The Laughing Dead: The Horror-Comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland

The Laughing Dead: The Horror-Comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland

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Hybrid films that straddle more than one genre are not unusual. But when seemingly incongruous genres are mashed together, such as horror and comedy, filmmakers often have to tread carefully to produce a cohesive, satisfying work. Though they date as far back as James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935), horror-comedies have only recently become popular attractions for movie goers.

In The Laughing Dead: The Horror-Comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland, editors Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper have compiled essays on the comic undead that look at the subgenre from a variety of perspectives. Spanning virtually the entire sound era, this collection considers everything from classics like The Canterville Ghost to modern cult favorites like Shaun of the Dead. Other films discussed include Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, House on Haunted Hill, ParaNorman, Scream, Vampire’s Kiss, and Zombieland.

Contributors in this volume consider a wide array of comedic monster films—from heartwarming (The Book of Life) to pitch dark (The Fearless Vampire Killers) and even grotesque (Frankenhooker). The Laughing Dead will be of interest to scholars and fans of both horror and comedy films, as well as those interested in film history and, of course, the proliferation of the undead in popular culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442268326
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 06/15/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Cynthia J. Miller teaches at Emerson College. She is the editor of Too Bold for the Box Office: The Mockumentary from Big Screen to Small (2012) and coeditor of Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology (2012) and Border Visions: Identity and Diaspora in Film (2013), all published by Scarecrow Press. She is also film review editor for the journal Film & History and editor for Rowman & Littlefield’s Film and History series.

A. Bowdoin Van Riper is a historian and the author of A Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists and Inventors in American Film and Television (Scarecrow, 2011).

Miller and Van Riper are editors of Undead in the West (Scarecrow, 2012), Undead in the West II (Scarecrow, 2013), International Westerns (Scarecrow, 2013) and Horrors of War: The Undead on the Battlefield (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction Cynthia J. Miller A. Bowdoin Van Riper xiii

Part I Playing with Genre

Chapter 1 "Oy, Have You Got the Wrong Vampire": Dislocation, Comic Distancing, and Political Critique in Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) Thomas Prasch 3

Chapter 2 Zany Zombies, Grinning Ghosts, Silly Scientists, and Nasty Nazis: Comedy-Horror at the Threshold of World War II Christina M. Knopf 25

Chapter 3 "The Limeys Are Coming, Barbara, and They're Laughing!" The Art of the Romeroesque in Shaun of the Dead and Dead Set Steven Webley 39

Chapter 4 Undead in the City: The Vampire's Kiss (1988) and Its Kin Gary D. Rhodes 59

Chapter 5 Beyond Fear in The Book of Life: Discussions on Children, Death, and Latinidad Eric César Morales 71

Part II Horror, in Theory

Chapter 6 The Humor of William Castle's Gimmick Films Murray Leader 87

Chapter 7 "We're Not All Dead Yet": Humor amid the Horror in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein Martin F. Norden 102

Chapter 8 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948): Laughing in the Face of an Uncertain Future Deborah Carmichael 121

Chapter 9 Humor in Vampire Films: The Vampire as Joker Mary Y. Hallab 138

Chapter 10 Queerness and the Undead Female Monster Lisa Cunningham 154

Chapter 11 Rules for Surviving a Horror Comedy: Satiric Genre Transformation from Scream to Zombieland Chris Yogerst 169

Part III There Goes the Neighborhood

Chapter 12 Better Living through Zombies: Assessing the Allegory of Consumerism and Empowerment in Andrew Currie's Fido Michael C. Reiff 187

Chapter 13 "Who You Gonna Call?" The Supernatural and the Service Economy in the Ghostbusters Films A. Bowdoin Van Riper 201

Chapter 14 The Queer and the Dead: Transgressive Sexuality in Shaun of the Dead Shelley S. Rees 215

Chapter 15 Undead in Suburbia: Teaching Children to Love Thy Neighbor, Fangs and All Leila Estes Katherine Kelp-Stebbins 227

Chapter 16 Some Assembly Required: The Do-It-Yourself Undead Cynthia J. Miller 243

Index 259

About the Contributors 267

About the Editors 271

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