The Haunted House is home to horror: an exploratory study of the Haunted House manifest in North American film from 1940–2020

Pearson, Shannon C. (2022) The Haunted House is home to horror: an exploratory study of the Haunted House manifest in North American film from 1940–2020. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Hockey (1999) introduces the House of Doom; Bailey (1999) builds the Haunted House formula from American popular fiction; Meehan (2020) tracks the Haunted House on film and through history; and now, I explore how the Haunted House narrative belies societal concerns about the existential nature of humanity. When COVID-19 forced our global society into at-home isolation, inhabitants were forced to reckon with the effects of prolonged domestic survival, much like the inhabitants of haunted houses. This exploratory ethnographic content analysis of 40 films contributes a trio of phenomenological findings to existing Haunted House scholarship: 1) threats to the safety of one’s home can turn the house into a dangerous trap, 2) as a reification of biophobia, the North American Haunted House is more closely aligned with nature than with civilization, 3) the Haunted Heroines of the horror genre showcase the strength and adaptability of the feminine trope. Oppressors mobilize structural restraints—literally and systemically—to objectify the Female Gothic as a Gothic Corpse, all while personifying inanimate structures. The Haunted House manifests in the North American cultural imagination as a monstrous embodiment of biophobia, a fear of nature and the Self. What happens when you open the door to supernatural metaphors for fears about domestic life and the nature of humanity?

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15434
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 122-124).
Keywords: house, home, nature, insecurity, infection, contamination, assimilation, domestic trauma, film analysis, fear, isolation, the body, the Self
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: March 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Haunted house films--North America--20th century; Haunted house films--North America--21st century Haunted houses--North America--20th century; Haunted houses--North America--21st century.

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