Beginning in the 1950s, "Euro Horror" movies materialized in astonishing numbers from Italy, Spain, and France and popped up in the US at rural drive-ins and urban grindhouse theaters such as those that once dotted New York's Times Square. Gorier, sexier, and stranger than most American horror films of the time, they were embraced by hardcore fans and denounced by critics as the worst kind of cinematic trash. In this volume, Olney explores some of the most popular genres of Euro Horror cinema—including giallo films, named for the yellow covers of Italian pulp fiction, the S&M horror film, and cannibal and zombie films—and develops a theory that explains their renewed appeal to audiences today.
Note on Film Titles
Part 1. Toward a Performative Theory of Euro Horror Cinema
1. Academic Hot Spots and Blind Spots: Horror Film Studies and Euro Horror Cinema
2. Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: The Academic Case against Euro Horror Cinema
3. Playing Dead, Take One: Euro Horror Film Production
4. Playing Dead, Take Two: Euro Horror Film Reception
5. Return of the Repressed: Euro Horror Cinema in Contemporary American Culture
Part 2. Case Studies in Euro Horror Cinema
6. Blood and Black Lace: The Giallo Film
7. The Whip and the Body: The S&M Horror Film
8. Cannibal Apocalypse: Cannibal and Zombie Films
Conclusion: From the Grindhouse to the Arthouse: The Legacy of Euro Horror Cinema
Ian Olney’s new book takes us on a journey into the dark world of European horror cinema. He offers up fascinating analyses of individual Eurohorror films while also, more provocatively, arguing for the value of Eurohorror generally to a contemporary politics of identity. Not everyone will agree with what Olney has to say, but his approach is always thoughtful and accessible and it demands our attention. This is an important contribution to the literature on horror cinema.
author of The Historical Dictionary of Horror Cinema
From lesbian vampires to cannibal zombies, this remarkable book charts the rise and fall of the European horror film, and most significantly its rediscovery by Western fans and critics in the 21st century. In a style both sophisticated and lucid, Olney examines key films and filmmakers within their national and international contexts. Guaranteed to send scholars and fans running back to their DVD outlets, either to discover or revisit some of the oddest and most provocative horror films of all time.
Harry M. Benshoff
author of Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film
Olney takes on a cinema that, much like the monsters it features, keeps coming back no matter how often you kill it. His welcome study traces the emergence, disappearance, and return of Euro-Horror within US culture since the fifties, its revilers and devotees, its subversive potential, and its echoes in the work of filmmakers like Haneke, von Trier, or Almódovar. In the process, Olney explodes the last of our treasured binaries: art vs. schlock, 'real' vs. fan scholar, hack vs. auteur, progressive vs. regressive movie.
Olney does a superb job tracking modern European horror films from Italy, Spain and France, in a style that is at once academically rigorous and at the same time absolutely accessible; in short, this is a theoretical text that doesn’t drown itself in artificial systematizing or outdated jargon. Instead, this is a lively, informed, authoritative text on a group of films that have become increasingly influential in horror filmmaking in the United States.
Frame by Frame
Olney’s wide knowledge and fresh perspective on Euro horror is authoritative and interesting. He complicates conventional views on genre films as well as film criticism in general. This book does film studies a great service in itsvserious consideration of the art and reception of Euro horror, and offers readers much to think about, and explores numerous films that are clearly worthy of further study.
Quarterly Review of Film and Video