Speakers

Stacey Abbott – University of Roehampton

Letting the Right One In: A Case Study of a Transnational and Transmedial Vampire

The vampire has a well-established association with British Gothic Literature via the works of Dr. John Polidori, Sheridan LeFanu and Bram Stoker, and British and American cinema in films such as Dracula (1931), Horror of Dracula (1958), Martin (1978), Near Dark (1987) and The Lost Boys (1987). The vampire, however, has a long transnational legacy and a history of diegetically and extra-diegetically crisscrossing national borders. In Stoker’s novel, Count Dracula travelled from Transylvania to London and back again, and the novel has itself spawned adaptations on stage and screen in Germany, Hungary, the United States, Canada, Britain and Turkey, breaching national and cultural boundaries along the way. Dracula has in fact been made and remade all around the world.

Due to an increasingly globalized media market in the twenty-first century, the vampire beyond Dracula has broadened its transnational identity through films such as Byzantium (2012), Night Watch (2004), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014), Thirst (2009), and What We Do in the Shadows (2014). In each of these cases the vampire film is adapted to suit different national cinemas and cultural idioms, albeit often in dialogue with previously established vampire traditions. Embodying a particularly instructive case study, Swedish horror novel Let the Right One In  has been adapted from novel to film (2008) and then remade as an American Film (2010), graphic novel (2011), Scottish stage play (2012) and subsequently television pilot (2017). This paper will therefore consider the transnational and transmedial journey of this Swedish vampire, examining the evolution of this particular vampire tale as it moves across borders and medias, reinventing itself along the way.

Stacey Abbott is a Reader in Film and Television Studies at the University of Roehampton. She is the author of Celluloid Vampires (2007), Angel: TV Milestone (2009) and Undead Apocalypse: Vampires and Zombies in the 21st Century (2016). She is the co-author, with Lorna Jowett, of TV Horror: Investigating the Dark Side of the Small Screen (2013) and is the editor of The Cult TV Book (2010). She has written extensively about vampires and zombies across film and television.  She is currently co-editing, with Lorna Jowett, a book on Global TV Horror and is writing a BFI Classics volume on Near Dark.

Speaking as part of ‘Intercontinental Creatures: Transnational Monsters’

Mark Richard Adams – Independent Scholar

White Light: Race, Gender and the Absolution of Guilt in Adapting Death Note

Transnational adaptations between mediums and cultures will always need changes to take into account new formats and social contexts. The horror-thriller anime series Death Note ran for thirty-seven episodes, and one film could obviously not convey all that narrative. Director Adam Wingard is notable for his previous horror work yet Death Note struggles to balance its horror aspects with the investigation plot-line. Various decisions made in the adaptation of Death Note not only serve to create a disjointed, confusing narrative, but they also render the film inherently problematic. Paradoxically, Netflix’s Death Note foregrounds the privileged position of the young white male within American culture by making its lead character, Light Turner, less popular and powerful than his Japanese counterpart. Whereas Light Yagami is an academically brilliant honours student, Light Turner is a bullied social outcast. The character is adapted to be more sympathetic to a western audience, but in doing this, the film consistently displaces Light’s guilt at using the Death Note to murder people onto the other characters.

Light is coerced into first using the Death Note by the demon, Ryuk. His girlfriend Mia uses sexuality to convince him to continue to murder. L, a genius detective, is now a black youth whose confrontational nature and aggressive tendencies antagonise Light further. At a time when American culture is rife with the increasing presence of far-right ideology pushing misogyny and racism into the mainstream, these changes are highly problematic. Domestic terror and sexual assaults involving white youth in America show a worrying pattern of framing the discussion around their problems; isolation, mental health, or even how a conviction would hurt their future. In absolving Light of guilt throughout the film, Netflix’s Death Note further contributes to troubling representations of alienated white youth as sympathetic, at the expense of their victims.

Mark Richard Adams received his Doctorate at Brunel University for his study of audiences and production, entitled “Unpacking the Industrial, Cultural and Historical Contexts of Doctor Who‘s Fan Producers.” This study examined the institutional contexts of Fan-Producers and a historical study of the concept of authorship and authority over a text. He also has a Masters in Cult Film and Television. His publications include a chapter on masochism in Screening Twilight: Critical Approaches to a Cinematic Phenomenon (2014) and ‘Clive Barker’s Queer Monsters’ in Clive Barker: Dark Imaginer (2017).

Speaking as part of ‘Fear & Fidelity: Transnational Adaptation’

Ninon B. Bartz – Syracuse University

Gendered Violence in New French Extremism: From Female Martyrs to Psychotic Femme Fatales

Gender determines violence in movies from New French Extremism (or New French Extremity), a movement in French cinema beginning in the late-twentieth century and ending in the early twenty-first century. Female characters are the victims of male characters. While focusing on the horror aspects of this movement, Kristeva’s theory of abject in Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980) is key to understanding this gendered violence. The renowned Canadian film critic J. Quandt provided the now famous definition which focuses on the determination of these films to “break every taboo.” They do so by displaying explicit scenes of violence and sex. Both elements can be read with Kristeva’s theory of abjection. Death erupts on screen and becomes tangible through the symbolic use of fluids, blood, which speaks to the corporality of both the characters and the audience.

The experiences of female and male characters differ, and this presentation shows that violence is often inflicted upon female characters by male characters. However, the cinema of the New French Extremism, and the similarities established with modern French horror in general, reinforces this image at the same time as it subverts it. Kristeva’s use of feminist and psychanalytic theory as well as the American feminists’ studies of horror movies, such as Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous-Feminine or Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, provide methods for gendered analysis of such movies. Through its feminine directors like Marina De Van, Claire Denis and Virginie Despentes, the New French Extremism subverts then this violence. They create brutal and dangerous female characters in retaliation against the patriarchal order. These complex characters provide a pathway for modern feminine representations of the monstrous.

Ninon B. Bartz is a graduate student at Syracuse University, NY and prospective Ph.D. student. She has been studying modern French and Francophone literatures and while studying in France at Strasbourg University, she completed a first year’s master on monstrosity in the works of Barbey d’Aurevilly, a 19th century Romantic author. She will graduate in 2019 from Syracuse University with a master’s thesis on women’s writers. She also has an interest in ancient and modern horror on the screen and in literary works. She has been nominated for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Student Research at Syracuse University.

Speaking as part of ‘Euroslash: European Horror’

Kev Bickerdike – Sheffield Hallam University

Down in the Tube Station at Midnight: Creep and Placelessness on the London Underground

Marc Augé is credited with the introduction of the spatial descriptive of the non-place. Within his 1995 work Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthology of Supermodernity, he described the non-place as being a space that ‘cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity’. The term is, in part, a continuation of Edward Relph’s concept of placelessness, a tendency within contemporary culture to produce spaces that are homogenous, bland and generic. The London underground railway system is an exemplary model of Augé’s spatial definition, serving as it does a purely functional and transient purpose; a space that people pass through on their way to other places. Non-places encourage anonymity, and discourage demonstrations of behaviours that confirm individuality. As these spaces are becoming increasingly prevalent within the urban landscape, it is vital to consider the effects they might have upon the collective identity of the contemporary urban residents experiencing them.

This paper will examine the above notion, through a reading of Christopher Smith’s 2005 film, Creep. Set in London’s underground, Smith’s film presents a space that is devoid of relational or historical attachments, and significantly runs parallel to a sewerage system that houses a clandestine, but defunct, experimental medical facility; undetected precisely because of the innate undesirability of its location. Creep presents its monstrous antagonist Craig (a remnant of the experiments on children conducted within the medical facility) as embodying both the abject, yet highly functional space of the sewerage system, and the non-place of the underground, lacking as it does the opportunities for interaction and identity formation of more properly invested spaces. Craig is physically abject, apparently possessing barely distinguished physical features and his mimetic behaviour is as methodical and repetitive as the non-place of the underground in which he resides.

