Academic journal article CineAction

Global Nightmare: Horror & Apocalypse

Academic journal article CineAction

Global Nightmare: Horror & Apocalypse

Article excerpt

Contemporary film and television is filled with the images and narratives of apocalypse; the IMDB has a list of 185 'end of the world' thrillers. This issue began with Fredric Jameson's memorable observation, "it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." We are entertained and terrified with the aesthetics of destruction and nightmare. Destruction comes with terrorists, zombies, witches, aliens, robots, meteors, the Internet, ecological breakdown, psychological despair, plagues beyond Biblical, or perhaps from God. The future may bring total destruction of the globe, blowing up the White House or California, or just an ongoing dystopian hell. Heroism sometimes saves us, probably fails, or sometimes it is all just for laughs.

This nightmare is usually global and it crosses genres--comedy, family melodrama, art cinema, action thrillers, science fiction and horror. Maybe especially horror. I am particularly recalling the collection, edited and written in 1979 by future CineAction editors Richard Lippe and Robin Wood, along with contributions from Andrew Britton and Tony Williams, The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film. That volume had a powerful influence on subsequent political, social and psychological interpretations, from scholarly to popular criticism, of horror films, as particular texts and as a genre. …

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