Dr Calum Waddell

Dr Calum Waddell
Dr Calum Waddell

Dr Calum Waddell




I am a Lecturer in Film at the University of Aberdeen, where I also studied for my PhD in Film and Philosophy. I was funded for this research and my doctorate on marginal American genre cinema was later adapted into the monograph The Style of Sleaze: The American Exploitation Film, 1959-1977, for Edinburgh University Press (2018). I since gained an early career research grant which allowed me to spend summer 2016 in South Africa, studying the largely unknown B-Scheme 'Blaxploitation' action films of the apartheid era. My documentary on this topic won the Best Film Award at the Derby Film Festival in 2018. I have also produced a book called Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in the Old South Africa, published by Edinburgh University Press. My forthcoming work includes a monograph for Bloomsbury Academic called South African Horror Cinema, and an edited collection for Edinburgh University Press and their ReFocus line on The Films of Wes Craven. I have also written for Film International and Mise-en-scène: The Journal of Film & Visual Narration.

I have presented my work at the Language, Literature and Linguistics conference in Singapore (2017) and the University of Ghana (2018). To date, I have chaired presentations for conferences at the University of Bedfordshire (2014) and Birmingham City University (2017).

I gained practical experience as a content/documentary producer/director, with feature output that includes 42nd Street Memories (2015) and Prince: The Peach and Black Times (2019). I also worked as a journalist for magazines such as Dazed, SFX and Total Film and wrote RoboCop: The Definitive History for MGM Studios/Titan Books in 2014. In 2022 I was thrilled to help with the organisation of the university's "Dark Nights" film festival.

I am interested in supervising PhDs in similar research areas, especially film/film culture in South Africa/Southern Africa.


  • PhD Film and Philosophy 
    2014 - The University of Aberdeen 
    Funded doctoral research under Professor Alan Marcus.

Research Overview

My research is largely focused on so-called "lowbrow" cinema and what such films might tell us about place, representation and history. My first book "The Style of Sleaze, The American Exploitation Film 1959-1977" argues that American exploitation cinema be seen as a stylistic movement within cinema history. I drew further on this research by identifying Blaxploitation cinema's many transnational adaptations in apartheid-era South Africa with my monograph "Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in Old South Africa". In this study, I argue that South African Blaxploitation should be belatedly accepted as an identifiable form of paracinematic engagement that localises some of the key tropes of the most famous American films, albeit often for problematic and propagandistic purposes. I am continuing my study of "lowbrow" cinema in South Africa with the book "South African Horror Cinema" for Bloomsbury Academic.

I have also written about race-representations and misrepresentation of ethnicity and location in mondo documentary and the Italian cannibal-horror film filone, which has been broadened by my production work on Blu-rays of many of the key motion pictures in this field. As a documentary maker much of my work has been distributed on American streaming channels such as Tubi and Night Flight Plus via the Oscar winning editor Bob Murawski. This includes my award-winning documentary on apartheid-era Blaxploitation cinema in South Africa.

Current Research

My current research includes a new edited monograph on the films of American director Wes Craven, for Edinburgh University Press, for which I have contributed two chapters and an extensive introduction about the filmmaker and the concept of the "auteur" within the fiercely commercial form of horror cinema. The book will be released in summer 2023.

I am also writing a book entitled "South African Horror Cinema" from Bloomsbury Academic, which will be submitted in early 2023.