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Studying Horror Cinema$
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Bryan Turnock

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325895

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325895.001.0001

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American Gothic

American Gothic

Chapter:
(p.35) Chapter 2 American Gothic
Source:
Studying Horror Cinema
Author(s):

Bryan Turnock

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781911325895.003.0003

This chapter examines another convention of the horror genre: the 'Terrible Place', identified by Carol Clover as somewhere which at first appears to be a safe haven but which in fact acts to trap the victim with the monster. Horror was rapidly established as a standard Hollywood genre, and the early 1930s saw investment in horror films by all of the major studios, but none more so than Universal Pictures. The chapter looks at the origins of Universal's original horror cycle, and how the Hollywood 'star system' ensured that it continued. It considers the issue of film censorship and its effect on the evolution of the horror genre. The chapter also discusses James Whale's The Old Dark House (1932), which relies on the characteristics of the house itself and the unpredictable nature of its human inhabitants to generate suspense and fear.

Keywords:   horror genre, Terrible Place, Hollywood, horror films, Universal Pictures, star system, film censorship, James Whale, The Old Dark House

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