Librarians in horror films

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! 😉

Librarians in horror films

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:


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4 comments on “Librarians in horror films

  1. peterals says:

    Reblogged this on Den inre fienden and commented:
    Lagom till Halloween: Bibliotekarier i skräckfilmer!

  2. phanteana says:

    this is a great list!

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