Seasonal Horrors: On the Intersection of Holidays and the Macabre in Audiovisual Media

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns

Seasonal Horrors: On the Intersection of Holidays and the Macabre in Audiovisual Media


The slasher film, one of the most important cycles in horror cinema, began with a holiday. Two holidays, actually. It has been argued that the slasher film started with John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), where a young woman is forced to battle a masked killer during the Halloween season. Still, much scholarship argue that Carpenter’s film is basically a rewriting of Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (1974), where girls of the sorority house Pi Kappa Sigma receives obscene anonymous phone calls during the Christmas season. In other words, the slasher cycle was born on the intersection of horror and festive days, being Christmas or Halloween.

Holidays are integral part of global horror cinema. Since Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), the sacred spiritual time of Christmas has been integrated with ghost and hauntings. It looks like holy days come with a macabre underside, where anxieties about this "special day" are brought to the surface. Even the first American blockbuster, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws takes place in a July 4. The relationships between horror and festive days have increased in the last years, to the point that a TV series, Into the Dark (2018-2021), had each episode inspired by a holiday. Currently, every Christmas comes with a couple of horror films opening through the Christmas season (last year, Violent Night, The Killing Tree and Christmas Bloody Christmas). It seems that people around the world want their holy days with a doses of seasonal horror.

Still, Christmas and Halloween are only two examples of the horrors of holidays. Wedding day, harvest day, Father and Mother’s day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Day, Veterans’ Day are also material for nightmares. It seems that the idea of celebrating a special day with the family, or having a day framed by a sacred mood may open the door to the intrusion of the supernatural, the homicidal, the uncanny.

Yet, there is no book investigating the different relationships between holy days and horror. This edited collection will be the first one in the market focused on exploring the intersection on horror and festive days, pointing on how the festive and the supernatural/macabre is elaborated in our society and culture.

This collection looks for proposals for audiovisual horror (cinema and TV from around the world and from any era) dealing with horror stories taking place during special days of celebration. Any theoretical framework and topic will be welcome, but the abstracts and the chapters must engage with how culture, social norms, spirituality and national customs so typical of holidays engage with horror. The chosen holiday must not be secondary to the chapter’s thesis. 


Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:


Christmas horror: Violent Night (2022), Black Christmas (all versions), Krampus (2015), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Rare Exports (2010), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), El día de la bestia (1995), Christmas Evil (1980), And All Through the House (in Tales from the Crypt –Film, 1972, TV episode 1989), any of the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas.

Halloween: The Michael Myers’ franchise, The Barn (2016), Boo (2005), Cementerio del terror (1985), Clownhouse (1989), Ghostwatch (1992 TV Movie), Satan's Little Helper (2004), Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Valentine Day: Valentine (2001), My Bloody Valentine (1981/2009), Hospital Massacre (1982),

Thanksgiving horror: Blood Freak (1972), Intensity (1997 TV Movie), Blood Rage (1987)

Easter: Easter Sunday (2014), Holidays (2016), Bunny the Killer Thing (2015), Critters 2 (1988), Bless the Child (2000)

Saint Patrick Day: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Father’s Day: Knock Knock (2015), Creepshow (1982),

Wedding day: [REC]³: Génesis (2012), Honeymoon (2014), Ready or not (2019), Frankenstein (1931)

Birthday: Bloody Birthday (1981), Happy Birthday to Me (1981), The Omen (1976), Happy Death Day (2017)

April Fool's Day: April Fool's Day (1986), Slaughter High (1986)


Please submit your 500-word abstracts with brief bios to the editor, Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns, by August 15, 2023. A reputed publisher has shown preliminary interest, depending on the originality of abstracts. Send proposals and inquiries to:  


Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (PhD) is Director of the research group on horror culture Grite, currently investigating Baltic horror for the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Pagnoni Berns has authored a book about Spanish horror TV series Historias para no Dormir (Universidad de Cádiz, 2020) and has edited a book on Frankenstein bicentennial (Universidad de Buenos Aires), one on director James Wan (McFarland, 2021), one on the Italian giallo film (University of Mississippi Press), one on horror comics for Routledge and one on the intersection of horror and philosophy. Currently editing a book on Wes Craven for Lexington Press Series Critical Companions to Contemporary Directors, edited by Adam Barkman and Antonio Sanna.