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W. Scott Poole
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W. Scott Poole blames repeated viewings of Shock Theatre at an impressionable age for his monster obsession. Associate Professor of History at the College of Charleston, he is the author of Monsters in America (Baylor, 2011) and Vampira(Soft Skull, 2014), a cultural biography of America's first seductive horror host.

Entries by W. Scott Poole

'American Horror Story' and the Real Freak Show

(5) Comments | Posted October 5, 2014 | 10:17 PM

Ryan Murphy is afraid we'll all tune out season four of American Horror Story. Its just going to be "too scary" for us, he recently said.

He's not really afraid of this. What better way for a showrunner to promote a new season than to suggest that...

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Vampira: Tracing the Life of a Forgotten Legend

(3) Comments | Posted September 12, 2014 | 6:41 PM

Maila Nurmi is the most famous person you've never heard of. She made a monster, a sexy, daring, subversive monster called Vampira that, beginning with a short-lived local TV show in 1954, transformed American culture.

Vampira introduced bad horror and mystery films late on Saturday nights for KABC in...

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'We Negotiate with Terrorists Now': Social Media and Ideology

(2) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 3:52 AM

After a social media fast, I made a tentative return to Facebook.

I returned mostly aware of what I would find. A complete archival record of every child of every Facebook friend. Images of food my digital confreres had just consumed or shortly would consume or perhaps simply hoped to,...

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Confederacy of Dunces: College Presidents, Lost Causes and the Abuse of History

(1) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 4:43 PM

The College of Charleston is a thriving intellectual community. Its more than 10,000 intellectually curious undergraduates represent an international community of scholars. The faculty is on the cutting edge of research in every field, from marine biology to astrophysics to literary criticism and political science.

So why does this,...

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Walter White, Super Villain

(2) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 3:59 PM

It's the age of the villain.

The much-discussed "golden age of television," has really been the golden age of the bad guy. Tony Soprano, Walter White, Dexter Morgan, Nancy Botwin; none of these are characters fighting for truth and justice. Black hats, every one of them.

The villain is...

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Season of the Witch

(2) Comments | Posted October 29, 2013 | 4:40 PM

The new season of American Horror Story has been predictably psychotic. If Kathy Bates keeping slaves in an underground torture chamber and turning one into a Minotaur doesn't provide you with enough grindhouse fare, you can always be "shocked" by the gang rape or the living burial or the assemblage...

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Difficult Women: White Girls Breaking Bad?

(26) Comments | Posted August 21, 2013 | 12:04 PM

The season six premier of Breaking Bad ended with an Albuquerque standoff between Walt and Hank, giving us a performance from Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris that TV dreams are made of.

Episode two slowed things down. Maybe a bit too much. "Buried" pushed Skyler White to the fore,...

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Rosemary's Baby and the Politics of Women's Bodies

(4) Comments | Posted August 7, 2013 | 11:28 AM

Roman Polanski would probably be the last place you'd look to find meaningful reflections about women in modern society. In 1977 Polanski pled guilty to "unlawful intercourse" with a drugged 13-year-old, Samantha Geimer. The director of some of the most important films of the last five decades fled...

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Faith-Based Horror: The Conjuring Is a Misogynistic Cauldron of Toil and Trouble

(17) Comments | Posted July 29, 2013 | 3:11 PM

I conjure you, by that which you profess-Macbeth


George Orwell said rightly that, "all art is propaganda." The obverse, all propaganda is art, is patently not true.

Horror films aren't on many people's list of modern art anyway. But they should be. From Murnau's Nosferatu to Carpenter's...

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Why Historians Should Be Vampire Hunters

(6) Comments | Posted June 20, 2012 | 11:07 AM

Historians seem more than a little befuddled by the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. A recent piece in the New York Times by Harvard historian Jill Lepore mused about why "the literary bloodbath" of vampire tales has continued for decades. In the same piece, historian David W. Blight...

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Accepting the Monster Into Your Heart

(76) Comments | Posted October 17, 2011 | 3:01 PM

Director Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth gave us fantastical creatures and horrifying visions back in 2007. Its rich mythic texture also won it some surprising fans. Indeed, despite its critical rendering of the Catholic's Church's support of Franco's fascist regime, even the US Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrated it...

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