries and Fear, Horror, and Interface

Carla J . Glen

Abstract: The gruesome reality of horror films and the cruel reality of everyday life reside in the image; a parallel universe, which may be retained from the torrent of images of the spectacle in a hyperreal global society. The catharsis one hopes to experience when attending horror films suggests that there be an emotional and intellectual clarification of one’s everyday existence. How this is done however, appears to be contrary to the world slipping into a consumerist, technocratic global world. The purpose proposed in this paper is a notion that horror films offer a re-examination, through a catharsis, which offsets the pragmatic and materialistic ideologies of a technocratic, global world, and hence, presses for reflection of the carnage framed in not only of aspects of the objective, descriptive world, but also of aspects of one’s inner world: how to understand and value through an art form, what is happening in real life, and to believe in the intrinsically good of oneself and the greater community.

Mark Barber

David Church

Horror’s longstanding reputation as a popular but culturally denigrated genre has been challenged by a new wave of films mixing arthouse minimalism with established genre conventions. Variously dubbed "elevated horror" and "post-horror," films such as The Babadook, It Follows, The Witch, It Comes at Night, Get Out, The Invitation, Hereditary, Midsommar, A Ghost Story, and mother! represent an emerging nexus of taste, politics, and style that has often earned outsized acclaim from critics and populist rejection by wider audiences. Post-Horror is the first full-length study of one of the most important and divisive movements in twenty-first-century horror cinema. CASE STUDIES include: It Follows The Witch The Babadook Get Out Hereditary Midsommar Goodnight Mommy It Comes at Night The Invitation I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House mother! A Dark Song A Ghost Story The Lighthouse Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse Under the Skin TABLE OF CONTENTS: Figures Acknowledgments 1. Apprehension Engines: Defining a New Wave of Art-Horror Cinema 2. "Slow," "Smart," "Indie," "Prestige," "Elevated": Discursive Struggle for Cultural Distinction 3. Grief, Mourning, and the Horrors of Familial Inheritance 4. Horror by Gaslight: Epistemic Violence and Ambivalent Belonging 5. Beautiful, Horrible Desolation: Landscape in Post-Horror Cinema 6. Queer Ethics and the Urban Ruin-Porn Landscape: The Horrors of Monogamy in It Follows 7. Existential Dread and the Trouble with Transcendence Selected Bibliography Index

The philosophy of horror

Scoob J.Jones

Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film Women

Carolina Pacheco

Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film Women occupy a privileged place in horror film. Horror is a space of entertainment and excitement, of terror and dread, and one that relishes the complexities that arise when boundaries-of taste, of bodies, of reason-are blurred and dismantled. It is also a site of expression and exploration that leverages the narrative and aesthetic horrors of the reproductive, the maternal and the sexual to expose the underpinnings of the social, political and philosophical othering of women. This book offers an in-depth analysis of women in horror films through an exploration of 'gynaehorror': films concerned with all aspects of female reproductive horror, from reproductive and sexual organs, to virginity, pregnancy , birth, motherhood and finally to menopause. Some of the themes explored include: the intersection of horror, monstrosity and sexual difference; the relationships between normative female (hetero)sexuality and the twin figures of the chaste virgin and the voracious vagina dentata; embodiment and subjectivity in horror films about pregnancy and abortion; reproductive technologies , monstrosity and 'mad science'; the discursive construction and interrogation of monstrous motherhood; and the relationships between menopause, menstruation, hagsploitation and 'abject barren' bodies in horror. The book not only offers a feminist interrogation of gynaehorror, but also a counter-reading of the gynaehorrific, that both accounts for and opens up new spaces of productive, radical and subversive monstrosity within a mode of representation and expression that has often been accused of being mis-ogynistic. It therefore makes a unique contribution to the study of women in horror film specifically, while also providing new insights in the broader area of popular culture, gender and film philosophy. Erin Harrington is Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies at The University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Will Dodson

Martin Fradley

Edinburgh University Press

Gary D . Rhodes

This is a low-resolution, uncorrected proof of my monograph THE BIRTH OF THE AMERICAN HORROR FILM, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2018. It contains a small number of typos that were corrected for publication. While I am sharing this online, it is crucial for any readers to understand that this is an uncorrected proof. Anyone wishing to cite this work should refer to a published copy.

