Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture

Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture

Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture

Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture

Synopsis

Kendall Phillips selects ten of the most popular and influential horror films-including Dracula, Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, The Silence of the Lambs, and Scream-each of which has become a film landmark and spawned countless imitators, and all having implications that transcend their cinematic influence and achievement. By tracing the production history, contemporary audience response, and lasting cultural influence of each picture, Phillips offers a unique new approach to thinking about the popular attraction to horror films, and the ways in which they reflect both cultural and individual fears.

Excerpt

When I tell people that I'm working on a book about horror films there are two typical reactions. The first is a mildly incredulous, “Oh.” For some, including many within academic circles, horror films hardly constitute worthy cultural texts for analysis. This reaction is compounded as I explain that, rather than pursuing arcane film history or neglected cult classics, I'm focusing on those films that gained a wide mainstream audience. While it is certainly true that the study of popular culture has gained great ground in academic circles over the last few decades, there is still a strong strain of contempt for those cultural artifacts and icons that attain wide levels of popularity. So, due to this first reaction, I've found myself being strategically vague about my current work when in certain company.

The vast majority of the people in my life, fortunately, have a different and much more positive reaction, which focuses on what I call the “top-ten list.” This reaction sometimes comes as a question—“So, what is the best horror film of all time?”—and is usually followed by a story—“I remember when I first saw film X. I was fourteen and I…” Over the past few years of these conversations, I've been struck by the variety of narratives people spin about their memorable encounters with scary films. These stories certainly vary in the kinds of films people recall as frightening. While many are traditional horror films, it's surprising how often films from other genres appear, including the remarkably pervasive fear evoked by The Wizard of Oz. I'm also surprised by the variety . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.