Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films

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Tor Publishing Group, Jul 26, 2022 - Performing Arts - 304 pages
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Nightmare Fuel by Nina Nesseth is a pop-science look at fear, how and why horror films get under our skin, and why we keep coming back for more.

Do you like scary movies?
Have you ever wondered why?

Nina Nesseth knows what scares you. She also knows why.

In Nightmare Fuel, Nesseth explores the strange and often unexpected science of fear through the lenses of psychology and physiology. How do horror films get under our skin? What about them keeps us up at night, even days later? And why do we keep coming back for more?

Horror films promise an experience: fear. From monsters that hide in plain sight to tension-building scores, every aspect of a horror film is crafted to make your skin crawl. But how exactly do filmmakers pull this off? The truth is, there’s more to it than just loud noises and creepy images.

With the affection of a true horror fan and the critical analysis of a scientist, Nesseth explains how audiences engage horror with both their brains and bodies, and teases apart the elements that make horror films tick. Nightmare Fuel covers everything from jump scares to creature features, serial killers to the undead, and the fears that stick around to those that fade over time.

With in-depth discussions and spotlight features of some of horror’s most popular films—from classics like The Exorcist to modern hits like Hereditary—and interviews with directors, film editors, composers, and horror academics, Nightmare Fuel is a deep dive into the science of fear, a celebration of the genre, and a survival guide for going to bed after the credits roll.

“An invaluable resource, a history of the horror genre, a love letter to the scary movie—it belongs on any horror reader’s bookshelf.” —Lisa Kröger, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Monster, She Wrote


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Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Nesseth (The Science of Orphan Black), a senior scientist at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, digs into “the hows and whys of all of the bits and pieces that make horror work” in this ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pomo58 - LibraryThing

Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films by Nina Nesseth is that rare book that applies science to our popular culture without either dumbing down the science (or being overly pop science in nature ... Read full review

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About the author (2022)

NINA NESSETH is a science communicator and writer based in Sudbury, Ontario. She is the co-author of The Science of Orphan Black (ECW Press, 2017). Her writing can be found across the web, usually digging deeply into the intersection between horror and science. Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films is her solo debut.

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