Kev Bickerdike is a PhD candidate at Sheffield Hallam. His project, British Horror Cinema and the Production of Space, examines the ways in which space is produced (invested with cultural meaning), and informs both characterisation and narrative within the genre.

Speaking as part of ‘Isles of Terror: British Horror’

Simon Brown – Kingston University

Terribly British: Crickley Hall, James Herbert and the Legacy of Modern British Horror Fiction

Upon his death in 2013, James Herbert was Britain’s most successful modern horror writer, with 54 million books sold worldwide. Like Stephen King, Herbert was at the vanguard of new horror writing in the 1970s, his first novel, The Rats, appearing in bookstores simultaneously with Carrie. Yet while Carrie was a moderate seller, The Rats was an instant hit. A raw slice of punk horror, it launched both Herbert’s career and a new movement in British horror writing, a vast series of pulp paperbacks in which the UK was attacked by ever-increasing hoards of dogs, cats, crabs, cockroaches and even caterpillars.  Herbert’s sparse prose and emphasis on sex and violence influenced a new generation of British horror writers including Shaun Hutson, Guy N. Smith, John Halkin, Richard Lewis and Robert Calder. Despite being later heralded by Ramsay Campbell and Clive Barker, the association of Herbert with these so-called pulp novels labelled him a bad boy of horror.

This was a description he tried to shake his whole career and shortly before his death Herbert was reclaimed. He received an OBE in 2010, in 2012 his novel Ash was released as a special edition by WH Smith, the store that had banned The Rats in 1974, and in 2012 the BBC adapted The Secret of Crickely Hall (2006) into a three-part Sunday night drama. This was just the fifth adaptation of a Herbert work, the first for TV, and the only one to be adapted with any degree of fidelity. Crickely Hall therefore completed Herbert’s journey from the outsider horror fringes to the insider gothic establishment. Using this adaptation as a case study, this paper will consider how it embodies the relationship between UK horror writing and screen horror since the 1970s. It will do so by exploring both trends within British horror adaptation and the important of adaptation to horror literature, and thereby evaluating the legacy of post-1970s British horror writing.

Simon Brown is Associate Professor of Film and Television at Kingston University. He is the author of Screening Stephen King: Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television (2018) and a forthcoming book on King and Romero’s Creepshow (1982) for the Devil’s Advocate series.

Speaking as part of ‘Isles of Terror: British Horror’

Laura Loguercio Cánepa – Anhembi Morumbi University

Slaves and the Senzala: The Haunted “Big House” in Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper focuses on economic disparity in the nation’s horror cinema. As one of the most socially unequal countries on the planet, Brazil still suffers today from the consequences of more than 300 years of slavery. Spread all over the labour relations in the country, this inheritance (known as the tension between the “Big House” and the “Senzala” – where the owners and their slaves lived) is reflected in a particularly dramatic way in domestic work relationships. In this sense, films like Hard Labor (2011), Neighoring Sounds (2012) and Aquarius (2015) present horrific “cracks” of old haunts in Brazil’s social reality, and reveal the horrific origins of the Brazilian society.

Mean Streets: Urban Violence as a Curse in Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper concentrates on urban blight and violent crime. Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, living for decades with a rate of violence that reaches more than thirty murders per hundred thousand inhabitants a year. For much of the Brazilian public, this seems to have no solution except repeated bloodbaths in urban centers. For a long time, this issue was represented by Brazilian cinema in “crime films” (as seen in internationally famous films such as The Elite Squad, 2007 and City of God, 2002). But since the 2010s, Brazilian horror movies have also appropriated the theme. In films like Kill Me Please (2014), Friendly Beast (2017) and The Nightshifter (2019), the characters’ desire for violence acquires mysterious and often supernatural aspects.

Laura Loguercio Cánepa is professor on the Post-Graduate Programme in Communication at Anhembi Morumbi University and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She has published several works on Brazilian horror films, including “Erotic Brazilian Movies of Female Killers” (in A Panorama of Brazilan Porn, 2018) and “José Mojica Marins versus Coffin Joe: Auteurism and Stardom in Brazilian Cinema” (in Stars and Stardom in Brazilian Cinema, 2017).

Speaking with Stephanie Dennison and Genio Nascimento as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Leandro Caraça – University of Campinas

Good Manners and Bad: Werewolves in Contemporary Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper concentrates on contemporary Brazilian horror’s use of werewolf mythology. Unlike vampires and mummies, werewolves are classic monsters that belong to Brazilian folklore. However, their appearances in the national cinema almost always took place in a comical way, until the directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra returned that folk figure to its horrific origin in Hard Labor (2011) and Good Manners (2017). In these films, the issue of violence linked to labor relations frames discussions about Brazilian society.

Leandro Caraça is a Brazilian film critic based at the University of Campinas. His Master’s dissertation addressed the topic of Brazilian films of the 1950s. His current research investigates Brazilian “jungle” films.

Speaking with Tiago Monteiro as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Stephanie Dennison – University of Leeds

Slaves and the Senzala: The Haunted “Big House” in Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper focuses on economic disparity in the nation’s horror cinema. As one of the most socially unequal countries on the planet, Brazil still suffers today from the consequences of more than 300 years of slavery. Spread all over the labour relations in the country, this inheritance (known as the tension between the “Big House” and the “Senzala” – where the owners and their slaves lived) is reflected in a particularly dramatic way in domestic work relationships. In this sense, films like Hard Labor (2011), Neighoring Sounds (2012) and Aquarius (2015) present horrific “cracks” of old haunts in Brazil’s social reality, and reveal the horrific origins of the Brazilian society.

Stephanie Dennison is Professor of Brazilian Studies at the University of Leeds. She has published a number of books on Brazilian, Latin American and World Cinema. Her forthcoming single-authored book, Remapping Brazilian Film Culture in the 21st Century, will be published by Routledge. She was Primary Investigator and Co-investigator respectively on AHRC-funded projects Soft Power, Cinema and the BRICS and Voicing Hidden Histories, and she has published articles and book chapters and produced short films related to these projects.

Speaking with Laura Loguercio Cánepa as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Lucy Fife Donaldson – University of St. Andrews

Embodied Aesthetics: The Duets of Camera and Body in Uruguay’s Silent House

While horror has always been a body genre, as noted by Linda Williams (1991), there is more to be said concerning the ways in which horror’s stylistic strategies harness the responsiveness of bodies both onscreen and off. Taking the Uruguayan film, La Casa Muda (Silent House, 2010), as a case study, this paper will explore a key element in the embodied dynamics of contemporary international horror, that of the relationship between camera and body. The use of a handheld camera – itself not an entirely new approach within the horror genre – connects La Casa Muda to other 21st Century horror films from across the globe, such as [Rec] (2008) and Paranormal Activity (2009).

As a stylistic strategy it both intensifies a corporeal connection through shared movement, as well as putting further and material pressure on the potential for shock and disturbance so important to horror’s affect. The performer’s place in relation to the camera is as important as the camera movements themselves, and also, as noted by scholars interested in the sensory properties of cinema, to the bodies of the audience. The degree to which the onscreen body controls the spatial position of the camera and its movement is a significant element of how we engage with that body, and thus the relationship between the body onscreen and our own. My analysis will seek to highlight the ways in which La Casa Muda explores the potential of this relationship between camera and bodies in order to heighten the affective impact of the film’s horror, drawing bodies off and onscreen into a complex dance of proximity and rupture.

