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Sitting on pins and needles, anxiously waiting to see what will happen next, horror audiences crave the fear and exhilaration generated by a terrifying story; their anticipation is palpable. But they also breathe a sigh of relief when the action is over, when they are able to close their books or leave the movie theater. Whether serious, kitschy, frightening, or ridiculous Sitting on pins and needles, anxiously waiting to see what will happen next, horror audiences crave the fear and exhilaration generated by a terrifying story; their anticipation is palpable. But they also breathe a sigh of relief when the action is over, when they are able to close their books or leave the movie theater. Whether serious, kitschy, frightening, or ridiculous, horror not only arouses the senses but also raises profound questions about fear, safety, justice, and suffering. From literature and urban legends to film and television, horror's ability to thrill has made it an integral part of modern entertainment. Thomas Fahy and twelve other scholars reveal the underlying themes of the genre in The Philosophy of Horror. Examining the evolving role of horror, the contributing authors investigate works such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), horror films of the 1930s, Stephen King's novels, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining (1980), and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). Also examined are works that have largely been ignored in philosophical circles, including Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1965), Patrick S�skind's Perfume (1985), and James Purdy's Narrow Rooms (2005). The analysis also extends to contemporary forms of popular horror and "torture-horror" films of the last decade, including Saw (2004), Hostel (2005), The Devil's Rejects (2005), and The Hills Have Eyes (2006), as well as the ongoing popularity of horror on the small screen. The Philosophy of Horror celebrates the strange, compelling, and disturbing elements of horror, drawing on interpretive approaches such as feminist, postcolonial, Marxist, and psychoanalytic criticism. The book invites readers to consider horror's various manifestations and transformations since the late 1700s, probing its social, cultural, and political functions in today's media-hungry society.


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Sitting on pins and needles, anxiously waiting to see what will happen next, horror audiences crave the fear and exhilaration generated by a terrifying story; their anticipation is palpable. But they also breathe a sigh of relief when the action is over, when they are able to close their books or leave the movie theater. Whether serious, kitschy, frightening, or ridiculous Sitting on pins and needles, anxiously waiting to see what will happen next, horror audiences crave the fear and exhilaration generated by a terrifying story; their anticipation is palpable. But they also breathe a sigh of relief when the action is over, when they are able to close their books or leave the movie theater. Whether serious, kitschy, frightening, or ridiculous, horror not only arouses the senses but also raises profound questions about fear, safety, justice, and suffering. From literature and urban legends to film and television, horror's ability to thrill has made it an integral part of modern entertainment. Thomas Fahy and twelve other scholars reveal the underlying themes of the genre in The Philosophy of Horror. Examining the evolving role of horror, the contributing authors investigate works such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), horror films of the 1930s, Stephen King's novels, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining (1980), and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). Also examined are works that have largely been ignored in philosophical circles, including Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1965), Patrick S�skind's Perfume (1985), and James Purdy's Narrow Rooms (2005). The analysis also extends to contemporary forms of popular horror and "torture-horror" films of the last decade, including Saw (2004), Hostel (2005), The Devil's Rejects (2005), and The Hills Have Eyes (2006), as well as the ongoing popularity of horror on the small screen. The Philosophy of Horror celebrates the strange, compelling, and disturbing elements of horror, drawing on interpretive approaches such as feminist, postcolonial, Marxist, and psychoanalytic criticism. The book invites readers to consider horror's various manifestations and transformations since the late 1700s, probing its social, cultural, and political functions in today's media-hungry society.

30 review for The Philosophy of Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Very thought provoking, especially the essay comparing zombie social dynamics to Marxist theory

