No. 2 - Year 12 - 06/2022
10.15291/sic/2.12

(Un)common Horrors

The Horror of Change

A theoretical and practical introduction to the topic of horror genre, and its popularity and persistence as an art form, can tentatively be summarized through Stephen King’s famous statement about horror movies, where King argues that if regular movies are the dreams of the mass culture, then horror movies are its nightmares. An analytical unraveling of this premise surpasses the addressed media and contexts, while simultaneously fragmenting into a multitude of discourses, ranging between scholarly readings of a particular storyline, the evaluation of social and cultural implications these plots bring with them, the narrative improvements, regardless of the media/platforms articulating the genre, as well as many other critical approaches that the phenomenon allows for. It is within this extremely wide range of possibilities that this issue of [sic] seeks to position itself, and in doing so, open a debate concerning at least some of the problems relating to the common or uncommon nature of the genre. The aim of this issue is therefore not focused on what could be observed as a customary and specialized approach to the genre, where a particularity or a phenomenon is being addressed through a myriad of methodologies, but it instead wants to target the unexplored and uncustomary readings of new or already analyzed topics.

With this in mind, our current issue starts with an interesting reading of a common trope of mutilation presented by Carina Stopenski. As Stopenski argues in her “Exploring Mutilation: Women, Affect, and the Body Horror Genre,” body horror’s usage of female protagonists creates a dichotomous space of both feminism and anti-feminism, agency and oppression – a dynamic, and its consequences, which are then explored in a variety of narratives. This is followed by Brontë Schiltz’s analysis of singer-songwriter Morrissey’s debut novella List of the Lost, titled “‘But What About me, and What I felt?’: Morrissey’s List of the Lost as Queer Gothic”, which in Schiltz’s reading functions as a pioneering queer Gothic contribution, subverting numerous Gothic staples, while also carving out a new space for queer experience. The conversation then turns towards a possible reworking of the traditional concept of the vampire in Doro Wiese’s “Female Desire and Feminist Rage: Ana Lily Amirpour's Reworking of the Vampire Motif in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”. As the author argues, the analyzed film uses a particular technical approach – ‘vampire technology’ – in order to engage the viewer in a particular way, or more specifically, it gives room for anger about sexual and gendered violence while it simultaneously explores alternative forms of relating. The exploration of the genre then continues with yet another apparently classic trope – zombies, in “Narrativizing Trauma in the Apocalypse: Christianity and Burial in AMC’s The Walking Dead” by Scott Pearce. What Pearce proposes and articulates is the role of narrativization as a form of ad hoc trauma treatment, within the context of a postapocalyptic America attempting to provide meaning and purpose through reliance on Christian narratives. Finally, the last contribution, “(Ne)iskonski užas u kinematografiji Davida Lyncha i Jordana Peelea” by Marko Lukić and Irena Jurković, reaches for the classic Freudian reading of the uncanny, in an attempt to compare the mechanisms of fear in the works of David Lynch and Jordan Peele. Following the last contribution, we also present the review of a recent (2022) edition in Palgrave Gothic series, Geography of Horror: Spaces, Hauntings and the American Imagination by our author Marko Lukić.

And while this issue barely manages to challenge the vast horror genre field, it nevertheless brings an innovative and academically challenging reading of a variety of phenomena, and as such it offers an important indicator of the existence of yet unexplored regions, topics, and tropes within this fascinating field.

Changes

While it might be expected that the literary translation section of this issue of [sic] will offer respite, a break, a step away from the dark and “untoward” topics of the literature and culture section, it is not so, far from it. The selection of texts included here comes out of the collaboration with the Festival of the European Short Story, which in its 21st edition focused on the topic of change caused by the tectonic disruptions – pandemic, earthquakes, wars, global crisis and uncertainty – whose effects left a mark on all aspect of our lives and posed questions that follow our every step into the future and at the same time offer an opportunity and obligation to look back into the past and learn from it. And the only way to look back or forward is now, after now it is already too late. Is there a possibility to go back to what it once was or are we facing deep and fundamental changes, what are they, where will they take us, have we already gone through them in the past and what did they bring us, do they promise a brighter future or are we facing a period of impenetrable darkness? Are we ready for a change, can we and do we want to embrace it? Or are we forced to change? How to deal with the changes on a collective and individual, private and personal, level, how to treat them in the arts, in literature…

The selection of texts whose translations are included here begins with Lejla Kalamujić’s “My Poor Sofija”, which, in Blaž Martić’s translation, brings the age-long story of oppression, abuse, predestination, and the inability to set oneself free from what the society, the surroundings, the expectations of those around us impose on women. Gordana Matić then translates a range of short short stories from Patricia Esteban Erlés’ Dollhouse (Kuća lutaka), accompanied by Sara Morante’s just as wonderful illustrations, that could easily be described as snippets of horror mixed with fantasy, which, when one thinks of it, are so easy to relate to these days. “Boney-legged Bride”, an excerpt from Želimir Periš’s eponymous award-winning novel, in Marina Veverec’s translation, paints a picture of prejudice, superstition and the woman’s position in it – she is a witch, she is to blame for everything, even for someone’s dead arm, in the times long past just as today. “Dog of Matchsticks”, or, in Jan Ruk’s translation into Croatian, “Pas od žigica” is Mazen Maarouf’s story of absurdity and horror, with war and its terrors looming even in the gentles of creatures and landscapes. Four stories from Andrea Bajani’s Life in Not Organized in Alphabetical Order in Tatjana Peruško’s translation perhaps speak of limitations, of unfulfilled promises and expectations, of desires but also of betrayal, disappointment, of the veil of secret behind which we tend to hide. Finally, then, Senko Karuza’s stories in Tomislav Kuzmanović’s translation, tell amusing tales of voyeurism, of robots and the future, of animals and masters hiding in us, all in a never-ending search for love, empathy, a kind word, a friendly smile in the world that offers none.

With these changes in mind, and the (potential) accompanying horrors, we invite you to join us in the exploration of this issue, together with all of the art and science hidden within its digital pages.

Editors