The Feminine Mystique Redux vol.1 issue.1
Table of Contents Which Witch is the Baddest Bitch? Redux + Reloaded (CNT...) Profiling the eternal mystique of witchcraft and womanhood
Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness” by Anna Nicole Kidman Unpacking the highs and lows of Blaxploitation Waking the Witch by Nel Dahl horror with Ganja and Hess, Abby, and Sugar Hill The Feminine Mystique Redux’s official playlist is a “Pandora’s box of all things audibly avant-garde” The Vampiric Hottentot Venus by Sultana Gargaar Mapping how exoticism in vampires of color, Freaky Face Horror Kweens by Frank Odlaws specifically black women, is a dangerous side effect Three part tribute to the American horror legends: of white male domination Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Shelley Duvall in The
Shining and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby
Redux + Reloaded
Critiquing film scholarship to introduce a new intersectional horror film analysis
Tragic Feminine Heroine by Meghan King Part I of The Final Girl trope analysis with Roman Polanski’s Repulsion Someday you will ache like I ache by Willow Maclay Part II of The Final Girl trope analysis with Rob Zombie’s Halloween II and post traumatic stress disorder “Horror Story” by Sarah Z. Mamo
A poem by radical Black Lives Matter organizer on the everyday horror stories for Black Americans
Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s neurosis! Analyzing the allure of neurotic woman.
Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife by Nathasha O. Kappler Stepford Wives and Andrzej Zulawski's Possession highlight the extremities of domestic labor Giallo Realness by Erika Arbark West Cost based photographer takes a Dario Argento x Petra Collins approach to visualizing the modern neurotic woman Buying your way out of Horror by Juan Velasquez-Buritica Deconstructing race, class and gender in Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman. A portrait of one woman's privatized nervous breakdown
Editor's Note IndieWire has declared 2016 horror’s “best year in ages”, from 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Shallows, The Wailing, Don’t Breathe, The Invitation, Train to Busan, The Witch, and Green Room topping critics top ten lists and box office sales to boot. The silver screen hasn’t shied away from genre programming either, with anthology series American Horror Story continually revamping itself, AMC’s The Walking Dead and it’s spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, the satirical Black Mirror’s sci-fi picking up for a third season, among many other critical darlings. It would be easy to notice this trend and claim we’re ushering a new age horror renaissance. It sure does seem like the long maligned genre is back to exploiting terror for mainstream audiences, but in the face of an ongoing trend circles the age-old question that plagues the mind of the contemporary critic. What is the great responsibility of the critic? Especially in the digital era, where there are millions of commentators and hundreds of publications producing quality criticism, how can one provide a unique alternative to the ever-expanding film criticism landscape? **** During a 2012 panel titled, 'Film Criticism Today', Paul Brunick founding editor Alt Screen stated, “what criticism needs now is less film critics and more curators…I think the film critic of the future will be more like a DJ in a club. Sampling and mixing together reviews that people have written, viral videos, and frame-grabs.” This being the first official issue of SVLLY(wood), a magazine geared toward curating a new kind of cinephilia, we introduce, The Feminine Mystique Redux: the editorial embodiment of Brunick’s hope. The one and only underground Halloween basement party of horror fueled psychoanalysis and visual craftsmanship.
Editor's Note The Feminine Mystique Redux takes its namesake from Betty Friedan’s 1963 trailblazing book The Feminine Mystique, which is credited for jumpstarting second wave feminism in the early 1960s. In the provocative (and highly exclusionary) novel, Friedan describes “the feminine mystique” as the philosophy behind baby boomer era housewives’ "sexual passivity, male domination and nurturing maternal love." Volume1 Issue 1 of SVLLY(wood) is less about passivity and more about approaching a new paradigm on exploration and analysis that nurtures a visually violent genre to open up doors of new ways of thinking and viewing. The Feminine Mystique Redux seeks to jumpstart a fourth wave feminist scholarship of horror film criticism. This issue is teeming with a 21st century understanding horror through a feminist lens, where the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality are employed to recognize a of theory and cinema. The Feminine Mystique Redux also seeks to re-examine the centuries-old stigma of the neurotic woman; one that negates women’s autonomy whilst providing one of the most complex portraits of womanhood on screen. The Feminine Mystique Redux is the collective effort of an international team of young artists who present their photography, criticism, poetry, and design in the effort to introduce a new archetype of understanding horror’s history, past, and future in proximity to women. In trust and solidarity, Rooney Elmi a.k.a Francis Ford Coppola’s little fat girl in Ohio
Which Witch is the Baddest Bitch?!
the elusive feminist Halloween playlist
Are you ready to experience the tantalizing voices of vampiric legends, and monstrous feminine sounds? Look no further than Waking the Witch, the Pandoraâ€™s box of all things audibly avant-garde. Pacific Northwest based artist, Nel Dahl, takes the lead as our feminist music curator with her powerfully eclectic mix of forgotten horror movie soundtracks and international female-fronted punk bands. Waking the Witch is the official playlist to SVLLY(wood) Magazineâ€™s first issue, The Feminine Mystique Redux. Now let's turn things over to Nel to learn more about the magic behind the witchy mayhem. As always ladies - ROCK ON! xo, founding editor
Waking the Witch
Waking the Witch
After hearing the peculiar symphony of voices characteristic of Yma Sumac and other women whose range and style swing from guttural to operatic, I wanted to make a playlist showcasing voices with volatile ferocity (in style and/or usage of special effects) that diffuse discernible characteristics of gender, age, creature, et cetera. It's a type of vocal performance that finds its closest parallel and further articulation not in any music criticism I could find, but in horror film characterizations: the elusive, capricious character of this playlist exists most of the time on film. I was thinking of Marina Pierro in Borowczyk’s Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Osbourne and Marlene Clark in Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess: Ganja’s scream breaks over composer Sam Waymon’s seesawing, queasy sound collage while her bloodied lip grazes a flower, inter-cut with a scene of her moving in on her first victim. The pain and pleasure of such transformations are summarized in this singular scene, and it became the perfect visual representative for this theme.
Normally I’d build a playlist's theme around stylistically similar songs but this by definition was characterized from the reverse: it's about transformation, multiplicity, elements that are all the more intriguing if slipped into an unexpected context or sudden shift in tone. It's more of a running narrative theme than a stylistic one. The development of electronic music expanded the options for such musical experiments, making it very interesting to trace this theme’s evolution over time. It became the most interesting subject I'd pursued to that point and it crystallizes what fascinates me, serving as the unofficial introduction to a series of interlocking themes in sound, film, and narrative I'm just beginning to trace! **** Listen to the full audio-mix on 8track or on Nel's tumblr: nefertiti.tumblr.com
about the writer Nel Dahl is a certified neurotic heroine residing in the Pacific Northwest who delights in fantasy/gothic horror, representation of women in the arts, and synths. Check her out on twitter @nelkendahl and her portfolio neldahl.contently.com. 8
freaky face horror kween vol.1
mia farrow artist statement Such contrasted experiences on film that harmonize a sort of frenzied paranoia of our feminine identities. I feel as though these women are really the root of mirroring the conflicting societal experiences of witnessing women in peril and witnessing the human deconstruction through fear. With such a fragility rooted into our composure, what else is there? What is there but to defend, to perish, or to sacrifice the self into the danger? Such raw self-preservation and power being then misconstrued as its own horror, a complicated and forever trap for the genre's victim.
