Synopses & Reviews
Even before Jean-Luc Godard and other members of the French New Wave championed Hollywood B movies, aesthetes and cineasts relished the raw emotions of genre films. This contradiction has been particularly true of horror cinema, in which the same images and themes found in exploitation and splatter movies are also found in avant-garde and experimental films, blurring boundaries of taste and calling into question traditional distinctions between high and low culture.
In Cutting Edge, Joan Hawkins offers an original and provocative discussion of taste, trash aesthetics, and avant-garde culture of the 1960s and 1970s to reveal horror's subversiveness as a genre. In her treatment of what she terms "art-horror" films, Hawkins examines home viewing, video collection catalogs, and fanzines for insights into what draws audiences to transgressive films. Cutting Edged provides the first extended political critique of Yoko Ono's rarely seen Rape and shows how a film such as Franju's Eyes without a Face can work simultaneously as an art, political, and splatter film. The rediscovery of Tod Browning's Freaks as an art film, the "eurotrash" cinema of Jess Franco, camp cults like the one around Maria Montez, and the "cross-over" reception of Andy Warhol's Frankenstein are all studied for what they reveal about cultural hierarchies.
Looking at the low aspects of high culture and the high aspects of low culture, Hawkins scrutinizes the privilege habitually accorded "high" art -- a tendency, she argues, that lets highbrow culture off the hook and removes it from the kinds of ethical and critical social discussions that have plagued horror and porn. Full of unexpected insights, Cutting Edge calls fora rethinking of high/low distinctions -- and a reassigning of labels at the video store.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 279-294) and index.
About the Author
Joan Hawkins is associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University.
Table of Contents
pt. 1. Paracinema culture and psychotronic style. Sleaze-mania, Euro-trash, and high art : the place of European art films in American low culture ; Medium cool : video culture, video aesthetics -- pt. 2. At the crossroads. Art houses and horrorshows, or, Pauline Kael meets Georges Franju ; The scalpel's edge : Georges Franju's Les yeux sans visage ; The anxiety of influence : Georges Franju and the medical horrorshows of Jess Franco -- pt. 3. When horror meets the avant-garde. Exploitation meets direct cinema : Yoko Ono's Rape and the trash cinema of Michael and Roberta Findlay ; From horror to avant-garde : Tod Browning's Freaks ; Monsters in the art world : Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey -- Conclusion, Mainstreaming trash aesthetics.