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Jordan Peele’s Us: black horror movies and the American nightmare

american nightmare essays on the horror film

Lecturer in American Studies, Loughborough University

Disclosure statement

Andrew Dix does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Loughborough University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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Jordan Peele’s debut horror film, Get Out (2017), pitched its black hero into a genteel white world in which lethal racist violence lurked behind every idyllic facade. In his second horror feature, the recently released Us , the cast of African American protagonists is extended and their object of terror modified. Here a middle-class family of parents and two children, on holiday in California, is suddenly drawn into a life-and-death struggle with horrifying doubles of themselves.

Us has opened to critical acclaim , and is also proving highly popular with audiences. The numbers are appropriately monstrous: the film’s box office takings from March 22-26 alone amounted to more than four times its comparatively modest US$20m budget. Given the huge success of Get Out – together with his work as producer on Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (2018) – Us confirms Peele’s status as a significant player in contemporary Hollywood.

Peele’s two films to date as writer-director are, of course, not the first horror movies to achieve broad audience appeal. Think, for example, of precursors such as John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) or Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Nevertheless, with the success of Get Out and Us, the horror film has again become an object of mass consumption, rather than something enjoyed principally by niche demographics. Not quite fun for all the family, perhaps, but certainly entertainment for many spectators whose cinematic tastes may not normally extend to horror.

The mainstream success of these two films owes a good deal to their sheer polish. Rather than the relatively cheap look of, say, the British Hammer Horror titles released between the late 1950s and 1970s, Peele’s films have high production values. They interweave terror with comedy in a winning combination. And Get Out and Us are tactful, too, in their renditions of violence. Peele’s camera moves on briskly from signs of bodily damage, avoiding the exploitation imagery to be found in other horror directors such as Rob Zombie (as in 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses , with its crazed family mutilating teenagers at Halloween).

Like Get Out, Us prompts us to think once more about the relationship between African Americans and horror films. The genre has proved attractive to black filmmakers in the US during the past 50 years. Why?

American nightmare

From the arrival of the first slave ships on the East Coast, African Americans have often fashioned their experiences into narratives of horror. Instead of reporting the enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they have testified to a Gothic fate of enslavement and violence.

Little wonder, then, that in his speech The Ballot or the Bullet (1964) , the radical black activist Malcolm X said: “I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.” Or that in her novel Beloved (1987) , Toni Morrison paints a nightmarish picture of: “Whole towns wiped clean of Negroes; eighty-seven lynchings in one year alone in Kentucky; four colored schools burned to the ground; grown men whipped like children.”

In the face of this grim historical record, horror is a compelling genre for African American artists. Far from appearing somewhat fantastical, the genre oddly holds out instead the promise of documentary accuracy. And just as novelists such as Morrison have found horror valuable as a means of reckoning with history, so too black filmmakers have exploited its power to move audiences to sombre reflection (as well as its marketable capacity to frighten them out of their skins).

Villains and victims

“The monster exists”, Barry Langford , a scholar of film genres, suggests, “to teach an object (social) lesson of some kind.” So it’s worth stopping to think about what we are taught by the figure of the monster in horror movies directed by African Americans.

The first lesson comes from a set of films that, at first sight, recycle racist tropes in presenting their monster as black. What is distinctive here, however, is a tendency to motivate the monster’s violent actions – instead of expressing mindless savagery, these are to be understood now as the inevitable outcome of racial injustice.

