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Bright Darkness: Lost Art of the Supernatural Horror Film (Film studies) Hardcover – 1 Aug 1997

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (formerly Cassell Academic) (1 Aug. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304700371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304700370
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,804,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


The cult sub-genre of the supernatural film has been much maligned, but, at its best, supernatural horror allows us an awe-inspiring glimpse of another world, exhibiting all the facets of the cinema's possibilities as a narrative art form. This is an exploration of the supernatural horror film, providing a detailed analysis of individual films, concentrating on the "golden age" of horror films, from the earliest Universal talkies and the B movies produced for RKO, to an in-depth examination of Robert Wise's "The Haunting", made in 1963. The book aims to illuminate the developing complexities of themes, styles and techniques, identifying their often-overlooked influence on mainstream cinema, and pointing out some surprising similarities between movies such as "Citizen Kane" and Hitchcock's "Vertigo", and some of their less celebrated genre antecedents.

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Format: Paperback
It is clear upon reading this book that Jeremy Dyson has a genuine love of its subject matter. His knowledge springs from an extensive research, yes, but is presented in a way which makes it clear that he enjoyed every minute of it. He summarises events amongst various film studios succinctly, yet includes very interesting in-depth information about the films themselves. True, objectivity was not a major issue here - Dyson's opinions are scattered throughout - but it only makes the read more interesting and encourages the reader to develop opinions of their own. All in all a very interesting and informative read for fans of the genre.
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Format: Paperback
Jeremy Dyson examines the history of the supernatural horror film. He focuses on films in which the denouement is not explained away and rationalised in typical Scooby Doo fashion; for Dyson, a successful horror film should leave things unexplained, leaving the viewer with a lingering sense of unease. They should be filmed in black and white, he says; those are by far the best sort of horror movie. And as far as I'm concerned, he's right.

He covers the careers of Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney, and discusses films ranging from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari to Robert Wise's The Haunting. I found his recurring theme of the supernatural being more interesting to him than more modern, gorier and more graphic films was particularly interesting given that these days he's better known as one of the creators of the League of Gentlemen. The goings on in Royston Vasey owe a lot to his encyclopedic knowledge of the genre.

The author's love of black and white horror movies is clear, and his enthusiasm is infectious. It's more than likely that you'll find yourself wishing you had a copy of at least one of the films he discusses - and it won't be long before you're browsing online to track them down. I'm not ashamed to admit that I did!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror within Film History 8 Jan. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book illuminates the commonly neglected genre of Horror. Great detail is given to the films examined in the book which is sometimes tedious but mostly very intriguing. It is within the detail that the elements of the genre are connected to other films, from Citizen Kane to the greater Film Noir catalog. It is difficult to repel Dyson's enthusiasm for the genre and the book is definitely a rewarding read.
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