From Library Journal
Waller, Gregory A. The Living and the Undead: fromn Stroker's ``Dracula'' to Romero's ``Dawn of the Dead.'' Univ. of Illinois Pr. Jan. 1986. c.384p. illus. index. LC 84-24027. ISBN 0-252-01208-9. $24.95. film/lit The new academic respectability of popular culture is on prominent display in these fascinating studies of 19th- and especially 20th-century horror narratives. Both writers bring an impressive array of persepectivespsychoanalytic, literary critical, anthropologicalto bear on novels and films that demonstrate our continuing fascination with abominations. Twitchell's scope is the broader one. Developing ideas about monstrosity he first suggested in the more narrowly literary The Living Dead (Duke, 1981), he attempts an anatomy of modern horror by focussing on the original appearances and subsequent reincarnations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and what he calls ``the transformation monster.'' Twitchell's anatomy is ultimately psychoanalytic: we create and re-create these monsters to remind us all of the dangers of incestan argument which is not fully convincing, but always stimulating. Waller confines himself to variations on the vampire story (with Dracula as the model), which he defines as confrontations between the living and the undead. For him, these narratives (mostly films) can be considered together as a ``genre,'' one which constantly redefines itself both in relation to previous tellings and to the ongoing history of the culture which produces it. For Waller, vampire stories are finally about human ``survival,'' a slightly reductive conclusion to a book which frequently displays great subtlety and insight in interpreting these narratives (especially the films) both individually and as a genre. John Allen Stevenson, English Dept., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"A tour de force of speculative criticism which combines scholarship with some shrewd and vivacious wit....Excellent....A fine and provocative book."--Film Criticism
"Splendid and humorously written....An insightful and adventurous interpretation of what we experience as the 'shivers.'"--Kirkus Reviews
"A provocative delight....With skill and style, Twitchell has plumbed the human psyche to discover what there is that loves to see films about vampires, werewolves, and manmade creatures."--Cineaste
"An excellent book which I would recommend for any course related to the tradition of horror in the cinema or literature."--Leger Grindon, Middlebury College
"Engaging, lively, and full of fascinating things. Twitchell wears fine scholarship lightly, and draws on aesthetics, philosophy and art as well as psychology."--Philadelphia Inquirer
"Gives a new direction and a certain critical respectability to the usually disparaging epithet, 'horror story.'"--Studies in English Literature
"Images of horror--especially those conveyed by Gothic fictions and mass-culture films--are Twitchell's concerns in this profusely--and aptly--illustrated book."--The New York Review of Books
"Lively...entertaining and frequently enlightening."--The New York Times Book Review
"An excellent study of modern horror."--Jack G. Voller, Southern Illinois University