In spirit of this spooky time of year, the Reece Museum presented “Monsters, Drive-ins, and Maniacs,” a panel discussion and Q&A session focusing on the evolution of American horror films and the impact they have had on society.
Topics and themes covered at the event, which took place Tuesday night, Oct. 27, included gothic horror, ghost stories, cult and exploitation cinema, and of course, slasher movies. From “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein” to “John Carpenter’s Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” scary movies have been a part of American culture since practically the beginning of genre films altogether.
“Monsters, Drive-ins, and Maniacs” explores the various incarnations of these unique films and how they are presented over time.
“This event is one in a series of panel discussions that I have organized this semester,” said Justin White, AmeriCorps service learning facilitator at the Reece Museum. “The goal of these panels is to encourage learning outside of a classroom setting and to highlight different topics that many may not be familiar with.”
For over a century, horror movies have evolved, prevailed, and managed to remain popular with audiences.
“I feel that horror has historically been an important part of American culture,” White said. “Even if it has not always been taken seriously.”
Having studied the horror genre as part of his undergraduate/graduate work, White himself took part on the panel as one of the experts on the subject.
“With it being the Halloween season, I thought it would be appropriate and fun to discuss a topic I have always been enthusiastic about,” White said. “I sought out others on campus with credentials and a shared interest and from there developed a presentation based on the panelists’ particular areas of expertise.”
Also participating on the panel and dissecting the complete history of horror were ETSU faculty members Dr. Stanton McManus, director of the Film Studies Minor & Assistant Professor of English; Dr. Michael Briggs, English Professor & RODP Coordinator; and Mr. Ray Jones, adjunct professor of English. Similar to White, Jones too has conducted extensive research on the genre. McManus and Briggs, moreover, have both taught courses on different aspects of horror literature and film, highlighting not only gothic themes in which stories take place in a dark castle dungeon, but also the more modern Hitchcockian style, where the horror takes place right at home, like a shabby family-run motel, for example.
The event played out like a casual, though intellectual conversation among friends. Audience members were invited to ask questions they may be wondering about or to simply contribute to the discussion with observations and opinions of their own.
An enlightening and entertaining experience all around, “Monsters, Drive-ins, and Maniacs” lasted approximately two hours and left horror fans intrigued to say the least.
No date has yet been set for the next panel event to take place at the Reece Museum, but will reportedly deal with Planned Parenthood.