Children of the Night

The Six Archetypal Characters of Classic Horror Films


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SKU: 9780786427253 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

There are six of them: heroines, heroes, wise elders, mad scientists, servants and monsters. One of the most fascinating and also endearing aspects of horror films is how they use these six clearly defined character types to portray good and evil. This was particularly true of the classics of the genre, where actors often appeared in the same type of role in many different films. The development of the archetypal characters reflected the way the genre reacted to social changes of the time. As the Great Depression yielded to the uncertainty of World War II, flawed but noble mad scientists such as Henry Frankenstein gave way to Dr. Nieman (The Ghost of Frankenstein) with his dreams of revenge and world conquest. This work details the development of the six archetypes in horror films and how they were portrayed in the many classics of the 1930s and 1940s.

About the Author(s)

Randy Rasmussen is a library associate at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Bibliographic Details

Randy Rasmussen
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 277
Bibliographic Info: 60 photos, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [1998]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2725-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. Heroines:
Assault on Innocence      7
2. Heroes:
The Good, the Brave and the Superfluous      45
3. Wise Elders:
The Conservative Opposition      84
4. Mad Scientists:
The Quest for Power      129
5. Servants:
The Sons and Daughters of Caliban      180
6. Monsters:
The Inescapable Curse      194

Appendix: Films, Characters and Performers      251
Index      259

Book Reviews & Awards

“explains why this combination was so successful in its time and how it was transformed”—C&RL News; “a fun read, as well as an informative one. Recommended”—Public Library Quarterly; “Rasmussen’s approach is unique, and his text is superbly written…sensitively written and keenly observed…Rasmussen has…turned a keen, critical eye on the performances and characterizations of the classic films that we know and love”—Monsters from the Vault; “manages to strike a good balance between scholarly and readable…insightful observations…a fresh way of looking at familiar films and characters…useful”—Scarlet Street; “fascinating…well illustrated”—Samhain.