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Highway Horror Film

Posted on February 10, 2017

Death on the Roads: Defining The Highway Horror Film

Guest Post

The Interstate Highways Act of 1956 may not automatically sound like the most fascinating topic in the world, but the unprecedented act of road building that followed its passage actually had a much bigger impact upon the American horror film than one might think. What I’ve called the “Highway Horror” tradition encompasses a range of films that critique the ostensibly positive benefits of the culture of mass automobility that the Interstate Highway System helped inaugurate. In the Highway Horror film, journeys made via the highway inevitably lead to uncanny, murderous, and horribly transformative experiences. The American landscape, though supposedly “tamed” by the highway, is by dint of its very accessibility, rendered hostile, and encounters with other travellers (and with individuals whose roadside businesses depend upon highway traffic) almost always have sinister outcomes.

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