Skal, David J.

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David J. Skal, writer and film historian.

Skal, David J. (1952–)

(pop culture)

David J. Skal, an American writer and film historian, is best known for his series of books on the gothic/horror tradition in film and literature. Skal attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies in 1974. His scholarship on the horror genre was brought to public attention by his 1990 study of Dracula‘s appearances in various media, Hollywood Gothic, touted as the most detailed published work of Dracula’s movement from the 1893 novel to the stage and screen. The book includes the full story of the campaign by Bram Stoker‘s widow, Florence, to destroy all prints of the German silent film Nosferatu (1922), which infringed her copyright, as well as the first in-depth account of Universal Pictures’ Spanish-language version of Dracula, for which Skal located a crucial missing reel in Havana, thus making possible the film’s complete restoration.

Skal followed his initial success with a series of additional books, including The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror (1993), Dark Carnival (1995), a biography of Tod Browning coauthored with Elias Savada, and V Is for Vampire (1996), which established Skal as one of the leading cultural historians in his field. As the Dracula centennial approached he worked to complete his contributions (along with those of Nina Auerbach) to the Norton Critical Edition of Dracula and he worked on Dracula ‘97: A Centennial Celebration held in Los Angeles in 1997. For television, he scripted the A&E “Biography” documentary on the life of Bela Lugosi. His most recent publications include Vampires: Encounters with the Undead (2006), a collection of vampire stories from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Romancing the Vampire: Collectors Vault (2009). His nonfiction has been nominated for both the Hugo and Bram Stoker Awards.


Skal, David. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990. 243 pp.
———. The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1993. 432 pp.
———. Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood’s Master of the Macabre. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1995. 359 pp.
———. V Is for Vampire: The A–Z Guide to Everything Undead. New York: Plume/Penguin, 1996. 288 pp.
———. Vampires: Encounters With the Undead. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2006. 592 pp.
———. Romancing the Vampire: Collectors Vault. Florence, AL: Whitman Publishing, 2009. 144 pp.