Horror

I decided it would be a good idea to include a page here which would discuss what I’m mostly all about. I make a deliberate effort to keep my personal writing and academic work moving around one a few general themes: horror, gore, violence, pain and sex. It all sounds much more exotic than it is.

I have an almost lifelong relationship with horror. My Mother loves horror movies (Candyman, The People Under the Stairs, and Silence of the Lambs were her favorites.) and my Father loves shock movies (A Clockwork Orange, Natural Born Killers and almost anything Tarantino) and neither of them wasted any time exposing me to the pleasures of these alternative cinematic choices.

As a child, I would have almost thought they made an effort to expose me to off-kilter, horror friendly media (The Addams Family and Count Duckula) not to mention one or two permanently scarring visits to wax museums in my childhood (The Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud’s and The London Dungeon). Overall, they are strange, moderately peculiar people with uncommon interests in esoteric and occasionally scary things and those tendencies effortlessly drifted down to me.

I began my semi-serious horror investigative career in the 8th grade. There was a major (say, 10 pages) written, book review style assignment at the end of the year. I chose to write mine on Christopher Pike novels and how the occult played a role in them. Teachers were nervous, the children of missionaries – scandalized.

While I started in general horror, vampires are my very special love. I began reading the classics of the genre (Dracula, Carmilla, The Vampyre) at around 13. From there I proceeded to Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite and vampire movies. I was living overseas in Lusaka, Zambia and when I was 14 my parents got internet in our house. I found in early high school I was more comfortable online discussing vampires with strangers than I was in my own environment. As a result of this I was able to cultivate a cultural experience, while never really experiencing it. Predictably, I discovered all the delicious trappings that go with vampire media – goth fashion and music, heavy metal (not much of a stretch, I personally attribute my musical taste to my Father’s epic love of rock’n’roll and genius vinyl/CD/cassette collection).

In my senior year of high school I wrote my ‘Extended Essay’ (International Baccalaureate!) on Humanity in Interview with the Vampire and Dracula. The paper got an excellent grade, and for the first people were slightly less skeptical of my unconventional interest.

As an undergraduate I got the chance to continue to write about what interested me. I wrote about Freud, The Uncanny and Christabel and analysis of 28 Days Later – among others. The icing on the cake was writing my undergraduate honors thesis on Familial Anxiety in 28 Days Later, From Dusk ’til Dawn and The Lost Boys. It was the paper I used as my writing sample for graduate school. I also unabashedly wrote about vampires in my personal statement. Miraculously, I got into graduate school with this crazy idea and in my first semester (which is just a hair away from ending) I’ve written about Social, Sexual, and Medical Anxiety in Dracula narratives, specifically Herzog’s Nosferatu and Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The paper I’m about to finish is a postmodern analysis of Carnival of Souls and Mirrors.

I went on through graduate school to focus my research interests more precisely and write about hyper-violence, gore and bodies in different ways. Thinking about the work of film and the body and the destruction of the human body on screen works emotionally, aesthetically and culturally. I wrote my Masters thesis on New Extreme Gore films, the “Torture Porn” of recent American cinema, and New French Extremism, while taking a brief foray into examining the relationship between sex and violence, the visual articulations of rape, sexual violence and violent sex in horror and pornography.

I generally continue to write about horror – moving more into thinking about the genre economically – the relationship between the franchise and reception, convention and marketing as well as the relationships emerging between viewing practices, digital effects and digital distribution. Sometimes I still play with vampire and monster media, but it’s less so.

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2 thoughts on “Horror

  1. Hi! this is so random, but with reference to your undergraduate paper on the uncanny, christabel and 28 days later, were there any specific secondary reading texts you used for your essay?

    • Hi,
      There are a whole lot of sources I used on those papers and use now for similar work – I’d be more than happy to point you towards some – shoot me an email, c.weissenstein@gmail.com and let me know what you’re specifically looking at – poetry, vampires, zombies etc.

      Thanks!

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