Planks of Reason
Edited by Barry Grant

Conditions of Pleasure in Horror Cinema
by Dennis Giles

. . .In the first group of relatively common, straightforward figures, the viewer knows that the monster is already here, in the scene (in the room), about to attack the victim or actually attacking. However, the look at the monster is denied or frustrated. In the first instance: he (I say "he" because the monster is usually male) is excluded from the shot by framing. In Alien and The Prophecy the camera holds the victim in an extreme close-up "choker" shot just before the attack moves into its opening stages. We see the victim's reaction but the reverse-angle vision of the threat is withheld. If and when the reverse -angle is added to the figure, the first shot has become an instance of delayed or suspended vision. Friday the 13th, Part II teases the viewer by cutting from an attack in progress to peaceful or playful scenes elsewhere in the camp, only to return, after several of these delaying shots, to the attack or its aftermath. The monster himself is visually present in the first part of the film only as a pair of feet in the foreground of the shot. . .
(p. 43)

King Kong: Ape and Essence
by Noel Carroll

. . .Because its basic subject matter is fear, the horror film is a popular-genre vehicle that is prone to manifesting the specific anxieties that dominate the cultural context in which it was made. For example, horror films of the late seventies and early eighties -- e.g., Alien (1979), The Thing (1982), Dawn of the Dead (1979), Halloween I & II (1978 & 1982), the Friday the 13th series, The Evil Dead (1983), and so on -- emphasize the recurring theme of survival at a time in American history when economic circumstances have transformed the mere "bottom-line" commendation that "he/she is a survivor" into the highest badge of achievement that one can hope for. Likewise, the thirties' theme of the unjustly alienated monster, such as Frankenstein's progeny, signaled the depression anxiety of being cast out of civil society due to impoverishment; the fifties' invasion obsession reflected internal politics and the apprehension engendered there; and the early seventies' infatuation with possession and telekinesis announced a complex fantasy of powerlessness combined with infantile delusions of impotence during a period when utter mercy of the seemingly unpredictable shifts in the national and international economy. The purpose of this article is to examine the social anxieties submerged in the classic horror film King Kong (1933) which, interestingly enough, literalizes survival metaphors that bear a noteworthy relation to those found in contemporary tales of terror. . .(p. 215)