Film studies

Halloween 2022 Reading

Halloween is the season of apple bobbing, ghostly happenings, and horror films. To get you in the mood for ghouls, senior commissioning editor John Atkinson has compiled his spookiest reads from our Auteur range. Many of these books are part of our Devil’s Advocates series, which fearlessly explore the classics of horror cinema with critical rigour.

Expressionist Horror

2022 marks the centenary of F. W. Murnau’s expressionist masterpiece, Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), through which Count Orlock established the vampire as a cinematic figure. One hundred years later, the movie remains a dark mirror through which our subconscious fears and desires are recast.


By Cristina Massaccesi (Devil’s Advocates, 2016)

Cristina Massaccesi’s Nosferatu unravels the fascination exercised over generations of viewers and filmmakers. She provides the reader with a clear map to the political and social context of the Weimar Republic and the German Expressionist movement, as well as the film’s production, reception and difficult initial release. The book also includes a lengthy interview with E. Elias Merhige, director of the Nosferatu homage, Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

Nosferatu in the 21st Century

By Simon Bacon (forthcoming)

Simon Bacon’s Nosferatu in the 21st Century will mark the centenary with an innovative collection of celebratory and critical essays which track the vampire throughout contemporary popular culture. Bacon stalks Count Orlok from the dilapidated castle in old world Transylvania into the futuristic depths of outerspace in Star Trek. With a foreword by renowned Dracula expert Gary D. Rhodes, this book brings together academics and creative artists to explore the ongoing impact of Murnau’s symphony of horror as it has been adapted, reinterpreted, and recreated through theatre, performance, film, gaming, music, and drag.

Hammer Horror

In 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein brought Hammer Productions popular success that shot through the international film market like a bolt of lightning through a patchwork cadaver.

The Curse of Frankenstein

By Marcus Harmes (Devil’s Advocates, 2015)

Marcus Harmes’s The Curse of Frankenstein goes back to the film’s conception, understanding it as a loose literary adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel; as a film that had, for legal reasons, to avoid adapting from James Whale’s 1931 film; and as an artistic response the Gainsborough bodice rippers of the 1940s and the poverty row horrors of the 1950s.

Studying Hammer Horror

By Victoria Walden (Studying Films, 2016)

Victoria Walden’s Studying Hammer Horror is a book for students, fans, and anybody who appreciates cinema while hiding behind the couch. It explores Hammer Productions through genre, auteur theory, stardom, representation, and the idea of a national horror cinema. It judiciously employs illustrative case studies from Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Twins of Evil (1971), and Hammer’s latest film, Beyond the Rave (2008).

Savage 70s

By the 1970s, mainstream horror was luxuriating in representations of violence that, from the fever dream of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to ‘splatter’ movies like Dawn of the Dead (1978), incensed censors in both the UK and the US.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

By James Rose (Devil’s Advocates, 2013)

James Rose’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is not only a summary of the film’s production but a history of the project’s extraordinary censorship (which essentially barred it from the UK for two decades). Rose provides a detailed textual analysis of the film with reference to the Unheimliche. He also situates the film in the context of horror film criticism and discusses its various afterlives.

Dawn of the Dead

By John Towlson (Devil’s Advocates, 2021)

George A. Romero famously described his 1974 zombie horror as not just ‘schlock’ but ‘superschlock’! Jon Towlson’s Dawn of the Dead explores the excesses of Romero’s film: not only in its scenes of gore, its in-your-face social satire, and its gaudy pop-kitsch style, but in the scripting, production and distribution of the film itself. Towlson reviews the responses of industry, censorship bodies, reviewers, and audiences to the film’s extremity: its superschlockness.

You can read Jon Towlson’s blogpost here.

21st Century Horror

The first two decades of the 21st century have brought us plague, violent social division, and the renewed threat of nuclear Armageddon. In a recent LUP blogpost, Andrew Graves argues that contemporary horror ‘seems to embody our current confused state, encompassing anxieties over technology, generational divides and a terrifying descent into an end-of-days scenario’.

The Witch

By Brandon Grafius (Devil’s Advocates, 2020)

Brandon Grafius’s The Witch is the first stand-alone study of Robert Eggers’ critically acclaimed 2015 horror. As well as providing the historical and religious background necessary for a fuller appreciation, including an insight into the Puritan movement in New England, Grafius situates the film within a number of horror sub-genres (such as folk horror) as well as its other literary and folkloric influences.


By Andrew Graves (Devil’s Advocates, 2021)

Andrew Graves’s Prevenge explores how Alice Lowe’s 2016 horror upends—and complicates—the slasher genre’s tendency to cast women as victims. The film follows Ruth, heavily pregnant, on a killing spree directed by her unborn child. With exclusive input from writer, director, and star Alice Lowe, Graves inspects the film’s umbilical connections to Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Alien (1979), and Village of the Damned (1995).

To find out more about our Auteur series click here.

To read Jon Towlson’s blogpost click here.

To read Andrew Graves’s blogpost click here.


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