Deadline for submissions: August 1, 2017
Full name/name of organization: Kevin M. Scott and Connor M. Scott
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Paper (June 7, 2017)
Oh, The Horror: Politics and Culture in Horror Films of the 1980s
Kevin M Scott (Albany State University)
Connor M Scott (Georgia State University)
Contact email: email@example.com
In the 1980s, a decade significantly known for Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, and the ascendance of the corporation as an aesthetic, Hollywood recovered from and reacted to the director-centric 1970s by reasserting studio control over mainstream cinema. With notable exceptions, the films of the 1980s were constructive—supporting a neater and more optimistic view of history and American culture—as opposed to the deconstructive films of the prior decade, challenging and, often, fatalistic. A simple review of Oscar nominees for the 1980s, compared to those of the 1970s, demonstrates that the capitalistic desires of the studios aligned neatly with an increasingly self-congratulatory culture and the fantasy of a return to an earlier, simpler, more conservative, whiter, United States.
By nature, however, the horror genre retains a bleaker view of society. In the 1980s, horror subverted corporate influences more often that other mainstream genres and did so both in covert support and critique of politics and values of the era. Because horror films were (and remain) lower budget productions and, hence, lower risk for studios, filmmakers enjoyed a greater degree of freedom. Some filmmakers used that freedom to reify “Reagan-era values” in violent and bloody ways (through figures like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and other slashers) while others offered dark critiques of the politics of the decade—the anti-militarism of George Romero’s Day of the Dead (1985) or the deconstruction of the nuclear family in Joseph Rubin’s The Stepfather (1987).
The editors are developing a new collection of essays with McFarland Books and seek essays investigating the ways horror films during the 1980s responded to the cultural, social, and governmental politics of the decade. We welcome essays from a variety of critical stances (theoretical, psychological, formal, and so forth), but the volume’s purpose is to explore how horror films functioned as a site of political, cultural, and social engagement and/or critique.
We especially welcome essay proposals that take these approaches:
- Close readings of individual films and their engagement with the politics and culture of the era.
- Studies of particular filmmakers and the development of ongoing critiques or concerns within their films.
- Investigations of particular cultural and political themes (poverty, Barbara Creed’s idea of the “monstrous feminine,” the power of corporations, and so forth) in multiple films.
- The evolution within a subgenre over the decade (the slasher, religious/occult horror, and so forth) and how those changes reflected developments in American society.
- Discussions of how horror filmmakers interacted with the film industry and with American culture on an industry level.
This list is not intended to be complete. Other approaches are welcome. While the horror genre thrived in other countries, this volume is primarily interested in American films, films that were prominent for American moviegoers, and films that addressed American political and cultural concerns. While David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983, Canadian) fulfills this role, Dario Argento’s Italian films are less likely to do so. However, the inclusion of discussion of foreign films or films outside the decade in order to contrast “American” films of the 1980s or to highlight American political and/or cultural trends may be productive.
The editors seek essays of about 6,000 words.
The audience for this volume is undergraduates through active scholars, though books on this topic will attract an audience among fans of the genre.
Please submit abstracts of 500 words or less to Kevin M. Scott and Connor M. Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 1, 2017. Abstracts should be accompanied by a short biography. Notification of acceptance will be given by August 15, 2017. Completed essays will be expected by December 15, 2017. And please email us if you have any questions.
Below, find a short list of films we would be especially interested in seeing discussed in essays for the volume. The list is certainly not meant to be exclusive, and we welcome any productive discussion of other films.
Friday the 13th
The Watcher in the Woods
An American Werewolf in London
The Evil Dead
Friday the 13th PT 2
The Fun House
My Bloody Valentine
Omen III: The Final Conflict
Alone in the Dark
Curse of the Cannibal Confederates
Friday the 13th Part III
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
The Last Horror Film
Eyes of Fire
House on Sorority Row
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Children of the Corn
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Day of the Dead
The Hills Have Eyes Part II
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
The Return of the Living Dead
Class of Nuke ‘Em High
Little Shop of Horrors
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Evil Dead II
The Lost Boys
Prince of Darkness
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child