The volume offers a new method of interpreting screen adaptations of Shakespearean drama, focusing on the significance of cinematic genres in the analysis of films adapted from literary sources. The book’s central argument is rooted in the recognition that film genres may provide the most important context informing a film’s production, critical and popular reception. The novelty of the volume is in its use of a genre-based interpretation as an organising principle for a systematic interpretation of Shakespeare film adaptations. The book also highlights Shakespearean elements in several lesser-known films, hoping to generate new critical attention towards them. The volume is organised into six chapters, discussing films that form broad generic groups. Part I comprises three genres from the classical Hollywood era (western, melodrama and gangster noir), while Part II deals with three contemporary blockbuster genres (teen film, undead horror and the biopic). The analyses underline elements that the films have inherited from Shakespeare, while emphasising how the adapting genre leaves a more important mark on the final product than the textual source. The volume’s interdisciplinary approach means that its findings are rooted in both Shakespeare and media studies, underlining the crucial role genres play in the production and reception of literature as well as in contemporary popular visual culture.
The introduction to Part II of this volume has already established that, like the teenpic or the undead horror film, the biopic is not an entirely new phenomenon in cinema history, and yet at the end of the millennium it has made a spectacular return to public awareness. Shakespeare biopics provide an eminent example: while a few films with William Shakespeare as a character had already been made in the first half of the twentieth century, it is only since the 1990s that any biopic proper can be associated with his name. Earlier films which include images of
The chapter presents the most common arguments behind the recent revival of the subgenres of horror featuring undead characters, particularly vampires or zombies. It also looks at the historical development of the representation of the cinematic undead, pointing out the symptomatic changes that clearly set these post-millennial creatures apart from the classic variants. Focusing on several examples of vampire Shakespeare adaptations, the chapter comments on possible reasons why only a few specific source texts are predominantly adapted into horror films. It is also noted that the majority of the films examined within the chapter are comic adaptations, with one notable exception; some of them are low-budget, even amateur, productions, although the films with lower production qualities are no less creative in their appropriation of the Shakespearean dramatic texts. Most films within the group display clear self-reflexive features, and they are also characterised by melancholy or nostalgia for the past. The chapter also observes similarities between the way teen films and undead horror adaptations deal with the source text’s authority, emphasising the generational connections between the groups. Several critical connections among Shakespeare criticism, adaptation studies and the undead are also presented.
. It is true that there is a considerable overlap between the target audiences of undead horror and teen films, but as Chapter 4 focuses exclusively on the high school subgenre of the teen flick, and Chapter 5 places the emphasis on the horror context of the latter group, I believe their separate treatment is justified. The last genre discussed in the volume is in some ways an odd one out: the biopic, the genre that presents the author as character, offering a fictionalised account of Shakespeare’s life and times. Fictional biographies are typically not based on
Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.
After the discussion of classical Hollywood genres and their appropriation of Shakespearean narratives, Part II of the volume investigates three genres that represent more recent colours on the cinematic palette. While the three genres included in these chapters – teen films, undead horror and biopics – are not regarded as classics of commercial cinema, it is undeniable that they also had antecedents either in the pre- or post-war decades of filmmaking. They have typically (re)gained popularity and thus significance in and around the 1990s, the great decade of
already had a reputation for wholesome content, and their horror comics bore out this claim, presenting restrained horror stories drawn from respectable media. Classics Illustrated, which adapted works of literature to the comics format, similarly, did not carry the CCA stamp and continued to publish horror stories. Other undead horror comics changed form, moving from four-colour comics to black and white magazines. During the early 1960s, writer and artist Russ Jones approached William Gaines with the project of relaunching a horror comic franchise, but Gaines was