‘Children misbehaving in the walls!’ or, Wes Craven’s suburban family values
in Gothic kinship
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The cult of the happy home as personified by the American suburban nuclear family is scrutinized in Chapter 5 by Bernice Murphy on Wes Craven’s horror films. The American horror film since 1960 has frequently used suburbia as a setting for narratives in which the concepts which allegedly lie at the very heart of the national psyche – the privacy and safety of the home, the sanctity and inherent moral worth of the nuclear family, and the superiority of the capitalist, consumption-driven way of life – are systematically and, at times, gleefully deconstructed. Fictional suburbanites are seldom menaced by a terrible ‘other’ of alien origin: instead, they tend to be violently despatched by one of their own, usually a murderous family member. Murphy analyses how, from the very beginning of his career, Craven’s horror films have depicted brutality and horror at the heart of the modern suburban family.

Editors: Agnes Andeweg and Sue Zlosnik

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