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Dying for a Laugh
Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination
Ken Feil

2006 • 272 pp. 15 illus. 6 x 9"
Film, TV, Visual Culture / Popular Culture / QUEER STUDIES

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6792-5

First study of disaster movies through reception theory and queer theory.

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.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Amusing, and exceptionally smart, Dying for a Laugh shrewdly transforms the last quarter century of Hollywood movie-making into a complex formula of disaster spectacle, high concept, mass camp, and queer traces.”—Janet Staiger, author of Perverse Spectators

“Disaster movies embrace both the horror and the comic absurdity at work in contemporary life, and Ken Feil’s book, through the lens of camp, furnishes us with a compelling explanation as to why this is so. This is a witty, smart and sophisticated book.”Matthew Tinkcom, author of Working Like a Homosexual

KEN FEIL teaches in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:28 -0500