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Q: Critical Analysis of Horror Films ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: syn4ps3-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 Nov 2002 00:38 PST
Expires: 18 Dec 2002 00:38 PST
Question ID: 109753
Could you suggest websites that offer thoughtful critical analysis of
horror films?  I have found many "reviews" but frequently they offer
little more than plot summary and broad criticisms (i.e. beautiful
cinematography).  I'm looking for more than just published opinions,
but rather detailed essays that address the themes, techniques, and
styles of horror films.

Request for Question Clarification by willie-ga on 18 Nov 2002 05:46 PST
I've found a site that might satisfy you, but I'm not sure if it is
exactly what you're looking for so I'll post it here.

If it fits the bill, let me know and I'll post it as an answer.

The All Movie Guide: Horror section

Gives a good run fown of the genre, links to the main films, summaries
and overview of them all, cast lists, ratings, place in history etc.


Clarification of Question by syn4ps3-ga on 18 Nov 2002 06:46 PST
While I appreciate the link, it's not exactly what I'm looking for. 
You were closer to a possible answer with your first post, and given
that I have access to some of those books, it should prove quite
helpful.  If the full-text of those books was available, or perhaps
online journals with similar content, that would be the best. 
However, if you post your initial comment in the answer box I will
gladly give you a 5 star review.
Subject: Re: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
Answered By: willie-ga on 18 Nov 2002 07:16 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As requested, here is a repost of the bibliography listing.

There's a site that has a bibliography of the best books in the horror
criticism field. I recommend the Kim Newman one.

Horror Film Criticism 
You might also be interested in the following sites:


Psychoanalysis in/and/of the Horror Film by Steven Jay Schneider


No One Will Hear You Scream: The Gender Relations in Film Noir and
Horror Film
By Stephanie Benn


The Parlor Scene in Psycho: Images of Duality
by Michael Schmidt


Halloween and Scream - similarities and differences

Hope that sweetens the pill a bit. If you follow the google searches
below you might find more than I did in the time I had available.

Willie-ga (a horror author when he's not a google researcher )

Google searches used:
"horror movies" essays
"horror films" essays
"horror movies" criticism
"horror films" criticism
syn4ps3-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Willie produced a prompt and complete answer.  While I wish there was
greater access to published analysis and criticism on the web, the
answer did provide several links where I could obtain more than "just
a review."

Subject: Re: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
From: willie-ga on 18 Nov 2002 00:54 PST
There's a site that has a bibliography of the best books in the horror
criticism field. I recommend the Kim Newman one.
Horror Film Criticism

Subject: Re: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
From: rbnn-ga on 18 Nov 2002 06:14 PST
I've found it almost impossible to find non-trivial criticism of most
films, much less horror films. I published a couple papers on films,
but gave up after getting too many rejections for other papers
(including a brief note on Sixth Sense). Now I just scare my friends
with the threat of telling them what my analysis is or, worse,
creating a web-site :-)
Subject: Re: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
From: ravuri-ga on 20 Nov 2002 21:30 PST
1) Try the books edited by Darrell Schweitzer, which include:

Discovering Classic Horror Fiction (1975) 
Discovering Modern Horror Fiction, Vol. 1 (1985) 
Discovering Modern Horror Fiction, Vol. 2 (1988) 
Discovering Stephen King (1985) 
Discovering H.P. Lovecraft: Essays on America's Master Writer of
Horror (1992)

A complete Darrell Schweitzer bibliography is at

2) There's a list of Literature Books on Horror, at

3) I personally enjoyed this book:
Kingdom of Fear - 17 Essays on Stephen King. Ed. Tim Underwood & Chuck

There's a list of books about King at

4) King himself wrote a book about the gamut of horror, called Danse
Macabre.  Here's the editorial review of, by Fiona Webster:
   In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen
King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in
Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book,
he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of
a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only
felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently
went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as
instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students.
Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King
decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts
about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.
    The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were
sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on
October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee
of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting
their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned
off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and
announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around
the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."
    That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly
pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the
gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period
of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk
movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and
also strikingly intelligent.
Subject: Re: Critical Analysis of Horror Films
From: intotravel-ga on 15 Feb 2003 23:11 PST

There's a website devoted to The Exorcist,,
which contains a list of 20 articles on the movie, including
interviews and features on the news story supposedly behind the
writing of the novel. (Set your Internet Options, Accessibility to
ignore fonts and colors in order to read this list as it's in white on
(horrifying, gruesome, frightening) black.)

