Halloween Reading List: Hearths of Darkness

Halloween is just around the corner and we’re counting the days. Literally.

UPM has published a surprisingly large amount of books on the frightful topics of horror film, ghosts, witches, and zombies. In the days leading up to Halloween, we’ve asked our staff members to choose their favorite Halloween-themed book. And every day until Halloween, we will post a new staff pick

Follow along all week for our curated Halloween reading list.

Steve Yates, Associate Director and Marketing Director selects Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film, Updated Edition by Tony Williams. A thorough study that traces the origins of the 1970s family horror subgenre to certain aspects of American culture and classical Hollywood cinema.

Think how often the redemptive thread in any horror movie is the familial bond. Poltergeist and especially Poltergeist 2: The Other Side leap to mind. The family is under attack, and the only and ultimate weapon against evil is love.

But in Hearths of Darkness Tony Williams expands and even sometimes collapses this casual and somewhat obvious discovery of theme with thought provoking historical and theoretical context.

Did you know that Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and and The Omen “variously attempt to disavow relevant social factors by ascribing traumatic family circumstances to the aggressive return” of that age old terror and adversary of light and love, Satan? Yes.

And Williams points out the horror genre did not just make sacrificial victims, heroes, and heroines of family members. Horror films also pointed to the monstrous outcomes of the family gone haywire. So if you are thinking of checking in again at the Bates Motel (a family-owned establishment, by the way!), tuck a copy of Hearths of Darkness in your suitcase.

At 360 pages, it will not merely lend perspective. It can, positioned properly, also ward off some of the sharper elements of any unanticipated room service.