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Horror and the Horror Film (New Perspectives on World Cinema)

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0857284501
ISBN-10: 0857284509
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Editorial Reviews


“Ambitious in its scope, with serious things to say about who we are… Even more impressive than the wide range and scope of titles is how well organized they are into a taxonomy that makes sense and is richly detailed… a book full of history, organized by a true master of detail who cares deeply about the subject… ‘Horror and the Horror Film’ provides an important map to guide us through the darkness and bring illumination to the unknown.” —

“An essential piece of study to place the history in the proper perspective.” —Rod Lott,

“Bruce F. Kawin has added a new and refreshing twist to a topic that has been dissected more times than a corpse in Dr. Frankenstein's lab... The result is one of the most unique treatises on horror films this reviewer had read in a long time... ‘Horror and the Horror Film’ is an extremely insightful and entertaining examination of the genre. The structure is both unique and refreshing and the author is clearly an expert on the subject matter. This is one of the best surveys of the genre I've read to date and well worth purchasing if you are a student of film history or simply a horror movie fan interested in delving into some of the more cerebral aspects of the genre.” —Cary Conley,

“Bruce F. Kawin’s new book is an exceptional primer on our favorite genre. While so many discussions sidestep the essence of horror to discuss its political, social, historical, and purely cinematic implications and impacts, Kawin approaches it at the most essential level… To regurgitate a much-abused cliché, Kawin’s knowledge of the horror film is genuinely encyclopedic… ‘Horror and the Horror Film’ is easy to digest. Its scope, however, is vast. I hope you film professors out there are paying attention.” — Mike Segretto, ‘Psychobabble’

“Kawin's book, divided according to a taxonomy of the monstrous (‘Monsters’, ‘Supernatural Monsters’ and, ominously, Humans’), soon settles into an astonishingly wide-ranging overview of the genre's long development, from ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ and ‘Nosferatu’ to ‘Psycho’, ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’, before culminating with such grimy twenty-first-century shockers as ‘Hostel’ and ‘The Human Centipede’. The author is especially interesting on some of the most famous big-screen bogeymen. [...] ‘Horror and the Horror Film’ is at its liveliest and most intriguing in its numerous glancing mentions of those obscure horror pictures (often, it seems, of the 1970s) which will surely be unfamiliar to all but the most gore-steeped of the cognoscenti.” —Jonathan Barnes, ‘Times Literary Supplement’


“After defining horror and exploring significant themes, elements, and methods of interpretation, the author investigates hundreds of films via specific subgenres through the organizing principle of types of monster, whether supernatural, natural, or human. The volume is both comprehensive and thorough […] The strength […] of the volume is the sheer number of films considered, and even scholars in the field will find a few mentioned here of which they were previously unaware. Students will find it a thorough taxonomy that gives them a mean by which to approach and understand horror.” —K. J. Wetmore Jr., Loyola Marymount University, “Choice”

“Like an academic Dr. Frankenstein […Kawin] undertakes a ‘complete taxonomy’ of horror in order to show us what it is,  how it works, why it compels us, and why we need it in our lives […] It is quite clear that Kawin has done his homework and knows what he is writing about […] Even when he covers well-trodden ground, he has a way of making the territory seem fresh.” —William Costanzo, “Journal of Media Literacy Education”

“Bruce F. Kawin commences one of the most unusual genre studies in recent memory […He] employs the brief and precise declarative sentences traditionally found in instruction manuals to offer largely irrefutable observations about the mechanisms that horror films employ to manipulate viewers […] The result is a highly readable introduction to genre studies rendered in a style that is novel for its precision and brevity, as well as its emphasis on dispassionate observation rather than critical evaluation.” — John-Paul Checkett, “Video Watchdog”


“Just when I thought everything possible had already been written on horror films, along comes ‘Horror and the Horror Film’. Kawin’s book offers something more: it undertakes a ‘complete taxonomy’ of horror in order to show us what it is, how it works, why it compels us, and why we need it in our lives.” —William Costanzo, “The Journal of Media Literacy Education”


“If you’re going to talk about horror film, well, the conversation starts here. This is the kind of book that makes you realize your horror shelves are incomplete.” —Stephen Graham Jones, author of “Demon Theory”


“There is no one alive who has seen more horror cinema, read more widely on the subject, or thought more deeply about its form, function and meaning than Bruce Kawin. And there are few scholars who can convey their ideas with such clarity and grace. Every page of this indispensable book offers exhilarating insight not only into the major modes and preoccupations of the horror genre, but also into the complex workings and undying needs of the human imagination.” —Harold Schechter, author of “Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment”


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Product Details

  • Series: New Perspectives on World Cinema
  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Anthem Press (June 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857284509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857284501
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Los Angeles, California in 1945. I went to Fairfax High School, then Columbia, then Cornell. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and Filmmaking and a PhD in Modern Literature and Film. At Wells College I founded the Film program and directed the Creative Writing program. Later I taught at the American Film Institute. Since 1975 I've been teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My books include 1) Telling It Again and Again: Repetition in Literature and Film, 2) Faulkner and Film, 3) Mindscreen: Bergman, Godard, and First-Person Film, 4) To Have and Have Not (the screenplay), 5) The Mind of the Novel: Reflexive Fiction and the Ineffable, 6) Faulkner's MGM Screenplays, 7) How Movies Work, 8) A Short History of the Movies (co-author, the late Gerald Mast), 5th through 11th editions, 9) Horror and the Horror Film, and 10) Love If We Can Stand It. I write poetry, film criticism, film history, and literary criticism. My next book will be 11) Selected Film Essays and Interviews. I live in Boulder, Colorado.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Costanzo on August 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
I've read a lot of books on horror films, and this one is among my favorites. Kawin's approach unique, his judgments are based on a deep knowledge of the genre, and his descriptions of each film are an invaluable resource.
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