Women occupy a privileged place in horror film. Horror is a space of entertainment and excitement, of terror and dread, and one that relishes the complexities that arise when boundaries – of taste, of bodies, of reason – are blurred and dismantled. It is also a site of expression and exploration that leverages the narrative and aesthetic horrors of the reproductive, the maternal and the sexual to expose the underpinnings of the social, political and philosophical othering of women.
This book offers an in-depth analysis of women in horror films through an exploration of ‘gynaehorror’: films concerned with all aspects of female reproductive horror, from reproductive and sexual organs, to virginity, pregnancy, birth, motherhood and finally to menopause. Some of the themes explored include: the intersection of horror, monstrosity and sexual difference; the relationships between normative female (hetero)sexuality and the twin figures of the chaste virgin and the voracious vagina dentata; embodiment and subjectivity in horror films about pregnancy and abortion; reproductive technologies, monstrosity and ‘mad science’; the discursive construction and interrogation of monstrous motherhood; and the relationships between menopause, menstruation, hagsploitation and ‘abject barren’ bodies in horror.
The book not only offers a feminist interrogation of gynaehorror, but also a counter-reading of the gynaehorrific, that both accounts for and opens up new spaces of productive, radical and subversive monstrosity within a mode of representation and expression that has often been accused of being misogynistic. It therefore makes a unique contribution to the study of women in horror film specifically, while also providing new insights in the broader area of popular culture, gender and film philosophy.