Examples of this cinema of black protest include William Crain’s Blacula (1972) , in which an 18th-century African prince becomes a vampire in contemporary Los Angeles after his plea to abolish the slave trade is ignored. Or Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess (1973) , featuring a black anthropologist turned vampire and similarly adapting the shopworn Dracula plot to reflect on the legacy of white dominance. Both of these films date from a time when stylistically inventive and politically energised African American horror films flourished even in the face of restricted budgets.

But elsewhere in black American horror cinema, the colour coding of the monster is adjusted. In these rather different scenarios of terrifying white threat, the African American protagonist takes on the role of the endangered. This subversive move is, of course, available to others besides black filmmakers. George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) , for example, shows a resourceful black protagonist menaced by the white undead. But there are many instances of this sort of plot within the black cinematic canon, extending from Crain’s Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976) to Get Out itself.

To juxtapose Peele’s new film with Get Out is to see a further twist in the racial dynamics of the African American horror film. In Us, the central black characters are neither monsters nor victims in any simple sense, but actually both (as are their white equivalents). Monstrosity is in fact hard to locate here with any authority. The vulnerable black family we root for as it struggles against its terrifying doubles is after all itself vampiric, in its exploitation of those people less economically advantaged.

  • Black Americans
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  • Jordan Peele
  • Black Culture

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The work of horror films

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How late capitalism is the underrecognized monster lurking in modern American horror.

“Sometimes I wonder what it was exactly, that led me to pull The Dead Zone by Stephen King off of my parents’ bookshelf when I was in fourth grade,” says Jason Middleton. “It was the first ‘grown-up’ novel I ever read. There were certainly parts of it that I found kind of upsetting, but also magnetic. It almost felt as if the world was opening up in a new way.”

Middleton is an associate professor of English and of visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester . He also directs its film and media studies program . His captivation by King’s novel led to a lifelong love of horror films. Although horror is just one of the film genres Middleton has immersed himself in—both as a fan and a scholar—it’s a genre whose appeal he thinks is especially durable.

In horror, “normality is threatened by a monster,” he says. “What’s so wonderfully expansive about the horror genre is that the monster keeps forming and reforming in relation to the fears and anxieties of its time. And on the flip side, normality, and the depiction of normality, keeps evolving and changing based on the historical period as well.”

Work as the American nightmare

There have been some clear trends. In the post-World War II era, the monster was often a stand-in for anxieties about the atomic bomb. During the feminist movement of the 1970s, the monster often suggested anxieties about female power and female bodies.

That critique has extended into a new era—late capitalism, a phrase coined to describe a world of globalized commodification that’s both unsettling and absurd . The essays focus overwhelmingly on 21st-century horror films. Those depict a world of economic precarity and a hollowed-out middle class that make up “a new ‘normality’” of survival, or of just getting by. And even that bleak environment is vulnerable to new monsters that threaten what stability protagonists have been able to muster—or that they are striving to attain in the first place.

In Labors of Fear: The Modern Horror Film Goes to Work (University of Texas Press, 2023), Middleton has joined with Aviva Briefel, who teaches literature and film at Bowdoin College, to make the case that there’s been another kind of monster lurking in American horror films all along: the post-industrial world of work.

In the essay collection, which they coedit, Middleton and Briefel suggest that ambivalence about work is a theme that has roots stretching back to classic horror , when it usually came in the form of the mad scientist. In modern horror films, starting roughly in the 1970s, ambivalence evolved into a fuller critique. Middleton and Briefel describe the critique as reflecting “social fears and anxieties that took root in the 1970s and 1980s in response to deindustrialization, automation, globalized labor, union busting, and rising income inequality.”

An easy example is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , a pathbreaking film that’s 50 years old this year. Rural, unemployed slaughterhouse workers are never shown performing slaughterhouse labor, but are shown “repeating the trained motions of this labor upon their human victims,” they write.

New categories of uncompensated work

Middleton is especially interested in forms of uncompensated work, which he argues fall disproportionately on groups that are already marginalized. He isn’t just talking about such uncompensated labor as housework or family caregiving. In his own contribution, “No Drama: Emotion Work in Midsommar, ” Middleton explores “emotion work” in the 2019 film directed by Ari Aster.

