Department

History

Publication Year

2008

Abstract

Like other fields, the study of the horror film and of monster show culture is on-going, as filmmakers reinvent the genre and Americans continue to be fascinated and entertained. Horror came about amid one of America's worst economic periods in history, when cultural change and uncertainty overwhelmed Americans regardless of gender, race, or class. Uncertainty and progress, themes that ultimately characterized American society in the 1930's, carried over to the silver screen. Rather than increase their faith in political or religious figures, Americans turned to the monsters they encountered in movie theaters; in doing so they helped create the American monsters that we continue to celebrate today. In the American horror picture, our monsters are our heroes. This body of work aims to explain the rise of the horror film in U.S. culture, describe the phenomenon of monster show culture that was created by both film studios and audiences, and identify the character of both the American monster and the American moviegoer in the early twentieth century.

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