Book Review: Gender and Genre in Aaron J. French’s ‘Festival’

Vague Visages

Stephen King’s Danse Macabre (1981) offers a number of approaches for interpreting horror cinema and literature. Throughout his study, King touches repeatedly on the notion of “catharsis,” but also on the genre’s ability to tap into sociocultural “pressure points,” accessing what he describes as “artesian wells” of collective anxiety. At one point, he rather glibly suggests that a profound conservatism historically underlies the genre at large, stating that the horror story, beneath its fangs and fright wig, is really as conservative as an Illinois Republican in a three-piece pinstriped suit; that its main purpose is to reaffirm the virtues of the norm by showing us what awful things happen to people who venture into taboo lands. Within the framework of most horror tales we find a moral code so strong it would make a Puritan smile. The horror story most generally not only stands foursquare for the Ten Commandments…

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