1930s horror films - including hypnosis, mad-doctor, and jungle horror movies - proved to be lucrative ventures for film companies. This text focuses on this genre, analyzing its gender dynamics with the publicity and film reviews surrounding each of its releases.
Cinema is full of neurotic personalities, but few things are more transfixing than a woman losing her mind onscreen. Unlike her male counterpart, the female neurotic lives a shamed existence, making these films rare places where her destructive emotions get to play. House of Psychotic Women is an examination of these characters through a daringly autobiographical lens. Anecdotes and memories interweave with film history, criticism, trivia and confrontational imagery to create a personal history and a celebration of female madness, onscreen and off.
Do the pleasures of horror movies really begin and end in sadism? So the public discussion of film assumes, and so film theory claims. Carol Clover argues, however, that these films work mainly to engage the viewer in the plight of the victim-hero, who suffers fright but rises to vanquish the forces of oppression. Clover, a medievalist, had written extensively on the literature and culture of early northern Europe, especially the Old Norse sagas. From her expertise in formulaic narrative grew her interest in contemporary cinema, which is, after all, yet another form of oral storytelling. Men, Women, and Chain Saws investigated the appeal of horror cinema, in particular the phenomenal popularity of those "low" genres that feature female heroes and play to male audiences: slasher, occult, and rape-revenge films. Such genres seem to offer sadistic pleasure to their viewers, and not much else. Clover, however, argued the reverse: that these films are designed to align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the female tormented--with the suffering, pain, and anguish that the "final girl," as Clover calls the victim-hero, endures before rising, finally, to vanquish her oppressor. The book has found an avid readership from students of film theory to major Hollywood filmmakers, and the figure of the final girl has been taken up by a wide range of artists, inspiring not just filmmakers but also musicians and poets.
What is it about "Jaws, Alien, Little Shop of Horrors and Poltergeist" that plays on men's fear of women? And what is it that they fear most? "The Monstrous-Feminine" examines the role of women in horror films. The author argues that when a woman is constructed as monstrous, it is almost always in conjuction with reproduction and mothering functions. In this exploration, using detailed analysis of "Carrie, The Exorcist, Psycho" and "Alien" among others, Creed identifies the seven faces of female monstrosity--archaic mother; monstrous womb; vampire; witch; possessed monster; deadly "femme castratrice" and castrating mother. The argument then moves on to challenge the Freudian concept that a woman terrifies because she is castrated--Creed holds forth that the woman acting as castrat"or" is what creates horror for men. "The" "Monstrous-Feminine" goes on to discuss and analyze what these images mean for feminist film theory, as well as revealing important clues about masculinity.
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