Nights of Horror is a multidisciplinary academic e-event that seeks to engage academics, students, and professionals in the field of horror. We strive to create a pop-cultural event around the theme of horror in October to encourage both intellectual pursuit as well as a bit of seasonal fun. Nights of Horror runs the entire month of October with different programming each night.
10.1.20 – 8PM [EST]
“GHOULISH” GARY PULLIN
An interview with “Ghoulish” Gary Pullin
10.2.20 – 8PM [EST]
ANDREW SCAHILL PH.D.
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, DENVER
It Takes a Child to Raze a Village: On the Queerness of Monstrous Youth.
The "evil child" film has quietly become one of the most common and most lucrative subgenres in horror cinema. How might the persistence of these films reveal something deeper about our cultural paranoia over youth rebellion? And why do the narratives of monstrous childhood so often mirror the experiences of queer youth? Burdened with secrets, rejected by their parents, and abused by religious figures, revolting children of the past had to be subject to exorcisms to pray the gay away. Contemporary cinema, though, has revolting children learning to fight back.
10.3.20 – 8PM [EST]
THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE
READ BY MIKE BENNETT
The Colour Out of Space is a 1927 short story written by American horror author H. P. Lovecraft. In the tale, an unnamed narrator pieces together the story of an area known by the locals as the "blasted heath" in the wild hills west of Arkham, Massachusetts. The narrator discovers that many years ago a meteorite crashed there, draining the life force from anything living nearby; vegetation grows large, but tasteless, animals are driven mad and deformed into grotesque shapes, and the people go insane or die one by one.
10.4.20 – 8PM [EST]
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Phantom, in what is probably his most famous and certainly his most horrifying role. The story concerns a much feared fiend who haunts the Paris Opera House. Lurking around the damp, dank passages deep in the cellars of the theater, he secretly coaches understudy Christine Daae to be an opera star. Luring Christine into his subterranean lair below the opera house, the Phantom confesses his love; but Christine is in love with Raoul de Chagny. “The Man of a Thousand Faces,” as Chaney was known, caused a sensation when the mask of the Phantom was stripped away to reveal what would become one of the most-enduring images in the history of cinema.
10.5.20 – 8PM [EST]
READING & INTERVIEW:
AUTHOR OF MR. WICKER
Alicia Baum is missing a deadly childhood memory. Located beyond life, The Library of Lost Childhood Memories holds the answer. The Librarian is Mr. Wicker--a seductive yet sinister creature with an unthinkable past and an agenda just as lethal. After committing suicide, Alicia finds herself before the Librarian, who informs her that her lost memory is not only the reason she took her life, but the cause of every bad thing that has happened to her. Alicia spurns Mr. Wicker and attempts to enter the hereafter without the Book that would make her spirit whole. But instead of the oblivion she craves, she finds herself in a psychiatric hold at Bayford Hospital, where the staff is more pernicious than its patients.
Child psychiatrist Dr. James Farron is researching an unusual phenomenon: traumatized children whisper to a mysterious figure in their sleep. When they awaken, they forget both the traumatic event and the character that kept them company in their dreams -- someone they call "Mr. Wicker." During an emergency room shift, Dr. Farron hears an unconscious Alicia talking to Mr. Wicker--the first time he's heard of an adult speaking to the presence. Drawn to the mystery, and then to each other, they team up to find the memory before it annihilates Alicia for good. To do so they must struggle not only against Mr. Wicker's passions, but also a powerful attraction that threatens to derail her search, ruin Dr. Farron's career, and inflame the Librarian's fury. After all, Mr. Wicker wants Alicia to himself, and will destroy anyone to get what he wants. Even Alicia herself.
10.6.20 – 8PM [EST]
LAURIE J. WOLF PH.D.
WILLIAM AND MARY
"In the Name of Science: Medicalization of Freak Shows"
An examination of public fascination with physical difference evidenced by the success of the freak show, and use the context of exhibitionism to explore issues of identity and attitudes toward disability, whether contemporary to the freak show's popularity, as in Tod Browning's Freaks, or transposing modern questions to a historical context, as in Bernard Pomerance's The Elephant Man or Suzan-Lori Parks' Venus.
