The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct 15, 2001 - Art - 446 pages

Illuminating the dark side of the American century, The Monster Show uncovers the surprising links between horror entertainment and the great social crises of our time, as well as horror's function as a pop analogue to surrealism and other artistic movements.

With penetrating analyses and revealing anecdotes, David J. Skal chronicles one of our most popular and pervasive modes of cultural expression. He explores the disguised form in which Hollywood's classic horror movies played out the traumas of two world wars and the Depression; the nightmare visions of invasion and mind control catalyzed by the Cold War; the preoccupation with demon children that took hold as thalidomide, birth control, and abortion changed the reproductive landscape; the vogue in visceral, transformative special effects that paralleled the development of the plastic surgery industry; the link between the AIDS epidemic and the current fascination with vampires; and much more. Now with a new Afterword by the author that looks at horror's popular renaissance in the last decade, The Monster Show is a compulsively readable, thought-provoking inquiry into America's obsession with the macabre.

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THE MONSTER SHOW: A Cultural History of Horror

User Review  - Kirkus

Frightfully well-done survey of modern horror, eclipsing Stephen King's seminal Danse Macabre (1981) for clarity of writing, if not personableness or depth of idea, and Walter Kendrick's The Thrill of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - spartacula2 - LibraryThing

I purchased this book many years ago. As with many in my library, it sat on my shelf just waiting for the right mood to strike. I wish I'd read it sooner. It provided a wealth of entertainment; the ... Read full review

About the author (2001)

David J. Skal is the author several critically acclaimed books on fantastic literature and genre cinema, including Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen; Screams of Reason; Mad Science and Modern Culture; V Is for Vampire: The A to Z Guide to Everything Undead; and, with Elias Savada, Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning. With Nina Auerbach, he is co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications, ranging from The New York Times to Cinefantastique, and for television, on the A&E series Biography. He has written, produced, and directed a dozen original DVD documentaries, including features on the Universal Studios' classic monster movies, and a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters. He currently lives and writes in Los Angeles.

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