Uncanny Bodies (Paperback)

The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre

By Robert Spadoni

University of California Press, 9780520251229, 202pp.

Publication Date: September 4, 2007

List Price: 34.95*
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In 1931 Universal Pictures released Dracula and Frankenstein, two films that inaugurated the horror genre in Hollywood cinema. These films appeared directly on the heels of Hollywood's transition to sound film. Uncanny Bodies argues that the coming of sound inspired more in these massively influential horror movies than screams, creaking doors, and howling wolves. A close examination of the historical reception of films of the transition period reveals that sound films could seem to their earliest viewers unreal and ghostly. By comparing this audience impression to the first sound horror films, Robert Spadoni makes a case for understanding film viewing as a force that can powerfully shape both the minutest aspects of individual films and the broadest sweep of film production trends, and for seeing aftereffects of the temporary weirdness of sound film deeply etched in the basic character of one of our most enduring film genres.

About the Author

Robert Spadoni is Associate Professor in the English Department at Case Western Reserve University.

Praise For Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre

“Rich, insightful book. . . . A poetic and clever analysis, presenting impressive historical scholarship with panache.”

— Choice

“Well-researched and persuasive. . . . Uncanny Bodies impressively persuades one to think anew about films.”

— Film Quarterly

“Original and stimulating.”

— Anneleen Masschelein

“Spadoni's analysis is intriguing.”

— Metro Newspapers

“Contributes substantially to the history of film sound as well as the history of classic horror cinema. . . . Lucid, accessible prose.”

— Hist Journal Of Film, Rad, TV

“Profoundly original ... Thanks to Robert Spadoni we can now see and hear Dracula and Frankenstein in a fresh light.”

— Music, Sound & The Moving Image

“Readers interested in the transition from silent to sound film will find Uncanny Bodies intriguing for its focus specifically on horror films. . . . [He offers a] tight argument and detailed background information on the period.”

— Steffen Hantke