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American horror

Related: EC comics - Edgar Allan Poe - Anne Rice - H. P. Lovecraft - Stephen King - American TV horror hosts - slasher films and the "final girl" trope - American culture - horror

In France, Poe and Lovecraft are both considered to be among the greatest American writers. Beginning with Baudelaire's translations of Poe in the 1850s, American horror has been held in high esteem by every generation of French literati. Ironically, America, the nation whose literature was born in the gothic (Brockden Brown, Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville) and which today spawns the most horror and gothic literature of any country, has yet to return the favor by recognizing writers like Seignolle. --Laurence Bush

Horror films: The Brood - Carnival of Souls - Masque of the Red Death - Night of the Living Dead - Psycho - Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Videodrome

Compare: European horror - Japanese horror

Still of SaltAir Pavilion from film Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962), one of the most imaginative films in the history of American horror
image sourced here. [Mar 2005]

Carnival of Souls (1962) [Amazon.com]

American horror film is prudish

American horror, like its popular culture in general, is generally prudish and too deeply entrenched in a Puritan past to really engage in sexuality, which is so important to the horror film. For example, Isabel Cristina Pinedo's fine book Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Viewing (1997) cites over 120 films in her book, but only 3 are non-English language films! As a professor of "Media and Cultural Studies,' this points to a general inherent drawback with any "Cultural Studies" approach: the culture in question is usually the one the writer is born into, in this case of course American. But it is in the European horror film where sex and violence really cook. Typified by the title of the excellent book by Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs: Immoral Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies 1956-1984 (1994). In the American horror film women are murdered for their sexuality and desire, from Cat People (1942), to The Birds (1963), and onward, and expressed archetypically in Psycho (1960), where Marion Crane arouses Norman's repressed (homo/Oedipal) sexuality and is subsequently murdered by his jealous 'mother'. An exception is the Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg with Rabid (1975), where ex-porn star Marilyn Chambers stars as a victim of science gone wrong who sprouts a nasty, phallic-like lesion that makes her crave blood. And Shivers (1974), featuring Bava/Italian horror icon Barbara Steele as the lesbian seductress/vamp in a film which champions pure, unadulterated sex-drive in the form of a parasite. --Donato Totaro, January 31, 2002 ,http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/final_girl.html [Oct 2004]

American horror vs European horror film[...]

Contrary to the American horror film, the killers/murderers in Euro horror are often female! [...] There are many instances where (a) the victims are exclusively or mainly male, and (b) the male victim/hero is sexually attracted to the female killer, not repulsed, as with the monstrous-feminine, and hence there can be no disavowal of her femininity. --after Donato Totaro, http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/final_girl.html [Oct 2004]

Current trend in American horror movies

Hostel (2006) - Eli Roth [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hostel (2006) is director Eli Roth's second feature film. The movie is rated R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language, and drug use. Due to the graphic nature of this film, it's showing has been restricted in certain countries, primarily those with strict censorship policies.

There are several references to classic Euro horror films of the 1970s. The chase of the character wearing the red hooded coat is a reference to Don't Look Now. The music played during the sex scene in the hostel is the Sneaker Pimps cover version of 'How Do', the song (also known as "Willow's Song" and also covered by Doves) played during the naked dance in The Wicker Man. Both Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man feature outsiders trapped in strange exaggerated European locations whose depiction is unlikely to please local tourist officials. Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man were both released in 1973 in the UK on a double bill.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostel_%28film%29 [May 2006]

Curt at Groovyageofhorror starts an interesting debate about the current trend in horror movies like Hostel, Saw, Open Water, Wolf Creek, etc. :

"It may or may not surprise you that I haven't seen a single movie of this sort, and not only from the current bumper crop, but even from the first turn of the cycle--I haven't seen the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Last House on the Left or any of those, either. I therefore can't offer any informed opinion on their merits. In a perverse sort of way, though, I think I can still say something interesting about them, as a die-hard horror fan who's shunned them on the basis of the image they've fostered and cultivated so aggressively." --http://groovyageofhorror.blogspot.com/2006/05/few-horror-myths.html [May 2006]

See also: R-rating - banned films - horror cinema

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