Dying for a Laugh: Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination

  • ISBN-13: 9780819567925
  • $23.13

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Dying for a Laugh looks at the evolution of the contemporary disaster film from the 1970s to the present. Ken Feil argues that contemporary camp culture has influenced and reformed the conventions of the 1970s disaster film, in both its production and reception. The book chronicles how the genre rose to prominence, sank into critical and popular disrepute, and became unintentionally campy. Through close readings of films including The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm, Ghostbusters, Independence Day, and Mars Attacks!, along with film reviews, entertainment reports and publicity materials as evidence, Feil shows that the renewal of the disaster genre in the 1990s hinged on self-parody, ironic self-consciousness, and state-of-the-art effects. Feil also looks at the impact of 9/11 on the genre’s campy, sadistic pleasures through movies such as The Sum of All Fears, The Core, and The Day After Tomorrow. This analysis of “high concept camp” draws from diverse methodologies and theories, such as historical reception, textual analysis, neoformalism, political economy, genre analysis, feminism, and queer theory.

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