Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear

Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear

Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear

Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear


In large part due to its emphasis on gore, screaming teenage girls, and otherworldly elements, horror films have received little critical attention from mainstream movie magazines and film-studies journals.

In Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear, essayists focus primarily on how film technology, marketing, and distribution effectively create the aesthetics and reception of horror films.

Previously unpublished, these essays cover several styles of horror film-including the silent German Expressionist masterpiece Nosferatu, the jittery mock-documentary The Blair Witch Project, and the gracefully shot The Exorcist. Essayists question how lighting, editing techniques, sound, and camera and film equipment affect how viewers perceive a horror movie. Some essays focus on groundbreaking films, such as Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Most concentrate on a specific technique and how it is used in a variety of horror movies. Contributors explore how the evolution of editing in horror films and more realistic special effects have changed how these movies are made. Marketing and distribution are also explored to ascertain how the genre has become part of the American mainstream.

Using a variety of critical approaches and concentrating on aspects of horror film that have been overlooked, Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear is a valuable, original addition to the growing body of work on the genre.

Steffen Hantke, a professor of English at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, is the author of Conspiracy and Paranoia in Contemporary American Literature: The Works of Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy.


The study of genre often tempts critics into taking little notice of the technological medium in which individual texts are presented. A discussion of the horror genre, with its roots in the literary Gothic of the 18th century, might, for example, focus primarily on thematic genre markers, like the abject, the monstrous, the return of the repressed, or the uncanny. Or it might revolve around stock characters, from the charismatic Byronic hero to the plucky young heroine he pursues across the fog-shrouded heath; around recurrent settings, like the haunted house or the nether regions underneath that house; around motifs like the genre's preference for night time and sublime displays of natural disaster. This inventory of the horror genre, which can be invoked with only a few broad strokes, travels easily between literature and film. With little or recognizable variation, the same characteristic features can be found in Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, E. A. Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Robert Bloch, Shirley Jackson, and Stephen King, just as they occur in German expressionist films of the 1920s and '30s, British Hammer films of the 1960s, American serial killer films in the wake of The Silence of the Lambs, and contemporary Asian horror films.

Equipped with a culturally intuitive sense of what the genre-specific inventory of distinctive features is, critics can then proceed to individual texts and examine them from a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives, ranging from structuralist and new historicist, to psychoanalytic . . .

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