Household Horror

Household Horror

Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects
Marc Olivier
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Format: Paperback 44 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04656-7
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Take a tour of the house where a microwave killed a gremlin, a typewriter made Jack a dull boy, a sewing machine fashioned Carrie's prom dress, and houseplants might kill you while you sleep. In Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects, Marc Olivier highlights the wonder, fear, and terrifying dimension of objects in horror cinema. Inspired by object-oriented ontology and the nonhuman turn in philosophy, Olivier places objects in film on par with humans, arguing, for example, that a sleeper sofa is as much the star of Sisters as Margot Kidder, that The Exorcist is about a possessed bed, and that Rosemary's Baby is a conflict between herbal shakes and prenatal vitamins. Household Horror reinvigorates horror film criticism by investigating the unfathomable being of objects as seemingly benign as remotes, radiators, refrigerators, and dining tables. Olivier questions what Hitchcock's Psycho tells us about shower curtains. What can we learn from Freddie Krueger's greatest accomplice, the mattress? Room by room, Olivier considers the dark side of fourteen household objects to demonstrate how the objects in these films manifest their own power and connect with specific cultural fears and concerns.

Author Bio

Marc Olivier is Professor of French Studies at Brigham Young University.


"Household Horror provides a lively and highly original contribution to horror studies. As a work on cinema, it introduces the reader to films that may be less well-known to casual fans and scholars; more conspicuously, it returns to horror staples, gleefully reanimating works that one might otherwise assume had been critically "done to death" (Psycho, The Exorcist, The Shining). The close readings of individual films provide sophisticated, nuanced and even startling insights."

Allan Cameron, University of Auckland

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Table of Contents


Part I: Kitchen/Dining Room
1. Refrigerator
2. Microwave
3. Telephone
4. Dining Table

Part II: Living Room
5. (Sleeper) Sofa
6. Remote
7. Sewing Machine
8. Houseplant

Part III: Bedroom
9. Bed
10. Typewriter
11. Armoire

Part IV: Bathroom
12. Radiator
13. Pills
14. Shower Curtain