TV Horror: Investigating the Darker Side of the Small Screen

Lorna Jowett, Stacey Abbott

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Horror is a universally popular, pervasive TV genre, with shows like True Blood, Being Human, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story making a bloody splash across our television screens. The book shows how this most adaptable of genres has continued to be a part of the broadcast landscape, unsettling audiences and pushing the boundaries of acceptability. The authors demonstrate how TV Horror continues to provoke and terrify audiences by bringing the monstrous and the supernatural into the home, whether through adaptations of Stephen King and classic horror novels, or by reworking the gothic and surrealism in Twin Peaks and Carnivale. While the changing landscape of television has brought the genre to new prominence, horror has played a significant role in schedules since the television boom in the 1950s, with the broadcast of classic horror films and original programmes like The Quatermass Experiment and The Twilight Zone terrifying audiences by bringing the monstrous and the supernatural into the home. Given the inherently hybrid nature of television, the genre also crosses into most other genres from children’s programming to comedy to procedural police dramas to reality TV. These factors, however, have not diluted the genre but rather have changed how we come to understand it on television, requiring us to rethink what we mean by horror within a televisual context. While not giving a chronological history of the genre, this book examines a broad selection of British and American TV movies, series and serials from the 1950s to the present as a means of unpacking the many approaches and formations of the genre for television. TV horror exists as a nexus of often conflicting influences and factors that have shaped the genre and as such the topic is approached from a diverse range of approaches, including close analysis of landmark TV auteurs including Rod Serling, Nigel Kneale, Dan Curtis and Steven Moffat, together with case studies of such shows as Dark Shadows, Dexter, Pushing Daisies, Torchwood, and Supernatural, in order to explore the genre’s inherent complexity. This book expands debates about what horror is assumed to be and what it can be, and about the nature of television and its relation to genres, to audiences and to the media industry.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages256
ISBN (Electronic)9780857736475
ISBN (Print)9781848856189
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2013


  • television
  • horror
  • genre
  • TV movie
  • series
  • adaptation
  • visual style
  • gothic
  • audiences

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  • Activities

    • 2 Oral presentation

    Twenty-first century television horror's terrible places: a roundtable discussion

    Lorna Jowett (Speaker), Stacey Abbott (Speaker) & Rebecca Janicker (Speaker)

    27 Oct 2017

    Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch

    Corpsicles, dead girls and fried-egg people: death and bodies in TV’s Pushing Daisies

    Lorna Jowett (Speaker)

    1 Apr 2010

    Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch

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