Elder Horror

Essays on Film’s Frightening Images of Aging


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About the Book

As baby boomers gray, cinematic depictions of aging and the aged are on the rise. In the horror genre, fears of growing old take on fantastic proportions. Elderly characters are portrayed as either eccentric harbingers of doom—the crone who stops at nothing to restore her youth, the ancient ancestor who haunts the living—or as frail victims.
This collection of new essays explores how various filmic portrayals of aging, as an inescapable horror destined to overtake us all, reflect our complex attitudes toward growing old, along with its social, psychological and economic consequences.

About the Author(s)

Cynthia J. Miller, a cultural anthropologist focusing on popular culture and visual media, teaches in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts at Emerson College in Boston. She is the editor or coeditor of twenty scholarly volumes, many exploring the horror genre.
A. Bowdoin Van Riper is an historian specializing in depictions of science and technology in popular culture. He is the reference librarian at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, and is the author or editor of a wide range of volumes, ranging from science to science fiction to horror.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 255
Bibliographic Info: 48 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7537-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3507-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper 1
I. Victims No More
“Ask not what your rest home can do for you”: ­Self-Agency and Public Service in Bubba ­Ho-Tep (Philip L. Simpson) 12
Panic in Detroit: Don’t Breathe and the Fear of Old Cities, Homes and Men (Isaac Rooks) 22
“It’s the work of a crazy old woman”: Revenge of the Elderly
in The ­Devil-Doll (Martin F. Norden) 32
From Beneficent Elderly to Vile M’others: Familial Relations and Cannibalism in Troma’s Rabid Grannies (1988) (Steve J. Webley) 46
II. Aesthetics of Decay
The Shock of Aging (Women) in Horror Film (Dawn Keetley) 58
“To Grandmother’s house we go”: Documenting the Horror of the Aging Woman in Found Footage Films (Maddi McGillvray) 70
“More like music”: Aging, Abjection and Dementia at the Overlook Hotel (Sue Matheson) 81
The Skeleton Key, the Southern Gothic and the Uncanny Decay
of Teleological History (Jessica Balanzategui) 92
III. Elders as Others/Outsiders
Making the Hard Choices: The Economics of Damnation in Drag Me to Hell (Cynthia J. Miller) 108
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all?” The Elderly
as “Other” in Countess Dracula (Jennifer Richards) 119
Old and In the Way: Torments of the Aging Male in Psycho II
Hans Staats 129
The Limits of “Sundowning”: M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit and the Horror of the Aging Body (Stephanie M. Flint) 140
IV. Fighting Back Time
“The powers of time can be altered”: The Ambiguities of Aging
in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) (Thomas Prasch) 152
“You can be young forever”: The Dread of Aging in Tony Scott’s ­Art-Horror
Film The Hunger (James J. Ward) 165
The Brittle Body: The Elderly and Cars in The Brotherhood of Satan (Brian Brems) 179
The Evil Aging Women of American Horror Story (Karen J. Renner) 189
V. What the Old Folks Know
Disturbing the Past: Horror and Historical Memory in Ghost Story (1981) (A. Bowdoin Van Riper) 202
Becoming Dr. Caligari (Robert B. Luehrs) 212
“Some kind of special”: Queering Death Through Elder/Child Relationships in The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
(Olivia ­Oliver-Hopkins) 222
Flowers in the Attic: The Elderly as Monster (Liam T. Webb) 233
About the Contributors 243
Index 245