Terrifying Texts

Essays on Books of Good and Evil in Horror Cinema


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About the Book

From Faust (1926) to The Babadook (2014), books have been featured in horror films as warnings, gateways, prisons and manifestations of the monstrous. Ancient grimoires such as the Necronomicon serve as timeless vessels of knowledge beyond human comprehension, while runes, summoning diaries, and spell books offer their readers access to the powers of the supernatural—but at what cost?
 This collection of new essays examines nearly a century of genre horror in which on-screen texts drive and shape their narratives, sometimes unnoticed. The contributors explore American films like The Evil Dead (1981), The Prophecy (1995) and It Follows (2014), as well as such international films as Eric Valette’s Malefique (2002), Paco Cabeza’s The Appeared (2007) and Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981).

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 a 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: 268
Bibliographic Info: 37 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7130-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3374-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction (Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper) 1
Lovecraft and His Legacy Monstrous Writing, Writing Monsters: Authoring Manuscripts, Ontological Horror and Human Agency (Michael Fuchs) 11
That Monstrous Book: The Necronomicon and Its Cinematic Table of Contents
(Michael E. Heyes) 23
Paperback Necronomicon: Occult Authorship in John Carpenter’s
In the Mouth of Madness (Murray Leeder) 33
The Book with a Thousand Faces: The Evolution of the Necronomicon
in the Evil Dead Universe (Martin J. Auernheimer) 44
Books of Hope and Despair The Magic Book and the Magic of Books in Murnau’s Faust (1926) (Thomas Prasch) 59
Apocryphal Horror: Understanding Evil Through Lost Books of the Bible (Jeffrey M. Tripp) 73
Losing Your Faith for Seeing Too Much: The ­Anti-Bible as Indictment
of American Heroism in Gregory Widen’s The Prophecy (Mark Henderson) 83
I(dio)t Follows: The Seashell ­E-Book in It Follows Learned Foote 94
Perspectives on The Babadook “The more you deny me, the stronger I get”: “Mister Babadook” and the Monstrous Empowerment of Children’s Culture (Jessica Balanzategui )107
Mediating Trauma in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (Michael C. Reiff) 120
Bad Books and Fairy Tales: Stigmatized Guardians in The Turn of the Screw and The Babadook (Austin Riede) 132
Diaries and Scrapbooks Dreadful Girl Diaries and the Promise of Transparent Girlhood (Karen J. Renner) 145
“Do not read the Latin”: The Summoning Diary in Horror Film (Lisa Cunningham) 154
“That book lies!” Lost Texts and Hidden Horrors in The Whisperer
in Darkness (A. Bowdoin Van Riper) 162
Witches, Demons and Curses Spellbound: The Significance of Spellbooks in the Depiction of Witchcraft on Screen (Emily Brick) 175
Horror Comedy by the Book: Grimoire, Carnival and Heteroglossia
in Kenny Ortega’s Hocus Pocus (1993) (Sue Matheson) 186
Unraveling Julian Karswell’s Runic Curse in Jacques Tourneur’s
Night of the Demon (Michael Furlong) 198
International Takes Logical Horror: Axiomatic Magic and Strategic Murder in Death Note (Richard J. Leskosky) 211
Grotesque Adaptations: Bodies of Knowledge in Maléfique (2002) (Cynthia J. Miller) 224
The Appeared (2007) by Paco Cabezas: Redefining the Book of Hidden Memories and Cyclical Time (Graciela Tissera) 235
“No one who sees it lives to describe it”: The Book of Eibon and the Power of the Unseeable in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (Philip L. Simpson) 245
About the Contributors 255
Index 257

Book Reviews & Awards

“When I came across this title, I was immediately intrigued by it because, strangely enough, I didn’t know of anybody else who had tackled this subject matter before. In fact, the more I read through it, I was amazed at the fact that because there are more movies that deal with this subject than I had thought. It’s one of those that has you reading and they mention another movie, you immediately think, ‘Oh yeah…I forgot about that one!’ Needless to say, I really enjoyed this one! As a book person myself, this had me right from the opening Introduction…. It has been a long time that I found a book so interesting in what it was covering. This volume will definitely have you thinking about certain movies a little more.”—Kitley’s Krypt