The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (Popular Fictions Series) Paperback – 9 Sep 1993
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"By reinstating the repressed mother and "femme castratice in classic Freudian theory, and by extending Julia Kristeva's discussion of horror and abjection to fresh critical objects, Barbara Creed accessibly and convincingly demonstrates the relevance and productivity of psychoanalytic theory for cultural analysis."
-Annette Kuhn, University of Glasgow
"A substantial contribution to knowledge of the horror film . . . the first study to concentrate specifically on the monstrous-feminine."
-E. Ann Kaplan
"Witty, succinct, a pleasure to read. The critique of Freudian theory comprises a total re-conceptualization of the status of the feminine within psychoanalytic debate."
In almost all critical writings on the horror film, woman is conceptualised only as victim. In The Monstrous-Feminine Barbara Creed challenges this patriarchal by arguing that the prototype of all definitions of the monstrous is the female reproductive body. Women as castrator constitutes the most significant face of the monstrous-feminine in film and Creed challenges the mythical patriarchal view that women primarily terrifies because of a fear that she might castrate . With close reference to a number of classic horror films including Alien, The Brood, The Hunger, The Exorcist, Sisters, I Spit on Your Grave and Psycho she presents the first sustained analysis of the seven faces' of the monstrous-feminine from a feminist and psychoanalytic perspective, discussing woman as monster in relation to woman as archaic mother, monstrous womb, vampire, witch, possessed body, monstrous mother and castrator.Her argument disrupts Freudian and Lacanian theories of sexual difference as well as existing theories of spectatorship and fetishism in relation to the male and female gaze in the cinema to provide a challenging and provocative re-reading of classical and contemporary film and theoretical texts.
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The Monstrous-Feminine is a brilliant book and I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in a unique portrayal of gender in horror film.
This book is sometimes hard to read, and the concepts of psychoanlaysis that she draws on are often dubious. However, some of her arguments regarding the construction of the monstrous feminine in horror in relation to women as mothers, witches, vampires and so on is certainly interesting.
One word of warning to potential readers is that the book, being a decade old, does not consider more recent horror films. Other than that though, this is an indispensable read for anyone interested in the horror genre, or in film studies in general.