artist bio Frank Odlaws is essentially a human cartoon always hyper analyzing the desperation and passion of old Hollywood punch lines! Frank sees a mirror of self in the slapstick foibles of classic comedy, Westerns and exploitation pictures, they are the subtle satirical political subtext, the Roger Rabbit soapbox. Follow their portfolio site odraws.tumblr.com or blog odlaws.tumblr.com
Redux + Reloaded 11
Remixing classic scholarship to introduce a more intersectional approach to horror film analysis
Tragic Feminine Heroism
Repulsion: Tragic Feminine Heroism
Carole Ledeux, the flaxen haired virgin of Roman Polanski’s 1965 film Repulsion, is repulsed by men, as the title would suggest. A Belgian in London, she shares an apartment with her sister Helen, a vampy brunette who carries on an affair with a married man named Michael. Carole’s experience of “swinging London” is one of brutal alienation. She walks through the streets completely detached from her surroundings and her own body, constantly seeking safe spaces to retreat from the prying eyes of men. Carole also attracts a suitor, Colin, who she repeatedly rebuffs but who nonetheless pursues her relentlessly. She looks to the beauty salon where she works and her shared home with her sister for respite but to little avail. The bitter reality for Carole is that none of these spaces are truly free from the presence of masculinity. The intensity of her repulsion towards men is matched only by the omniscient presence of masculinity in every real and imagined space she inhabits. *** When her sister leaves on holiday with her boyfriend, Carole enters a full-on descent into schizophrenic delusion. As the forces of the male gaze invade her space and her mind the threat of masculinity becomes all the more palpable when both Colin and her licentious landlord physically invade her home, a grave misfortune on both their parts resulting in death.
After having killed both Colin and her landlord, Helen and Michael return from their vacation to find Carol under Helen’s bed in a catatonic trance. Michael picks her up and carries her over the threshold of the home and it is at this moment that we realize the failure of Carole’s attempts to shield herself from the masculinity that penetrates her space and mind. Carole becomes a feminist martyr, insistent until the cruelly bitter end in resisting omnipresent masculinity and its violations of her personhood. Her struggle is both noble and tragic and her failure to maintain these boundaries is indicative of toxic masculinity’s ubiquity. Carole stands in direct contrast to one particularly notable figure within the horror canon, the final girl. The final girl archetype originated as a trope in the slasher films of the 70s and 80s and was recognized by feminist film scholar Carol Clover in the 90s. Put briefly, the final girl is the slasher film hero, the girl who endures and defeats her monster. She is generally sexless, tomboyish and more resourceful than her oversexed, vapid friends who she inevitably must watch die—hence, the final girl.
"Put briefly, the final girl is the slasher film hero, the girl who endures and defeats her monster."
Repulsion: Tragic Feminine Heroism If Carole can be understood as a rejection of masculinity full stop, the final girl’s embodiment of characteristically masculine traits and a characteristically masculine narrative is anything but. The final girl represents a projected fantasy of allayed male guilt as it conceals their complicity in the suffering of women. Carole may kill her aggressors like the final girl but the monster of masculinity remains undefeated. Her suffering is indefinite and visible and the blood is on everyone’s hands. Not only does Carole refuse the gaze of masculine desire but she refuses to be a vessel for masculine identification as the final girl does, marking her resistance and her suffering in a way that is distinctly feminine.
"Not only does Carole refuse the gaze of masculine desire but she refuses to be a vessel for masculine identification as the final girl does..."
Masculinity is so consumed with its own desirability and entitlement to the attention, affection, and bodies of women that any feminine behavior in their presence is **** potentially interpretable as sexual availability. This type of gaze very pointedly does not apply The film implicates us in Carole’s tragic end through to the final girl, who is purposely marked off as the use of highly voyeuristic cinematography. We masculine and therefore sexually null to the follow her through the streets of London, into her mall gaze. Instead of being an object of personal space and into her interiority. Virginia masculine desire, she becomes a vehicle for Wright Wexman in her text on Roman Polanski suggests that we, as the voyeuristic onlookers replicate masculinity itself. Her narrative is a conflict driven one in which a magnificent triumph over the violence that causes Carole’s demise (Wexman 56). Because our voyeurism is so bound up in the male her monster is inevitable. The final girl becomes a fantasy that lulls the masculine viewer into the gaze, we as viewers, male or otherwise, come to delusion that all issues of gender inequality can identify with the entitlement associated with it. Even in her revulsion, even in the ways she passively denies be neatly resolved in the two hours span of a consent to any relations with men, her virginal shyness slasher movie, culminating with the final girl defeating her male tormentor with all the rage is misinterpreted as sexual availability (Fischer 80). and potency her phallic weapon can channel. The fragile male psyche is (once again) soothed, the dust settles and he can bask in his own selfsatisfaction over the victory of the final girl.
Repulsion: Tragic Feminine Heroism Gender equality has been achieved and he, the great ally to women that he is, can wash his hands of the whole mess with good conscious. The final girl does not demand he acknowledge the fact that in a patriarchal society (one which endures long after the final girl’s fatal blow), the very presence of masculinity is an act of violence against women.
**** In the end, Carole offers us nothing of the traditional experience of masculinity within film and as it views film. The male gaze is not met with sexual acuquiecense but instead sheer tragedy, nor can masculinity find a home in her as it does the final girl. While she lies catatonic on the floor, an exhausted victim having failed to escape the penetrative glare of her tormenter, her insistence on enacting a purely feminine form of suffering remains as the only vestige of an existence beyond the ubiquity of the malevolent male gaze.
Works Cited Clover, Carol. “Her Body, Himself.” Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. 21-64. Fischer, Lucy. “Beauty and the Beast: Desire and its Double in Repulsion.” The Cinema of Roman Polanski: Dark Spaces of the Word. Eds. John Orr and Elizabeth Ostrowska. London/New York: Wallflower Press, 2006. 76-91. Wexman, Virginia Wright. Roman Polanski. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.
about the writer Meghan King is a writer and future restorer of architecture, who lives in Toronto, Ontario. Follow her on IG: @creamysmoothpopicongoddess
Someday You'll Ache like I Ache
Halloween II: Someday You'll Ache like I Ache
Trauma lingers. Shattered fragments and distorted snapshots of debilitating events find their way bubbling up to the surface of my mind years after my own dealings with horror. Having survived sexual assault, I’m left trying to reconstruct myself into the person I want to be. But try as I might, I’m always left carrying the cross of my past. Even if it gets lighter, it’s still there. The greatest fallacy of all slasher sequels is the insistence that a final girl can pick things up where she left off without any visible wounds after she's survived a potential murder. They carry their own crosses too, and to pretend otherwise is offensive. Halloween II (2009) rectifies that problem by only being about the trauma of Laurie Strode and the struggles she has in keeping her head above water in day to day life as the anniversary of the event that forever shook her life approaches. **** Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton) is an exposed nerve ready to break at any second. She isn't the good-natured girl you saw in the previous movie. She's been hardened by the unfortunate luck of being attached to a broken, abusive family that she never knew she had. Horror films rarely grapple with the mental state of the survivor, instead focusing on the construction of the killer.
The final girls never become icons like Michael Myers, and instead they are relegated to plot points in a larger genre exercise. Halloween (1978) is perhaps the greatest genre exercise of all time, and as great as that film is it doesn’t carry a complicated, dense relationship with its characters. An argument could be made that it would disrupt the lean horror and the portrait of Laurie (originally portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis), and her primal need to survive if detours were made to explain how she functions in day to day life, but then what of the aftermath in Halloween II from 1981? The choice to once again have Laurie fight for survival in much the same way she did in the first film, this time in a hospital, represents the simplicity of the genre. The intentions were always to make Laurie a catalyst for the horror of Myers and not much more. This robs Laurie of her own story, and because it was the figure for the modern slasher it gave filmmakers a template of hollow women who fought back and were empowering only on a superficial level. Slasher films ask audiences to identify with the final girl, but rarely are questions asked of the audience that complicate or strengthen their relationship with the character.
