ACTIVIST HORROR FILM: THE GENRE AS TOOL FOR CHANGE
June 11 / 14:00 CEST
Presentation by Dr Johnny Walker
It is increasingly common for scholars and journalists to make claims of horror cinema’s potential to engage with socio-political realities and, in so doing, identify grave social injustices. This presentation argues that, if one is to make a true assessment of the extent to which horror films might effect social change, one needs to look towards activist communities within which filmmakers are using the genre as part of a broader effort to do precisely that. In so doing, I theorize ‘Activist Horror Film’ in relation to a British short film, The Herd; a film cultivated as part of the vegan-feminist protest movement. The talk begins by situating The Herd within the context of scholarship about socially-charged horror films, before moving to consider the film’s broader activist context and that of its production, the crowd-funding campaign that led to its completion, the film’s content, the movie’s presence at film festivals and online, and its afterlife within circles of vegan/animal welfare activism. One contends that The Herd, as the first Activist Horror Film, is easily distinguished from other socially-aware horror films of the contemporary moment, for the activism of its makers is what drives it, the context that birthed it, and the context within which it continues to be shown.
Dr Johnny Walker is Senior Lecturer in Media at Northumbria University. His books include, as author, Contemporary British Horror Cinema: Industry, Genre and Society (2015), and, as co-editor, Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond (2016). He is founding co-editor of Bloomsbury’s Global Exploitation Cinemas book series, sits on the editorial board of the Horror Studies series published by the University of Wales Press, and is soon to be Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project “Raising Hell: British Horror Film in the 1980s and 1990s”.