Post-Horror: Art, Genre, and Cultural Elevation  (book)

Horror has long been a consistently popular but culturally denigrated genre, but these connotations have been challenged by a new wave of horror films that mix art-cinema minimalism with established genre conventions, earning both critical acceptance and populist rejection. Variously dubbed “slow horror,” “smart horror,” “prestige horror,” and “elevated horror,” post-horror films like Under the Skin, The Babadook, It Follows, The Witch, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, It Comes at Night, Hereditary, Get Out, A Ghost Story, and mother! all represent an emerging nexus of taste, politics, and style. Post-Horror explores the historical precursors, thematic concerns, affective qualities, and critical reception behind one of the genre’s most divisive developments since 2010.

"The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes: Refn as Film Curator" (book chapter):

This chapter looks at how director Nicolas Winding Refn has foregrounded his taste in exploitation cinema, both within his films themselves and in extrafilmic curatorial efforts like his website Refn has parlayed his industry success into collecting rare posters and film prints, using this subcultural capital as a means of bolstering his cult reputation while also serving as a wealthy benefactor for otherwise neglected films (such as Andy Milligan’s work). And yet, if we compare the major stylistic evolution between his grittier, early films and his more recent films and TV series, Refn’s move to publicly position himself as a curator has coincided with an ever-slower visual aesthetic that foregrounds his characters as intradiegetic “watchers” of Refn’s various cinematic “fetishes,” suggesting a fascinating diffusion of authorial self befitting a technologically changing media landscape. 

"The Vanishing of Traci Lords" (book chapter): This chapter revisits one of the most infamous scandals facing the adult video industry during the Reagan era, a period when the industry was attempting to shed its associations with illegality and bolster a more respectable public image. Exploring the legal debates that emerged in the pages of Adult Video News and in the courts, the chapter looks at the Lords scandal's relevance to the 1986 Meese Commission, the adult industry's response to the fallout, and continuing issues around representation and sexual consent in the digital era.

Theatrical poster for The Orgy at Lil's Place (1963), a long-lost sexploitation film whose surviving 35mm prints I discovered during archival work in 2012, as recounted in my book Disposable Passions. Now available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.

© 2019 by David Church