Halloween II: Someday You'll Ache like I Ache Despite the genre signifier of "horror", slasher films frequently flinch at the notion of the word, especially in a psychological sense. You can show as much blood as you want, but to make you care about the blood being shed is an entirely different thought, and that is not possible without a persistent, meaningful relationship with the final girl. In the case of Halloween II, Rob Zombie succeeds when he asks audiences "What does it feel like to be Laurie Strode?". **** Laurie Strode can't sleep. We're reacquainted with her in an elaborate nightmare where she experiences the terror of Michael Myers again in a sequence where her reaper purges the hospital of all life until he settles on Laurie and finishes the job he didn't complete in the first movie by slamming an axe into her body. She screams and shakes violently upon awaking realizing that it was only a dream, and she is still alive. This opening sequence is important in presenting Laurie's point of view as the focus, and gives context to her fragile state of mind. She carries herself over to her bathroom mirror and flicks the light on; an intertitle says "Two Years Later" and Laurie stares at herself in the mirror with the exhausted expression of someone who isnâ€™t allowed to forget the past. She tries to give herself a pep talk saying, "he's fucking dead", but because Michael's body was never found Laurie doesn't have the closure to fully believe that statement. And with Halloween approaching, she's spiraling without a safety net to catch her on the way down. 19
For Laurie, Michael Myers is always a fixture. She can't look into a mirror without being reminded of the attack due to scar tissue on her face, and living with her best friend, Annie (Danielle Harris), riddles her with guilt, because Annie carries some of those same scars having survived the attack too. Laurie takes the blame upon herself and can't seem to cope with the fact that she was somehow responsible for these actions since Myers targeted her. These opening scenes are beautiful in introspection. They serve to give the audience an understanding of why Laurie struggles and how her own trauma invokes empathetic understanding. In Laurie's mind, Michael Myers doesn't simply vanish if you kill him -because trauma doesn't work that way. Trauma sticks around in fragments, and is something that can be brought to life at any given moment by an image or a sensation and, for Laurie, Halloween is the ultimate trigger. Itâ€™s something she cannot avoid.
"What does it feel like to be Laurie Strode?"
Halloween II: Someday You'll Ache like I Ache
Jamie Lee Curtis reprising the role of Laurie Strode in Rick Rosenthalâ€™s Halloween II (1981) Zombie's Halloween films are about aftershocks, cause and effect, the root of violence, and the mind-set of the survivor. The effect of violence is never a singular entity in Zombie's creation, but instead works like a virus that infects the surroundings. Haddonfield goes from a sleepy, midwestern town of family values and holiday pumpkins, to a valley of decay. The rustic neighborhoods are overtaken with buildings in disarray and streets that are barren of human activity. Living with the ghost of tragedy shakes the city, and its skeletal hand has touched the mind of the community. It's only been two years since the second Myers tragedy, but his ghost looms for Laurie and others. When Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) takes advantage of their sorrow to sell a book, a grieving father takes a gun to the man and blames him for the death of his daughter. These are open wounds that give the film a context of lingering oppression that hangs over every single scene like a black shroud. Laurie isn't doing much better as her internal battle rages on she begins to lose grip of herself as the anniversary of her attack draws near. 20
Halloween II: Someday You'll Ache like I Ache
Zombie's Halloween films are about aftershocks, cause and effect, the root of violence, and the mind-set of the survivor. The effect of violence is never a singular entity in Zombie's creation, but instead works like a virus that infects the surroundings. Haddonfield goes from a sleepy, midwestern town of family values and holiday pumpkins, to a valley of decay. The rustic neighborhoods is overtaken with buildings in disarray and streets that are barren of human activity. Living with the ghost of tragedy shakes the city, and its skeletal hand has touched the mind of the community. It's only been two years since the second Myers tragedy, but his ghost looms for Laurie and others. When Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) takes advantage of their sorrow to sell a book, a grieving father takes a gun to the man and blames him for the death of his daughter. These are open wounds that give the film a context of lingering oppression that hangs over every single scene like a black shroud. Laurie isn't doing much better as her internal battle rages on she begins to lose grip of herself as the anniversary of her attack draws near. In these scenes of isolation where Laurie drinks away her pain and Adelaide stumbles back into drug usage, a resounding melancholy informs what the camera is doing and how their bodies occupy space within the frame. 21
In Halloween II and The Lords of Salem these situations are broken up by friends who merely try to help bring Laurie and Adelaide back to life, but these violations of space by well meaning friends disrupt their own sense of safety. For Laurie Strode, she has a zero to one hundred rage that she can't control when Annie tries to help her with her "one day at a time" self-help advice, and for Adelaide it is an insistence that she is okay despite all the evidence that proves she isn't. There's a reprisal in these films in how they foreshadow the doomed that makes them evocative of the mood displayed in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). In Fire Walk with Me, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) succumbs to an almost supernatural descent due to her real life dealings with an incestuous father who has raped her an immeasurable amount of times. Laura Palmer seeps into the cracks of her own mental state and through Lynch's trademark surrealism; her fall is captured through the unexplainable. A girl who should have never had to struggle with these feelings is an unexplainable connotation in the mainstream of cinema, but the reality is that Laura Palmer isn't alone, and this isn't something that just happens in horror films.
Halloween II: Someday You'll Ache like I Ache
A chorus of angels follows Laura in her own acceptance of death. It is a beautiful moment because it's over. She no longer has to struggle. There's an idea of the woman martyr that exists in Halloween II, The Lords of Salem and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is something that reaches all the way back to Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). In order to become a martyr you'd have to be sacrificed for a larger idea and those deaths would have to echo as a call to a stoppage of some real world horror. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me accomplishes this task and is a stronger, more impactful film because of it, and while Halloween II and The Lords of Salem are closer to genre constructions of witchcraft and senseless violence they too carry some weight. The convicted witches of Salem and the trauma of violence are ideas with depth behind them, and even if they arenâ€™t as urgent as rape due to the distance of genre construction they still achieve something resembling epiphany through the sincerity in the presentation of their complicated women.
The greatest horror films do not merely scare, but leave untraceable wounds you didn't know existed until weeks after watching. They linger and find their way inside of you until they become a part of your physical makeup. I've always wondered why movies that make me feel the poorest end up being my favorites, and the only answer I can come up with is that I'm a little bit broken due to my past, and there's a peace at the center of movies like Halloween II, where I see something in Laurie Strode that I see in myself. It isn't a graceful picture nor is it one where I'm empowered by her actions, but a reverberating ache that I recognize in her soul and in my own. I didn't survive a potential murder, but I did survive incest, and that trauma is something I drag around behind me every single day of my life. The thing about horror is that it never truly ends. No one ever asks for horror to be brought into their lives, but once it's there it's there to stay.
