A comprehensive introduction to the history and key themes of the genre. The main issues and debates raised by horror, and the approaches and theories that have been applied to horror texts are all featured. In addressing the evolution of the horror film in social and historical context, Paul...
Like many people interested in the horror film, or indeed comedy, its allied genre, I view its analysis as something which should not strain too far after meaning for fear it might undermine the sensation created.
body horror: The explicit display of the decay, dissolution or destruction of the body, foregrounding bodily processes and functions under threat, allied to new physiological configurations and redefinitions of anatomical norms.
camp: An approach to representation which foregrounds the ironic, and often exaggerated 'performance' of certain gender positions, sexual orientations and social identities, challenging previous cultural and historical orthodoxies
carnivalesque: The excessive celebration of the temporary reversal and revision of social orthodoxy, privileging often taboo forms of human expression and the primacy of bodily functions.
censorship: The process by which particular kinds of textual or visual material may be acted upon, altered or forbidden publication, distribution or broadcast by regulators, working within legally determined guidelines which assume particular codes and limits to public consumption.
Creature Feature: A cycle of largely B-movie filmes made in the United States during the 1950s which feature a whole range of prehistoric, alien or imagined monsters who terrorise big cities.
Expressionism: An artistic movement privileging a neo-realist approach to symbolic forms of design reflecting interior states of mnd and extreme emotions.
gore: The excessive display of bodily organs in a state of bloodied transition or exposure.
Grand Guignol: A highly theatrical, melodramatic style of performance, which foregrounds sadistic and apparently 'live' horror effects like eye-gouging, stabbing and hanging.
incoherent cinema: Rather than being a negative comment, this is a mode of cinema which works to challenge the dominant characteristics of classical Hollywood narrative, using the camera or the editing process to draw the audience's attention to other possibilities in the narrative or in the aesthetic use of the medium. This often leads to quite surreal and arbitary effects which almost demand that the audience watch 'cinema' for its own sake, rather than get drawn into 'storytelling' or other kinds of visual orthodoxy which have come to characterise film-making practice.
metamorphosis: The fluid evolution from one state to another, exhibiting the protean process of a form. This can be a physical state, as it is often expressed through transition and transformation in the monster, or a technical process, as illustrated within the animated form as one image evolves into another without the necessity of edit.
modernism: The 'modernist' period has been subject to much debate and contention. Some argue that modernism as a period of social change may be traced from the building of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1896 right through to the end of the Second World War in 1945. For the purposes of this discussion, modernism is perceived as the logical consequence of the social, political, philosophical and scientific thought of the mid-nineteenth century as it translated into the new communications era of the twentieth century.
revenge of nature: A range of horror films based on the idea that the everyday things that humankind take for granted in nature - the complicity of insects, animals and birds; the predictable growth of flowers and vegetables; the elements and seasonal cycles and so on - will one day cease to operate in the anticipated manner, and inexplicably 'rise' to take its revenge on the exploitation and insensitivity of human beings.
serial killer: A comparatively modern phenomenon in a which an individual commits a series of related, often ritualistic murders, while sometimes courting a symbiotic relationship with the authorities and the media who are attempting to apprehend him.
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