10.7.20 – 8PM [EST]
READING & INTERVIEW:
STEVE RASNIC TEM
AUTHOR OF THE NIGHT DOCTOR AND OTHER TALES
This new collection of 25 stories (including two appearing here for the first time) collects the best of his dark fiction published since his landmark Centipede tome Out of the Dark: A Storybook of Horrors. A number have appeared in various Year’s Best volumes. All represent the high quality of Tem’s prose and the wide range of his approaches to the horror genre.
In The Night Doctor And Other Tales, you will encounter the most haunting figures ever to cross Tem’s imagination: a man obsessed with his own breath and the breathing he hears that is not his own; a husband waiting for his wife as new bodies appear at the bottom of his yard; a weekend fisherman and the unseen man sharing his fishing hut; a loyal husband dealing with the latest changes in his wife’s physical appearance; a strange widower in his house by the sea; a devoted mother trying to protect her son from the nightmares of the past; a son returning to a dreaded summer vacation spot; a grandfather protecting his grandchildren from a legacy of dark transformations; and, in the title story, an elderly man awaits the visit of a mysterious family physician.
10.8.20 – 8PM [EST]
In this highly influential silent horror film, the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck) summons Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to his remote Transylvanian castle in the mountains. The eerie Orlok seeks to buy a house near Hutter and his wife, Ellen (Greta Schroeder). After Orlok reveals his vampire nature, Hutter struggles to escape the castle, knowing that Ellen is in grave danger. Meanwhile Orlok's servant, Knock (Alexander Granach), prepares for his master to arrive at his new home.
10.9.20 – 8PM [EST]
DRAGAN KUJUNDŽIĆ PH.D.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Vampire Cough. Vampires, Monsters, and Autoimmunity.
There is a particular relevance of the vampire narratives and films for the topic of emerging diseases, be it social or medical. The most famous animal which is a hypostasis of the vampire is the bat, at the origin of many viral diseases, including the current one. Vampire, an undead body, is like a virus, itself neither dead nor alive, living off of the living. As a political metaphor it was used to anticipate and symbolize in these films the rising fascism (Murnau), and working though the trauma left by fascism of making Germany great again (Herzog). Vampire as a figure of political disease or authoritarian politics, which ends up destroyed by its own autoimmunitary forces, bringing the entire society down with it, makes up maybe the most relevant and scary aspect one can discern in these films. One could say that the frightening reality which these films reveal constitute their un-dead relevance and appeal.
10.10.20 – 8PM [EST]
ROMAN CHIMIENTI AND TYLER JENSEN
DIRECTORS OF SCREAM QUEEN!
An interview with Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
10.11.20 – 8PM [EST]
THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH
READ BY MIKE BENNETT
Written by H. P. Lovecraft in 1931, The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a tale of a young man on summer vacation from Oberlin College conducting a tour of New England. When a ticket agent suggests a detour to a strange, isolated, and reviled nearby town of Innsmouth, the youth makes a faithful trip that will forever change his life.
10.12.20 – 8PM [EST]
LEVERETT BUTTS PH.D.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH GEORGIA
A Strange and Flickering Light: H. P. Lovecraft on Film.
10.13.20 – 8PM [EST]
S. T. JOSHI
An Interview with S.T. Joshi.
10.14.20 – 8PM [EST]
CARNIVAL OF SOULS
A young woman in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she is haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Made by industrial filmmakers on a small budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls was intended to have “the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau”—and, with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it succeeds. Herk Harvey’s macabre masterpiece gained a cult following on late-night television and continues to inspire filmmakers today.
10.15.20 – 8PM [EST]
AUTHOR OF LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
An interview with Matt Ruff.
10.16.20 – 8PM [EST]
Hoist the Darkness: A History of Horror Tiki Mugs
10.17.20 – 8PM [EST]
KAREN RENNER, PH.D.