about the writer Willow Maclay is a film critic based in St. John's, Newfoundland. She has written for publications such as ClĂŠo Journal, Bechdel Test Fest, Movie Mezzanine, Village Voice and her own blog Curtsies and Hand Grenades. When she's not writing she's taking care of her dreadfully clumsy cat Calcifer. 22
Cinematic Monstrosity & "Triple Oppression"
At the turn of the 20th century, leading black feminist Marxist, Claudia Jones alongside fellow black socialists, theorized a more in depth understanding of the intersections of race/ class/ gender exploitation titled "triple oppression". This term specifically highlights the special oppression black American women faced in the midst of colorblind class consciousness and exclusion from larger feminist movements at the time. **** A similar premise can be seen in the following section of The Feminine Mystique Redux. Within horror cinema: black womanhood, sexuality, working class status and diasporic culture are depicited as abnormality rather than identities that should be treated with full humanity. **** With poems and photo essays, we attempt to broaden our collective imagination on what horror actually looks like for black women, and how the marriage between aesthetics and narrative has created a genre of cutural metaphors that have underminded a people. Lynn, Denise (Fall 2014). "Socialist Feminism and Triple Oppression". Journal for the Study of Radicalism. 8 (2): 11.
woman, 5’5” blends in with the night. can you see her? quickly walking, rushing past a group of men they grab her ass, because she is just another woman for them to control. she runs, heart racing, fear and adrenaline pick her feet up for her she tracks into the night black so big and hair so big could never fit in the back of a cop car, but there’s somehow room for fear. red and blue flashing lights cast purple hues of fear each time, the story is the same. if you’re black, you fit the description you're already in the story, the one that tells itself each time, the story that you so neatly fit into, cushioned by fear. a horror story of a life is no way to live. in words echoed by Nina, I want to live freely, without fear. 25
When I think of horror stories, I think of fear as entertainment. With this poem, I wanted to channel fear as a regular, expected occurrence. I draw upon my gender and race to inform the sorts of oppression I face regularly and how these categories situate me within a broader narrative—a horror story—that’s already been constructed for me by the system at-large, capitalism. Fear is a faithful companion to my life. Nina Simone once said that, to her, freedom meant to live a life without fear. I leave the poem relatively open-ended in terms of what a life without fear—to live freely, to construct your own narrative—would mean. My perspective of freedom necessitates a fundamental change in society. Capitalism needs to go. A new world needs to be reimagined.
Sarah Z. Mamo (they/she) is a 4th-year at OSU majoring in African American and African Studies and Women’s Studies. They are also a poet. Her membership in the International Socialist Organization and the OSU Coalition for Black Liberation underscores their political engagement, which directly informs their poetry. As a firm believer of art as a vehicle for politics and art as a way to envision an alternative world and make sense of our current one, she intends to write poetry and remain committed to activism for the rest of their life. To follow Sarah more, check her out on IG/Twitter @zewmageddon.
Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness” Harry M. Benshoff’s essay in the 2000 issue of Cinema Journal titled “Generic Reappropriation or Reinscription?” explores the ways in which the sub-genre of Blaxploitation horror thwarted the canonic symbol of the American monster as not the “Other,” but as a sympathetic being. This sub-genre succeeded in doing so because its monsters shared a common identity: race. “By embracing the racialized monster and turning him into an agent of black pride and power, Blaxploitation horror films created sympathetic monsters who helped shift audience identification away from the status quo “normality” of bourgeois white society. In some cases, they exposed white “normality” and especially white patriarchy, as productive of monsters” (Benshoff 2000: 45)
This common narrative of the American New Wave not only sidesteps the historical legacy of Black American film, but disregards the nuanced exploration Blaxploitation horror cinema participated in as it humanized the heavily demonized identity of blackness as one of its core principles. **** Blaxploitation cinema excelled in utilizing cinematic technology—historically a tool of white supremacy—and molding it into an artistic venue of black rebellion. Yet, despite its trailblazing proximity to radical notions of race consciousness, Blaxploitation horror fails in its understanding of gender and sexuality. When examined in the context of American politics, which often view progressive issues like classism, racism, etc. Blaxploitation horror can be defined as a as singular problems rather than matters in category of cinema that’s predominately need of intersectional upheaval, this written, directed, and starring African American shortcoming in Blaxploitation cinema is creatives in the early 1970s—a period in the undoubtedly a symptom of a larger issue. backdrop of post-Civil Rights and at the cusp of Blaxploitation horror similarly fails in the Black Power movement. The early 1970s acknowledging womanhood and sensuality were also known as the height of American as equally important strides in the black New Wave Cinema, notably acknowledged as a liberation movement. In Blacula (1972), for strictly white auteur moment, highlighting the example, the protagonist is a heroic, talents of Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, machismo vampire, while female characters and John Cassavetes, for starters. with similarly monstrous appetites are seen as deplorable. 27
Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
"Blaxploitation cinema excelled in utilizing cinematic technology—historically a tool of white supremacy—and molding it into an artistic venue of black rebellion. Yet, despite its trailblazing proximity to radical notions of race consciousness, Blaxploitation horror fails in its understanding of gender and sexuality."
**** Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, showcases the feminist psychoanalysis rebuttal to the Freudian suggestion that women terrify because of their castering biological makeup. Creed tackles the many ways in which women in horror are seen as this castering monster through seven recurring tropes: 1. Archaic Mother 2. Monstrous Womb 3. Witch 4. Possessed Monster 5. Deadly Femme Castratrice 6. The Castrating Mother 7. Vampire
While Creed touches upon much of what makes the feminine “monstrous” in her psychoanalysis, she doesn’t explicitly spotlight black horror cinema—much less Blaxploitation horror. I, therefore, will explore the breadth of patriarchal obstacles that alter the perceived humanity of three black female characters in Blaxploitation horror classics, all through the lens of Creed’s deadly sins:
Possessed Monster: Carole Speed as Abby in Abby
Deadly Femme Castratrice: Marki Bey as Diane "Sugar" Hill in Sugar Hill Vampire: Marlene Clark as Ganja Meda in Ganja and Hess
Abby: Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
Abby: Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
In Abby (1974), a mild-mannered, docile preacher’s wife becomes possessed by the disruptive Yoruba god of sexuality, Eshu. As a result of this foreign occupation of her mind, body, and soul, the sweet-tempered Abby transforms into a sexual creature, a more mature version of Regan MacNeil in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973). The Monstrous-Feminine conveniently spotlights Regan's possession in The Exorcist, which can be compared to Abby’s similarly demonic takeover. “[She may] appear pure and beautiful on the outside, but evil may, nevertheless, reside within…This is one reason why Regan’s possession is so horrifying…her gradual possession, with its emphasis on filthy utterances and depraved acts, seems so shocking...Regan’s mockery of all established forms of propriety, of the clean and proper body, and of the law itself, define her as abject. Yet, despite her monstrous appearance and shocking utterances, she remains a strongly ambiguous figure. Regan’s carnivalesque display of her body reminds us quite clearly of the immense appeal of the abject. Horror emerges from the fact that woman has broken with her proper feminine role – she has ‘made a spectacle of herself’ – put her unsocialized body on display” (Creed 2001: 42). The reaction to Abby’s possession is one of pure conservatism, unsurprising due to her religious domestic life and marriage. Abby’s theologian father-in-law seeks to restore the young woman to her proper duties as wife and daughter by invoking the ‘backwards’ African Gods to drive the possession from her body. The film marvelously illustrates Christianity as the prevailing good against the barbaric nature of the Yoruba religion, a widespread West African faith, and simultaneously vilified female sexuality as a result of a tribal bodily invasion. Abby embodies the “monstrous appearance” in conjunction with Creed’s Possessed Monster. While her entire body and psyche lays inhabited by a foreign entity, it takes a group of men and the good book to relinquish her from ancestral ties to the motherland and most dangerous of all, displays oneself as a bold creature, empowered by “depraved” acts of audacious sexuality.
