Nasty visions: Violent spectacle in contemporary British horror cinema

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Abstract:

This article examines the ways in which violent international horror films of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – the kinds of films once banned as 'video nasties' in Britain – have impacted on the creative directions of British film-makers today. Using three case studies, Creep (2004), The Last Horror Movie (2003) and The Devil's Chair (2007), I draw upon the significance that new British horror's violent spectacle may hold for the British cultural past and present, and consider how its graphic aesthetic correlates/conflicts with broader issues surrounding international horror cinema's production and reception. Acknowledging the recent American phenomenon of torture porn, I display how certain British film-makers, themselves fans of the genre, utilize their fan appreciation to recall significant international texts that have a historical weight that resonates with the social unease that followed the introduction of VHS into Thatcherite Britain. In doing so, I offer a counter-argument to those who suggest that contemporary British horror cinema's taste for violence is simply mimetic of torture porn and, and as a result, less British in its presentation.

Keywords: CONTEMPORARY BRITISH HORROR; CULTURAL MEMORY; REALISM; TORTURE PORN; VIDEO NASTIES; VIOLENT SPECTACLE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/host.2.1.115_1

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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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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