Deadline for submissions: August 1, 2017
Full name/name of organization: Kevin M. Scott and Connor M. Scott
Contact email:

Call for Paper (June 7, 2017)

Oh, The Horror: Politics and Culture in Horror Films of the 1980s

Kevin M Scott (Albany State University)

Connor M Scott (Georgia State University)

Contact email:

In the 1980s, a decade significantly known for Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, and the ascendance of the corporation as an aesthetic, Hollywood recovered from and reacted to the director-centric 1970s by reasserting studio control over mainstream cinema. With notable exceptions, the films of the 1980s were constructive—supporting a neater and more optimistic view of history and American culture—as opposed to the deconstructive films of the prior decade, challenging and, often, fatalistic. A simple review of Oscar nominees for the 1980s, compared to those of the 1970s, demonstrates that the capitalistic desires of the studios aligned neatly with an increasingly self-congratulatory culture and the fantasy of a return to an earlier, simpler, more conservative, whiter, United States.

By nature, however, the horror genre retains a bleaker view of society. In the 1980s, horror subverted corporate influences more often that other mainstream genres and did so both in covert support and critique of politics and values of the era. Because horror films were (and remain) lower budget productions and, hence, lower risk for studios, filmmakers enjoyed a greater degree of freedom. Some filmmakers used that freedom to reify “Reagan-era values” in violent and bloody ways (through figures like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and other slashers) while others offered dark critiques of the politics of the decade—the anti-militarism of George Romero’s Day of the Dead (1985) or the deconstruction of the nuclear family in Joseph Rubin’s The Stepfather (1987).

The editors are developing a new collection of essays with McFarland Books and seek essays investigating the ways horror films during the 1980s responded to the cultural, social, and governmental politics of the decade. We welcome essays from a variety of critical stances (theoretical, psychological, formal, and so forth), but the volume’s purpose is to explore how horror films functioned as a site of political, cultural, and social engagement and/or critique.

We especially welcome essay proposals that take these approaches:

  • Close readings of individual films and their engagement with the politics and culture of the era.
  • Studies of particular filmmakers and the development of ongoing critiques or concerns within their films.
  • Investigations of particular cultural and political themes (poverty, Barbara Creed’s idea of the “monstrous feminine,” the power of corporations, and so forth) in multiple films.
  • The evolution within a subgenre over the decade (the slasher, religious/occult horror, and so forth) and how those changes reflected developments in American society.
  • Discussions of how horror filmmakers interacted with the film industry and with American culture on an industry level.

This list is not intended to be complete. Other approaches are welcome. While the horror genre thrived in other countries, this volume is primarily interested in American films, films that were prominent for American moviegoers, and films that addressed American political and cultural concerns. While David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983, Canadian) fulfills this role, Dario Argento’s Italian films are less likely to do so. However, the inclusion of discussion of foreign films or films outside the decade in order to contrast “American” films of the 1980s or to highlight American political and/or cultural trends may be productive.

The editors seek essays of about 6,000 words.

The audience for this volume is undergraduates through active scholars, though books on this topic will attract an audience among fans of the genre.

Please submit abstracts of 500 words or less to Kevin M. Scott and Connor M. Scott ( by August 1, 2017. Abstracts should be accompanied by a short biography. Notification of acceptance will be given by August 15, 2017. Completed essays will be expected by December 15, 2017. And please email us if you have any questions.

Below, find a short list of films we would be especially interested in seeing discussed in essays for the volume. The list is certainly not meant to be exclusive, and we welcome any productive discussion of other films.



Altered States

Cannibal Holocaust


Friday the 13th

The Fog


Motel Hell

Mother’s Day

The Watcher in the Woods


An American Werewolf in London

The Entity

The Evil Dead

Friday the 13th PT 2

The Fun House

Graduation Day

Halloween II

Hell Night

The Howling

The Incubus


My Bloody Valentine

Night School

Omen III: The Final Conflict



The Aftermath

Alone in the Dark

Basket Case

Cat People


Curse of the Cannibal Confederates

Friday the 13th Part III

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

The Last Horror Film


The Thing




Eyes of Fire

House on Sorority Row

The Hunger

Something Wicked This Way Comes




Children of the Corn


A Nightmare on Elm Street

Silent Night, Deadly Night


Day of the Dead

Fright Night

The Hills Have Eyes Part II


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

The Return of the Living Dead



Class of Nuke ‘Em High

The Fly

The Hitcher

Little Shop of Horrors

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2


Dark Tower

Evil Dead II

Killing Spree

The Lost Boys

Near Dark


Prince of Darkness




The Blob

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Maniac Cop



Dr. Caligari

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child