Review: Purple State of Mind

Completed by several entertaining photos and images, Craig’s review of Monsters in America on the blog Purple State of Mind is golden. The book, he writes, helps recover much of American horror and popular culture that was once written off as a failed attempt to scare teenagers. Additionally, the review points out many of the best parts of Monsters in America:

While we can never isolate all the elements contributing to our horror stories, Poole looks at the distinct soil that produced Monsters in America.  He lurks in the forests and depths that gave rise to Moby Dick, the Headless Horseman and even Bigfoot.   Writing from his faculty position at the College of Charleston, Poole locates many of our manias in racial fears and tensions.   Having grown up in the South, I find many points of connection with Poole’s potent analysis.   (You can read an excerpt this month at the Patheos Book Club).

Poole grounds his research in ancient biblical stories of sea monsters, like the Leviathan in the book of Job.   While it is easy to see how the unknown depths of the sea could spawn such speculation, it is tougher to understand why certain monsters arise in our own times.   I was particularly fascinated by Poole’s discussion of the horror films, The People Under the Stairs (1991) and Candyman (1992).    While easily dismissed as schlock films designed to scare teen audiences, these original stories by Wes Craven (Stairs) and Clive Barker (Candyman) are recovered as remarkably resonant in exploring issues of race, power, and privilege.

Read the full review here.

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