Lucy Fife Donaldson is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St. Andrews and her research focuses on the materiality of style and the body in popular film and television. She is the author of Texture in Film (2014), and a member of the Editorial Board of Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism.

Speaking as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Courtney Dreyer – Syracuse University

A Sympathetic Witch: Affective Criticism of the Monstrous-Feminine in The Witch

Building on the work of Sara Ahmed, this essay focuses on how various technical choices can invoke specific affective associations within film. These affective associations created by technical elements, however, can operate in opposition to the symbolic elements, offering an invitation for critical engagement with the text within these tensions. To demonstrate this, I offer a close reading of Roger Eggers’ 2015 film The Witch, illustrating how the film narratively and symbolically associates the character of Thomasin with traits common to Barbara Creed’s monstrous-feminine archetype. While the story and imagery places Thomasin as a monster, the technical choices in scene framing and editing call to affective associations to position her as a sympathetic lead and victim of persecution.

This juxtaposition between the affective experiences caused by the framing of Thomasin and the symbolism connecting her to monstrosity, allows the film to critique the monstrous-feminine not only as a horror film archetype, but also as having dangerous implications towards the lived experiences of real women. To this end, I argue that films can perform critical work through technical choices. I also posit that affect can be utilized not only as a means of creating a feeling of identification with characters to promote a specific genre-based experience but can also be used in an attempt to deconstruct long-held associative chains.

Courtney Dreyer is currently an MA student in the Communication and Rhetorical Studies Department at Syracuse University. She has previously presented work at Rhetoric Society of America’s 2018 Undergraduate Research Network, Sigma Tau Delta’s 2018 International Convention, and Pennsylvania State University’s “Camp Rhetoric” 2019. Her research interests include the rhetoric of film, horror and affect, monstrosity, and popular film discourse.

Speaking as part of ‘New Nightmares: North American Horror’

Pembe Gozde Erdogan – Independent Scholar

The Haunting of TV for a Global Audience: The Transnational Textuality of The Haunting of Hill House

Mike Flanagan’s Netflix adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House has been celebrated as a triumph that gave the novel new life and that re-established the status of artfully and intellectually made horror on television. The Haunting of Hill House is more than just a successful adaptation, however. The limited TV series represents a compelling case study to analyse horror textuality and adaptation for international audiences. This paper will seek to analyse several factors that make the show such a global phenomenon. Some questions asked will be: What type of ghost stories do we like to watch at this day and age on TV? Is American horror (and American taste) now truly universal? What are the key differences in the original text and the Netflix series that makes the former uniquely American for its time and the Netflix show truly universal binge-horror? Does Netflix’s format play any part in the textuality of this new adaptation?

In order to answer some of these questions, this paper will first track the journey of the story from fiction to theatre to film and then eventually to television, comparing the different texts. The series will be analysed as a Netflix text with an emphasis on televisual, serial, postmodern aspects of its textuality and its audiences. The paper will also use various theories of postmodern textuality and form and especially how gothic and horror in the 21st century fit into postmodernism. The gothic/horror conventions and tropes that the TV series recycles will be highlighted. These include the characters and storylines from the history of the story of the Hill House but also from the history of gothic and horror in general. In this vein, ghosts and hauntings are literally seen as textual return of the past texts and forms. The TV show will be analysed as a self-reflexive, knowing text where storylines turn back onto themselves and the notions of beginnings, middles and endings are being questioned. In addition, the article will look at how the TV show explores questions around authorship, writing and storylines through the characters of Steven Crain, Shirley Crain and Hugh Crain.

Pembe Gozde Erdogan is an independent gothic/horror scholar. Her areas of research include TV horror, textuality of postmodern horror in visual forms, and feminist readings of horror texts. Erdogan’s other research areas include Southern gothic in literature, film and TV, popular culture studies and contemporary American theatre.

Speaking as part of ‘Scarewaves: Transnational Television’

Stella Gaynor – University of Salford

“When Did You Die?”: The Gothic, the Living Dead and Questions about the Afterlife in The Returned

In an beautiful French Alpine town the dead return to life and attempt to slot back into their old lives. Not knowing they are dead, the returnees, or zombies of the series struggle to comprehend why they are back and why their families and friends might be anything other than thrilled to see them. A series with distinct Gothic overtones and a dreamlike quality, The Returned (Les Revenants) offers a new and original take on the zombie monster and the structure of the zombie text. This paper will explore this eerie and spooky series as it presents an alternative to the bloody and gory manifestations of zombies that populate other serialisations. Produced and broadcast on premium channel Canal +, The Returned represents an intelligent yet suitably creepy horror series, with the slow burn storytelling and narrative pacing that a pay premium channel can afford.

Examining the Gothic themes within the series, past secrets and physical representations of guilt, this paper will consider the use of the zombie and its purpose within a Gothic text. This paper will unpack the bigger questions that the series posits around the suggestion of an afterlife, purgatory, hell, and of past crimes and personal punishment. Through close textual analysis of season one of The Returned, this paper will investigate one of the most compelling and creepiest horror television dramas of recent years.

Stella Gaynor has completed her PhD on American TV Horror, and is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Salford in its Media Department. She has given guest lectures at Liverpool John Moores University on the development of horror across digital media and horror story worlds. She has written a chapter on the global distribution of The Walking Dead for an upcoming collection edited by Stacey Abbott and Lorna Jowett, and she is a regular blogger for Critical Studies in Television. She has industry background in special effects makeup for film, television and theatre. She still is, and will always be, a dedicated Walking Dead fan.

Speaking as part of ‘Scarewaves: Transnational Television’

Reece Goodall – University of Warwick

“It’s Your Crazy Mother!”: Maternal Themes in the Films of Maury & Bustillo

The figure of the mother has always been an important one in France – however, as the social, demographical and political shape of the country has changed since the turn of the century, the traditional French idea of motherhood has also shifted. After the global financial crisis, French birth and marriage rates began to steadily decline and, as cuts in governmental family funding took effect, discourse about motherhood has only intensified.

This paper examines depictions of the mother in the films of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (A l’intérieur [2007], Livide [2011], Aux yeux des vivants [2014] and Leatherface [2017]), reading them as expressing and analysing French national concerns about maternity, and will ask how we can define ‘good’ or ‘bad’ mothering in contemporary France. It will also consider whether the films are advocating or criticising France’s traditional, conservative form of motherhood and, by drawing on highly-discussed works by Élisabeth Badinter and Pamela Druckerman, ask whether the changing role of the mother in 21st-century France should be considered a source of horror.

Reece Goodall is a postgraduate student in French Studies at the University of Warwick. His undergraduate dissertation on theorising the New French Extremity led to his being awarded a scholarship to continue his research at Masters level, where he is examining the construction of the mother in recent French horror. His research interests include French and US horror cinema, and he is currently beginning work on a PhD project analysing the aesthetic of contemporary French horror cinema.

Speaking as part of ‘Euroslash: European Horror’

Janet K. Halfyard – Birmingham Conservatoire

Sounding the Icelandic Landscape: Music and Place in I Remember You

Iceland’s film industry is a relatively recent one, having begun only in 1979. This is perhaps relatively unsurprising, given that this is a nation with a population about the same size as Bradford at a little under 350,000. Initially rather focused on films about Vikings, horror has become a more visible – and audible – genre in recent years, and certain common threads are apparent in Icelandic horror narratives, in particular the trope of a journey from the city into the wild, and encounters with the past and its ghosts in locations isolated within the vastness of the natural landscape. In this paper, I examine sound in recent Icelandic horror films, focusing on I Remember You (2017) and the musical evocation of the Icelandic landscape.