  2. 5 out of 5

    Frank Cernik

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While generally an interesting and well-considered anthology, only two essays here concern me: ‘Through a Mirror, Darkly: Art-Horror as a Medium for Moral Reflection,’ by Philip Tallon, and ‘Shock Value: A Deleuzean Encounter with James Purdy’s Narrow Rooms,’ by Robert F. Gross. Tallon’s ‘Mirror’ expands a bit on Carroll’s Horror/Enlightenment speculation: in addition to violating cultural understandings of ‘Nature,’ Horror served as a moral warning against the Enlightenment’s veneration of reas While generally an interesting and well-considered anthology, only two essays here concern me: ‘Through a Mirror, Darkly: Art-Horror as a Medium for Moral Reflection,’ by Philip Tallon, and ‘Shock Value: A Deleuzean Encounter with James Purdy’s Narrow Rooms,’ by Robert F. Gross. Tallon’s ‘Mirror’ expands a bit on Carroll’s Horror/Enlightenment speculation: in addition to violating cultural understandings of ‘Nature,’ Horror served as a moral warning against the Enlightenment’s veneration of reason. According to Tallon, one of Horror’s lessons is that reason and its associated modes of intelligence, when uncoupled with a more restrictive and conservative kind of moral wisdom, can create new kinds of problems that we aren’t prepared to address. As such, Horror becomes a kind of complement to Hubris. As cultural values have shifted from the pursuit of rationality to an emphasis on relativism, though, Horror’s role has likewise shifted from antithesis to thesis: Horror attempts to create the kind of moral grounding that postmodernism would deny. For an evil to be compelling, it must be presented against shared values, and so Horror necessarily reinvigorates our senses of moral order. Taken together, these two modes of Horror mark it as a genre opposed to extreme viewpoints of both optimism (as expressed through hubris) and pessimism (in the form of absolute relativism). Gross’ ‘Shock Value’ is implicitly opposed to both Carroll and Tallon, inasmuch as it challenges the reductive assumptions of each, as marked by their respective kinds ‘interpretosis.’ In place of reductive interpretations and ‘molar’ beings, Gross explores Narrow Rooms as a ‘molecular’ site of complex multiplicities and anti-binary becomings. In the nature of his exploration is a resistance to cross application - there is not much in his close reading of the relationships in Narrow Rooms that could apply to those in The Babadook, for instance - but the method is no less exciting for that. This essay is something that I would very much enjoy using as a model. One of the things that I can take from this model, however, is the way that personal relationships in Narrow Rooms become more intense and affective through impersonal elements, and its treatment of the ways relationality is alternately enabled and foreclosed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This book suffers for having a weak connection to the series that applies philosophy to various aspects of pop culture. The first essays in this collection make rather tenuous connections to philosophy, whether it be Descartes or Hobbes. But in doing that, the analyses themselves suffer for being rather superficial and offering little more than what the movie itself is clearly already communicating. For example, applying Marxist theory to Land of the Dead. While the movie itself isn't necessaril This book suffers for having a weak connection to the series that applies philosophy to various aspects of pop culture. The first essays in this collection make rather tenuous connections to philosophy, whether it be Descartes or Hobbes. But in doing that, the analyses themselves suffer for being rather superficial and offering little more than what the movie itself is clearly already communicating. For example, applying Marxist theory to Land of the Dead. While the movie itself isn't necessarily applying Marx, the class issues already embedded into the movie are merely explained a bit further here, which in the end leaves the level of insight feeling rather thin. I prefer my criticism to unveil something more unconscious or surprising. The two essays I found quite worthwhile, thus saving the collection as a whole from one star, were Lorena Russell's essay about the representation of the nuclear family in the two versions of The Hills Have Eyes, and David MacGregor's Johnston essay on kitsch and camp.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    3.5 stars. The book is called "The Philosophy of Horror," but largely only deals with horror as a film (and briefly as a televised) medium. Very little interaction with literature (aside from relation to film adaptations), comics, visual art, gaming, experience (here I mean the experience of 'haunted' corn fields and houses that are so popular in October), and music. Some of the essays could have been sliced in half and retained their meat. The latter half is certainly where the book succeeds. It 3.5 stars. The book is called "The Philosophy of Horror," but largely only deals with horror as a film (and briefly as a televised) medium. Very little interaction with literature (aside from relation to film adaptations), comics, visual art, gaming, experience (here I mean the experience of 'haunted' corn fields and houses that are so popular in October), and music. Some of the essays could have been sliced in half and retained their meat. The latter half is certainly where the book succeeds. It does a fairly decent job of condensing philosophers' ideas in a way that the lay person can understand them and see how they apply to cultural/artistic criticism in the way the essayists apply them. While not necessarily profound, I personally enjoyed the essay on Angel from the Buffy-verse in regards to identity and moral responsibility for past actions after one's character morphs and changes through time. The piece on Romero's work was enjoyable, if for no other reason than Romero is a film-making genius. An essay sketching a Marxist analysis of Land of the Dead is quite a treat. We all probably know Kubrick's take on The Shining is a critique of American imperialism and white misogyny, but the guide as to how precisely this is the case was fun. Not the best book on the subject I've read, but also not the worst. A lot of the essayists critique Carroll's work, "The Philosophy of Horror," which is on my reading list this October. Perhaps I should have read it first. Anyway, I'd recommend this for anyone especially interested in horror film or looking for an easy nonfiction spoopy season read. It could also be used as an introduction to some entry level philosophical ideas. Undergraduate level essays.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steven Logan

    Partly boring, but definitely informative.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The Philosophy of Horror presents some Great essays on the horror genre, forcing us to look at classic and contemporary masterpieces In new and dynamic ways. This is one of the best I've read from the philosophy of popular culture series of books. The Philosophy of Horror presents some Great essays on the horror genre, forcing us to look at classic and contemporary masterpieces In new and dynamic ways. This is one of the best I've read from the philosophy of popular culture series of books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alberto Boschini

  8. 5 out of 5

    E. Dade

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gracie

  11. 5 out of 5

    redmars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alana

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lousene

  14. 5 out of 5

    Decadent Sympozium

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nox

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Greer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kimmy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kurtzman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kim Wong

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Tolbert

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Great collection that stirs and feeds my desire to teach a course about the relationship between religion/theology and horror.

  23. 4 out of 5

    idle nihilist

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike Prosise

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Moloney

  26. 4 out of 5

    Grant Black

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jozefien

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shersta

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane Poulsen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Roller

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