Full Title: Fear They Neighbour: The Shock and Awe Campaign of Breck Eisner's The Crazies.
University of Ulster
(at time of presentation)
Bio of Author.
Victoria McCollum is a DEL funded PhD research student in the School of Media, Film and Journalism. Her current research focuses on the social significance of the horror film genre and on reading the rural horror subgenre as a cultural commentary. Her core interest lies in the resurgence of rural horror films in a post-9/11 context. Victoria's research interests include 'monsters' of opressed classes, religious fanaticism, rural landscapes of disenfranchisment, marginality and representation of the Appalachian other. Victoria holds an MA in Film and Visual Studies from Queen's University (2009) and a BA (Hons) in Media Arts from University of Ulster (2007). Coming from a practice-based background, she has completed projects for television networks: BBC, UTV, and MAD TV (Greece). Most recently Victoria has co-wrriten, directed and produced an Irish Film Board funded short entitled, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (2010). Circa Art Magazine also published a feature on her final MA project entitled, The Fire of the Snow (2009).
When asked why sadism was a postmillennial horror trend, prolific horror director Wes Craven, responded, “because we're living in a horror show. The post-9/11 period, all politics aside, has been extremely difficult,” (Devin, 2006). The rebirth of Hillbilly Horror began with a 21st Century 70s slasher revival: Lewis’s Two Thousand Maniacs (1964), Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977) were all remade post-9/11. These films are set in the backwoods of the Southern states of America, a rural wilderness invisible to the majority and devastated by decaying rural isolation, economic strife and the consequences of militarisation. Within the setting of current academic debates on the social significance of the horror film genre and on reading the rural horror subgenre as a cultural commentary: I aim to explore the political undercurrents rife within the content of a subgenre in which the ‘monster’ is coded as explicitly rural. I will argue that following Hollywood’s patriotic silence from examining the dubious political repercussions of the attacks, a diverse set of rural horror films dealt with these concerns through implication and metaphor, in this case, the rebirthed hick-flick has evolved to fill this gap. While the originals dealt with concerns of the Vietnam War, 21st Century filmmakers are reshaping the narratives in order to fit the issues surrounding the War on Terror. What political implications and metaphors exist in the 70’s reboots and the hybrid originals inspired by them? More importantly, do the ‘monsters’ of 21st Century rural horror embody the characteristics of Western perceived barbaric cultures? What can savage hillbillies; Honky-Tonk Heros and Hick Chicks tell us about the fears of a War on Terror generation?
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