Horror films revel in taking viewers into shadowy places where the evil resides, whether it is a house, a graveyard or a dark forest. These mysterious spaces foment the terror at the heart of horror movies, empowering the ghastly creatures that emerge to kill and torment. With Dark Places, Barry Curtis leads us deep inside these haunted spaces to explore them – and the monstrous antagonists who dwell there.
In this wide-ranging and compelling study, Curtis demonstrates how the claustrophobic interiors of haunted spaces in films connect to the ‘dark places’ of the human psyche. He examines diverse topics such as the special effects – ranging from crude to state-of-the-art – used in movies to evoke supernatural creatures; the structures, projections and architecture of horror movie sets; and ghosts as symbols of loss, amnesia, injustice and vengeance. Dark Places also examines the reconfiguration of the haunted house in film as a motel, an apartment, a road or a spaceship, and how these re-imagined spaces thematically connect to Gothic fictions.
Curtis draws his examples from numerous iconic films – including Nosferatu, Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining – as well as lesser-known international works, which allow him to consider different cultural ideas of ‘haunting’. Japanese horror films and their Hollywood remakes – such as Ringu and The Ring, or Juon and The Grudge – come under particular scrutiny, as he explores Japanese cinema’s preoccupation with malevolent forces from the past.
Whether you love the splatter of blood or prefer to hide under the couch, Dark Places cuts to the heart of why we are drawn to carnage.