Article 14 in the list looks to be thoughtful ...."For many writers
the issue of how to structure the elements of a novel can seem a
mystery only to be solved by writing toward understanding. ... a
review of the opening pages of The Exorcist. It explores how the novel
is constructed to be dramatic and engaging from its opening page."


My interest in The Exorcist stems from watching Exorcist III and a
particular scene where George C. Scott starts talking about a fish in
his bathtub. It's extremely funny in a very straight-faced way, and
     I found only one reference to this in a quick search on fish in a
bathtub:   "One of my
favorite pastimes has become converting people to appreciate this works every time .... Of other particular note is a
monologue Scott has regarding a fish."
For anyone who’s a movie buff, here’s the url for the dialogue:


Having digressed, like William Peter Blatty did when writing the fish
story in the movie, I did find something thoughtful and analytical, in
the Bright Lights Film Journal: “Friedkin [director
of The Exorcist] uses his sources simply as a springboard for his own
unerringly bleak world-view; he sees life as a grim mystery that can
never be solved and refuses to offer pat solutions. Human identity is
wavering, unstable, violent …. What makes Friedkin's disturbing,
seemingly unpalatable films work so effective are his brilliant formal
manipulations. The man who says he doesn't know how many killers there
are in Cruising has also been called ‘the purest and most impersonal
technician’ in cinema. The exorcism sequence in The Exorcist, the
chase scenes in The French Connection, Jade, and To Live and Die in
L.A., and the murders in Cruising are bravura examples of formal

A full listing of Bright Lights horror articles, including "They Ate
His Genitals!" A Sampling of European Sex and Horror Films,  is given

By the way, William Friedkin offers us the opportunity to ask him
questions directly, at this url,
                    *   *   *   *   * 

Here are some relevant websites from the movie section of the Guardian
newspaper’s website, :

The Diabolical Dominion
Why not give yourself the willies by taking a look at this incredibly
detailed site about horror movies past, present and future? Highlights
include links to the 100 best horror sites, info about cut scenes and
the chilling body count... You have to register first, though. 

A monster resource for fangs, oops, fans of horror movies with loads
of news, reviews, gossip and feature articles, some dissecting in
great detail famous film landmarks. But more than that, it's an
affectionate tribute to the genre. Don't miss the extensive links
page, each carefully reviewed in webmaster Renfield's inimitable

An extremely impressive web-based magazine for "everyone who enjoys
movies and popular culture." Intelligent and, dare we say, challenging
features are full of links and images, along with recent film and
video reviews.
[Current issue offers articles on the Western, Hitchcock, film noir –
and on Italian gothic horror,]

                    *   *   *   *   * 

And, finally, some

   * Rules for Surviving a Horror Movie * :

Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke.
Do not take *anything* from the dead.

If you find a town which looks deserted, it's probably for a good
reason. Take the hint and stay away. If your companions suddenly begin
to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, developing a
fascination with blood, glowing eyes, foaming at the mouth and
increasing hairiness, get away from them as fast as possible.

Remember: Just say "NO" to human blood.   

Never watch a horror movie while you're in a horror movie.

If you think you see your girlfriend/boyfriend and they are wearing a
mask, not talking, or conspicuously hiding their face, it's not them.

Don't be mean to the new kid. They will just end up killing you.

If you hear a strange noise coming from upstairs that sounds similar
to, oh let's say a severed head falling to the floor, don't go trying
to find out what it is.

When battling zombies, always sever their head or shoot them in the
brain. If you they still want to eat you after that, just surrender.
There's no hope for you anyway.

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