NORTH ARIZONA UNIVERSITY
The New Child Psycho
During the 1980s and 1990s, the big and small screen alike were invaded by hordes of psychopathic tykes, the best known of which might be Henry from The Good Son, played by Macaulay Culkin. The similarities in these narratives--including fears of adopted children and a focus on genetic causes of behavior--appear to have been symbolic responses to a cluster of cultural trends, including an increase in juvenile crime, an increase in stranger and international adoptions, and the publication of various studies that seemed to confirm genetic determinism.
The addition of "conduct disorder" to the DSM-IV in 1994 means that no one under 18 can be officially diagnosed with "antisocial personality disorder"--the label most psychopaths would be given. Nevertheless, the child psycho has returned to haunt the cultural imagination. A variety of mainstream articles published by such well-known venues as the New York Times and NPR.com promise to reveal the warning signs of emerging psychopathy among children as young as nine months. The child psycho is also a common figure in crime television, popping up every once in a while in shows like Criminal Minds and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and in movies like Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween (2008) and We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011). This talk will discuss the recent return of the prodigal child psycho.
10.18.20 – 8PM [EST]
HERBERT WEST: REANIMATOR
READ BY MIKE BENNETT
Originally serialized in the amateur literary magazine Home Brew in 1921 and later re-issued by Weird Tales in 1942, Hebert West: Reanimator follows the story of a brilliant young doctor and his associate who seek to end death through the use of a serum. However, not all of their experiments go quite as planned. Hebert West: Reanimator has been adapted many times including the 1985 cult classic Re-Animator.
10.19.20 – 8PM [EST]
Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: Benjamin Christensen’s legendary silent film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages and early modern era suffered from the same ills as psychiatric patients diagnosed with hysteria in the film's own time. Far from a dry dissertation on the topic, the film itself is a witches’ brew of the scary, the gross, and the darkly humorous. Christensen’s mix-and-match approach to genre anticipates gothic horror, documentary re-creation, and the essay film, making for an experience unlike anything else in the history of cinema.
10.20.20 – 8PM [EST]
SARAH BURNS PH.D.
The Poet of Putrescence and the Aesthetics of Decay
How did gruesome death and grisly corpses become spectacular in the 1930s, and what drew audiences to consume such sights? Focusing on Chicago painter Ivan Albright, this talk looks at his controversial art in connection with the 1931 hit movie Frankenstein, the mass-marketed “shudder pulp” magazines, and the culture of morbid spectatorship in the 1930s and after.
10.21.20 – 8PM [EST]
THE WASP WOMAN
A cosmetics queen is transformed into a murderous monster after she uses an insect chemical to preserve her beauty.
10.22.20 – 8PM [EST]
DARRIN GOOD PH.D.
NEBRASKA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
Entomologist, Dr. Darrin Good, responds to The Wasp Woman (1959) and the use of insects in B horror films of the 1950’s.
10.23.20 – 8PM [EST]
BERNADETTE CALAFELL PH.D.
Post-Feminist Nightmares in Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem
This talk examines the role of post-feminism in Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem to examine how the figure of the witch allows us to explore histories of patriarchy and the danger of individual oriented feminisms.
10.24.20 – 8PM [EST]
AUTHOR OF THE BONE WEAVER’S ORCHARD
When Charley follows his pet insects to a pool of blood behind a false wall, he could run and let those stones bury their secrets. He could assimilate, focus on his studies, and wait for his father to send for him. Or he could walk the dark tunnels of the school’s heart, scour its abandoned passages, and pick at the scab of a family’s legacy of madness and murder.
With the help of Sam Forster, the school’s gardener, and Matron Grace, the staff nurse, Charley unravels Old Cross’ history and exposes a scandal stretching back to when the school was a home with a noble family and a dark secret—a secret that still haunts its halls with scraping steps, twisting its bones into a new generation of nightmares.
10.25.20 – 8PM [EST]
HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR
Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting Robin Means Coleman’s seminal book, HORROR NOIRE will present the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators; the voices who survived the genre’s past trends, to those shaping its future.
Cast: Jordan Peele, Tananarive Due, Tony Todd, Ken Foree
10.26.20 – 8PM [EST]
TOK THOMPSON PH.D.
