Journeys into Terror

Essays from the Cinematic Intersection of Travel and Horror


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About the Book

Since ancient times, explorers and adventurers have captured popular imagination with their frightening narratives of travels gone wrong. Usually, these stories heavily feature the exotic or unknown, and can transform any journey into a nightmare. Stories of such horrific happenings have a long and rich history that stretches from folktales to contemporary media narratives.
This work presents eighteen essays that explore the ways in which these texts reflect and shape our fear and fascination surrounding travel, posing new questions about the “geographies of evil” and how our notions of “terrible places” and their inhabitants change over time. The volume’s five thematic sections offer new insights into how power, privilege, uncanny landscapes, misbegotten quests, hellish commutes and deadly vacations can turn our travels into terror.

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: 18 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8435-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4910-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper 1
I. Power and Privilege
Vengeance, Voyage, and Identity Deconstruction in Jordan Peele’s Us
Michael C. Reiff 11
“The line is broken”: The River and the Road to Cultural Extinction in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente, 2015)
Thomas Prasch 22
Clashing Routes: Horror, Violence, and Resistance in Bacurau (2019)
Alexandre Busko Valim and Rafaela Arienti Barbieri 34
Journeys into Depravity in (Post)Colonial Australia: Colonizer versus Colonized Identity and “Otherness” in Wake in Fright
and The Nightingale
Sean Woodard 49
II. Journeys to Hell
Heterotopic Hell Ride on The Midnight Meat Train
Ana Došen 63
Facing the Inhuman on the Train to Busan
Susan L. Boulanger 74
Flights from Hell: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the Horrors of Aviation
Lindsey Michael Banco 86
The Road Goes On Forever, and the Horror Never Ends
Cynthia J. Miller 99
III. Uncanny Landscapes
Irradiated, Irrational, Irreclaimable: ­Post-Soviet Adventures in Chernobyl Diaries and Devil’s Pass
Sara Jo Powell 115
Uncharted Waters: Island of Lost Souls (1932), Horror Island (1941), Isle of the Dead (1945)
James J. Ward 124
(Don’t) Go East: Eastern Europe as the Land of Horrors
Barbara Plotz 139
Not Without My Terror: The Middle East as a Fertile Crescent of Western Dread
Mat Hardy and Sally Totman 151
IV. Postcards from the Edge
Midsommar’s Journey of Moral Terror
Benjamin Franz 165
“We are not who we are”: (Re)Visiting Reflexive Horror Landscapes in The Cabin in the Woods and The Final Girls
Catherine Pugh 175
“Any chance we’re ever gonna get out of here?” Southern Comfort and the Horrors of Southern (In)Hospitality
Karen Horsley 189
V. Quests Fraught with Terror
“Give a bad boy enough rope…”: Body Horror at Journey’s End in Disney’s Pinocchio
Richard J. Leskosky 203
Off the Edge of the Map: The Descent
Phil Hobbins-White 216
Out of Time: Missed Connections and Existential Horrors in The Langoliers (1995)
A. Bowdoin Van Riper 226
About the Contributors 239
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The essays that make up this original book offer interesting and well-written arguments that touch on very different cultural and geographical areas of the globe, thus making this volume very attractive and appetizing to different audiences all over the world. This book will certainly be of interest to film studies scholars and students as well, fans of the various directors’ works and scholars of travel literature.”—Dr. Antonio Sanna, co-editor of the Lexington Books series Critical Companions to Contemporary Directors; Cultore della materia, Università degli Studi di Sassari.