Men, Women, and Chainsaws – Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol Clover

From its first publication in 1992, Men, Women, and Chain Saws has offered a groundbreaking perspective on the creativity and influence of horror cinema since the mid-1970s. Investigating the popularity of the low-budget tradition, Carol Clover looks in particular at slasher, occult, and rape-revenge films. Although such movies have been traditionally understood as offering only sadistic pleasures to their mostly male audiences, Clover demonstrates that they align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the females tormented―notably the slasher movie’s “final girls”―as they endure fear and degradation before rising to save themselves. The lesson was not lost on the mainstream industry, which was soon turning out the formula in well-made thrillers.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This Gothic novella tells the story of a young woman’s susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years. Although Carmilla is a lesser known and far shorter Gothic vampire story, Stoker openly explained his influence by Le Fanu’s short story.