In particular, I examine the relationship between the gestural language of music and sound design in this film and the music of Icelandic composer Jón Leifs (1899-1968) whose compositions were very much focused on his response to the Icelandic landscape. The idea that music responds to, describes and evokes the nature of landscape is one firmly embedded in musical discourse, from Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony (1808) to Philip Glass’s portrait of urban landscapes in the Koyaanisqatsi (1983). Leifs portrait of Iceland is often sparse, gestural and austere, with moments of violence, as in Geysir (1961), a musical portrait of the eruption of a geyser. In I Remember You, music and sound are similarly used to connect the nature of the landscape directly to the uncanny and to the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of two children, one in the distant past and one very recently. I examine how sound is used to describes and connect both the austerity of the natural world and the insistent narrative push towards solving the film’s mysteries.

Janet K. Halfyard is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham City University). Publications include Danny Elfman’s Batman: A Film Score Guide (2004), Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2010), The Music of Fantasy Cinema (2012) and a variety of essays on music in horror and fantasy in journals and edited collections. Her monograph, Sounds of Fear and Wonder: Music in Cult TV was published in 2016, and focuses in particular on music and sound in horror and supernatural TV shows.

Speaking as part of ‘Bad Vibrations: Transnational Soundscapes’

Adam Herron – University of East Anglia

“Victim Sells”: The Commercial Context of Snuff Fiction and A Serbian Film

Srđan Spasojević’s debut feature A Serbian Film (Srpski film, 2010) follows the character of Milos (Srdjan Todorovic), a retired porn star who makes a Faustian pact with director Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) to star in an ‘art-pornography’ film later revealed to be a snuff film. Nearly a decade since the film’s release, existing scholarship has focused on its transgressive content—including themes of paedophilia, incest, and necrophilia—and polarised reception, with press commentators condemning the film as “sensationalist depravity” (Cox), “a controversial shocker” (Hayles), and “cruel and gruesome sexual violence” (Scott). To this end, Mark Betz states that A Serbian Film has been adopted as a yardstick for measuring the extremity of other films within fan discourses, contrasted with titles such as Salò (1975) or Antichrist (2009) and celebrated precisely because of its cinematic excess. However, my own intervention within this debate seeks to engage with an under-researched area: the commercial context of the snuff film.

This paper will examine the commercial context of A Serbian Film from three interrelated perspectives, challenging readings that have framed the film as solely informed by transgression and excess. First, the film will be situated in relation to prior developments within the horror subgenre of snuff fiction, comprising narratives dealing with the recording of ‘real’ death as a central premise. Second, the film’s marketing and distribution will be compared with that of previous snuff fictions, arguing that strategies inferring the veracity of screened deaths have been replaced by the mediation of notoriety. Finally, textual analysis of A Serbian Film will be conducted to demonstrate how its narrative establishes spectacle, economic gain, and audience responsibility in snuff fiction as core themes.

Adam Herron is a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia. He has delivered papers at Aberystwyth University, Birmingham City University, Northumbria University, and De Montfort University, and published “‘Victim Sells’: The Commercial Context of Snuff Fiction and A Serbian Film” as his first article in the Intellect journal Film Matters in 2018. His research interests include genre, gender, media history, and media audiences.

Speaking as part of ‘Euroslash: European Horror’

Amanda Howell – Griffith University

Haunting the Arthouse: Discursive Negotiations of Art and Horror in the Marketing and Reception of Let the Right One In, The Babadook and Under the Shadow

With a generic history as long as cinema itself, horror is both widely discussed and theorised by critics and scholars but also routinely subject to critical deprecation. Consequently, those horror films that are distributed via networks and exhibited in spaces associated with the arthouse tradition, and/or received and celebrated as examples of film art, challenge mainstream critical disdain for what is persistently regarded as a schlock or trash genre. This paper addresses itself to three films that have found global success in these terms as examples of arthouse horror: Let the Right One In (2008), The Babadook (2014), and Under the Shadow (2016). Reinventing familiar horror narratives of uncanny children, vampiric seduction, haunting and possession, they exhibit a hybrid aesthetic where aestheticised modes of psychological and social realism strongly associated with art cinema are combined with horror’s familiar generic tropes.

The particular focus of this discussion is how this hybrid character is represented in marketing and critical reception texts, and the way that the films are valued for how they appear to cross boundaries and confound cultural hierarchies. By reflecting critically on how marketing and reception texts for these films utilise and negotiate the value-laden categories of art and horror, this discussion explores the thesis that such texts are peculiarly suited to conditions of the contemporary global marketplace, their hybridity affording them mobility and access to varied audiences, while confirming Galt and Schoonover’s observations regarding the ‘impurity’ and ‘mongrel identity’ of contemporary art cinema, alongside its ‘persistent contemporary currency’ (2010).

Amanda Howell is a Senior Lecturer in Screen Studies at Griffith University, where she teaches courses in US and world cinemas. Her research concerns itself especially with gender and genre, with a recurrent focus on the gothic and horror. Most recently, she has co-edited and contributed to special journal issues of Refractory, Continuum and Cultural Studies Review. She has been granted leave in the last half of 2019 to pursue research focused on arthouse horror.

Speaking as part of ‘Universal Horrors: Transnational Movements’

Rhys Jones – University of Liverpool

Queering Settler Colonialism: Progressive Politics and Representational Violence in Cargo

In the wake of the recent burgeoning of the horror genre, films depicting what Simon Brown has described as ‘the horror of the real’ or political horror are becoming increasingly popular. This paper contends that films such as Get Out have re-awoken mainstream audiences to the subversive fecundity of a genre that has been producing social commentary and providing visual representation for socially abjected populations since George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.

It is with these contexts in mind that my paper takes as its subject Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke’s 2017 post-apocalyptic horror film Cargo. Set in the Australian outback, the film follows the Rose family in their desperate struggle to stay alive and protect their infant daughter. Drawing on Patrick Wolfe’s discussion of the violent assimilationist policies of Australian colonial-settler society, including the practice of the abduction of Aboriginal children as a form of state-endorse genocide, this paper will explore the dialectical relationship between the white ‘expatriate’ bodies of Andy and his daughter; the indigenous bodies of Thoomi and other unnamed ‘Aboriginals’; and the undead bodies that have infested the Australian landscape. While acknowledging Cargo’s deliberately progressive politics in its depiction of Aboriginal heritage and peoples and the emergent kinship relations forged between the Rose family and Thoomi, this paper will highlight the ways in which the film’s representation of indigenous populations are still complicit in formal and structural modes of violence that render many of these Aboriginal people as unnamed stereotypes, denied full subjectivity. This paper will interrogate the way in which Cargo’s narrative form coopts indigenous populations into performing dangerous and precarious labour in their protection of, to borrow Lee Edelman’s term, the Child (in this case the product of a white ‘Commonwealth’ nuclear family) whose ‘innocence’ must be protected at all costs.

Rhys Jones is an Interdisciplinary Graduate Teaching Assistant and a first-year PhD student at the University of Liverpool. He is researching visual manifestations of structural modes of violence and their impact on gendered and racialised populations in contemporary horror cinema and reality television. His PhD thesis seeks to map the dynamics of socio-cultural abjection against their political-economic determinants and effects through close formal analyses of horror films.

