The newspaper is a fascinating cultural object. The newspaper, in the exceedingly recent past, epitomized the dynamism of modern life. From the time of its invention, mechanized produc-tion was thought to enable the stripping of the senses and the speeding-up of time. The newspaper was an emblem of fast-paced modern life. That the newspaper is now a symbol of the past proves just how fast time has moved. To think of the newspaper now is to think of nostalgia.
Let me begin by admitting that I’m not exactly a horror film fanatic. As someone whose youthful indiscretions include choosing Cinema Studies as an academic discipline, I’ve survived a substantial stake of horror films, but when it comes to being scared, real life is sufficient. For me, the question is not, “which horror film is scariest?” or even, “which horror film is best to see at the Royal at midnight?” but a far homelier question: simply, why? This year’s Halloween might be in our rearview now, but scaring the lights out of each other is an annual ritual with deep cultural roots. What gives fear its perennial popularity, and what gives horror cinema its immense popularity, not just this time of year, but throughout the seasons?