The children's horror film : characterizing an 'impossible' subgenre

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Lester, Catherine (2016)
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Subject: PN1993

The relationship between children and horror is fraught with tension, with children typically assumed to be vulnerable, impressionable, and in need of protection from horrific media lest they become “corrupted” by it. Despite this, a number of horror films intended specifically for the child demographic have been made since the 1980s. This paper situates the children’s horror sub-genre in a generic and industrial context and addresses the key issues that its existence raises: the development of children’s horror as a sub-genre in Hollywood; how children’s horror films, which due to their target audience must be inherently “less scary” than adult horror films, mediate their content and negotiate issues of censorship in order to be recognizably of the horror genre while remaining “child-friendly;” and what pleasures the sub-genre might serve its audience. The discussion concludes with analysis of the theme of “acceptance” in relation to the films ParaNorman (2012), Frankenweenie (2012) and Hotel Transylvania (2012): acceptance of monsters, of other people, and of the consumption of the horror genre as a valid children’s pastime.
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