Shocks to the System
Horror cinema flourishes in times of ideological crisis and national trauma - the Great Depression, the Cold War, the Vietnam era, post-9/11. Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present, a brand new book by Jon Towlson, argues that a succession of filmmakers working in horror - from James Whale to twisted twins Jen and Sylvia Soska - have used the genre, and the shock value it affords, to challenge the dominant ideologies of these times. Spanning the decades from the 1930s onwards, Subversive Horror Cinema is a critical examination of the work of producers and directors as varied as George A. Romero, Pete Walker, Michael Reeves, Herman Cohen, Wes Craven and Brian Yuzna - and the ways in which films like Frankenstein (1931), Cat People (1942), The Woman (2011) and American Mary (2012) can be considered "subversive."
Jon, a good friend of Behind the Couch, has written for Starburst Magazine, Paracinema, Exquisite Terror, The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Shadowland Magazine, Bright Lights Film Journal and Digital FilmMaker.
Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present will be published in July 2014 by McFarland & Co, and is now available to pre-order. If you can’t wait that long, worry not, it is available to download for Kindle, no waiting necessary. For a detailed look at what it has to offer, including the delicious foreword by Jeff Lieberman (who, as the writer-director of titles such as Squirm, Blue Sunshine and Just Before Dawn, knows a thing or two about subversive cinema) check out the preview on Amazon.
Visit the author’s blog here, and keep up to date with him on Twitter and Facebook.