Violent exchanges : genre, national cinemas and the politics of popular films : case studies in Spanish horror and American martial arts cinema
This thesis argues that in order to understand the way in which films work one has to place them into a variety of contexts. As well as those of production, these include the historical and culturally specific moments of their creation and consumption. In order to explore how these contexts impact upon the textual construction of individual and groups of films, and our potential understanding of them, this study offers two contrasting case studies of critically neglected areas: Spanish horror cinema since the late-1960s; and US martial arts films since the late 1980s. The first places a range of horror films into very particular historical moments: the Spain of the Franco regime; the transition to democracy in the late 1970s and early 1980s; and the contemporary, increasingly trans-national, Spanish film industry. Each chapter in this section looks in detail at how the shifts and changes in Spanish society, the critical reception of cinema, and production trends, has impacted upon the texts that have appeared on increasingly international screens. The second case study considers the shifts and changes in the production of US martial arts films. It discusses the problem of defining an area of filmmaking that is more commonly associated with a different filmmaking tradition, in a different national cinema. Each chapter here investigates the ways in which 'martial arts movies' operate in strikingly different production contexts. In particular, it contrasts films made within the US mainstream or Hollywood cinema, and the exploitation world that functions on its fringes. Finally, these case studies suggest that a fuller understanding of these works can only be achieved by utilising a number of approaches, both textual and contextual; creating an approach which Douglas Kellner has described as 'multiperspectival'.