Speaking as part of ‘Six-Feet Down Under: Australasian Horror’

Sonia Lupher – University of Pittsburgh

Women on the Festival Circuit: The Circulation of Female-Driven Horror Cinema

In 2007, the first-ever women’s horror film festival, Viscera Film Festival, took place in Los Angeles. Its goal was to showcase women’s independent film work in a genre where women have long struggled to gain credibility, both as fans and filmmakers. Since Viscera ended in 2013, the women’s horror/genre film festival has grown into an international phenomenon: for a brief period, they spanned three continents—Australia, the USA, and Asia—and currently there are four such festivals in the US, one in Canada, and one in Germany. They screen primarily short films, and in many cases ones that do not neatly fit into the horror label. Final Girls Berlin Film Festival (FGBFF) co-founder Elinor Lewy, for instance, describes the festival’s search for “a broader definition of horror,” and many festivals include categories for experimental horror and animation. Deborah Haywood’s horror-melodrama Pin Cushion (2017), which screened at FGBFF, will feature as a primary case study that demonstrates the genre exploration at work in these festivals.

Predecessors of the women’s horror film festival phenomenon—the Women’s Event at the 1972 Edinburgh Film Festival and other 1970s women’s film festival—were supplementary to activist consciousness-raising for the women’s movement. In turn, I argue that women’s horror film festivals in the twenty-first century play a crucial role in an emerging international movement specifically focused on promoting women in horror. The political stakes of this movement are tied to broader social feminist movements, particularly against sexism in the film industry, but also in delimiting the parameters of the horror genre. In this paper, I draw upon interviews with festival directors and my experience attending several of these festivals in North America and Germany, focusing particular attention on the Ax Wound Film Festival in Vermont, the Bloody Mary Film Festival in Toronto, and BFGFF in Berlin.

Sonia Lupher is a PhD candidate in the Film and Media Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she researches contemporary women’s cinema and women’s genre, particularly horror. She is the founder and editor of Cut-Throat Women: A Database of Women Who Make Horror. Her work has appeared in Critical Quarterly, and Graveyard Shift Sisters, and she has forthcoming articles in Ecrans, Jump Cut, and Alison Peirse’s edited collection Women Make Horror. She is currently guest editing a special issue of Studies in the Fantastic.

Speaking as part of ‘Universal Horrors: Transnational Movements’

Shellie McMurdo – University of Roehampton

The Cultural Politics of Found Footage Horror as a Transnational Subgenre

Found footage cinema, whether we trace its origins back to Cannibal Holocaust (1980) or The Blair Witch Project (1999), is an instantly visually recognisable subgeneric style that has been readily adopted into a wide variety of national cinemas. For example, from Japan’s Noroi: The Curse (2005), and Australia’s Lake Mungo (2008), to The Borderlands (2013) from the United Kingdom, Ragini MMS (2011) from India, or the Israeli made Jeruzalem (2016). This paper will begin by outlining how found footage has been used in different national contexts to demonstrate how the subgenre has travelled well and extensively, and how it has been used in different cultural contexts to address various national concerns or preoccupations. Using two main case studies, the Norweigan Trollhunter (2010) and the American Quarantine (2008), this paper will conduct an analysis of themes and content within these films, and highlight the difference in their release reception, in which reviews would often remark on their cultural engagement or lack thereof.

This paper will explore how Trollhunter was positioned as a film which blended the culturally specific with the globally marketable, and compare this to Quarantine, which has often been maligned as ‘less culturally engaged’ due to its position as a remake (Willis, 2017), and which was accused of removing the Spanish specificity present in the original film, Rec (2007). Overarchingly, this paper will focus on the ways in which cultural context, or in some cases, reculturalisation, features in these films, and on the interplay between the national and the transnational in a found footage horror subgenre context.

Shellie McMurdo is in her final year of PhD research at the University of Roehampton, where her thesis examines American found footage horror cinema and cultural trauma. She has presented her work at a variety of conferences and has recently published on American Horror Story, school shooters, and the true crime fandom in the European Journal of American Culture, and a chapter cowritten with Wickham Clayton on Captivity and torture horror in Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film (2019).

Speaking as part of ‘Universal Horrors: Transnational Movements’

Laura Mee – University of Hertfordshire

Re-viewing Ring: Adaptation, Restoration and the Ghost of VHS

In March 2019, Arrow Films released a new, digitally restored Blu-Ray collection of the Ring series—Ring (1998), Ring 2 (1999), Ring 0: Birthday (2000), and ‘lost’ sequel Spiral (1998). The release was preceded by a limited run of theatrical screenings of Ring, promoting a new High Definition restoration from the original negative produced in collaboration with director of photography Junichiro Hayashi. For most of its UK audience, this was the first opportunity to see the film on the big screen, and a vastly different experience to their original viewings on home video at the turn of the millennium.

Ring initiated a wave of J-horror popularity in the UK in the late 1990s, prompted by an Orientalist campaign by Tartan Video to promote their ‘Asia Extreme’ home video label (Shin, 2008). The series became a major cult hit on video, before finding a truly global audience in the mid-2000s on DVD (Wada-Marciano 2007). Remakes The Ring (2002) and The Ring Virus (1999) and other sequels and reboots further contributed to Ring’s horror canonisation.

This paper analyses the ways in which the Ring series has evolved through retelling, serialisation and re-release. It also explores the implications of technological development in relation to both textual and contextual factors. To what extent can we consider restoration a further form of adaptation, particularly when digital transfer impacts the overall aesthetic of a film which once relied on the lower quality of VHS as part of its viewing culture? And how does a horror series about a cursed videotape remain relevant when the death of that media format is only underlined by the story’s retelling on new digital formats?

Laura Mee is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. Her research focuses on horror, adaptation, and seriality. She is the author of the forthcoming Reanimated: The Contemporary American Horror Film Remake (forthcoming 2019), Devil’s Advocates: The Shining (2017), and the co-editor of Cinema, Television and History: New Approaches (2014). She has published in journals and collections on topics including rape-revenge remakes, the critical reception of horror remakes, Room 237 and cinephilia, Stanley Kubrick and genre, American Psycho and gender, and James Wan’s horror franchises.

Speaking as part of ‘Fear & Fidelity: Transnational Adaptation’

Tiago Monteiro – Federal Institute of Rio de Janiero

Good Manners and Bad: Werewolves in Contemporary Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper concentrates on contemporary Brazilian horror’s use of werewolf mythology. Unlike vampires and mummies, werewolves are classic monsters that belong to Brazilian folklore. However, their appearances in the national cinema almost always took place in a comical way, until the directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra returned that folk figure to its horrific origin in Hard Labor (2011) and Good Manners (2017). In these films, the issue of violence linked to labor relations frames discussions about Brazilian society.

Tiago Monteiro works at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janiero, teaching classes on cinema, media and cultural production. His research in communication focuses on the following subjects: media culture, horror movies, fringe cinema, popular music, identity, and cultural exchanges between Brazil and Portugal. He has published in collections such as The Supernatural in Literature and Cinema (2018) and Gender and Contemporary Horror in Comics, Games and Transmedia (forthcoming 2019).

Speaking with Leandro Caraça as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Genio Nascimento – Anhembi Morumbi University

Mean Streets: Urban Violence as a Curse in Brazilian Horror

As has been postulated by a number of Brazilian scholars (Canepa, 2016; Barrenha, 2018; Caetano, 2018 and Santos, 2018), contemporary Brazilian horror cinema presents an articulation of horror and social drama that reflects on the nation’s social reality in the so-called “Lula Era” (2003-2010) – a term used in reference to the two terms of office of  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the “Lula Era”, a certain economic growth of the subproletariat and the working class was accompained by an intensification of the sense of violence and insecurity in urban centres, especially among segments of the traditional middle classes (Singer, 2012; Dunker, 2015). Our analysis  suggests that some films offer a “horrific” interpretation of the situation faced by the Brazilian middle class in that period.

