The aim of this article is twofold. On the one hand, it offers a survey of found footage horror since the turn of the millennium that begins with The Blair Witch Project (1999) and ends with Devils Due (2014). It identifies notable thematic strands and common formal characteristics in order to show that there is some sense of coherence in the finished look and feel of the films generally discussed under this rubric. On the other hand, the article seeks to reassess the popular misunderstanding that found footage constitutes a distinctive subgenre by repositioning it as a framing technique with specific narrative and stylistic effects.
Gothic Terror(ism) and Post-Devolution Britain in Skyfall
The article examines the phenomenon of terrorism presented in Sam Mendes‘s film Skyfall (2012), with relation to Julia Kristeva‘s concept of the abject, developed further by Robert Miles in the context of nationalism and identity. While exploring the extraterritorial nature of terrorism, which in Skyfall breaches the borders of the symbolic order, threatening the integrity of the British nation-state represented by M, Bond, and MI6, the article also focuses on the relationship between the major characters, whose psychological tensions represent the country‘s haunting by the ghosts of colonialism, as Britain is forced to revisit its imperial past(s) and geographies at the fragile moment of post-devolutionary changes.
Post-9/11 Horror and the Gothic Clash of Civilisations
Kevin J. Wetmore
Twentieth century cinema involving monster conflict featured solitary monsters in combat (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, for example). The writing of Anne Rice and the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Games introduced the idea of Gothic communities and civilisations in conflict. It was not until after the terror attacks of 11 September that the idea of a clash of civilisations between supernatural societies fully emerged into the mainstream of popular culture. This essay explores the construction of a clash of civilisations between supernatural communities as a form of using the Gothic as a metaphor for contemporary terrorism in film and television series such as Underworld, Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Inevitably, it is the lycanthropes that are the disempowered and disenfranchised society and are alternately exploited by and rebel against the dominant vampire civilisation grown decadent and on the verge of collapse. Post-9/11 Gothic posits a world in which vampire society is the new normal, and werewolves represent a hidden danger within. Lycanthropes must be controlled, profiled and/or fought and defeated. Through close readings of the cinematic and televisual texts, I explore the vampire/werewolf clash as metaphor and metonym for the war on terror.
With reference to films such as The Terror Experiment (2010) and Osombie (2012), this paper explores the figure of the zombie terrorist, a collectively othered group that is visually identifiable as not us and can be slaughtered with impunity. In cinematic treatments, the zombie terrorist operates within a collectivity of zombies, erasing the possibility of individuality when the transformation from human to zombie takes place. The zombie terrorist signifies otherness in relation to selfhood, and is characterised by a mind/body split. Emerging from the grave in the archetypal zombie primal scene, this reanimated corpse is undead in its animate corporeality coupled with a loss of all mental faculties. The erasure of individual identity and memory along with broader human characteristics such as empathy or willpower coincides with the zombie terrorist s physical movement and action.
The escalation of systematic, if random, violence in the contemporary world frames the
concerns of the article, which seeks to read Baldwin for the present. It works by a
measure of indirection, arriving at Baldwin after a detour which introduces Chinua Achebe.
The Baldwin–Achebe relationship is familiar fare. However, here I explore not the shared
congruence between their first novels, but rather focus on their later works, in which the
reflexes of terror lie close to the surface. I use Achebe’s final novel, Anthills of the
Savanah, as a way into Baldwin’s “difficult” last book, The Evidence of Things Not Seen,
suggesting that both these works can speak directly to our own historical present. Both
Baldwin and Achebe, I argue, chose to assume the role of witness to the evolving
manifestations of catastrophe, which they came to believe enveloped the final years of
their lives. In order to seek redemption they each determined to craft a prose—the product
of a very particular historical conjuncture—which could bring out into the open the
prevailing undercurrents of violence and terror.
James Baldwin and Ray Charles in “The Hallelujah
Based on a recent, archival discovery of the script, “But Amen is the Price” is the first
substantive writing about James Baldwin’s collaboration with Ray Charles, Cicely Tyson,
and others in a performance of musical and dramatic pieces. Titled by Baldwin, “The
Hallelujah Chorus” was performed in two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 1 July
1973. The essay explores how the script and presentation of the material, at least in
Baldwin’s mind, represented a call for people to more fully involve themselves in their
own and in each other’s lives. In lyrical interludes and dramatic excerpts from his
classic work, “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin addressed divisions between neighbors, brothers,
and strangers, as well as people’s dissociations from themselves in contemporary American
life. In solo and ensemble songs, both instrumental and vocal, Ray Charles’s music evinced
an alternative to the tradition of Americans’ evasion of each other. Charles’s sound meant
to signify the history and possibility of people’s attainment of presence in intimate,
social, and political venues of experience. After situating the performance in Baldwin’s
personal life and public worldview at the time and detailing the structure and content of
the performance itself, “But Amen is the Price” discusses the largely negative critical
response as a symptom faced by much of Baldwin’s other work during the era, responses that
attempted to guard “aesthetics” generally—be they literary, dramatic, or musical—as
class-blind, race-neutral, and apolitical. The essay presents “The Hallelujah Chorus” as a
key moment in Baldwin’s search for a musical/literary form, a way to address, as he put
it, “the person and the people,” in open contention with the social and political
pressures of the time.
“It is only in his music [. . .] that the Negro in America has been able to tell his
story. It is a story which otherwise has yet to be told and which no American is prepared
to hear,” so wrote James Baldwin in “Many Thousands Gone.” Throughout his career, James
Baldwin returned to this incomprehension of African-American experience. He continually
privileged music in his literature, crafting his own literary blues to address it.
Baldwin’s blues resonated even more powerfully and painfully for its emotional and
geographical dislocation. In this article, Rashida K. Braggs argues that it was the
combination of music, word, and migration that prompted Baldwin’s own deeper
understanding. Exploring her term dislocated listening, Braggs investigates how listening
to music while willfully dislocated from one’s cultural home prompts a deeper
understanding of African-American experience. The distance disconcerts, leaving one more
vulnerable, while music impels the reader, audience, and even Baldwin to identify with
some harsh realities of African-American experience. Baldwin evokes the experience of
dislocated listening in his life and in “Sonny’s Blues.” Braggs also creates an experience
of dislocated listening through her video performance of Baldwin’s words, thus attempting
to draw the reader as well into a more attuned understanding of African-American