2022 Abstracts Stage 2

A Discussion of the Representation of Women in Horror

Samuel Perring, 2022, Stage 2

This project seeks to explore the film genre of horror, and within that, its representation of women. With a territory surroudning the representation of women in horror, the objects of this project consist of a selection of horror films, most notably slashers from the 1970’s and 80’s. These include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre I & II, Halloween, Aliens, and the non-slasher Videodrome. The overall aim of the projects was to discover how a genre so fixated on producing an atmosphere of fear from the physical mutilation and sexual assault of women could be anything but negative representation. However, through the researching and writing of the project, it was discovered that, through the exploitation of cultural taboos, the horror provides space for concepts of female agency, inverted male-female dynamic, and critiques of existing gendered issues of domestic violence and the sexual exploitation industry, to be explored in ways which other film genres do not allow. Moreover, horror has always existed as a medium for representation, specifically for women, compared to more commercially and critically successful films have not.
Through utilizing Freudian psychoanalysis, and screen theory, this project dives into the aforementioned films, as to derive how female characters within the films are represented, through their costuming, framing, and overall qualities. In addition, Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex allows an application of feminist philosophy to the project, providing depth to the politically/culturally systemic nature to the representation of women in the broader sense. Furthermore, her reference to the Hegelian Slave-Master dialectic assisted in the analysis of the discussed films.
Other texts used within the project include Laura Mulvey’s ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Coral J. Clover’s Men, Women and Chainsaws, and Erin Harrington’s ‘Gyneohorror: Women, Monstrosity & Horror Film’.

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