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Steven Jay Schneider

Related: film criticism - film theory

Worked with: Xavier Mendik - Daniel Shaw

Books: 1001 Movies (2004)

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (2004) - Steven Jay Schneider [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Underground U.S.A. (2002) - Xavier Mendik, Steven Jay Schneider
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Whether defined by the carnivalesque excesses of Troma studios (The Toxic Avenger), the arthouse erotica of Radley Metzger and Doris Wishman, or the narrative experimentations of Abel Ferrara, Melvin Van Peebles, Jack Smith, or Harmony Korine, underground cinema has achieved an important position within American film culture. Often defined as "cult" and "exploitation" or "alternative" and "independent," the American underground retains separate strategies of production and exhibition from the cinematic mainstream, while its sexual and cinematic representations differ from the traditionally conservative structures of the Hollywood system. Underground U.S.A. offers a fascinating overview of this area of maverick moviemaking by considering the links between the experimental and exploitative traditions of the American underground.


Steven Jay Schneider is a PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at New York University, and in Philosophy at Harvard University. He is the author and editor of numerous books on world cinema, most notably the horror genre. He is also a consultant for film, television, and home video/DVD production companies and a curator for world horror film programs.

Steven was born January 25, 1974 in New York City and attended Hunter High School before completing BAs in Philosophy and English at the University of California at Berkeley. He then did an MA in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London with a focus on the philosophy of psychoanalysis and a study of the relationship between Descartes' Meditations and Saint Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. His interest in the philosophy of film led him to seek dual PhDs at Harvard and at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is currently working on his dissertation at NYU, tentatively entitled "Designing Fear: Toward an Aesthetics of the Cinematic Uncanny."

Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon (2002) - Steven Jay Schneider

Whether characterized in terms of the carnivalesque excesses of Doris Wishman, the arthouse erotica of Radley Metzger, the subversive horror of George Romero, or the narrative experimentations of Abel Ferrara, underground cinema has achieved an important position within American film culture. Yet despite its multiple definitions as “cult” and “exploitation,” “psychotronic” and “independent,” very little academic consideration has been given to the modes of production, exhibition, and audience reception of the American underground. Equally, little research has been undertaken to explain how the social, sexual, and cinematic representations of such cinema diverge from—and offer alternatives to—the traditional, and ideologically conservative, structures of the Hollywood machine.

To date, only a few volumes have been produced which critically explore aspects of the American underground scene, including J.P. Telotte’s (ed.) The Cult Film Experience (University of Texas Press). However while employing a number of pertinent examples, these volumes tend to restrict themselves to case studies of various cult and avant-garde texts, rather than providing suitable methodologies which examine their historical, economic, and cultural emergence within American cinema.

Underground USA: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon will extend the important aspects of such books, while more fully addressing nascent debates in this still under-theorized area of film culture. The volume brings together leading film theorists and critics, as well as emergent scholars in the field. In a series of specially-commissioned essays, these writers will situate the various strands of American underground cinema as a powerful and subversive medium functioning through a fragmentation of official/normative modes of production and distribution. The book takes as its focus those directors, films, and genres typically dismissed, belittled , or (worst of all) ignored by established film culture. Directors to be looked at include David Lynch, Harry Smith, Radley Metzger, John Waters, and Doris Wishman. Specific film- and genre- studies will include Report (Bruce Conner, 1967), The Crazies (George Romero, 1973), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton, 1986) and The Addiction (Abel Ferrara, 1990), alongside an analysis of 1950s teen “chick” movies and an investigation into the aesthetics of 1970s American porn.

Wherever possible, interviews with directors or key cast members involved with the texts under discussion will be included as appendices to the accompanying essays. An extended introduction by the editors will for the first time provide a firm basis for defining the historical, social, and cultural characteristics and development of underground cinema in America.--Steven Jay Schneider

More books

  1. Fear Without Frontiers: Horror Cinema Across the Globe - Steven Jay Schneider [Amazon US]
    This staggering anthology on horror cinema from around the planet includes essays, interviews and hard-to-find facts from an international collection of leading authorities on the world horror film phenomenon. FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS includes new work from renowned horror experts Kim Newman, Pete Tombs, Art Black, Mitch Davis, Pam Keesey, Travis Crawford, Ken Hanke and many more. Also includes interviews with legends of the genre (old and new) Takashi Miike, Reggie Nalder, Nonzee Nimibutr, Jorge Molina, Juraj Herz and Sion Sono. From Italy to India, Cuba to Czechoslovakia, France to the Philippines, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea and many other countries besides, this book, with 24 amazing chapters each dedicated to a different region, truly breaks new ground. --amazon.com

  2. The Horror Film and Psychoanalysis: Freud's Worst Nightmares - Steven Jay Schneider (Editor) [Amazon US]
    In recent years, psychoanalytic theory has been the subject of attacks from philosophers, cultural critics, and scientists who have questioned the cogency of its reasoning as well as the soundness of its premises. Nevertheless, when used to shed light on horror cinema, psychoanalysis in its various forms has proven to be a fruitful and provocative interpretative tool. This volume seeks to find the proper place of psychoanalytic thought in critical discussion of cinema in a series of essays that debate its legitimacy, utility, and validity as applied to the horror genre. It distinguishes itself from previous work in this area through the self-consciousness with which psychoanalytic concepts are employed and the theorization that coexists with interpretations of particular horror films and subgenres.

  3. Dark Thoughts: Philosophic Reflections on Cinematic Horror by Daniel Shaw, Steven Jay Schneider [Amazon US]

    Over the past few years, one of the hottest topics in the realm of philosophical aesthetics has been cinematic horror. The emotional effects it has on audiences, the mysterious metaphysics of its impossible beings, the controversial ethics of its violent aesthetic— these are just a few of the concerns to have drawn the attention of scholars and students alike... not to mention the genre’s legions of fans.

    Since the publication of Noël Carroll’s groundbreaking study, The Philosophy of Horror; or, Paradoxes of the Heart (Routledge, 1990), a plethora of articles have been authored by seemingly normal philosophers about the decidedly abnormal activities of the antagonists of fright flicks. Dark Thoughts: Philosophic Reflections on Cinematic Horror is a collection of original and reprinted essays by top scholars in the increasingly interrelated fields of Philosophy, Film Studies, and Communication Arts that deal with the epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and genre dynamics of horror cinema past and present.

    “With this important collection in hand, you can stop whistling in the dark and start thinking seriously about scary movies. Why do we voluntarily watch films that shock, frighten, and horrify? Why do we actually like Hannibal Lecter and other monsters and monstrosities? What defines the horror movie as a genre? What are its connections to tragedy? The essays in this book draw insightfully on classic sources including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger to answer these and other terrifying questions. In addition, all the major contemporary theorists in the philosophy of horror are represented, including Noël Carroll, Cynthia Freeland, and Robert Solomon The resulting fusion of classic and contemporary insight is this unique and enlightening volume, Dark Thoughts.” —Professor William Irwin, editor of The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! Of Homer.

    “The horror film is a fascinating genre from many perspectives, not least of them the philosophical. For those interested in a philosophical approach to horror, read this book! In Dark Thoughts, the editors gather together a remarkable set of essays by philosophers and film scholars, among them well-known names and relative newcomers. Along the way, Dark Thoughts explores the major issues raised by the horror film, and it does so from diverse perspectives. The approaches range from the psychoanalytic to the cognitive, from Nietsche and Heidegger to Carroll and Freeland. This is a welcome and useful addition to the literature on the horror film.” —Professor Carl Plantinga, co-editor of Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion.

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