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Gender and Sexual Troubles

Gender and Sexual Troubles

(p.82) Chapter 4 Gender and Sexual Troubles
Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s
David Roche
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter, which is much indebted to the works of feminist film scholars, examines to what extent the films promote an essentialist vision of gender and sexuality, and/or emphasize that these aspects of identity are cultural constructs by undercutting traditional binaries such as male/female, masculine/feminine, and active/passive. It reveals that the remakes tend to uphold the very masculinity the 1970s films undermined, nostalgically clinging to patriarchal attitudes. Deviant sexuality in contemporary American horror films often means deviant forms of heterosexuality and is regularly associated with the “monstrous” characters. The abstract quality of the monsters in the 1970s films enables them to reveal that their sexuality and/or gender is constructed by other characters or by themselves. The attempt to punish the male spectator who employs the Final Girl as a “male surrogate” for castration anxiety confirms that contemporary filmmakers are familiar with Clover’s writings about the Final Girl, but it does not keep the films from sometimes fetishizing the heroine or, more implicitly perhaps, utilizing her to safeguard masculine values.

Keywords:   Feminist film studies, Gender, Masculinity, Sexuality, Subversion

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