On horror
June 20, 2011 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Are there any great books about the horror film genre?

I've had a cursory look for books on horror cinema at Amazon. I can only see what look like basic surveys or niche monographs.

Are there any meaty, compelling books -- for academic or general consumption -- about horror?
posted by dontjumplarry to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I own but have not read The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. It came highly recommended to me by other horror fans, although it looks to be very dense and academic.

I really, really enjoyed Men, Women and Chain Saws. It's a feminist text, which may fall under your niche classification, but Clover's writing is lively enough to make it lean as much or more toward interesting as it does pedantic.
posted by houndsoflove at 9:32 PM on June 20, 2011

Stephen King's Danse Macabre was written in the late 70s and also covers literary horror, but it's still a very readable book about the genre. His writing about the haunted house films that were out at the time is great.

Danny Peary's three Cult Movies books cover more than horror but they do contain a large number of horror films.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:07 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might try The Horror Film Reader, a collection of essays, or something by David Skal. My sweetheart always goes back to the book Horrors! by Drake Douglas. Not just about film, but about the history and lore of monsters.
posted by katschwa at 11:22 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kim Newman's Nightmare Movies, a classic text on horror films, was just republished in a much expanded edition.
posted by Kattullus at 1:54 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was going to recommend the Noël Carroll book that houndsoflove did. I have read it, and it's actually not that dense. Philosophy, but accessible, and full of examples. You might want to read Kendall Walton's article "Fearing Fictions" beforehand. The philosophical literature is largely dominated by what's conventionally called the 'paradox of fiction', namely the question of how audiences can fear things they don't believe exist. Horror is always one of the banner examples there. But Carroll's book covers more issues than that.

There's also this AskMe.
posted by Beardman at 6:14 AM on June 21, 2011

Also: Carroll's book is from 1990, before torture porn moved into the mainstream. Not that I agree with the argument, but newer articles (not books that I know of) deal with the contemporary state of the genre: Gianluca di Muzio (2006). The Immorality of Horror Films. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2).
posted by Beardman at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2011

Caligari's Children by S.S. Prawer is good.
posted by neroli at 6:27 AM on June 21, 2011

Some great suggestions above, particularly Carol Clover's Men, Women and Chainsaws and the new edition of Kim Newman's Nightmare Movies (a hefty volume that I'm reading right now, in fact, and really enjoying).

I'd also recommend Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema, by Jamie Russell (comprehensive, yet very approachable) and The Horror Genre: From Beelzebub to Blair Witch, by Paul Wells (a slim academic book, but packed with lots of delicious theory).

(And I know you said no monographs, but if you're ever in the mood, The Exorcist, by Mark Kermode and The Thing, by Anne Billson (both from the BFI's Modern Classics imprint) are fun reads.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:53 AM on June 21, 2011

Seconding Skal! Some of it is out of print, but generally available used.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:15 AM on June 21, 2011

Not about film, but still about horror:

Supernatural Horror in Literature (by HP Lovecraft)
posted by empath at 7:29 AM on June 21, 2011

David Skal's Screams of Reason is funny and insightful.
posted by ovvl at 7:44 AM on June 21, 2011

Horror! By Drake Douglas
posted by Splunge at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2011

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