Fear Before the Fall by Alexander Herbert
Paperback – Zero Books – Feb 2023 – 121 pages
Alienation, generational tensions, rampant nationalism and the pervasiveness of atomic danger are all topics that haunted late Soviet citizens, and those fears are reflected in the films meant to represent their horror genre.
In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, production of horror movies from independent filmmakers and Hollywood skyrocketed. It was a time of intense Cold War conflict and a resurgence of conservative ideals. It’s not difficult to imagine that the ascent of horror occurred in conjunction with an increasingly scary and alienated world, and horror reflected those freights in the form of nuclear holocausts, toxic waste pollution, alien clown invaders and undead houseguests. Everyone was at risk — teenagers especially — because their present and future remained most uncertain.
If we can agree that such feelings underpinned American viewers in the age of Reagan and neo-liberalism, then what about late socialism? How did filmmakers depict Soviet society’s fears?