This paper concentrates on urban blight and violent crime. Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, living for decades with a rate of violence that reaches more than thirty murders per hundred thousand inhabitants a year. For much of the Brazilian public, this seems to have no solution except repeated bloodbaths in urban centers. For a long time, this issue was represented by Brazilian cinema in “crime films” (as seen in internationally famous films such as The Elite Squad, 2007 and City of God, 2002). But since the 2010s, Brazilian horror movies have also appropriated the theme. In films like Kill Me Please (2014), Friendly Beast (2017) and The Nightshifter (2019), the characters’ desire for violence acquires mysterious and often supernatural aspects.

Genio Nascimento is a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at Anhembi Morumbi University. His Master’s dissertation addressed the topic of Brazilian animated horror films. His current research investigates the legacy of one of the pioneers of horror in the Brazilian media, the radio producer known as Almirante.

Speaking with Laura Loguercio Cánepa as part of ‘Latin Loathers: South American Horror’

Joe Ondrak – Sheffield Hallam University

Tulpas, Goatmen and Skinwalkers: Creepypasta, Folk Reappropriation and the Performance of Digital Personhood

Though it is home to a host of ‘original’ monsters (Slenderman, The Rake, Jeff the Killer and so on), the Internet – and its predominant form of monster-maker, creepypasta – often appropriates and remixes creatures of legend and lore from around the world and from disparate communities into its tales.While the internet, and specifically sites that propagate creepypasta narratives, such as 4chan and Somethingawful, are often characterised as ‘global’ platforms that attract hits and users from across the world, the integration of creatures from marginalised and non-western communities is often done in a way that erases or distorts the characteristics and lore of these creatures. Moreover, their situation in specifically English-speaking websites alongside this erasing of cultural history raises questions around the cultural appropriation of myth on a ‘global’ platform.

In this paper, I consider three creatures of creepypasta with roots in cultures outside of internet lore: tulpas, the goatman and skinwalkers. I will explore the roots of each of these creatures before an analysis of each as they appear in popular creepypasta narratives Tulpa, Anansi’s Goatman, and Cabin Memories. I will show how each of these creatures has been appropriated to represent anxieties around contemporary social media, anonymous online discourse, and the performativity of an online persona. However, each of the narratives also conjures the spectre of the creature’s original cultural position and highlights implicit postcolonial tensions even on a ‘global’ digital platform. This paper open a discussion regarding the cross-pollination of culturally specific monsters into borderless narratives, and what that means for contemporary folk and digital horror.

Joe Ondrak is an Associate Lecturer and doctoral candidate in English at Sheffield Hallam University. His research aims to establish creepypasta as an emergent genre specific to the form of digital fiction, define its key generic traits and develop a systematic methodology for its analysis that is attuned to its textual and cultural properties. His research on this subject has recently been published in Horror Studies. His PhD study is a continuation of his MRes dissertation, which sought to analyse contemporary print remediations of digital textuality.

Speaking as part of ‘Intercontinental Creatures: Transnational Monsters’

Giuseppe Previtali – University of Bergamo

Zombies in Rome. A Snapshot of Italian Contemporary Horror Cinema

It is well known that, during the 1970s, Italian horror cinema was experimental and extreme, mainly thanks to the works of some specific authors as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Joe d’Amato and so on. They created a whole set of new subgenres, from the giallo to cannibal movies: the common element was, of course, the shocking and gory nature of the images at the centre of their films. After this golden decade, Italian horror entered into a productive and, more importantly, aesthetic impasse that lead to a crisis. The consequences of this crisis are still evident in the nation’s national horror production (see, for instance, the later movies by Argento, such as The Third Mother or Dracula 3D).

In recent years, thanks to the work of some emerging auteurs, things are starting to change. The paper will address this new proliferation of independent horror movies produced in Italy, regarding them as the first act of a renaissance of the genre in the country. After a short overview of these new trends both in terms of their production and aesthetics, the paper will then address the specific case of The End? L’inferno fuori (The End, 2017) as a striking example of the new potentialities of the genre in addressing social and cultural issues of contemporary Italy (while re-elaborating the heritage of key authors such as Lucio Fulci).

Giuseppe Previtali is PhD Candidate in Intercultural Humanistic Studies at the University of Bergamo, where he is also Teaching Assistant in the Department of Letters, Philosophy and Communication. His main research interests involve the extreme forms of contemporary visual culture (horror, pornography, terrorist videos). He has published extensively on these topics, especially focusing on Italian mondo movies. He also published a monograph titled Pikadon: Memories of Hiroshima in Japanese Visual Culture (2017).

Speaking as part of ‘Euroslash: European Horror’

Joshua Schulze – University of Warwick

Clean Places, Empty Spaces: A Cure for Wellness and Transnational Environmentalism

This paper proposes that the uniquely transnational production history of the 2016 horror film, A Cure for Wellness (co-produced by the US, Germany, and Luxembourg), is deeply intertwined with its enigmatic take on ecology and the anthropocene. Set in the Swiss Alps, but shot at a number of locations in Germany, the film is plagued by an array of peculiar visual concerns that include water-related imagery, excessive greenery, parasitic maggots and eels, and perhaps most significantly: emptiness. The filmmaking style, with its expansive, sparse compositions, configures a relationship between the characters and their environment that expresses, I will argue, a fundamentally ecological concern with empty space.

Empty (or dead, negative, vacant) space in the cinematic frame has been underexplored in eco-criticism. The medium of film works by positioning characters in relation to their environment, which problematises the photographic image as anthropocentric. Recent work on empty space has taken into account its ecological implications (see Estok, 2009; Schoonover, 2018; Brunsdon, 2010). A recurring concern in A Cure for Wellness is the relationship between emptiness and cleanliness, in its narrative about the cleansing qualities of a retreat to ‘natural’ space. The choice of filmmaking locations in particular (predominantly German), and the manner in which they are represented (marked as Swiss), culminates in a transnational attitude towards empty space that is unmistakably of the 21st century. Moreover, the film also uses the horror genre to mobilise these concerns. The exteriors of the ‘wellness center,’ for instance, were taken from the Gothic Revivalist Hohenzollern Castle, positioning the Gothic as means of spatial and aesthetic escape from the city skyline images that the film opens with.

This paper will consider the film in comparison to other recent horror films that navigate empty space (such as It Follows [2014], Under the Skin [2014], 10 Cloverfield Lane [2016], Split [2016], and It Comes at Night [2017]). In doing so, it will position A Cure for Wellness as a significantly transnational engagement with environmental concerns that is equal parts timely, tumultuous, and ultimately terrifying.

Joshua Schulze is currently studying for the MA for Research in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick, where he also completed his BA in Film and Literature. His work has appeared in the Journal of Popular Film & Television and Horror Studies, and he has contributed three chapters to forthcoming edited collections. His research interests include numerous aspects of horror cinema, as well as experimental film, and cinema and architecture. He also co-edits the film criticism site Alternate Takes.

Speaking as part of ‘Universal Horrors: Transnational Movements’

Caitlin Shaw – University of Hertfordshire

What’s Deep Within Us: Horrific Pastness, National Specificity and Global Contexts in Stranger Things and Dark

Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016–) and Dark (2017–) are routinely compared in media. This is not surprising; apart from having been released a year apart by the same streaming service, both fuse period drama, science fiction and horror while centering around the disappearance of a child in a small fictional town with a large, sinister facility on its periphery. Comparisons commonly conclude that the German Dark is darker and more complex than its America counterpart; for instance, in The Telegraph, Ed Power writes that while Stranger Things is ‘the work of perky American millennials raised on Steven Spielberg’, Dark is ‘suffused in Mitteleuropa gloom.’

