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‘Forgive Me Father, for I have Sinned’: The Violent Fetishism of Female Monsters in Hollywood Horror Culture

Adharshila Chatterjee

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Women’s Christian College, Kolkata. ORCID: 0000-0001-5351-0328. Email: adharshila.chatterjee@gmail.com

  Volume 10, Number 2, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n2.13

Received December 23, 2017; Revised March 10, 2018; Accepted March 20, 2018; Published May 07, 2018.

Abstract

In the generic gothic cornucopia, the figure of the female ‘victim’ becomes merely a physical signifier of the disembodied, biopolitics of violence that underlies the hyperrealistic, reiterative function of the visual body, which is to enact aggression in a vicious unending loop. It is a form of violence that is written on carefully choreographed, gendered bodies, which are manipulated as objects of graphic male fantasies. Since then, popular representations of femininity in the Hollywood gothic culture have remained mostly trapped within the finite, stunted constructions of the infantile, virtuous ‘good’ woman, the carnal/ cold femme fatale and the monstrous Other – terms that are subsumed in a pervasive categorical insulation, which does not allow for much mobility when it comes to their metonymical boundaries. This paper investigates the visual politics and polemics of our cultural engagement with monsters in popular films, which occupies an impressively broad range – “from movie monsters to psychotic killers, from the abusive family member to the horrific politician”. (Baumgartner and Davis 2008) Attempting a conjunction between Kristeva’s conception of the Abject, Laura Mulvey’s postulations on narrative cinema and voyeurism, and Barbara Creed’s theories on feminism, film and femme castratrice, I seek to examine the qualitative scope, evolution and appropriation of the ‘monstrous-feminine’ (Creed) in Hollywood horror/ thriller genre and negotiate the possibility of a female heroine/ anti-heroine whose performative value can disrupt and overhaul the castration complex and sexual anxiety of the classic cinemas of terror.

Keywords: Female Monsters, Monstrous Feminine, Abject Body, Hollywood, Horror