Sugar Hill: Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
Following the success of Blaxploitation horror trailblazers like Blacula (1972) and it’s sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (1973), American International Pictures—the independent production company home to some of horror’s greatest subgenre pictures—continued with its 1974 release of Sugar Hill, written by playwright Tim Kelly and director Paul Maslansky. Sugar Hill is not a place, but a young woman: Diana “Sugar” Hill, a vengeful femme castratrice who calls upon an aged voodoo priestess, Mama Maitresse. Hill needs Maitresse’s divine powers in order to build an army of zombie assassins and seek havoc on the local white gangsters who murdered her boyfriend and attempted steal her nightclub. Hill and Maitresse embody Creed’s Deadly Femme Castratrice trope due to their femininity and knowledge of voodooism: “The femme castratrice is an all-powerful, all destructive figure who arouses a fear of castration and death while simultaneously playing on the masochistic desire for death, pleasure, and oblivion [in men]” (Creed 2001: 130). Despite this “powerful” tool of sorcery against their male opponents, the film’s true monstrosities are the women’s Afrocentric essence of voodooism, a gawked-at and maligned practice that is commonly spread across the Black diaspora. Maitresse’s knowledge of voodoo, Diana Hill’s unquenchable thirst for revenge, and the camera’s visual method of moving the audience to empathize with the victims, rather than Diana herself, serve to exemplify and bolster Sugar Hill’s violent monstrosities, respectfully.
Sugar Hill: Black Femininity as the â€œMonstrousnessâ€?
Ganja and Hess: Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess (1973), a neurotic love story seen through the eyes of vampires, takes an intersectional approach in viewing race as monstrous. The only film of my examined trio written and directed by a black person, Ganja and Hess is now considered an art house landmark. Despite its lackluster critical reception upon release, the film violates the conventional Western linear narrative, and instead explores Otherness through the lens of race, sexuality, and theology, arguing that relying on these identities are like addictions—much akin to Ganja and Hess’s taste for blood. In addition to rich cultural metaphors, the film offers depth and complexity in its lead characters: George Meda, a depressed parttime minister and anthropologist, his boss, Dr. Hess Green, and George’s wife, Ganja Meda. Before committing suicide, the mentally unstable George Meda stabs Dr. Green with a cursed ceremonial dagger, turning Green into a reluctant vampire. Ganja, meanwhile, sets out to find George, who went unresponsive after leaving for his anthropological research trip. Her quest gives way to torrid love affair with Dr. Green, and doesn’t take a backseat after the discovery of her husband’s body. Instead it jumpstarts Ganja’s journey from adulteress, to gunshot bride, and finally, to vampire, at the request of her new husband.
“The female vampire is abject because she disrupts identity and order; driven by her lust for blood, she does not respect the dictates of the law which set down the rules of proper sexual conduct. Like the male, the female vampire also represents abjection because she crosses the boundary between the living and dead, the human and animal. The vampire’s animalism is made explicit in her bloodlust and the growth of her two pointed fangs. Because she is not completely animal or human, because she hovers on the boundary between these two states, she represents abjection” (Creed 2001: 66). Making the newlywed couple isolated
creatures of the night, existing within the confines of a sprawling mansion on a faraway island, hell-bent on the blood of humans, the film aesthetically and visually paints the duo as sympathetic monsters for their unusual entrance into vampirism. Although violent creatures they are, it was a path the two had no agency in engaging with to begin with.
Ganja and Hess: Black Femininity as the “Monstrousness”
The guilt of vampiric murder later causes Hess to repent for his sins and symbolically die by the Christian cross, while Ganja continues her eternal existence. Perhaps Ganja’s monstrosity comes from her unwillingness to join George and Dr. Hess in death; her desire to “hover on the boundary between these two states [life and death]” marks a selfish existence of blood lust in a beautiful island manor with any man of her choosing. What Ganja and Hess gets right, mirrors what Blaxploitation-horror at it’s height is capable of achieving. Establishing a shred of tangible yet symbolic truth in otherwise alternate universe, where cultural identities such as race, class, sexuality, and gender can become metaphoric markers of empathy or disgust for viewers. Benshoff said it best: “What is most political about a horror film is what scares the audience in the first place.” (Benshoff 2000: 46) There’s a possibility that the most pervasive scare tactic is ‘Othering’, it’s a successful methodology that has terrified audiences not just cinematically but politically. We’ve seen Othering during the Transatlantic Slave Trade by ways of scientific racism against the African population and again during the European Holocaust vis a vis scapegoating of the minority Jewish population. In horror cinema, Othering might be the key political factor in uniting our voyeuristic delights, but what that indicates about our threshold for multiple marginalized identities speaks volumes about where we’ve been and how far we still have to go.
Benshoff, Harry M. "Blaxploitation Horror Films: Generic Reappropriation or Reinscription?" 39.2 (2000): 31-50. JSTOR. Web. Creed, Barbara. "The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis". London: Routledge, 1993. Print.
about the writer
Anna Nicole Kidman is currently re-writing her 2017 New Years Resoultion.
The Vampiric Hottentot Venus
The Vampiric Hottentot Venus
Richard Wenk’s 1986 comedy-horror, Vamp, follows two college students (Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler) who try to weasel their way into a fraternity by hiring a stripper who turns out to be the vampire, Queen Katrina, played by the elusive triple threat, Grace Jones. In spite of receiving top billing, Jones has not a line of dialogue in the film, instead relying on body movements and facial expressions to convey herself, “a standard practice of “Othering” in Hollywood that dates to the 1910s” (Hudson 134). Katrina utilizes her sexual prowess in an unusual vampiric seduction game that resembles that of a werewolf: hissing, growing, and licking Rusler’s character A.J, a young white male. This blatant animalism works in conjunction with the documentation of black bodies exhibited as animals for the white gaze, none more famously than South African captive, Saartjie Baartman. To escape slavery in Cape Town in the late 19th century, Baartman traveled to London and then to Paris as a one-woman freak show exhibition for white audiences who were unaccustomed to African people. Nicknamed, Hottentot Venus, Baartman’s large buttocks and wide hips were ogled at as a first hand look at the “wonders of the natural world”. With her body turned into a commercial enterprise her humanity was further devalued when after her death at 25 years old, Baartman’s brain and genetilia were removed and put on display in a Parisian museum for fifty years and then shelved with alcohol as a preservative only to be returned to her native homeland in 2002 when a group of South African medical students demanded her return. Baartman’s labia was used as physical evidence to prove that African women had “primitive sexual appetite”, the fact that she didn’t speak English or French was used as a tool of humiliation, her voice silenced as a caged animal for European entertainment.
Vamp: The Vampiric Hottentot Venus Underneath the 1980’s camp factor, Vamp represents a world where white men are helpless when in the grip of a black woman, despite the centuries of sexual violence that has been inflicted on black women throughout the diaspora by white men. In cinema, the gaze is still in full effect and can be seen in Vamp: “although reaction shots of Katrina’s audience are inserted into the performance sequence, none adopts her point of view. Katrina is always on-screen, always under someone else’s gaze, even when she attacks her victims” (Hudson 135). As a silent unusual femme fatale, Katrina is the embodiment of foreign eroticism, a creature of the night marked by exotic tribal marks and a penchant for human blood. Katrina’s monstrous-feminine is laced in her dual identity of blackness and womanhood, a feminine mystique that is the sight of ridicule, imitation and percussion. about the writer Sultana Gargaar, considers herself the personification of Spike Lee's free floating dolly shot. Works Cited Hudson, Dale M. "Vampires of Color And the Performance of Multicultural Whiteness." Border Crossings and Multicultural Whiteness: Nationalism in the Global Production and US Reception of Vampire Films. 2004. Print. 39
Vampires of Color
Maybe she's born with it? Maybe it's Neurosis! 41
Analyzing the allure of neurotic woman
freaky face horror kweens vol. 2
shelley duvall artist statement Such contrasted experiences on film that harmonize a sort of frenzied paranoia of our feminine identities. I feel as though these women are really the root of mirroring the conflicting societal experiences of witnessing women in peril and witnessing the human deconstruction through fear. With such a fragility rooted into our composure, what else is there? What is there but to defend, to perish, or to sacrifice the self into the danger? Such raw selfpreservation and power being then misconstrued as its own horror, a complicated and forever trap for the genre's victim.
