Haunted House Comedies

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Murray Leeder

Haunted houses are horrific locations, but they are funny places too. Buster Keaton found his way into a haunted house (The Haunted House (1921)); so did Harold Lloyd (Haunted Spooks (1920)). Bob Hope stumbled into several, as did comedy troupes like Our Gang and the Bowery Boys. Haunted houses turn up again and again in classic animation, as in Lonesome Ghosts (1937). More recently, filmmakers like the Wayans brothers and Tyler Perry have contributed to the haunted house comedy. Our collection hopes to excavate and understand this neglected strand, exploring some of the foundational connections between horror and comedy around the theme of haunted house. Beyond cinema, we would welcome research into the allegiance of haunting and humour in amusement parks and carnivals, as well as on the radio, games and other media.

Subjects to consider:

• The haunted house as a site of the interaction between different genres
• The comic subtexts of putatively more serious haunted house films (e.g. Poltergeist (1982))
• Different eras of haunted house comedies (e.g. silent era, 1940s, 1990s)
• The haunted house as a transmedia site (literature, theatre, film, TV, music, music videos, comics, gaming, etc.)
• Comic haunted houses in animation
• Haunted houses and comic star performers (e.g. Keaton, Lloyd, Hope, Don Knotts, Eddie Murphy)
• Race; e.g. the considerable presence of Black comic actors in haunted house comedies (from Mantan Moreland and Willie P. Best to Marlon Wayans and Tyler Perry)
• Haunted house comedies in different national and cultural traditions
• The haunted house comedy and children’s media
• The haunted house in novelty songs (e.g. Jumpin’ Gene Simmons’ “Haunted House” (1964))
• Disney’s Haunted Mansion and other theme park rides

We seek abstracts of 200-300 by December 31, 2022, with final drafts expected by June 30, 2024. Please send abstracts to hauntedhouseproject22@gmail.com

Editors: Simon Bacon (independent scholar), Murray Leeder (University of Manitoba), Debaditya Mukhopadhyay (Manikchak College)