Stranger Things and Dark are more intricately tied than is typically highlighted. Although Dark was approved by Netflix months before Stranger Things’ release, it is likely that Netflix’s interest in Dark stemmed from the hope that the two would enable one another’s success. Both shows are indicative of contemporary trends in ‘quality’ television drama, fusing genres and engaging with the past in inventive ways, and of current transnational TV production practices, having both been produced for global release. However, their differences are also more complex than variances in tone. Both series associate pastness with the horrific, but in fundamentally different ways: in Stranger Things, the ‘eighties’ as a mediated concept is aesthetically horrific, defined by excessive 1980s sci-fi and horror, while in Dark, the past is thematically horrific, lurking beneath the surface of the present and threatening its seeming stability. These interpretations are consistent with global knowledge around these nations’ relationships to their pasts: while Stranger Things’ horrific eighties is consistent with the worldwide pervasiveness of American popular media and its tendency to avoid confronting historical horrors, Dark’s horrific pastness is consistent with Germany’s perpetual confrontation of historical horrors and ambivalent relationship to Americanised ‘commodification’. Focusing especially on Dark, this paper will explore how both shows are marked by their transnationality, intertwining horror and pastness in both global and nationally specific ways.

Caitlin Shaw lectures at the University of Hertfordshire and researches nostalgia, memory and history in contemporary film and television. She is the co-editor of The Past in Visual Culture: Essays on Memory, Nostalgia and the Media (2017), and her work appears in that volume as well as in the Journal of British Cinema and Television and in Cinema, Television and History: New Approaches (2014).

Speaking as part of ‘Scarewaves: Transnational Television’

Daniel Sheppard – University of East Anglia

Gays, Women and Chainsaws: Queer Perspectives on North American Slasher Cinema

According to Jamie Lee Curtis, #MeToo has redefined slasher cinema. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, popular feminism is said to have encouraged ‘a shift in thought’, changing how audiences might receive David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018). As Curtis imagines a male psychokiller who inflicts violence against women, replicating hegemonic perceptions of slasher, the proposed paper interrogates her claims using ‘queer feminism’ (Marinucci, 2010). Queer feminism encapsulates an intersectional approach to women’s and LGBTQ+ politics, yet it currently disavows queer theory’s early emphasis on the intersections of misogyny and homophobia (Bersani, 1987; Connell, 1995). This paper, then, examines how women and gay men are invited to watch North American slasher cinema in similar ways, identifying with characters and narratives in accordance to their cultural experiences. This suggests that spectatorship is not necessarily determined by gendered and sexual identity, as horror studies assumes. Rather, spectatorship is influenced by the heteropatriarchal discourse that dictates the cultural experiences of women and gay men.

Heather Love argues that, for queer people to understand their current politics, they must consider how their painful history affects them in the present (2007). This suggests that, following the continuation of a forty year subgenre, slasher cinema rehearses the same narratives that implicate the gendered and sexual progression of North American society. Critiquing the seminal work of Carol Clover (1992) regarding slasher cinema’s heteronormative gaze, the paper firstly extends later feminist criticism on female audiences and their identifications (Pinedo, 1997; Miller, 2014). This feminist criticism will be extended by examining its relevance to the parascholarship of online blog posts that analyse gay male audiences (Liaguno, 2008; Bingham-Scales, 2017). The paper then develops a conceptual framework that methodologically enhances the criticism of slasher cinema via feminist and queer theory, demonstrating how gay male audiences might identify with female characters.

Daniel Sheppard recently completed MA Film Studies at the University of East Anglia, funded in part by UEA’s Difference Postgraduate Scholarship. He starts his PhD in Media and Cultural Studies at Birmingham City University in September, funded by the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. He has written for Horror Homeroom and Screening Sex, presented at various international conferences, and is currently preparing an essay for Resist: Protest Media and Popular Culture in the Brexit-Trump Era.

Speaking as part of ‘New Nightmares: North American Horror’

Lauren Stephenson – York St. John University

Houses from Hell: Domestic Entrapment in Contemporary New Zealand Horror Films

Ian Conrich writes: “Location is of prime importance to a consideration of ‘Kiwi Gothic’ (2005: 118). This paper will focus specifically upon the use of domestic locations, primarily the family home, in order to explore how Contemporary New Zealand horror understands the familial space as a restrictive, oppressive and regressive environment. Furthermore, the home as witness to historical trauma can be seen in both Housebound (2014) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014), whilst the home in Deathgasm (2015) bears witness to a return of the recently deceased, becoming the final stronghold of the film’s death metal-loving protagonists. Whilst the house a Gothic setting is not new ground, this paper argues that the transnational reach and appeal of the haunted or besieged house has thus far overshadowed the work these films undertake to explore difficult or traumatic areas of New Zealand’s national history and identity.

Housebound, for example, alludes to New Zealand’s troubled history regarding the treatment of mental ill-health, as well as levelling criticism at state social care. The domestic space is central to both of these discussions; the home is historically a church-run facility for the mentally ill, which has been sold on and become a family home. Furthermore, with one of the current occupants being under house arrest, the home is the site of much interference from police and social care professionals, who are at best ineffective and, at worst, dangerous. Finally, the paper aims to pose some questions about the continuing validity of the ‘house from hell’ as a horror device, as well as investigating how and why the familial space continues to fascinate and terrify.

Lauren Stephenson is a lecturer in Film Studies at York St. John University, teaching across a wide range of film and media modules. She completed a PhD study on the British hoodie horror cycle in June 2018 and her upcoming publications include pieces on representations of masculinity in the Dead Set mini-series and the history of landscape and class in British Gothic and horror texts. She has presented work in the UK, Europe and Canada on a variety of horror-related topics, such as British hoodie horror, horror and gender, and social media horror.

Speaking as part of ‘Six-Feet Down Under: Australasian Horror’

Antony Taylor – Sheffield Hallam University

From Saviour of the Nation to White Outcast: The Degenerate Bushman in Australian Horror Cinema

Once seen as an embodiment of national vigour and the pioneering spirit, the bushman has fallen in popular estimation. Sanctified in the nineteenth-century as a figure characterised by resourcefulness, adaptability and plucky resolve, the bushman became increasingly in the twentieth-century a figure of moral and social concern. Late nineteenth-century studies of the bush emphasised the detrimental effect of isolation and the harsh climate on remote male communities in the outback. Sexual danger, perversion, madness, gambling and drunkenness became part of a narrative that emphasised the degeneracy of the outback male.

Informed by recent concerns about the decline of outback communities, this paper examines the image of the degenerate Whiteman in contemporary Australian cinema. Focussing on Wolf Creek 1 and 2, it analyses the component imagery of ‘degeneracy’, depicting Mick Taylor as representative of anxieties about the descent of the rogue outback male into predatory behaviour and aimless sadistic violence. The paper also considers the representations of Australian history, landscape and culture that feature in the films, locating references to Australia’s past and recent ‘history wars’ in Taylor’s brutal matching of wits with one of his victims in Wolf Creek 2. As with recent depictions of ‘left behind’ White communities in American horror cinema, this paper locates images of violence and danger in declining rural societies where the conservative values of community life are reinterpreted as threat.

Antony Taylor is Professor of British History in Sheffield Hallam University’s Department of Humanities. He is the author of four monographs, including London’s Burning: Pulp Fiction, the Politics of Terrorism and the Destruction of the Capital in British Popular Culture, 1845-2005 (2012) and Lords of Misrule: Hostility to Aristocracy in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Britain (2005). He has a keen interest in Australian pop culture and leads a module on the nation’s history since 1788.

