In a canonical essay from 1979, film scholar Robin Wood argues that US horror often plays with the rigid dichotomies between the self and the Other, between the normal and the abnormal. In large part, his essay is responding to the types of US films being produced at the time of writing, films that reinterpreted the monstrous (Nightof the Living Dead [George Romero 1968], Texas Chainsaw Massacre [Tobe Hooper 1974]). Wood argues that horror films from the 1960s and 1970s recognize the monstrous not as foreign, but as “American and familial,” a projection of that which was repressed by dominant US culture (1979, 18–19). While arguing for the potential of horror to offer a radical sociopolitical critique, Wood, Christopher Sharrett, David Sanjek, and other critics have suggested that in the 1980s US horror films took a conservative turn. Some films such as The Omen (Richard Donner 1976) repositioned the monstrous as evil incarnate and, thus, entirely Other; another group, including Aliens (James Cameron 1986) and Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven 1997), mixed horror with science fiction and situated the monster(s) as an external threat located elsewhere, outside domestic boundaries.
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