Horrific Humor and the Moment of Droll Grimness in Cinema: Sidesplitting Laughter

Author, Researcher, or Creator

Cynthia J. Miller, Emerson CollegeFollow


Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies


Cynthia J. Miller and John A. Dowell (Editors)

Resource Type


Publication, Publisher or Distributor

Lexington Books/ Fortress Academic

Publication Date


Related Information

Reviews from Amazon.com “Horrific Humor is, ultimately, a fascinating read.... The reader will find one’s self looking at aspects of cinema they’d never before considered.”--Cinepunx “John Dowell and Cynthia Miller’s collection of essays, Horrific Humor and the Moment of Droll Grimness in Cinema: Sidesplitting sLaughter, is one of the finest examinations of the horror genre published in the past decade. The theory of the intersection of horror and humor in popular film is transcendental in its profundity. For the scholar of film or for the general reader who loves to watch horror films, the book absolutely deserves a place on your shelf.” --Gary Hoppenstand, Michigan State University “Only recently the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the closest it’s been to heralding a man-made global catastrophe since 1953. Our popular culture abounds with dark and sardonic narratives, with stories and fictions that oscillate uncannily between the shocking perspectives of literary realism and the uncontrollable emotions that erupt in laughter, leaving us with the uncomfortable realization we find what is horrifying is simultaneously humorous and enjoyable. Here Dowell and Miller have collected a seminal series of essays that explores the typology and mechanics of that dark underside of popular culture that we love to laugh at from the comfort of our post-truth reality. If the real function of humor is in speaking the truth to power, then this volume offers insight into the critical import of popular culture in all our contemporary lives; sLaughter speaks a truth of the human condition!” --Steve Webley, Staffordshire University

Brief Description

In a collection of twelve essays from international authors, editors Cynthia J. Miller and John A. Dowell, create a book that focuses on the moment in audience reception where screams and laughter collide. Beginning with an examination of the aesthetics and mechanics of the sLaughter (scream and laughter) moment, the book then examines the impact of its awkward frission of humor and horror on the individual viewer, and lastly, widens the lens of exploration on sLaughter’s general implications for the human condition. The chapters discuss cinematic works such as A Clockwork Orange (1971), Fargo (1996), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Cabin in the Woods (2012), The Toxic Avenger (1984), and Dead Snow (2009). This book serves an interest to fans of cult cinema, those working in reception studies, as well as both scholars of humor and horror.

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