He describes emotion work as “suppressing and modifying, and maybe not expressing one’s own feelings in order that a spouse or partner has the kind of optimal experience that they themselves expect to have in the relationship.” It has a long history in the quest of women to get by but has proven resilient even as women have achieved greater economic independence.

Midsommar (2019) depicts the arduous efforts of a 20-something female protagonist, Dani, to hold onto her relationship with her distant and disengaged boyfriend, Christian. The couple attends a summer festival in Sweden that turns out to be an annual ritual of a murderous cult.

Its horrors mirror Dani’s labors in preserving her attachment to Christian. But she also attains a level of power within the cult, and the film’s cathartic ending shows Dani ending the relationship by sacrificing Christian.

It’s actually a breakup story, Middleton explains. But in showing the slow, laboriousness process in which Dani comes to recognize Christian’s neglectfulness, it’s the inverse of many lighter breakup films. “It’s kind of the horror movie version of a breakup film like Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun ,” he says. “The semantic elements are mostly the same—travel, exotic location, meeting different people, food, all of these things. But whereas in those films, the work of a breakup is frictionless and fulfilling and idealized, Midsommar uses the horror genre to instead express the work of a breakup as just agonizing, laborious, and painful—and ultimately, in the end, cathartic.”

The horror of stagnation—and of leisure

The essays in the collection also demonstrate how the experience of economic precarity can differ along racial lines. Briefel’s essay, for example, is subtitled “The Hard Work of Leisure in Jordan Peele’s Us .”

“In a 2019 interview for Vanity Fair, Jordan Peele explained that one of his objectives in the film Us was to represent Black leisure,” Briefel begins. “Yet relaxation is a major source of horror in the film.” Us shows a Black family living with a constant threat of merely letting their guard down.

In another essay, Mikal Gaines, an assistant professor of English at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, coins a subgenre of “Buppie horror,” which reworks the conventional home-invasion thriller. Lakeview Terrace (2008) is an archetype, Gaines explains, of a subgenre that “seems to say that entry into a rarified class status historically reserved for whites must be paid in blood.”

For many white Americans, however, the threat is losing what they have—or living with the dread of having already lost. Middleton’s colleague at Rochester, Joel Burges, finds in David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 film It Follows a depiction of “the precarity of white working-class identity.” The film shows a group of young adult friends in a desolate and stagnant postindustrial Detroit. It’s a reworking of the stalker films of the 1970s and ’80s, explains Burges, like Middleton, an associate professor of English and of visual and cultural studies. It Follows adheres to the slasher convention of punishing people for sexual acts. Sexual encounters between the characters—men as well as women, in this film—infect characters with “It,” a stalker who lurks after them, and takes changing forms, but always of mangled middle- and working-class white bodies.

In these bodies, however, Burges found something beyond the slasher convention in which sex equals death. In It Follows , the work of getting by literally takes place mostly in low-level, dead-end service occupations that fill the young adults with dread to have. There’s emotion work, in other words, in surviving the bleak landscape through which “It” stalks victims. “Dread is slow,” Burges writes. “Its menace bears down on you with steadily intensifying pressure that never relents.”

Horror films in the post-COVID era

When Middleton and Briefel got started on their project, COVID-19 was sweeping across the globe. No one knew at the time just how much the pandemic would transform the world of work. Have these changes started to play out in horror films? And if so, how?

Says Middleton: “Something that I noticed during the last few years is that some really interesting horror movies take place not only entirely in a house, or entirely within an enclosed space, but entirely just a person and their laptop. For example, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021). The whole film is just from the perspective of an isolated teenage girl on her laptop, as she’s on it every night to do these internet challenges that grow increasingly dangerous and threatening as she does them.

“It’s just the horrific experience of being on the internet on your laptop all the time.”

