Eco Horror Films

60mins   no rating   

Dr. Scott Freer will be examining the American genre of 'eco horror' from early environmentalist documentaries to revenge of nature and contemporary examples of 'cli-fi' films.

Week 1: Eco horror generally begins as an American film genre in the 1970s in response to environmentalist concerns at the time. But, before setting out the contexts of Modern American Environmentalism, in week 1 we will be looking at the documentary films of Pare Lorentz: The River (1938) and The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936).

Week 2: A focus on Them! (1954), a primary example of 50s' sci-fi films that monstrocised invading insects. We will also be exploring various samples of monster insect films in which nature takes revenge for humanity's violation of the natural order. For example Empire of the Ants (1977).

Week 3: There is a long history of monster animal films that dramatize the neo-colonial exploitation of natural resources and avenging animals. The 1976 version of King Kong and the screen adaptations of the eco-writer, Arthur Herzog: Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) and The Swarm (1976), are illustrative examples. We will be exploring a swarm of samples: from The Birds (1963) to Night of the Lepus (1972).

Week 4: Here we look at 'neo-Malthusian' catastrophe films that depict the apocalyptic outcome of an overpopulated planet. We begin with the ecological dystopian film, Soylent Green (1973). We will also be examining the salient theme of 'climate refugees' in films such as Elysium (2013) and Children of Men (2006).

Week 5: The final online session will bring together the eco-themes of the preceding weeks via a study of contemporary natural disaster films. For example, 2012 (2009) and Noah (2014) re-deploy the apocalyptic flood models of biblical epics, whereas The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Interstellar (2014) are contemporary examples of 'cli-fi' which imagine the destructive results of climate change.

Dr Scott Freer has published various scholarly articles on film (e.g. 'Sweeney Todd', 'The Canterbury Tale') and transmedia concepts (e.g. 'Convergence Culture' and 'Hypermediacy'). His specialism lies in post-war American films, and his book 'American Disaster Films: High Modernity, Spectacle and Crisis' will be published in 2021. He has designed and delivered various film modules at many universities: for example, 'Philosophy via Film', 'American Film and Visual Culture' and 'The Moving Image'.


Wed 24 March