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The Philosophy of Horror

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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. 4 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

    OJ Svartheim

    A while back, a friend of mine sent me a collection of books that he no longer needed. Among them were a few non-fiction books on horror, including this one. It seemed like an interesting read when he offered it to me, and having now checked it out, I can say it for the most part was. The Goodreads info on this book states that it's by Thomas Fahy, although it seems he largely serves as the overall editor, while the content of the book is a collection of essays where different types of horror mov A while back, a friend of mine sent me a collection of books that he no longer needed. Among them were a few non-fiction books on horror, including this one. It seemed like an interesting read when he offered it to me, and having now checked it out, I can say it for the most part was. The Goodreads info on this book states that it's by Thomas Fahy, although it seems he largely serves as the overall editor, while the content of the book is a collection of essays where different types of horror movies are analyzed through a philosophical lens. It's certainly not the first book that does this, and as such, the topics that are touched upon are things I've read about before; how horror can mirror human psychology, social issues, political theories, and so on. One thing I find interesting, is how these topics are drawn out from very contemporary horror, and mostly movies. I'd be interested to see how some of these essays explored their chosen topic even more if the history of horror, including that which is found in horror novels through the decades, were taken more into consideration as well. All in all, it's a nice read, at least if you're interested in reading academic essays with horror as their main topic. Some of the essays verge on dryness due to them being perhaps slightly more lengthy than they might need to be, but they are nevertheless well-written, and each essay manages to make their main point very clear.

  5. 5 out of 5

    C♥️

    Quite a few very differing essays which was helpful as I’m just starting out some reading for my thesis - I’ve referenced from Nickel’s essay before concerning horror and the consumer’s morality. My favourite readings were Nickel’s “Horror and the Idea of Everyday Life” whose philosophy I think can be broadly applied when analysing texts other than The Birds and Psycho; Morris’s debate in “The Justification of Torture Horror” which was well-rounded with room for further research; Fahy’s essay ab Quite a few very differing essays which was helpful as I’m just starting out some reading for my thesis - I’ve referenced from Nickel’s essay before concerning horror and the consumer’s morality. My favourite readings were Nickel’s “Horror and the Idea of Everyday Life” whose philosophy I think can be broadly applied when analysing texts other than The Birds and Psycho; Morris’s debate in “The Justification of Torture Horror” which was well-rounded with room for further research; Fahy’s essay about In Cold Blood and Russell’s “Ideological Formations of Nuclear Family in The Hills Have Eyes” which I really enjoyed being familiar with both of these texts. Most chapters in the former half make reference to Noel Carroll’s “The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart” a lot - a confusingly similar title. I don’t watch zombie movies so it was a bit biased of me to not be that invested in the Marxist chapter. I’m interested in modern horror pop culture, especially in relation to morality, so this was a valuable read for me as this anthology has some diverse thinkers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven Logan

    Partly boring, but definitely informative.

  7. 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alberto Boschini

  9. 5 out of 5

    E. Dade

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Koko

  13. 4 out of 5

    redmars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kluge

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alana

  16. 4 out of 5

    Avgrma

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lousene

  18. 5 out of 5

    Decadent Sympozium

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nox

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Greer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kimmy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kurtzman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim Wong

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex Tolbert

  26. 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.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ella

  28. 4 out of 5

    W

  29. 5 out of 5

    idle nihilist

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike Prosise

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