Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.H6 H674 2004
This edited collection of essays has the overarching goal of exploring the horror film genre by paying attention to the technical and industrial aspects of film that distinguish horror films from horror in other media (such as literature or comic books). The two general questions that the essays-to one degree or another-address are: what role does technology play in the production of horror films, and what role does technology play in the distribution, exhibition, and reception of horror films? ("technology" defined broadly to include production equipment, industrial mechanisms, ideological mechanisms, etc.). The first section of the book consists of essays that explore various technologies and formal innovations employed in the production of horror films. The second section of the book deals with issues surrounding horror films in the marketplace (advertising, distribution, and reception). Finally, the third section examines discursive and ideological aspects of the horror genre from censorship to fan discourse.
Philip Simpson's chapter entitled "The Horror 'Event' Movie: The Mummy, Hannibal, and Signs" explores horror films as they are positioned as Hollywood blockbusters. These marketing and promotion of these films often downplay or outright deny the film's association with the horror genre (still often seen as a marginal or low brow genre). Simpson argues that these horror 'event' movies reach a larger mainstream audience by using star actors and high profile directors, high production values, and genre mixing. Simpson distinguishes between major studio horror films and "second tier" cult audience films. While it is true that many of the films that Simpson discusses are marketed as something other than horror (either as thrillers, adventure films, or even supernatural thrillers), it is not clear where the division between A-list productions and "second tier" films lies. He cites the $100 million dollar domestic theatrical gross mark as certifying a blockbuster, but fails to cite many of the low budget, independent, or "second tier" horror films that crossed that barrier such as The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Ring (2002), and The Grudge (2004).
Variety.com - Fox Atomic brings new twists: Genre Label Adds to Conventional Tactics.
Tue., Feb. 20, 2007
by Steven Zeitchick
The article discusses the creation of Fox Atomic--a division of Fox Film Entertainment dedicated to genre films and youth markets. However, Fox Atomic doesn't want to just create and market movies, rather "it wants to create entire worlds around those movies." The Fox Atomic website enlists current trends in digital culture to reach out to young, tech savy audiences. The studio has a presence in Second Life called "Fox Atomic Island, a virtual movie studio where citizens can pick up and play with avatars from all its leading pics." It also holds mashup and machinima contests, includes movie related video games on its website, as well as user forums and information on forthcoming releases. In addition, Fox Atomic has created a comics division that will release comics based on movie properties that are not adaptations of the films, but rather engage in "cross-media" storytelling. Current and upcoming film releases include The Hills Have Eyes 2, 28 Weeks Later, and Touristas.
Although other film studios and distributors have a web presence and engage with digital culture, few have ventured quite as far as Fox Atomic. The article remains skeptical as to the success of this strategy as it is still unproven in its ability to generate ticket sales, but this sort of "web 2.0" interactivity and media convergence may be something that film studios can ill afford to ignore.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.H6 H45 2004
Heffernan’s book seeks to investigate the economic and industrial aspects of the horror film genre that many scholarly accounts (which typically focus on cultural and/or aesthetic issues) fail to adequately consider. The book focuses on the postwar period (1953-1968); a period comprised of drastic changes in the film industry (i.e., Paramount decree, TV, technological innovation), and charts some of the functions or positions that horror genre pictures filled during this time period. He argues that this period—which is book-ended by 3D technology and the adoption of the MPAA rating system—saw a major cultural and economic shift in the production and reception of horror movies. This was partially due to the Supreme Court’s Paramount decision in 1948 which required the break-up of Hollywood’s vertically integrated system of production, distribution, and exhibition. As Hollywood studios began producing fewer films, independent distributors and exhibitors needed more product to fill out their schedules including B-pictures for the bottom half of popular double-feature bills. Heffernan argues that “low” genres like horror and sci-fi played an important part in the testing and development of new technologies and methods of production, distribution, and advertising to accommodate various changes including suburbanization, the growth of television, new youth markets, and the new economic and business structures of the film industry. Although written as a “corrective” to scholarship which focuses solely on culture and aesthetics, Heffernan avoids “economic determinism” by deftly intertwining the exploration of various aesthetic and formal changes of the horror genre during this period including greater psychological realism and, of course, graphic gore.
Using Philadelphia as his test market, Heffernan chronologically traces the distribution and exhibition patterns of various horror films across both theatrical and television venues. He begins with the early 1950s cycle of 3D horror films arguing that the narrative and stylistic norms of the horror genre could best negotiate the conflicting demands of “attraction” (the gimmick shots) and narrative integration of the classical Hollywood model, and also detailing the challenges faced by small theater owners to equip theaters to show 3D. Heffernan continues through the 50s and 60s exploring the impact of Hammer’s color saturated and bloody Gothic updates of the classic Universal monsters, how shortages in production from majors caused independent distributors and exhibitors to get into the production business, how the rise in art theaters utilized both exploitation/genre films and art cinema (i.e., “paracinema”), and the rise of “adult” horror in the late 60s. Overall, Heffernan’s book is well-researched, clearly written, and provides a wealth of knowledge for film scholars interested in the economic side of the industry—especially those interested in genre film. The only quibble is with the brief conclusion “The Horror Film in the New Hollywood.” It feels not only tacked on, but somewhat dismissive of the horror film post-1968. He also makes some broad—and I believe incorrect—claims such as that in the 1980s horror film spectacle overwhelms narrative. This comment flies in the face of the convincing arguments he lays out in discussing the intricate relation between technology and genre film of the 50s and 60s (such as horror’s ability to navigate 3D and narrative).
An article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer that explores whether producer Carl Laemmle’s “no children, unless accompanied adult warning” issued for Frankenstein was an elaborate publicity stunt or a genuine advisory note. By Conor Fitzpatrick