Horror and the Horror Film
About This Book
“Bruce F. Kawin commences one of the most unusual genre studies in recent memory […He] employs the brief and precise declarative sentences traditionally found in instruction manuals to offer largely irrefutable observations about the mechanisms that horror films employ to manipulate viewers […] The result is a highly readable introduction to genre studies rendered in a style that is novel for its precision and brevity, as well as its emphasis on dispassionate observation rather than critical evaluation.” — John-Paul Checkett, “Video Watchdog”
“After defining horror and exploring significant themes, elements, and methods of interpretation, the author investigates hundreds of films via specific subgenres through the organizing principle of types of monster, whether supernatural, natural, or human. The volume is both comprehensive and thorough […] The strength […] of the volume is the sheer number of films considered, and even scholars in the field will find a few mentioned here of which they were previously unaware. Students will find it a thorough taxonomy that gives them a mean by which to approach and understand horror.” —K. J. Wetmore Jr., Loyola Marymount University, “Choice”
“Bruce F. Kawin’s new book is an exceptional primer on our favorite genre. While so many discussions sidestep the essence of horror to discuss its political, social, historical, and purely cinematic implications and impacts, Kawin approaches it at the most essential level… To regurgitate a much-abused cliché, Kawin’s knowledge of the horror film is genuinely encyclopedic… ‘Horror and the Horror Film’ is easy to digest. Its scope, however, is vast. I hope you film professors out there are paying attention.” — Mike Segretto, ‘Psychobabble’
Horror films can be profound fables of human nature and important works of art, yet many people dismiss them out of hand. “Horror and the Horror Film” conveys a mature appreciation of horror films along with a comprehensive view of their narrative strategies, their relations to reality and fantasy, and their cinematic power. The volume covers the entire genre, considering every kind of monster in it – including the human.
After defining horror and thoroughly introducing the genre, the text offers a rich survey of all of the horror film’s subgenres, before concluding with a look at the related genres of horror comedy and horror documentary. International in scope, its survey extends from the first horror films (1896) to the present, discussing more than 350 movies. Through its comprehensive and detailed investigation of the genre, “Horror and the Horror Film” offers a compelling, insightful look at how the horror film frightens and revolts the viewer, its reasons for doing so, and the art of portraying and evoking fear, and will be a great asset to film scholars, horror enthusiasts and readers yet to be convinced of the importance of the genre.
Bruce F. Kawin is Professor of English and Film at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His books include ‘Telling It Again and Again: Repetition in Literature and Film’, ‘Mindscreen: Bergman, Godard, and First-Person Film’, ‘The Mind of the Novel: Reflexive Fiction and the Ineffable’, ‘Faulkner’s MGM Screenplays’ and ‘How Movies Work’. He is also the co-author of ‘A Short History of the Movies’.
Table of Contents
Preface; List of Figures; Part I. Approaching the Genre; 1. Horror; 2. The Monster at the Bedroom Window; 3. Fear in a Frame; Part II. Subgenres: The Book of Monsters; 4. Monsters; 5. Supernatural Monsters; 6. Humans; Part III. Related Genres; 7. Horror Comedy; 8. Horror Documentary; Notes; Films Cited; Selected Bibliography; Index