Dying of Laughter: Horror Spoofs and Parody

deadline for submissions: 
September 29, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Reece Goodall, University of Warwick


A young woman played by a big-name actress is home alone, making popcorn. She receives a phone call from a mysterious man, who wants to know her favourite scary movie. When she asks why the caller wants to know her name, he provides a terrifying answer: “I want to know who I’m looking at.” But, no sooner has this wham line been uttered than the tension turns to comedy – we cut to the killer, enjoying a spread of Carmen Electra in Playtime magazine. This is the beginning to the successful Scary Movie, evoking the canonical Scream in a parodic manner in order to produce audience laughter. A further four Scary Movie films followed, which were all commercially successful if increasingly critically derided, and this series is just one example that demonstrates an audience for horror parody.

Despite a proven interest from viewers, scholarship has been slow to dig deep into parody on our screens. Specifically, although writing on parody has acknowledged the ways that parody and spoof texts play with genre more generally, there is space for focused work taking up the question of how parody operates within particular genres. This is, in part, because there have been very few major academic studies of parody as a mode in visual media in its own right, with the exception of Wes Gehring’s Parody as Film Genre (1999) and Dan Harries’ Film Parody (2000). Neil Archer has written about parody in English media (2017), and Simon Bacon has edited a collection on spoof and comedic depictions of the vampire (2022), but there is still room for a much-needed collection on the theoretical and industrial intersections between parodies/spoofs and the horror genre.

The horror genre is an interesting target for parodising and spoofing, and the resultant texts often sit in a novel place on the affectual scale – they send up texts designing to make you scream in order to make you laugh. Horror visual media has consistently been spoofed and parodised throughout its history, proving a rich well of material for comedy writers and directors. Major comedy stars (such as Mel Brooks, Leslie Nielsen and Gene Wilder) have been involved with this particular mode, and it has even been able to draw on canonical actors such as Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.

The collection will be the first to provide a sustained interrogation of the relationship between parodies/spoofs and the horror genre, exploring an underdiscussed but significant part of the genre corpus. It will bring together writing on major canonical spoofs and underdiscussed films, as well as expanding the scholarly writing on horror spoofs into non-Hollywood and non-Anglophone films and other forms of media.

I'm especially keen on receiving abstracts based on:

· Re-evaluations of canonical horror spoof and parody texts (Abbott and Costello Meet... series, Carry On Screaming!, Young Frankenstein, Scary Movie)

· Evaluations of underdiscussed horror spoofs and parodies (Student Bodies, Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Stan Helsing)

· Horror spoofs and parodies on television (The Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episodes, Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceThe Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the WindowThe Scooby-Doo Project) and other forms of media (Silence! The Musical)

· Industrial analysis of horror spoof and parody

· Canonical comedy stars (Abbott and Costello, Mel Brooks, Leslie Nielsen) and horror spoofs/parodies

· Marlon Wayans and spoof horror (Scary MovieScary Movie 2A Haunted House)

Other suggested topics for this proposed collection include, but are not restricted to:

· Theoretical discussions of the relationship between a horror film/subgenre and its parody

· Horror parodies/spoofs and genre theory

· Representations of gender in horror spoofs and parodies

· Representations of race in horror spoofs and parodies

· Horror spoofs and parodies in a non-Hollywood context (What We Do In The Shadows, Shaun of the Dead), particularly those emerging from non-Anglophone media systems (Au secours!, Bad Trip 3D, Il mio amico Jekyll)

· Audience engagement with horror spoof and parody

· Post-modernism, irony, and the horror spoof/parody

Please send an abstract of around 300 words and an academic bio of around 100 words to Reece Goodall (r.a.goodall@warwick.ac.uk) by 29 September 2023. All notifications of acceptance will be emailed no later than 1 October 2023. If an abstract is accepted, essays can be expected to be between 6,000 and 7,000 words in length (including references). University of Wales Press has expressed interest in the volume as part of their Horror Studies series.

Further inquiries should be sent to Reece Goodall (r.a.goodall@warwick.ac.uk).