The Cinematic Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife
Possession: The Cinematic Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife
When analyzing the role of the housewife in contemporary Western horror, Bryan Forbes' 1975 film adaptation of the Ira Levin novel The Stepford Wives stands as a prominent point of reference. Katherine Ross stars as Joanna Eberhart, a modern woman who fully embraces the independent ideals of Second Wave Feminism. Her liberated lifestyle is tested when her family moves to Stepford: a white picket-fenced town seemingly trapped in 1950s limbo. As Joanne observes with both fascination and discomfort, the Stepford wives share more in common with mannequin dolls than real women — their immaculate figures, faces painted to perfection, and vacant, soulless gazes altogether suggest an unspoken compliance in fulfilling the Stepford community’s misogynistic gender roles, which as Joanne soon discovers, were fabricated by the town's men in the most literal sense.
Despite it being widely deemed a satirical comedy, The Stepford Wives inspired a new psychological horror that reflected women’s anxieties following the Baby Boomer years. At the root of their fears was the inherent concern that no matter how many liberties the modern housewife was entitled to in domestic life, they would never live up to their husband's outdated expectations of the perfect woman. Though overlooked in comparison to The Stepford Wives, no film of any genre has presented the modern housewife's anxieties with more devastating accuracy than Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 Possession. Isabelle Adjani's portrayal of the unhinged and deeply volatile Anna marks one of most disturbing performances to date, surpassing the likes of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and Linda Blair in The Exorcist. While the latter gained the audience's sympathy through initial displays of kindness and charisma, this transition from “good” to “evil” never quite takes place with Adjani’s character in Possession.
Possession: The Cinematic Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife
From the opening credits, Anna is introduced as the film's first potential antagonist. She is the cold, estranged wife to Sam Neill's affectionate husband Mark; draped in gloomy shades of black and blue, and indifferent to his attempts in restoring normality to their family life. Audiences are quick to view Mark as the rational partner in his disintegrating relationship, for they learn of Anna's sudden divorce filing and secret love affair at the same rate of confusion and betrayal as he does. Yet, it's Anna's contradictory, unexpected flickers of tenderness towards Mark that keep him desperate in his search for answers, and crucially, unable to move on. Mark's stubborn effort to “save” Anna from herself catalyzes the shifting viewpoint of who is really to blame for their separation. Whether through Mark's persistent interrogation of Anna’s actions, or his invasion of her privacy with the help of both a hired detective and her current lover, it becomes clear that the men in Anna's life are not just obsessive and demanding, but overbearing.
Similar to Possession, both David Cronenberg's The Brood and Lars von Trier's infamous Antichrist present domestic dynamics in turmoil. The wives in these horror films suffer from the same causes of guilt and self-disgust as Anna does, which ultimately leads to their collective descent into madness. These women are burdened with shame over prioritizing their own needs — may they be emotional or sexual, and consequently neglecting their children and disappointing their husbands, proving that they have failed in their essential domestic duties. However, painting troubled wives as the villains responsible for their own families’ downfall makes it all too easy for audiences to sympathize with husbands, whom coincidentally shown to be logical and sane “good guys”, with the sole intention of protecting themselves and their loved ones from such dangerous women. In fact Zulawski himself admitted to drawing inspiration from his own divorce when writing Possession, implying that Mark's torn feelings towards Anna were an expression of the director's own nightmarish experience.
Possession: The Cinematic Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife Throughout Possession, Anna relishes in embodying both the sultry siren and the vicious harpy; two interchangeable roles projected onto her by Mark, who fails to recognize that his wife is a flawed, multi-layered human being when admitting that he believed her to be a “monster”. Yet rather than cower or beg forgiveness, Anna gladly embraces her repulsive side to great extremes; from her complete mental and physical breakdown in the public halls of an East Berlin u-bahn, to her reaching climax at the hands of her own tentacled demon spawn before her husband’s very eyes — Anna, bloodied and oozing with puss — is the shining example of what women could never be. It is Adjani who must be praised for delivering such depth and complexity to a character who would have otherwise reinforced the “evil wife” trope, for which she deservedly received Best Actress awards at the Cannes Film Festival and César Awards in 1981. Her dedication to detail is demonstrated in Anna's nervous ticks, irritable behavior, and occasional moments of childlike helplessness, making her bouts of pure hysteria all the more intriguing, and incredibly thrilling to watch for all female-identifying audiences.
Possession: The Cinematic Catharsis of the Psychotic Housewife
Regardless of whether or not the intention of making these female characters simultaneously vile and vulnerable was an ill-intended one, it is clear that they represent every man's worst fears about marrying a woman who cannot maintain the highly idealized Stepford Wife persona he had envisioned for her. These misogynistic views are deep-rooted into films such as Possession, The Brood and Antichrist and yet, they may only be truly evident to their female audiences. The level of restraint and torment these women inflict upon themselves in order to appease their male counterparts is in reality, all too relatable to the female viewer. After all, however melodramatic or violent the emotional outbursts of such characters may be, is it not true that every woman at one point in her life, has faced a similar trivialization of her needs and sanity by the men around her? Such familiarity makes Adjani's deliciously unbridled performance and Possession itself incredibly satisfying to bare witness to â€” if not purely cathartic â€” for all women who harbor a secret desire to indulge in disgraceful acts of self-liberation.
about the writer Nathasha O. Kappler is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and aspiring English Literature and Film educator currently residing in Berlin, Germany.
Giallo Realness "I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or a man" Dario Argento
artist statement Inspired by classic tropes of women in horror films, this series of images hopes to capture both a cinematic quality through lighting and composition and the portrayal of neurotic female characters found in countless titles. These are the women who find pleasure in violent acts; the ones who snap after a series of traumatic events; the ones who play dutiful housewife only to later to have their husband's blood on their hand. Models Bridget Smith and Panda Burch helped to bring these stories typically saved for a cinematic camera, to life in still imagery. I ask you to ponder these two questions when faced with these images: how does her story begin, and how does her story end?
artist bio Erika Arbak is a photographer and cinematographer from Bend, Oregon. She is a self-taught artist who started taking photos when she was 13 years old. Sheâ€™s always had a special interest in capturing people and portraits, whether that thatâ€™s on 35mm film, still digital images, ballpoint pen portraits, or through video and film. You may see more of her photography at erikaarbak.com.
