One of the sub-genres that defined classic American crime and detective movies was film noir, a style that was pervasive in detective films of the 1940s and 1950s. Film noir arose during the post-World War II period in the United States as a generation that fought in one of the most brutal conflicts the world had ever seen returned home to a changed America where jobs were scarce and the national mood seemed darker and more cynical than during the war itself.
In the many literary magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, detective fiction was extremely popular, and numerous subgenres emerged. One of the most prolific was the Asian detective story, which was first popularized by Earl Derr Biggers through the Charlie Chan character. The portrayals of Asian characters in the various Asian detective stories have become a major source of controversy today, preventing the works from enduring the decades as readily as the earlier Holmes and Dupin stories.
This is the second installment in a series on the history of detective fiction.
Detective and crime-related stories are one of the most popular genres of fiction. In literary form, detective novels are so numerous that publishing companies devote entire labels to the genre and release hundreds of entries per year. Detective/crime-related narratives have become a major part of television programming, with networks basing their entire primetime schedule around crime-related series.
Many theories have been proposed to explain the current, wide-reaching popularity of zombies. Do zombies represent our post 9/11 fear of a lack of a security? Are they a projection of an archaic survivalist instinct? Are they the embodiment of the individual’s alienation from family and society in an increasingly technological world?
Whatever the reason, popular interest in zombie plagues on the screen and in the pages of books is on the rise. Read on for a history of this classic monster.
Although zombies have a long history of appearances in religion and folklore, interest in them as villains in horror films is largely confined to the second half of the 20th century. The explosion in zombie popularity is based on a characterization established by a single film and the fact that the original characterization of the zombi in African folklore and religion as well as in earlier films is dramatically different from that of the popular characterization from the 1960s onward. To understand zombies in both their original context and in the role they have come to take in popular culture requires an understanding of two divergent traditions.
Rather than being based on an ancient legend, religious concept, or historical figure, the Creature's origin is solely literary in nature, being confined to one book. Despite this, public perception of him has changed greatly since the publication of the original novel, leading to wildly divergent styles and plotlines in various film adaptations.
The image of a cursed soul doomed to become a werewolf at the rising of a full moon is one of the most iconic concepts in horror. Unlike Dracula or the Mummy, the notion of a “wolf man” or “werewolf” was not cemented by one single actor, author, book, or horror series. It is instead a truly ancient concept dating back to the pre-literate sagas and legends told by Europeans centuries ago.
There are many monsters associated with Halloween. Besides Dracula and his kind, mummies are among the most fascinating of these. The mummies appearing in horror films and literature have many differences, but some things remain constant: they are cursed to remain alive forever. They also have a doomed romantic attraction to at least one mortal woman and a burning hatred of all other mortals that has endured for centuries.
America’s tendency to associate Dracula, the Wolf Man, "Frankenstein," and zombies of all stripes with Halloween is so embedded in our culture that we frequently forget that most of these creatures--or at least the versions of them we best remember--are relatively recent creations that are often less than two centuries old. This series explores the origins and evolution of Halloween’s and Hollywood's best-loved ghouls and beasts.