“Ghost Stories from the Uncanny Valley: The Future of Being Haunted?”
Our social lives are becoming increasingly entwined with technology. As this increases, not only our lives, but also our afterlives, will be played out more and more in the digital realm. This talk will discuss recent trends of the haunted side of technology, from monsters such as Slenderman, to AI, cyborgs, and Androids. Such stories can reveal a great deal about our current culture, and our ongoing spiritual trajectories. Since the future will be haunted by our past ethical failings, a peek at the future of ghosts and afterlives can provide insights into our emerging cyborg souls and the ethical issues of our times.
Tok Thompson, Ph.D. (October 26) is a well-known Professor of Anthropology and Communication at the University of Southern California. He has published widely in the fields of folklore and mythology, including two recent books: one of his own research entitled Posthuman Folklore (2019) and another (co-authored with Greg Schrempp) a textbook on World Mythology entitled The Truth of Myth (2020). He currently edits the book series Myth in Theory and Everyday Life for Oxford University Press.
10.27.20 – 8PM [EST]
ROBIN R. MEANS COLEMAN PH.D.
AUTHOR OF HORROR NOIRE
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
An interview with Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman
10.28.20 – 8PM [EST]
EMMY NOMINATED MAKEUP ARTIST
Join us for an amazing makeup tutorial–Dulude will be transforming himself into Beetlejuice!!!!
10.29.20 – 8PM [EST]
KENDALL PHILLIPS PH.D.
A Certain Tendency in Post-Occupy Cinema:
The Purge, The Cabin in the Woods, and Snowpiercer
The Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) in 2011 was a spectacular example of a wider national and global phenomenon, a massive sense of frustration with the systems of governance and commerce. Along with the rise of the Tea Party and various uprisings in Europe and the Middle East, OWS was part of what WJT Mitchell describes as the "Occupy Moment." While this moment did not last long, its emotional echo continues to reverberate in popular culture. This talk focuses on the way the emotions released by the Occupy Moment are manifested in a trio of dark films released shortly after it occurred: The Cabin in the Woods (2012), The Purge (2013), and Snowpiercer (2013).
10.30.20 – 8PM [EST]
DIRECTOR OF IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS
An interview with David Weiner.
10.31.20 – 8PM [EST]
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Frederick Loren (Vincent Price), an eccentric millionaire, invites five people to a party he is throwing for his fourth wife Annabelle in an allegedly haunted house he has rented, promising to give each $10,000 with the stipulation that they stay the entire night in the house after the doors are locked at midnight. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers and other terrors. The film is perhaps best known for a promotional gimmick used in the film's original theatrical release called "Emergo." In some theaters that showed the film, exhibitors rigged an elaborate pulley system near the theater screen which allowed a plastic skeleton to be flown over the audience during a corresponding scene late in the film. Thanks in part to director William Castle's gimmickry, the film was a huge success. Alfred Hitchcock took notice of the low-budget film's performance at the box office and made his own low-budget horror film, which became the critically acclaimed hit Psycho (1960).
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Shot outside Pittsburgh on a shoestring budget, by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, Night of the Living Dead, directed by horror master George A. Romero, is a great story of independent cinema: a midnight hit turned box-office smash that became one of the most influential films of all time. A deceptively simple tale of a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of recently dead, flesh-eating ghouls, Romero’s claustrophobic vision of a late-1960s America literally tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre, combined gruesome gore with acute social commentary, and quietly broke ground by casting a black actor (Duane Jones) in its lead role. Stark, haunting, and more relevant than ever, Night of the Living Dead is back.
The Screaming Skull (1958)
For reasons best known to local TV programmers, the modest shocker The Screaming Skull was telecast on what seemed to be a daily basis in the 1960s. The hero-villain is Eric, the husband of neurotic millionairess Jenni Peggy Webber. By strategically placing miniature skulls all over the house, Eric hopes to drive Jenni into madness so that he can take control of her fortune. The police suspect that Mickey the gardener is the man behind the campaign of terror, but the truth finally surfaces in the last reel.