Buying your way out of Horror in The Headless Woman
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror
A spectre is haunting the Lucrecia Martel canon. Stepping into the world of Martel is like finding oneself inside a vision of the world once removed – her films are like a hallucination of Argentinian society in which past wrongdoings of the powerful are brought back like ghosts. This gesture is never as unsettling as in her 2008 feature, The Headless Woman. As the title suggests, the film hinges around the image of an unhinged woman, but instead of exploiting the trope in the service of the patriarchal status quo, Martel’s “decapitation” tries to question the horror of the Argentinian state of things and the horror genre in film. The Headless Woman’s narrative is deliberately opaque. The film opens with a group of kids playing on the road of an unnamed town in Argentina, based on Martel’s hometown of Salta. After this, we see Verónica (known as Vero), – a middle class, white Argentinian woman, played marvelously by María Onetto – hit something on the road and banging her head as a result of the collision, while leaving a family gathering. The camera stays inside the car looking at Vero the entire time, a deliberate choice to force the audience to remain as oblivious as our lead to the result of the accident. Vero then abandons her car and is taken to a hospital, but in the hours and days after the incident, she is in state of shock that renders her unable to communicate with others and carrying out the most mundane actions of her usual routine. After a missing local boy’s body is found in a river, Vero finally reveals to her husband that she might’ve have killed someone on the road, he deploys the family’s social power and connections to make the problem go away. Martel never reveals if Vero hit one of the kids or a dog, but this uncertainty is precisely what guides the story. What haunts the protagonist isn’t an actual event but, instead, an intense fear of what might have happened.
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror
The Headless Woman is clouded in a climate of genuine uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Instead of explicitly naming the characterâ€™s psychological ailments in the narrative, Martel and cinematographer, Barbara Alvarez, craft a generalized uneasiness through other means, most notably, by constructing various shots in which they figuratively decapitate Veronica by placing her head just outside the frame, while the rest of the body remains at the center of the viewerâ€™s vision.
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror
Martel is known for enacting this sort of cinema of sensations: a mode of filmmaking that relies heavily on affective and sensorial stimuli, while slowly carrying out unclear narratives. The Headless Woman is similarly enigmatic about its genre classification. The film consistently uses cinematic conventions that are typical of the horror genre, but never carries them out to their full extent. Horror come to us in our experiences of intensified precarity and vulnerability. In other words, horror manifests itself in those moments where the mechanisms of perception that usually help us navigate the world become compromised. In this sense, horror can be understood as a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty of being in situations where our ways of understanding the world fail us. This molotov cocktail of anxiety is what Martel exploits in The Headless Woman, without explicitly representing bloody murders or paranormal hauntings that are typical of the genre, but she performs an emotional citation of these movies.
"What haunts the protagonist isn’t an actual event but, instead, an intense fear of what might have happened"
After the car accident, a rainstorm starts pouring over the town. A known fixture of the horror genre, the rainstorm is used in classic movies like Psycho and Last House on the Left both as a narrative agent and as a way to agitate characters’ and viewers’ fears. Lucrecia Martel relies on this affective component of horror to accentuate the film’s atmosphere of unease. Famous for her soundscapes, she employs a soundtrack of ambient noises of rain and thunder that are overwhelming and frightening in their excessive volume and crispness. But what is so particularly horrifying about the rainstorm? In a sense, the rainstorm is emotionally potent because it points to another primal fear: the anxiety of the public sphere. It is no secret that most horror tropes – including the fear of outside spaces – are founded on the anxieties of the bourgeoisie. The rainstorm in Headless symbolizes the unpredictability of the outdoors: a precarious place where anything can happen at any given moment. This vulnerability doesn’t affect everyone equally: the public sphere has proven to be particularly dangerous and violent for women, people of color, women of color, and queer communities
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror In most films, it often seems as though women can safely navigate public spaces if they have superpowers like Scarlett Johansson’s martian character in Under The Skin or the vigilante vampire played by Sheila Vand in A Girl Walks Alone At Night. Although violence is most often waged against women of color, the threat of the outdoors is often appropriated in movies like The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance, and, The Hitch-Hiker as the white, upper-middle class anxiety of having to share these spaces with the working class, people of color, and people with mental illnesses. The unpredictability and ambient insecurity of the public sphere is implicitly thematized in horror films as being a result of the proximity to people who are not part of the bourgeois class and the white race. The people that occupy these privileged identities are deemed as properly educated, and therefore predictable to the eyes of a similarly white and bourgeois assumed gaze. The outsiders, in contrast, are seen as ungovernable and unfamiliar. This is why the private home is so often the site of tranquility and safety in horror movies. When outsiders violate indoor spaces, horror ensues. This anxiety is what gives the emotional potency to canonic horror moments like “the call coming from inside the house” in When A Stranger Calls or the not-sosubtly radicalized Gremlins who enter the white suburban home.
public v. private space in horror cinema 59
The truth is that if horror actually reflected the worries and fears of the working class, we would see more of the abuses of state power (i.e.: police officers, politicians, and bosses) being the canonical monsters. These anxieties of the rich are usually psychic manifestations of the material contradictions of capitalism. If, as Marx notes, crisis is an explosive expression of the contradictions within capitalism, then psychological crises are not an exception. The problems capitalism can’t solve are re-incorporated as emotional crises in the form of terror. One of these contradictions is that the existence of any private property is provided by the labor of the working class, which, at the same time, makes the working class the biggest threat to that property. The working class provides the necessary labor to create surplus value, which in turn, creates the possibility of accumulating capital and property, but this also means that the same working class holds the key to halting this process, either by refusing to work or by taking this capital and property for themselves. The contradictions of capitalism are not accidents or anomalies; they are inherent to the system and they are essential to consumption and the reproduction of capitalism. The contradictions that create the fear of the outside lead to consumption in securitization and fortification, as seen in films like David Fincher’s Panic Room.
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror
"The truth is that if horror actually reflected the worries and fears of the working class, we would see more of the abuses of state power"
Horror films show their viewers that people who can afford it will try to buy their way out of horror. In The Headless Woman, Vero attempts to buy her way out of horror through subtler means: by purchasing the labor of people of color and by using her family’s social standing. In other words, the superpowers that allow Vero to walk the streets of the outside are power and privilege. **** In the Headless Woman, Martel makes sure to instill an atmosphere of tension and precarity, but the film never quite erupts or climaxes in the way the conventional horror movies do; yet this seems to be intentional because the generic elusiveness of the film shows how the exclusionary mechanisms of horror often overlap with those of capitalism. Like most upper-middle class white women, Vero occupies a place in Argentinian society that affords her racial and economic power while also experiencing patriarchal oppression. Lucrecia Martel knows this is especially the case in countries with high economic inequality like Argentina. Her family’s upper-middle class standing and the social connections allow Veronica’s husband to (perhaps) erase medical and hotel records and fix her car – it’s as if that afternoon never happened. This act of effacement is not only the film’s dominant moral dilemma; it also unveils one of the many truths of horror. Although the bourgeois class fears the outside for its unpredictability, the truth is that these spaces are far from being chaotic. They follow a particular set of rules: the rules of capitalism, state power and the patriarchy. Navigating the roads, hospitals, and hotels of this small Argentinian town can be a hazardous task, but there are certain strategies that can help but it doesn’t come cheap.
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror Martel puts her protagonist in a position of in-between that is rare in horror: she is both the victim and the killer. She is both haunted and haunting. By overturning the horror trope of the bourgeois white woman as victim, The Headless Woman exposes the mechanisms of fear and anxiety that the genre relies on. Namely, that while characters like Vero are fearful of falling into a heightened state of precarity, it is the working classes and people of color who actually bear the material burden of what horrifies Vero. In other words, Vero is anxious that she will have to live with the uncertainty and vulnerability that her domestic workers – and the boy she might have killed – face on a daily basis. Vero might be psychologically haunted by the possibility of having killed a non-white, working class kid, but the kid’s family experiences the unquestionable horror of losing a loved one. Similarly, even while she is in the deepest stage of her mental breakdown, Vero is able to rely on the labor of domestic workers and of her subordinates at her dental office to carry out her day normally. Although they cannot cure her illness, they guide her and support her during her crisis of perception. She is able to elude the horror of precarity in part thanks to the workers who aid her in navigating an unknown world. In this way, the film shows a fundamental condition of horror and fear: what the rich and white fear is what the poor and non-white live. **** Even though Vero is able to escape the legal consequences of her potential crime, when the men in her family take it upon themselves to solve the problem for her, they also take away Vero’s agency and blurred her grip to reality. Vero never finds out the truth of what happened and even her memory is muddled by the destruction of all the records from that day. Although she was able to buy her way out of the horror, when her male relatives decided to carry out their male savior fantasies, they also destined her to a lifetime of doubt. Vero’s bedridden Aunt Lala symbolizes this sort of life in which the stubborn past won’t go away, even as it drives us to madness. Everyone in Vero’s family thinks Aunt Lala is senile because she sees ghosts roaming around her house and haunting old family videos. But Vero realizes that there is she sees something no one else does.
