(NeMLA 2023 Panel Call for Papers): If It Looks Like Horror: Mechanics of Fear

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Stacey Anh Baran / Jeremy Freeman
contact email: 

In Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), the hospital scene has been paid special attention for seeming “more at home in a horror movie than a superhero sequel,” according to Bloody Disgusting’s Meagan Navarro: it depicts Dr. Octopus’ mechanical tentacles as they slaughter the surgeons who are about to remove them from his body. The scene is rife with the imagery of gaping screams, fingernails clawing into the floor, and limbs going limp, evoking an atmosphere of terror which even Dr. Octopus recognizes once he awakens to the carnage before him.

Indeed, the “leakage” of horror mechanics into the Spider-Man trilogy comes as no surprise considering Raimi’s legacy as the Evil Dead director. At the same time, there seems to be nothing anomalous about the infiltration of conventional horror techniques in films which are decidedly not horror. War film Saving Private Ryan (1998) has been previously read as “military” horror, for instance, and few could forget the terrifying spectacle of the rainbow tunnel scene with Gene Wilder in the children’s film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971).

How do non-horror films interpolate these instances of fear within the established narrative structure? What place do such discursive moments have in non-horror films, and what purpose do they serve within the context of both production and audience reception? Rather than approaching these inquiries through genre hybridity, we are specifically interested in projects that consider films which operate within a definitive non-horror genre yet simultaneously borrow cinematic conventions recognized as belonging to horror. This panel session invites 250-word proposals which consider the interpolation of cinematic horror conventions into films of other genres. The panel aims to situate these projects in the larger discourse of film genre theory and the evolving changes in contemporary cinema which emerge through new modes of media consumption.

Please submit all abstracts for 15-minute presentations directly to the NeMLA CFP here: https://cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/19984