Archive for January, 2017


Lecture from 2012 on the theme of the artist-hero in Tim Burton’s films. It runs around 50 minutes. An audio-only version is available here.

Abstract:
Characters with particular artistic talents and sensitivities dominate the films of Tim Burton: the introverted Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) of the 1990 film of the same name stuns his detractors with a series of unlikely masterworks; Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is the celebritized and eagerly sought scare-artist of Halloween Town; in Corpse Bride (2005) Victor Van Dort (Depp) funnels his frustrations into musical composition. These portrayals are curiously complemented in Burton’s oeuvre by characters who appear as affected, inferior or even deadly, artists. The Joker (Jack Nicholson) of Batman (1989), for instance, pronounces himself “the first fully functioning homicidal artist,” before presenting his mutilated girlfriend as “a living work of art.” This illustrated presentation explores the foregrounding of creative art in Burton’s films, focusing especially on the figure of the artist-hero. It considers this recurring figure in relation to an auteurism that insists we recognize the “Tim Burton-ness” of each film (notice its particular artistry), traditional conceptualizations of art production, and the role of artistic practice in foregrounding individuality.

I’ve uploaded an audio version of my lecture on dogs in horror cinema, originally given at the Stranger With My Face International Film Festival, 2016. It’s nearly an hour long, with audio clips. It discusses Suspiria, The Exorcist, The Thing, and Cujo, among some others.