The Headless Woman: Buying your way out of Horror In The Headless Woman, Martel constructs a world that realistically shows the power contained in racial, economics, and gendered relation’s power of Argentinian society. But reality isn’t enough for Martel, there are many worlds and realities that overlap and exist simultaneously. In this sense, Martel shows a queered reality: a world where, in spite of the rigidity of its social and economic forms, there are also small emotional and supernatural openings for new ways of living and perceiving the world. Throughout the film, Martel’s camera avoids assuming the point of view of any of its characters, but it does takes on a sort of a phantasmagoric point-of-view. Placing the camera in positions that a character could easily occupy. Yet the camera never belongs to anyone inside the frame, instead, the camera seems to be in the point of view of the ghosts that haunt this family. The viewer, then, assumes the position this spectre whose task is to haunt the characters and ask them for moral accountability for their actions. works cited
Marx, Karl. “Chapter XVII. Ricardo’s Theory of Accumulation and a Critique of It. (The Very Nature of Capital Leads to Crises).” Theories of Surplus-value (volume IV of Capital). Moscow: Progress, 1963. Marxists.org. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.
In The Headless Woman, the walls of the private sphere are not physically destroyed; they are psychologically and emotionally shattered by time and its ghosts. And, unsurprisingly, it is the feminine figures of the family who have to carry the burden of this haunting. Perhaps Martel didn’t make The Headless Woman into an easily classifiable psychological horror because she’s too savvy of the exclusionary tropes that riddle the genre. Instead she subverts them. Martel shows that one shouldn’t use the experience of horror and insecurity to build fortresses that divide the outside from the inside. Instead, one should seize the crises of consciousness to realize that there are many ways to perceive and organize this world opposite to the heritage of bourgeois culture. The spectre haunting The Headless Woman might not be communism nor capitalism, perhaps it’s simply the spectre of latent ways of dealing with our fear and horror; ones that don’t entail buying our way out of it.
about the writer Juan Velásquez-Buriticá is a writer living in Bogotá and Barcelona. His work centres on dance, labor, and leisure in film. He spends his free time thinking about the opening scene in Beau Travail.
freaky face horror kweens vol. 3
sissy spacek artist statement Such contrasted experiences on film that harmonize a sort of frenzied paranoia of our feminine identities. I feel as though these women are really the root of mirroring the conflicting societal experiences of witnessing women in peril and witnessing the human deconstruction through fear. With such a fragility rooted into our composure, what else is there? What is there but to defend, to perish, or to sacrifice the self into the danger? Such raw self-preservation and power being then misconstrued as its own horror, a complicated and forever trap for the genre's victim.
SVLLY(wood) Magazine vol.1 issue.2
INTIFADA! call for submissions “There is no revolutionary art as yet. There are the elements of this art, there are hints and attempts at it, and, what is most important, there is the revolutionary man, who is forming the new generation in his own image and who is more and more in need of this art. How long will it take for such art to reveal itself clearly?” Leon Trotsky Communist Policy Toward Art (1923) Intifada ( )اis the Arabic word for ‘shivering’ more commonly known in English as, ‘uprising’. Here at SVLLY(wood), we’re all about uplifting and empowering marginalized voices and the long maligned leftist tradition of revolutionary cinematic ideals and rhetoric. Will there be a new wave cinematic uprising? If so, how do you envision it? How can past radical film movements help us predict the future? SVLLY(wood) is also an experimental publication – although heavily invested in written critique - we’re also accepting pitches involving photo essays, audio-visuals (cine-essay), as well as revolutionary soundtracks to issue.2. 300 word pitches are being accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading: pitch: INTIFADA! along with two (2) writing samples. Your pitch please should outline your potential piece and how it ties into the issue. For suggestions on how to craft a great pitch check out these resources: (1) (2) HINT: think of it as writing an abstract to a larger paper! Deadline to pitch is Friday 12/30/2016. Everyone is free to submit regardless of prior bylines. INTIFADA! will be released end of FEBRUARY.
**~~EMPHASIS ON INTERNATIONALISM~~**
Topics to consider pitching
We’re looking for in-depth analysis on the aesthetics, history, and critical film analysis on films that showcase personal and/or political uprisings. Movies to consider include (or come up with your own choice): A Single Spark (1995), Born in Flames (1983), The Battle of Algiers (1966), The Wind that Shakes the Barley(2006), Sergei M. Eisenstein’s Strike (1925), Moolaadé (2004), Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994)
Check out our curated film syllabus on the upcoming issue on YouTube and Letterboxd
Legacy of workers unity + artistic labor unions Vol.1 Issue.2 will be released in the midst of award season, a now all to common annual blowout that deserves to have its origin story displayed at center-stage. The Academy Awards was born out of a well-crafted union busting coalition of studio heads eager to suppress a workers unity and emphasis competition amongst creatives for the profit and prestige of elite few. Cine-essay(s) and papers are accepted on this topic of forgotten history, and how leftists should respond to award season banter. Manifestos Cinema of Transgression, Dogma ’95, Manifesto of the Palestinian Cinema Group (1973), Cinéma Pur, etc. Radical film movements Strengths and weaknesses of Third Cinema, Fourth Cinema, Hollywood Ten, No Wave Cinema, New Queer Cinema, American Zoetrope, LA Rebellion, etc.
Reading Recommendations · Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology by Scott MacKenzie · Third Cinema Today by Nicola Marzano on OFFSCREEN vol. 13 issue. 6 · Nick Zedd’s Cinema of Transgression Manifesto · Fourth World Film: Politics of Indigenous Representation in Mainstream and Indigenous Cinema · LA Rebellion on Artforum · Do It Yourself culture: from music and art to theatre and film on The Guardian · The Aesthetics of Dogma 95 · On Vanity Fair The House That Mr. Mayer Built: Inside the Union-Busting Birth of the Academy Awards
curating a new cinephila ÂŠ 2016- 2017 "
this magazine is the creation of the goals, ideas, ramblings, heartache, desire, and most supreme: sheer optimism for carving a subversive current in the cinematic status quo" - editors note bulletin.1 'SUNSET ON LEO SEASON' SVLLY(wood) is a experimental print and digital magazine, available three times a year, geared toward building a new cinephilia through diverse themes and prisms of political ideology and aesthetic.
Founding Editor: Rooney Elmi * prone to aliases * Senior Editor: Katie Martina Senior Editor: Mary Zakheim Senior Digital Artist: Nadia el H Junior Digital Artist: Miles Le Essay Artwork: Robyn Maloney
contact website: SVLLYwood.com twitter: @SVLLYwood tumblr: SVLLYwoodmag.tumblr.com facebook: SVLLY(wood) Magazine pateron: SVLLYwoodmag 67
vol.1 issue.1 10/2016
vol.1 issue.1 is the intersection of fourth wave feminism and horror scholarship!