The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror

The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror

The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror

The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror

Synopsis

This text examines philosophical aspects of horror films from a feminist perspective. It focuses on a select body of films, demonstrating how the genre is capable of deep philosophical reflection about the existence and the nature of evil.

Excerpt

Most people have a certain understanding of what a horror film is, namely, that it is emotionally juvenile, ignorant, supremely non-intellectual and dumb. Basically stupid. But I think of horror films as art, as films of confrontation. . . . Just because you're making a horror film doesn't mean you can't make an artful film. Tell me the difference between someone's favourite horror film and someone else's favourite art film. There really isn't any. Emotions, imagery, intellect, your own sense of self.

-- David Cronenbarg

This is a book about how horror films prompt our reflections on evil and its allure. I want to focus on broad themes raised by some significant and -- to use director David Cronenberg's term -- "artful" horror films. I will look at films made by great directors like Alfred Hitchcock (Frenzy), the late Stanley Kubrick (The Shining), and Roman Polanski (Repulsion). I will discuss popular films (The Silence of the Lambs) and lesser-known films (Peeping Tom), vampires and slashers, gory horror (Hellraiser) and subtle horror (Dead Ringers). I will move from the gothic European crypts of Frankenstein and Dracula to the contemporary American world of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and on into the future of humans in outer space in Alien.

This introduction describes my methods and the general grounds for considering horror films in a philosophical way. The topic of evil is a huge one that has been addressed over centuries by philosophers, theologians, psychologists, politi-

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