This overview of the popular genre of American horror films moves from "Dracula" in 1931 to contemporary films such as "Scream", made in 1998. The various characters that recur in horror films - Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll, the Mummy, the Werewolf - are discussed, as are repeated themes such as the mad scientist, nuclear anxiety, psychological "monsters", the living dead, and "slasher" movies. Key directors including Jacques Tourneur, David Cronenberg, and Roger Corman are covered. The emphasis is on accessibility: while theory is included through reference to gender and politics, women's studies and psychoanalysis, it is introduced carefully and in direct relation to the films being discussed. No prior knowledge of the subject areas is assumed. An extensive filmography is included and reference is made at the appropriate point to the most pertinent writing on horror. Overall, this text should be an ideal introduction to the area for all students and general readers interested in the American horror film.