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American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11$
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Terence McSweeney

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413817

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413817.001.0001

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The Terrible, Horrible Desire to Know: Post-9/11 Horror Remakes, Reboots, Sequels and Prequels

The Terrible, Horrible Desire to Know: Post-9/11 Horror Remakes, Reboots, Sequels and Prequels

(p.249) Chapter 12 The Terrible, Horrible Desire to Know: Post-9/11 Horror Remakes, Reboots, Sequels and Prequels
American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11

James Kendrick

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter Twelve remains with the horror genre, but takes a broader overview of one of the defining trends of the American film industry which has progressively gathered pace in the first years of the twenty-first century: the increasing prevalence of the remake. In "The Terrible, Horrible Desire to Know: Post-9/11 Horror Remakes, Reboots, Sequels, and Prequels" James Kendrick analyses the rising cultural and commercial fortunes of the American horror film which experienced between the years of 1995 and 2005 increases of more than 80% in terms of production and 106% in terms of market share (“Horror: Year-by-Year Market Share”). In this decade 2007 was the biggest year for American horror films (it was also the year of the release of The Mist discussed in the previous chapter) with thirty-one releases accounting for 7.16% of the total market share of the US domestic box office (“Horror: Year-by-Year Market Share”) as opposed to just sixteen releases in 1995. Yet Kendrick does not dismiss this development as being purely economically motivated, rather he asks what can these modern horror films, very often remakes of classic horror films of the 1950s and the 1970s, tell us about the cultural and political climate they emerge from? In an incisive analysis of the recurrent tropes in post-9/11 American horror films Kendrick points out that horror's persistent ties to cultural anxiety provide an intriguing insight into their times as they become increasingly darker, more graphic and deny their characters any sense of hope or redemption. Most interestingly, Kendrick observes, the contemporary horror film replaces the ambiguity of the defining horror films of the 1970s with a desire to explain and understand which he suggests parallels American society's need to understand following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Kendrick then turns to Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of John Carpenter's original Halloween (1978) as an articulation of many of the tropes discussed in the first part of the essay offering some surprising conclusions concerning the power of the horror film to reflect cultural unease.

Keywords:   Horror film, trauma, allegory, 9/11

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