From Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Get Out, Dark Carnivals tells the panoramic story of the filmmakers and writers who, through their work in the horror genre, asked us to imagine the consequences of unchecked American power dominating the world
With Dark Carnivals, author W. Scott Poole, an expert in horror and its impact on American history, reveals how the horror genre as a way of seeing the world has become one of the most incisive critiques of America and its history and influence around the globe.
Following World War II, America took its place on the world stage, its growing imperial shadow becoming ever more evident. But even as the American empire emerged, propaganda at home convinced ordinary Americans that their country kept its hands clean on the world stage. The nation, enshrined in the aspirational words of its founding documents, found itself enjoying a primal innocence, despite a host of evil forces insidiously growing more rooted each day: racism and violence, deadly viruses and fear of the other.
From the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) to Get Out (2017), horror films have long acted as the shadow that reveals uncomfortable political realities and inhuman crimes perpetrated by the United States for the last century with near impunity. In fact, the influence of American horror culture—in films, literature, online forums, and even video games—continues into our contemporary experience, continually challenging the myth of American innocence and exceptionalism, acknowledging our culpability abroad, and, most importantly, our failures at home.