Horror International

Article excerpt

HORROR INTERNATIONAL Steven Jay Schnelder and Tony Williams, eds. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005,384 pp.

As the editors of Horror International state in their introduction, "Until fairly recently, analysis of the horror genre tended to concentrate on entries from the Western world" (i). Now, with greater access to international horror on both video and OVD, we are able to see the vigor and variety of horror in many national cinemas, which often ring changes on Hollywood conventions. Moreover, there is "a dynamic process of cross-cultural exchange with American mainstream, independent, and underground horror alike" (2). For example, American studios have begun to remake a large number of foreign horror hits, whether Dutch, Danish, Spanish, or Japanese (Vanilla Sky and The Ring are among many recent examples). In an era of increasing globalization, greater attention needs to be paid both to the traditions of national cinemas in the genre of horror and to cross-cultural exchanges of these traditions. This valuable collection fills a gap in studies of the genre.

The advantages of this book over its competition-books such as Joan Hawkins's Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and the Horrific Avant-Garde, Steven Jay Schneider"s Fear without Frontiers: Horror Cinema across the Globe, and Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs's Immoral Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies 1956-1984-are that it includes the greatest number of national cinemas, shows the greatest variety of critical approaches, and is the most up to date.

The scope of the volume is impressive. It is, of course, impossible to cover every horror film-producing country in the globe, but the editors give representative samples from eighteen of them, Including several films released since 2000. The study shows how international horror films draw from both Hollywood horror conventions and from local cinematic traditions, local folklore, and national history and cultural concerns. The various critics are aware of the production, marketing, and reception of various national cinemas and demonstrate how, in many cases, these films are understood differently by an international audience than they are locally.

The scholarship is uniformly excellent. Each contributor is an expert in cinema studies and in a particular national cinema. Each shows awareness of the latest scholarship in the field, the major work both on horror cinema from 1990 to the present and on the specific national cinema. Horror is a fluid and changing territory, with connections to other genres such as fantasy, science fiction, and psychological thrillers; it is inflected differently and serves different cultural purposes in different national cinemas.

The editors have done a good job choosing the topics and contributors and editing the selections for style. …