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Shadows and nightmares: Lewton, Siodmak, and the Elusive Noirror Film

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Although the plot devices and visual conventions of classical horror films and films noirs are often similar in these two iconic genres of the 1940s, their films are rarely confused with each other or categorized together. The element missing from 1940s horror is the distinctive existentialist themes associated with film noir. Several films, however, blur the distinctions between the two genres. While one could examine the many films noirs that have plot devices that are supernatural, a more productive approach is to examine the handful of classic, generic horror films that incorporate elements of the philosophy of film noir. A close look at several of the films by the philosophically minded B-movie master Val Lewton, as well as noir auteur Robert Siodmak's Son of Dracula, reveals a great deal about the themes that distinguish the often difficult to define group of films traditionally known as noir.
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Keywords: EXISTENTIALISM; FATALISM; FEMME FATALE; FILM NOIR; GENRE STUDIES; NOIRROR; ROBERT SIODMAK; VAL LEWTON

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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