Before 2010, there were no Israeli horror films. Then distinctly Israeli serial killers, zombies, vampires, and ghosts invaded local screens. The next decade saw a blossoming of the genre by young Israeli filmmakers. New Israeli Horror is the first book to tell their story. Through in-depth analysis, engaging storytelling, and interviews with the filmmakers, Olga Gershenson explores their films from inception to reception. She shows how these films challenge traditional representations of Israel and its people, while also appealing to audiences around the world.
Gershenson introduces an innovative conceptual framework of adaptation, which explains how filmmakers adapt global genre tropes to local reality. It illuminates the ways in which Israeli horror borrows and diverges from its international models. New Israeli Horror offers an exciting and original contribution to our understanding of both Israeli cinema and the horror genre.
1 The Precursors: From The Angel Was a Devil to Frozen Days Part I Subversion
2 The First Hebrew Horror: Rabies
3 A Korean Revenge Thriller in the Israeli Countryside: Big Bad Wolves
Part II Conversion
4 Horror in the IDF
Zombies in the Fatigues: Poisoned and Cannon Fodder Freak Out: “The Final Boy” on the Base
The Specters of Violence in The Damned
5 The Jewish Supernatural: JeruZalem
6 Slasher on the Kibbutz: Children of the Fall
Part III Aversion
7 Escaping Israel: Another World, Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club, and The Golem
Coda: Is There I-Horror?
OLGA GERSHENSON is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and of Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe and Gesher: Russian Theater in Israel, and editor of Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender. To learn more about her work, see www.people.umass.edu/olga
“This is a fantastic book that looks at the intellectual, industrial, funding, and reception contexts of Israeli horror but without bouncing between them like demented pinball. Instead, what we get is an extraordinarily integrated interdisciplinary account that should operate as an exemplar for horror scholarship for decades to come!”
— Mark Jancovich, author of Horror and editor of Horror, The Film Reader
“New Israeli Horror perceptively chronicles the origins and evolution of Israeli horror films. It brilliantly analyzes how this corpus of films replicated or subverted the familiar tropes of the horror genre and demonstrates that they possess implicit and eventually explicit relevance to the political and social conflicts within Israel.”
— Lawrence Baron, author of Projecting The Holocaust Into The Present and editor of The Modern Jewish Experience in Wo
"New Israeli Horror is the definitive study of Israeli cinema’s most unorthodox genre from its inception among a small group of students at Tel Aviv University to its success on the international film festival circuit and in online piracy in the Arab world. Through an examination of technology, financing, transnational adaptation, local and international reception, and interviews with filmmakers it deciphers the meanings behind the throng of serial killers in uniform, Palestinian ghosts, zombies, cannibals, and monsters from Jewish folklore that have invaded Israeli screens in this millennium."
— Boaz Hagin, co-editor of Deeper Than Oblivion: Trauma and Memory in Israeli Cinema
“This significant work charts the ways in which New Israeli Horror films offer a critique of the violence that lies at the heart of Israeli society, the damaging masculinity of the military machine, and the suppression of Palestinian trauma. The result is a hugely readable and subtly nuanced work that makes a substantive contribution to our understanding of both modern Israel and the horror genre’s ability to articulate national trauma. It’s essential reading for all with an interest in the genre and in national cinema more broadly.”
— Linnie Blake, Manchester Metropolitan University and author of The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Tr
Book Trailer: "New Israeli Horror: Local Cinema, Global Genre" by Olga Gershenson
Before 2010, there were no Israeli horror films. Then distinctly Israeli serial killers, zombies, vampires, and ghosts invaded local screens. The next decade saw a blossoming of the genre by young Israeli filmmakers. "New Israeli Horror" is the first book to tell their story. Through in-depth analysis, engaging storytelling, and interviews with the filmmakers, Olga Gershenson explores their films from inception to reception. She shows how these films challenge traditional representations of Israel and its people, while also appealing to audiences around the world.