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What’s Eating You?

What’s Eating You?: Food and Horror on Screen

by Cynthia J. Miller

Cynthia J. Miller is a Scholar-in-Residence at Emerson College, USA, and a cultural anthropologist specializing in popular culture and visual media. She serves on the board of the National Popular Culture/American Culture Association, and is Treasurer and Governing Board member of the International Association for Media and History, as well as Director of Communication for the Center for the Study of Film and History. She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Television. She is the winner of the James Welsh Prize for lifetime achievement in adaptation studies and the Peter C. Rollins prize for a book-length work in popular culture. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and A. Bowdoin Van Riper

A. Bowdoin Van Riper is a historian who specializes in depictions of science and technology in popular culture. He is Web Coordinator for the Center for the Study of Film and History and an archivist for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Van Riper’s publications include Imagining Flight: Aviation in Popular Culture (2003), and A Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists and Inventors in American Film and Television (2011). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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(eds)
Bloomsbury Academic, 2017
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781501322402
  • ISBN:
    978-1-5013-2238-9 (hardback)

    978-1-5013-2241-9 (epub)

    978-1-5013-2239-6 (epdf)

    978-1-5013-2240-2 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    London
  • Published Online:
    2018
What’s Eating You?
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Divided into four thematic sections, What’s Eating You? explores the deeper significance of food on screen—the ways in which they reflect (or challenge) our deepest fears about consuming and being consumed. Among the questions it asks are: How do these films mock our taboos and unsettle our notions about the human condition? How do they critique our increasing focus on consumption? In what ways do they hold a mirror to our taken-for-granteds about food and humanity, asking if what we eat truly matters?

Horror narratives routinely grasp those questions and spin them into nightmares. Monstrous “others” dine on forbidden fare; the tables of consumption are turned, and the consumer becomes the consumed. Overindulgence, as Le Grande Bouffe (1973) and Street Trash (1987) warn, can kill us, and occasionally, as films like The Stuff (1985) and Poultrygeist (2006) illustrate, our food fights back. From Blood Feast (1963) to Sweeney Todd (2007), motion pictures have reminded us that it is an “eat or be eaten” world.