More in The Arts

Jason Middleton in a mask teaches his film class.

american nightmare essays on the horror film

The American Nightmare

(2000) 73 min. DVD: $24.95. New Video Group (avail. from most distributors). Color cover. ISBN: 0-7670-4964-0. April 19, 2004

by D. Fienberg

April 6, 2004

Rating: 3 of 5

How do filmmakers address a modern world in which gore and inhuman violence are the stuff of the nightly news? Adam Simon's documentary argues that for a generation of filmmakers, horror films were the logical extension of Vietnam, the political assassinations of the 1960s, and modernity run amuck. Beginning with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and stretching through The Texas Chainsaw Massacre , Shivers , and Halloween , among other films, The American Nightmare offers an auteurist perspective on some of the finest horror films ever crafted. Interviews with Romero, Tobe Hooper, Tom Savini, and particularly Wes Craven and David Cronenberg (who is, in fact, a Canadian director), offer ample evidence that the architects of these bloody, sexually deviant, and often subversive films are some of the smartest filmmakers working in Hollywood. Backed by film scholars including Tom Gunning and Carol Clover, the documentary is especially effective in validating Romero's zombie films and Hooper's low budget Leatherface flick, dedicating more than half of its 73-minute running time to two of the Living Dead films and Massacre . In doing so, the survey inevitably comes up short in other areas of analysis, particularly in explaining the shifts in the horror genre as the 1980s began, when horror became synonymous with slasher films of decreasing value. Still, there is much food for thought (as well as for cannibals) here. Recommended. ( D. Fienberg )

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american nightmare essays on the horror film

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Chapter Five. The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s

From the book hollywood from vietnam to reagan.

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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan

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4 New Horror Books Spiked With Dread and Profound Unease

Our columnist reviews this month’s haunting new releases.

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In this illustration, a person stands in the middle of a dark street, holding a hitchhicker’s thumb out in front of a lone car.

By Gabino Iglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, editor, literary critic and professor. He is the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award-winning author of “The Devil Takes You Home.”

Simone St. James is known for brilliantly mixing thriller elements with supernatural mayhem, and MURDER ROAD (Berkley, 342 pp., $29) , her most recent novel, offers readers plenty of both.

During the summer of 1995, April and Eddie are on their way to a resort for their honeymoon when a wrong turn sends them down a dark road in the middle of the night. The newlyweds pick up a hitchhiker, and then realize the young woman is bleeding. April and Eddie take the woman to a hospital, but she dies.

The couple soon learn the hitchhiker is just one of many who’ve met their demise on Atticus Line. The road, according to locals, is haunted by a ghost known as the Lost Girl, “a stupid legend,” who has allegedly been killing people for decades. Under pressure because of the unsolved murders, the police unsuccessfully try to pin the killing on the couple, and after they are cleared of any wrongdoing, April and Eddie stick around and try to get to the bottom of things. But the newlyweds have their own dark past, and as it catches up to them, so does the darkness that haunts Atticus Line.

Fast, chilling, entertaining, unexpectedly touching, and with two broken, memorable characters at its core, this might be St. James’s best novel yet.

Argentina’s new wave of horror fiction is quickly finding an international audience, and in the process, has introduced the world to literary giants like Mariana Enríquez and Samanta Schweblin. Now, Marina Yuszczuk joins that list of Argentine horror stars with THIRST (Dutton, 241 pp., $28) .

The book, which is translated by Heather Cleary, is a unique vampire novel full of eroticism and feminist rage. The story takes place in two different periods. First we follow a female vampire escaping persecution, making her way across Europe over the centuries and finally landing in Buenos Aires, where she experiences the city’s early days as well as the yellow fever pandemics of the late 1800s. Eventually, she’s forced to go into hiding in a cemetery. The second part of the book follows a divorced mother who’s dealing with her own mother’s declining health and who receives a strange old photo from an ailing woman that links her to the vampire.

