Date of Degree

2-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Leah Anderst

Subject Categories

Other Film and Media Studies

Keywords

Horror studies, research, information, monsters, ghosts, horror film sequels, horror film franchises

Abstract

This study will analyze how information about monsters is conveyed in three horror franchises: Poltergeist (1982-2015), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-2010), and The Ring (2002- 2018). My analysis centers on the changing role of libraries and research, and how this affects the ways that monsters are portrayed differently across the time periods represented in these films. These franchises, which span a number of decades, and encompass sixteen films in total, offer a good wealth of information to study because they are all films centered around monsters that haunt. These monsters, while aesthetically in opposition to each other, are all ghost-like, yet corporeal. More importantly, each of these monsters were once human and can move from the realm of the supernatural to reality. These monsters are both rich in character history and a legitimate threat to the physical realm. They are more mysterious than the fully human serial killer, and more threatening than the ghost. Characters in these films have to first believe that these monsters exist, then understand them, and finally, escape them. This pattern makes this type of horror monster well suited for examining what stories and research do to influence both characters’ and audiences’ beliefs and understanding. This study will investigate how the modes of research that the characters engage in these films reveal our cultural relationship to information in these periods and our relationship to the films’ monsters.

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