Speaking as part of ‘Six-Feet Down Under: Australasian Horror’

James C. Taylor – University of Warwick

Gyo from Manga to Anime: Adaptation and Genre Hybridity

Internationally celebrated horror manga creator Junji Ito’s Gyo (2001-2002) has been discussed in various sociopolitical frameworks, most notably as eco-criticism and as offering a commentary on the cultural memory of Japan’s role in World War II (see Annwn Jones, 2017; Greene, 2000). The manga engages with these issues through Ito’s unique approach to hybridizing horror subgenres – from monster tropes and supernatural undertones to body horror and apocalyptic visions – that interlaces Eastern and Western influences. This paper explores the ways in which the nature of this genre hybridity shifts in the adaptation of the manga to an anime feature film, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack (Takayuki Hirao, 2012), and whether this affects the story’s meanings.

I consider how continuities and shifts in the approach to genre are complemented by other factors that distinguish the manga and anime. These factors include the temporal gap of ten years between their release, the stylistic qualities of Ito’s art in comparison to the differing styles of animation in the anime (which combines cell-based animation and computer-generated imagery), and narrative differences. My close textual analysis of the Gyo manga and anime outlines ways in which these art forms provide sites for horror to express issues of both national and global significance.

James C. Taylor is a Teaching Fellow in the University of Warwick’s Department of Film and Television Studies. He recently completed his PhD thesis, which examines the aesthetic strategies through which superhero comic books are adapted into blockbuster films. He is currently working on a monograph based on his thesis. His research interests include animation, horror, and examining aesthetic relations between various kinds of comics and audio-visual media.

Speaking as part of ‘Fear & Fidelity: Transnational Adaptation’

Peter Turner – Oxford Brookes University

Blair Witch and the End of Found Footage Audiences

This paper will explore how and why the audience for Blair Witch was significantly limited compared to other found footage films including the Paranormal Activity franchise, Cloverfield and the original The Blair Witch Project. I will compare audience responses to these films in order to argue that the found footage narrational and aesthetic technique has not only become repetitive to many horror fans, but also that Blair Witch failed to treat potential viewers as active participants in the film’s marketing. My argument is that found footage fans, and more specifically fans of the original The Blair Witch Project respond to viral marketing techniques that encourage them to investigate and speculate about the veracity of a film. This paper will compare the marketing strategies of The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch. It will explore the range of responses to these films with particular reference to how critics and audiences referred to the marketing techniques employed by the distributors.

This comparative analysis will build on much of the literature on audience subcultures and fandom including Abercrombie and Longhurst’s (1998) ideas around the levels of passion and involvement in fan activities. While not all found footage films require audience participation in their marketing, the majority of these examples did. I will also consider the textual poaching (Jenkins, 1992) that has occurred, with specific reference to The Trial of Elly Kedward website that calls itself an “experimental online presentation”. Comparing the fan community around this website with the audience responses to Blair Witch will yield further room for exploration. I will argue that the marketing of Blair Witch neglected to promote the increasingly active engagement with media texts that contemporary audiences of found footage often expect. Furthermore, I will trace the institutional considerations and production context of these found footage films in order to explore how marketing, distribution and audience response interact.

Peter Turner is an associate lecturer at Oxford Brookes University where he teaches on the Film Studies, Digital Media Production and Media, Communications and Culture courses. His monograph Found Footage Horror Films: A Cognitive Approach was recently published as part of Routledge Advances in Film Studies series. He has delivered papers at the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image conferences in London, Helsinki and Montana. He is also the author of a monograph on The Blair Witch Project as part of Auteur’s Devil’s Advocates series. This is his second Fear 2000 paper.

Speaking as part of ‘New Nightmares: North American Horror’

Thomas Joseph Watson – Northumbria University

Carpenter Cranked Up: DarkSynth, Electronic Music and the Contemporary Horror Film Soundtrack

In one of the few academic works to address the function of the soundtrack in relation to horror cinema, Philip Hayward points to the central confluence between image and music that underlines a certain ‘capacity to create tension and shock’. Hayward uses the example of Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) to illustrate this point, noting how the film ‘utilized, inflected and – perhaps most significantly – refreshed a set of pre-existent traditions and referents.’ In an extension of this critique, Hayward suggests that although ‘the film nor its score can be considered as particularly original, its efficient activation and reinvigoration of genre traditions identify the vibrancy and potency of the genre.’

Almost 40 years later, John Carpenter now stands as a reinvigorated, touring Synthwave performer, his compositions influencing contemporary examples of the horror genre and their soundtracks. Ranging from neo-slashers such as It Follows (2014) and Tonight She Comes (2016), to the interdimensional horror of Stranger Things (2016 -) and the haunted house narratives of We Are Still Here (2015), Carpenter’s Synthwave soundtracks act as firm reference points in the development of a transnational musical genre.

In line with this influence, the current paper aims to interrogate the development of DarkSynth, a sub-genre/ new iteration of Synthwave that has permeated contemporary horror cinema since it’s consolidation in 2012. Like it’s forebearer, DarkSynth exhibits a palpable sense of nostalgia for genre history and recognisable genre tropes. However, unlike the safer, more familiar acoustic spaces of Synthwave, DarkSynth offers a more visceral auditory experience and aesthetic with its focus on dramatic distortion, violent conceptual themes and harsh noise. Alongside the more visible Synthwave artists such as SURVIVE, Wojciech Golczewski and Disasterpiece, practitioners of DarkSynth tend to occupy a more oppositional, underground space for these reasons. The Spanish producer Nightcrawler, the French artist Carpenter Brut and American composer Gregori Franco will be examined in detail.

Thomas Joseph Watson lectures in Media at Northumbria University. His research interests include representations of violence in contemporary cinema, transgression and noise music. He has published on topics such as pornography, horror cinema, real crime documentary and experimental video art.

Speaking as part of ‘Bad Vibrations: Transnational Soundscapes’

Abigail Whittall – University of Winchester

Nazis Everywhere: Tracing the Nazi Horror Subgenre across National Contexts

Nazi horror, i.e. a corpus of horror films containing depictions of Nazis, has a long cinematic history, yet has received relatively little critical attention. It emerged contemporaneously with the Second World War in Revenge of the Zombies (1943), a film featuring a Nazi scientist raising the dead for the Third Reich. Over the course of the 20th century further Nazi horror films were released, including the ‘sadiconazista’ films and a Nazi zombie cycle. Significantly, though, Nazi horror has seen its largest resurgence in the 21st century, with over thirty films spanning to the recently released Overlord (2018). Amongst these films are depictions of Nazi occultists, zombies, vampires, werewolves and scientists. Furthermore, they include British (Outpost, 2008), Norwegian (Dead Snow, 2009), American (Blood Creek, 2009), Swedish (Frostbite, 2006) and New Zealand (The Devil’s Rock, 2011) productions.

This paper thus understands Nazi horror not as a historically and geographically confined cycle, but a prolific and persistent subgenre. In doing so it aims to recognise the depth and breadth of this corpus of films and to situate each entry in its respective national context, the conclusion of which is that the Nazi monster has much to say about the cultures it emerges from. Nazi horror conveys fears resulting from specific, historical traumas surrounding the Second World War, but such traumas have been increasingly amalgamated with a number of conflicts which have occurred since that period, and they continue to resonate within the current socio-political climate in which the fear of Nazism has come to the fore of public discourse once again. Analysis of the Nazi horror subgenre thus allows us to compare how these traumas have been experienced and remembered in different locations.

Abigail Whittall is in the final year of her PhD studentship at the University of Winchester. Her project titled “Horrors of the Second World War: Nazi Monsters on 21st Century Screens” examines Nazi monsters through the overlapping lenses of trauma, abjection and the uncanny.

Speaking as part of ‘Intercontinental Creatures: Transnational Monsters’