This gripping tale is full of queer representation and lush, lyrical passages, all while exploring death with an air of nihilism. “We’re all standing at death’s door,” Yuszczuk writes. “Someone has to be next in line.” Vampires are making a comeback, and Yuszczuk is spearheading their revival with this bloody novel.

In addition to scaring readers, the tales in THROUGH THE NIGHT LIKE A SNAKE: Latin American Horror Stories (Two Lines Press/Calico, 228 pp., paperback, $16.95) are meant to elicit a profound sense of unease, and they pull it off with flying colors.

The anthology collects 10 stories from some of Latin America’s best purveyors of what the editor Sarah Coolidge calls “narrativa de lo inusual” — narrative of the unusual. In Mariana Enriquez’s “That Summer in the Dark,” translated by Megan McDowell, two young friends become obsessed with serial killers and then must confront the reality of a murderer in their own building. Maximiliano Barrientos’s “The Third Transformation,” translated by Tim Gutteridge, is a superb body horror nightmare full of mystery and also breathing meat flowers with teeth. Julián Isaza’s “Visitor,” translated by Joel Streicker, is the funniest story in the collection, and perhaps the one with the greatest twist. It follows an elderly woman who rescues an alien and develops a symbiotic relationship with it that leads to murder.

These stories — relentlessly unsettling as they are — serve as a fantastic introduction to a growing movement that’s bound to enrich, and help diversify, speculative fiction for years to come.

STITCHES (Viz Media, 112 pp., $18) combines the art of Junji Ito, perhaps the world’s most renowned mangaka, with the brief, punchy short stories of Hirokatsu Kihara, translated by Jocelyne Allen, to craft a delectable collection of illustrated scary stories.

Nine very short tales (more horrific morsels than full stories) make up this book, and they all share some cohesive elements: They open with a blunt opening line like “This happened when M was in elementary school,” followed by a supernatural event and then a surprising twist.

Ito and Kihara fully embrace horror in these tiny tales. In “Face,” a woman sprouts a small face on the back of her neck that must be removed by a priest. “Library” is about the ghost of a young girl who haunts a school library. “The Play” tells of a special staging of “Pinocchio” in which an otherworldly presence insists on participating. “Folk Dance” and “The Kimono” are opposite sides of the same coin: In the former, a photographer fails to capture an image of a dancing specter; in the latter, a friendly, playful ghost shows up in a family picture.

Ito, whose classics like “Uzumaki” and “Tomie” are horror staples, is a master at creating creepy details and expressive faces that help carry Kihara’s succinct terrors. Together, the two masters create their own brand of dark magic.

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You never know what’s going to go wrong in these graphic novels, where Circus tigers, giant spiders, shifting borders and motherhood all threaten to end life as we know it .

When the author Tommy Orange received an impassioned email from a teacher in the Bronx, he dropped everything to visit the students  who inspired it.

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Michael Myers at 50: Essays on the Halloween Franchise

Editor: Shane H. Weathers, Bowling Green State University

Editors Introduction:

John Carpenter’s Halloween is arguably the most iconic slasher film of all time. While taking inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho , Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom , Bob Clark’s Black Christmas , and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , Halloween is the film responsible for the rise of the slasher craze of the late 1970s and early 1980s, spawning further hits like Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th , Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street , and more. Without Halloween , it is possible that the slasher subgenre as we know it today would either be entirely different or not exist at all. From the iconic Final Girl of Laurie Strode, to Michael Myers (recognizable to even non-horror fans), and to Dr. Loomis, the series has created some of the most memorable characters within the horror genre, and pioneered the tropes and conventions that were satirized by Wes Craven’s Scream .

However, the legacy of Halloween cannot be properly discussed without taking into account its direct successors. From Halloween II in 1981 to Halloween Ends in 2022, the original film has spawned twelve subsequent entries with five distinct timelines, making it the most prolific slasher franchise in cinema. Each of these films has contributed to building upon the legacy of Michael Myers that John Carpenter began in 1978. Unfortunately, most of the scholarship done on the series tends to focus on the original and perhaps one or two of the sequels.

