Saturday, April 05, 2014

Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s

Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s:

Why Don’t They Do It Like They Used To?

By David Roche

Published by University Press of Mississippi / Jackson

January 22nd, 2014

This is outside my normal remit of book reviews, I must admit, but one of my daughters is doing a course on Media Studies and as she is learning things, she is sharing them with me and I too am becoming fascinated with how and why films/TV shows are made they way they are.

It is popularly assumed, particularly in the tabloid press, that our culture is becoming more and more disturbed and disturbing with each successive year, with violence and mayhem infecting the general populace to the detriment of society as a whole. This may not be the case; David Roche carefully examines the types of films made in the 1970s to those being made more recently to ascertain what has changed in the media industries and why.  It would not have occurred to me to investigate the political and economical milieu of the era in which films were made to see what effect that would have, and I found this a particularly absorbing aspect of the book. The differences between types of remakes was particularly enlightening to me.

This is a scholarly book, naturally based heavily on media studies theories and encompassing sociology, psychology and anthropological underpinnings, but it is surprisingly accessible to a general audience too. Amongst the topics covered are text, subtext and context, the functional/dysfunctional American nuclear family, race, ethnicity and class, gender and sexual stereotyping and just what really constitutes horror and terror, whether it be masks or monsters.

I found it an absorbing read, even though I have only seen a fairly small number of the films and remakes it studies and references. I have very vivid memories of being truly scared by some films I watched in my late teens/early twenties, and it is fascinating to discover just why they had the impact on me that they did.

 This remarkable and compellingly readable book  will be an important addition to the library of Media Studies students and would be a source of unending interest to anyone who has an interest in sociology and/or anthropology, and as well as those who enjoy horror films as a genre.

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