NPR

'A Place Of Darkness' Is An Illuminating History Of Horror

Kendall R. Phillips' new look at early American horror movies is academic, sure — but its central arguments make for great reading about how shifting cultural currents shape what scares us on screen.
Source:

"Ghosts? Are you kidding me? I'm an American."

-- The Ghost Breaker, 1922

The camera is an instrument of suspense. Given a movie frame, you want to understand what's happening in it — and what will happen next. That balance of wonder and dread is a fundamental draw of film, and a touchstone of the horror genre. The questions Kendall R. Phillips asks in are: How did we get from the nickelodeon special-effects "cinema of attractions" to understanding horror narratives as

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min readSociety
In This Town, You Apply For A Job And You Get It
Ames, Iowa, has an unemployment rate of 1.5%, making it the tightest job market in the country. That's great for workers — but a challenge for those looking for them.
NPR2 min read
The 2019 Hurricane Season Will Be 'Near Normal.' But Normal Can Still Be Devastating
NOAA forecasts that two to four major hurricanes will form this year in the Atlantic. But even an average year can cause record-breaking damage, as storms get bigger and wetter.
NPR5 min read
As Employment Rises, African American Transplants Ride Jobs Wave To The South
At a time of low unemployment for African Americans, educated, well-connected professionals are starting new lives in cities such as Charlotte, N.C.