Therefore, the goal of this edited collection is to address EVERY aspect of the Halloween franchise in anticipation of its fiftieth anniversary in October of 2028. As such, we are looking for essays addressing each individual film, including the original and one final essay that contextualizes the entire franchise. While the impact of the original Halloween cannot be understated, we contend that to truly understand its impact, the franchise needs to be given equal attention. This collection aims to be an integral contribution to the emerging field of film franchise studies.  Scholars are encouraged to take any fresh direction they want to for their chosen film; however, some possible topics are listed below:

  • Comparisons between Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2007)
  • The producer’s cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
  • Jamie Lee Curtis and the Franchise/individual films (except original)
  • Danielle Harris in Halloween 4 & 5 versus Rob Zombie duology
  • Corey Cunningham in Halloween Ends
  • The personality shift of Dr. Loomis in Halloween II (2009)
  • The genre shift and lack of Michael Myers/meta Myers in Halloween 3
  • Auteur study of Rick Rosenthal and Halloween II (1981) and Resurrection
  • Comparisons between Halloween H20 and Scream
  • Fan reception to specific films
  • Final Girls (other than Laurie) – Sara in Resurrection , Kara in Curse , Allyson in the David Gordon Green trilogy

The films are listed below (three essays will be chosen for the original film, one for each sequel, and one final essay contextualizing the entire series for a total of 16 essays)

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  • Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
  • Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
  • Halloween (2007)
  • Halloween II (2009)
  • Halloween (2018)
  • Halloween Kills (2021)
  • Halloween Ends (2022)

Queries and Submissions:

Please send queries and abstracts (around 300 words) for proposed chapter-length original work to [email protected] . Proposals should be submitted no later than September 10, 2024 . Selected contributors will be notified by October 1, 2024 . Initial drafts of 5750-7250 words (MLA 9, further style details will be given upon selection) will be due February 25, 2025 . Please provide in a separate document or in the body of the email a brief author biography. I am currently discussing the book proposal with a university publisher who is very interested in the collection, and, in advance of the original film’s fiftieth anniversary in October of 2028, am aiming for an early 2028 release date.

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  4. American Nightmare (2014)

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  5. ‎Robin Wood on the Horror Film on Apple Books

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  6. American Nightmare de James Demonaco (2013)

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  1. American Horror Story Asylum (Radioactive)

COMMENTS

  1. American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film

    A collection of essays on the horror Part 1 - Repression, the Other, the Monster; Part 2 - Return of the Repressed; Part 3 - The Reactionary Wing by Robin Wood. 2. Der The Ambiguities of Horror by Robin Wood. 3. The Devil, The Symbolism of Evil by Andrew Britton. 4. The Dark Murnau's Nosferatu by Robin Wood. 5. The Exorcist by Andrew Britton; 6.

  2. American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film

    Robert Paul Wood, known as Robin Wood, was an English film critic and educator who lived in Canada for much of his life. He wrote books on the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Satyajit Ray, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Arthur Penn. Wood was a longtime member - and co-founder, along with other colleagues at Toronto's York ...

  3. Project MUSE

    Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews compiles over fifty years of his groundbreaking critiques. In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film - the first ...

  4. The American Nightmare: Essays on The Horror Film

    He makes his intent clear in the opening paragraph of THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE'S introduction, invoking the "confluence" of Marx and Freud, and "the recognition that social revolution and sexual revolution are inextricably linked and necessary to each other.". The horror film, Wood argues, offers an ideal representation of this confluence.

  5. Project MUSE

    Arguably, the most read essay of Wood's work on the horror film is "An Introduction to the American Horror Film" from 1978, originally from American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film, and reprinted in Bill Nichols's Movies and Methods: Volume II, one of the most relied upon anthologies in the early days of film studies in the 1980s. In this ...

