Children Beware!: Childhood, Horror and the PG-13 Rating
How does a culture respond when the limits of childhood become uncertain? The emergence of pre-adolescence in the 1980s, which is signified by the new PG-13 rating for film, disrupted the established boundaries between childhood and adulthood. The concept of pre-adolescence affected not only America’s pillar ideals of family and childhood innocence but also the very foundation of the horror genre’s identity, its association with maturity and exclusivity.
Cultural disputes over the limits of childhood and horror were explicitly articulated in the children’s horror trend (1980–1997), a cluster of child-oriented horror titles in film and other media, which included Gremlins, The Gate, the Goosebumps series, and others. As the first serious analysis of the children’s horror trend, with a focus on the significance of ratings, this book provides a complete chart of its development while presenting it as a document of American culture’s adaptation to pre-adolescence. Each important children’s horror title corresponds to a key moment of ideological negotiation, cultural power struggles, and industrial compromise.