Horror Noir

Where Cinema’s Dark Sisters Meet

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About the Book

This critical survey examines the historical and thematic relationships between two of the cinema’s most popular genres: horror and film noir. The influence of 1930s- and 1940s-era horror films on the development of noir is detailed, with analyses of more than 100 motion pictures in which noir criminality and mystery meld with supernatural and psychological horror. Included are the films based on popular horror/mystery radio shows (The Whistler, Inner Sanctum), the works of RKO producer Val Lewton (Cat People, The Seventh Victim), and Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological ghost stories. Also discussed are gothic and costume horror noirs set in the 19th century (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Hangover Square); the noir elements of more recent films; and the film noir aspects of the Hannibal Lecter movies and other serial-killer thrillers.

About the Author(s)

Paul Meehan is the author of several books on science fiction, film noir and horror films, and he is a contributor to the Noir City Sentinel, the journal of the Film Noir Foundation. He lives in San Francisco.

Bibliographic Details

Paul Meehan

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 310
Bibliographic Info: 77 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4597-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6219-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Horror and Fantasy Elements in Classic Films Noir      11
2. Horror Noir in the 1930s      30
3. The Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur Noir Legacy      53
4. Horror Noir from Radioland      73
5. Monster Noir      93
6. Gothic and Costume Noir      115
7. Horror Noir in the 1950s      145
8. Hitchcock’s Psychological Ghosts and Doppelgangers      167
9. Modern Horror Noir in the 1960s      186
10. Horror Noirs of the 1970s and 1980s      211
11. The Noir Horrors of Hannibal the Cannibal      237
12. The Mean Streets of Hell      254

Conclusion: Horror and Film Noir—The Dark Genres      277
Filmography      281
Chapter Notes      289
Bibliography      291
Index      293

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “a fascinating study, indispensable for aficionados”—Booklist
  • “a solid contribution to film literature…recommended”—Journal of American Culture