  6. Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews (Preview)

    The publisher's summary of the book's scope is nicely succinct, so I will quote it here: In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film—the first serious collection of critical writing on the horror genre.

  7. Robin Wood on the Horror Film : Collected Essays and Reviews

    Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews compiles over fifty years of his groundbreaking critiques. In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film — the first ...

  8. American Nightmare : Essays on the Horror Film

    American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film. Andrew Britton. Festival of Festivals, 1979 ... devil dominant effect embodiment energy evil example existence fact father fear feel figure film's final forces genre given gives hand hero horror film human ideology implications Indian interest Jonathan killing less linked Living look male Martin ...

  9. American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film

    Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A collection of essays on the horror Part 1 - Repression, the Other, the Monster; Part 2 - R…

  10. American nightmare by Andrew Britton

    American nightmare essays on the horror film by Andrew Britton. 0 Ratings 0 Want to read; 0 Currently reading; 0 Have read; American nightmare. Edit. This edition doesn't have a description yet. Can you add one? Publish Date. 1979. Publisher. Festival of Festivals. Language. English. Pages. 99. Check nearby libraries.

  11. the american nightmare

    derfully orchestrated event, well-organ- the essays in The American Nightmare, ized and clearly thought out. A collection they develop the philosophy underlying of essays on the horror film entitled The the most progressive, artistic works of American Nightmare, edited by Robin horror: that socio-sexual-political repres­

  12. Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews ed. by

    Arguably, the most read essay of Wood's work on the horror film is "An Introduction to the American Horror Film" from 1978, originally from American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film, and reprinted in Bill Nichols's Movies and Methods: Volume II, one of the most relied upon anthologies in the early days of film studies in the 1980s.

  13. Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews

    In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film - the first serious collection of critical writing on the horror genre. Robin Wood on the Horror Film now contains all of Wood's ...

  14. Robin Wood on the Horror Film : Collected Essays and Reviews

    In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film - the first serious collection of critical writing on the horror genre. Robin Wood on the Horror Film now contains all of Wood's ...

  15. Jordan Peele's Us: black horror movies and the American nightmare

    Published: March 29, 2019 5:54am EDT. Jordan Peele's debut horror film, Get Out (2017), pitched its black hero into a genteel white world in which lethal racist violence lurked behind every ...

  16. The work of horror films

    An essay collection on modern American horror films shows the connection between work, labor, and horror under late capitalism. ... Work as the American nightmare. There have been some clear trends. In the post-World War II era, the monster was often a stand-in for anxieties about the atomic bomb. ... The essays in the collection also ...

  17. Robin Wood on the Horror Film: Collected Essays and Reviews

    In September 1979, Wood and Richard Lippe programmed an extensive series of horror films for the Toronto International Film Festival and edited a companion piece: The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film — the first serious collection of critical writing on the horror genre.

  18. The American Nightmare

    In doing so, the survey inevitably comes up short in other areas of analysis, particularly in explaining the shifts in the horror genre as the 1980s began, when horror became synonymous with slasher films of decreasing value. Still, there is much food for thought (as well as for cannibals) here. Recommended. (D. Fienberg)

  19. Chapter Five. The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s

    The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s" In Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan, 70-94. New York Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 1986. New York Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 1986.

  20. Robin Wood's "An Introduction to the American Horror Film" / "American

    In this video, I provide an overview of film critic Robin Wood's essay "An Introduction to the American Horror Film" (1979). Parts of this essay are also pub...

  21. Book Review: New Horror Books

    This gripping tale is full of queer representation and lush, lyrical passages, all while exploring death with an air of nihilism. "We're all standing at death's door," Yuszczuk writes ...

  22. cfp

    Editor: Shane H. Weathers, Bowling Green State University Editors Introduction: John Carpenter's Halloween is arguably the most iconic slasher film of all time. While taking inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Bob Clark's Black Christmas, and Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween is the film responsible for the rise of the slasher ...