Reel librarians appear in every kind of genre, from romances to comedies to sci-fi to horror films. In fact, the horror/thriller genre is quite a popular one for reel librarians, particularly for lead roles. It comes as no surprise, then, that I’ve written several posts the past three years about reel librarian portrayals in horror/thriller/mystery films.
So if you’re still seeking a scary movie to watch this Halloween, perhaps the following round-up of posts will help you select one. Explore… if you dare! ;)
Click collage for image sources
Film round-up posts:
- The “Killer librarians” post shines a flashlight into the dark corner of killer librarians, including Chainsaw Sally (2004), The Church (1989), and Personals (TV, 1990).
- Are librarians usually victims or villains in horror films? I explore that question in the “Victims or villains? Librarians in horror films & thrillers” post.
- The “Librarian as Nightmare” post explores how librarian roles fulfill the “librarian as nightmare” image in pop culture. Films featured include It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) a classic Christmas tale that also includes a pretty horrifying “nightmare” sequence in its second half; Chainsaw Sally (2004); Wilderness (TV movie, 1996); The Killing Kind (1973); and All About Evil (2010).
Class I film posts:
The Class I category has films in which the protagonist or other major characters are librarians, and the librarian’s occupation is integral to the plot.
- The Attic (1980) features the nightmarish hallucinations of a reel librarian, who dreams of murder and burning books. I explore this character in two posts:
- Chainsaw Sally (2004), a chainsaw-wielding serial killer explored in my “Little miss serial killer librarian” post
- It, aka Stephen King’s It (TV, 1990), includes a main character, Mike Hanlon (Reid), the town librarian and the one who contacts his friends to return to the town and fight “It” once more. Mike is a classic Liberated Librarian, explored in the “The Liberated Librarian (guys, it’s your turn)” post.
- Personals (TV, 1990) features a serial killer librarian. “A meek librarian by day, a killer by night!” Featured in my “Naughty Librarians (ladies, take it away)” post.
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury novel, features a hero librarian character, another Liberated Librarian featured in the “The Liberated Librarian (guys, it’s your turn)” post.
- Tale of a Vampire (1992), a gothic tale featuring a gothic library set, analyzed in the “Tale of a gothic library” post.
- Weird Woman (1944) — “Hell hath no fury… like a librarian scorned!” Read all about it in the “A Weird librarian” post.
Class II film posts:
Similar to Class I in that the Class II category features librarians as major characters, but the librarian’s occupation does NOT directly affect the plot.
- The Tell-Tale Heart (1960), an adaptation of the classic Poe tale, changes the story to include a reel librarian as the main character. The many dramatic facial expressions of this lead character are highlighted in the recent post “A librarian’s tell-tale heart.”
- Twisted Nerve (1968) focuses on a man’s twisted obsession of a reel librarian, analyzed in my “Twisted librarian love” post.
Class III film posts:
These are films in which the librarian(s) plays a secondary role, ranging from a supporting character to a minor character with perhaps only a few lines in one memorable or significant scene.
- The Changeling (1980), featuring a house with a mysterious — and murderous — past, includes a library scene with microfilm. The microfilm clerk is the highlight of “The fastest librarian in the West!” post.
- From a Whisper to a Scream (aka The Offspring, 1987) features four short tales about a town’s “long history of violence.” In one of his last roles, Vincent Price plays the town’s librarian/historian. Read more in the recent “Welcome to Oldfield” post.
- Ghostbusters (1984) features not one, but three, librarian characters, as revealed in the “Who you gonna call?” post.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), the American remake, provides more scope for the Lindgren librarian character, as featured in the “If looks could kill” post.
- The Killing Kind (1973) and its reel librarian character gets the compare-and-contrast treatment in my “The Killing Kind vs. The Attic” post.
- The Last Supper (1995), a pitch-black comedy, includes a reel librarian murder victim. Read how she dies in “Not your typical Last Supper” post.
- The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), a film noir, has a brief scene in an archives library. You can read all about the archives librarian’s theory of organization in “The mask of organization” post.
- Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), featuring three short tales from H.P. Lovecraft’s work, is analyzed in my “Necronomicon: Dead on arrival” post.
- Quatermass and the Pit (aka Five Million Years to Earth, 1967), a sci-fi Hammer cult classic, includes an archives scene at Westminster Abbey. Pics and more in the “Quatermass and the librarian” post.
- The Seventh Victim (1943) is the first horror film to feature a librarian, analyzed in “The horror of an unethical librarian” post.
- Shadow of a Doubt (1943), a slow-burning Hitchcock thriller, features a strictly-by-the-rules librarian. Check it out for yourself in the “Closing time” post.
Class IV films:
The following list of posts are about Class IV films with librarians who play a cameo role with little or no dialogue.
- Brainstorm (1983) is a futuristic, mind-bending thriller, and Natalie Wood’s final film. In my “Brainstorming” post, I highlight the end of the film that features the Tape Library and its technicians.
- The TV remake of Carrie (2002) and its school library scenes are featured in my “Getting carried away” post.
- The legal thriller Criminal Law (1988) includes a brief scene in a law library, analyzed in the “Criminal law librarian” post.
- The drama Gods and Monsters (1998) is all about famed horror film director James Whale. Explored in the “I got your Information Provider right here” post.
- I Love You to Death (1990), another murderous, pitch-black comedy, gets the voyeuristic treatment in “Love in the stacks” post.
- Killer Movie (2008) features a memorable scary librarian cameo, featured in the “Killer Movie, Scary librarian” post.
- The Night Strangler (1973) is the sequel to the 1972 cult classic The Night Stalker. I dig deep in the “The Night Strangler and the underground librarian” post.
- Marathon Man (1976), a dramatic thriller, includes a brief college library scene. Read more in the “‘Meet cute’ marathon” post.
- Pickup on South Street (1953), a film noir minor classic, features the first African-American librarian portrayal on film. Featured in the “South Street librarian” post.
- Scream Blacula Scream (1973), the sequel to the 1972 cult classic Blacula, includes an oddly organized library set and paisley-clad librarian. See more in the recent “Scream librarian scream” post.
Class V film posts:
No librarians, but these Class V films might mention librarians or include scenes in libraries.
- An early Hitchcock thriller, Blackmail (1929), climaxes atop the Round Reading Room of the British Museum. Read more about my theories why in the “Blackmail and the British Museum” post.
- The original Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) scrubs out the Lindgren librarian character. More about my thoughts in “The Lindgren trilogy” post.
- If a classic murder mystery is more your speed, then The Kennel Murder Case (1933) would be a good choice. No librarian, but a book called Unsolved Murders is central to the mystery plot. Read more about murders, both solved and unsolved, in the “Kennel clubs and unsolved murders” post.
- Red Dragon (2002), part of the Hannibal films, features a knowledgeable bookseller. Highlighted in the “Identity crisis in Red Dragon” post.
- More mistaken identity in the Hitchcock classic thriller Spellbound (1945), as explored in the “Mistaken identity” post.
- Urban Legend (1998) features a gothic library set, highlighted in the “Striking out in ‘Urban Legend’” post.
TV series posts:
- I wrote about my first viewing of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series — or at least, the pilot episode — in the “Welcome to Sunnydale, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Buffy” post.
- A reel librarian’s murder is the catalyst for an episode of the British TV series Midsomer Murders. Another reel librarian is included in the cast of suspects, as featured in the “Murder of a TV librarian” post.