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Palgrave Macmillan

The Highway Horror Film

ISBN 9781137391193
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

The Highway Horror Film argues that 'Highway Horror' is a hither-to overlooked sub-genre of the American horror movie that articulates profound unease about the increasingly transitory nature of modern American life, as well as the wider impact of mass automobility. Along with the establishment of the suburbs, the post-1956 construction of the Interstate Highway System represents one of the most dramatic innovations of post-war American society. The new network of well-maintained and well-constructed roads provided Americans with a freedom to move around the entire nation that had previously been denied to them. In addition, the car assumed the vitally important practical and symbolic function it holds to this day. Both of these innovations are questioned in this landmark study. In Highway Horror films, the American landscape is by its very accessibility rendered terrifyingly hostile, and encounters with other travellers (and with those whose roadside businesses depend on highway traffic) almost always have sinister outcomes.

Bernice M. Murphy is Lecturer in Popular Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Publications include The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (2009), The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture (2013) and the collections Shirley Jackson: Essays on the Literary Legacy (2005) and (with Darryl Jones and Elizabeth McCarthy) It Came From the 1950s: Popular Culture, Popular Anxieties (2011).

Introduction: Bumps in the Road: Defining Highway Horror
1. 'I Almost Drove Right Past': Motels and Highway Horror
2. 'That Truck Driver Tried to Kill Me!' The Highway Nemesis Narrative
3. 'Let's Go For a Ride, Otis': Serial Killers in the Highway Horror Film
4. 'They Never Even Saw It Coming': The Fatal Car Crash in the Highway Horror Film


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