1) Discuss The Red Shoes (Significance of Dance, Retold Fairy tales, Murder/violence/revenge, Symbolism of Red, Haunting/possession, Elements of (damaged) vision, Desire/obsession/envy, Violence, youth, and the female body, etc); feel free to compare/contrast the film to any other work(s).
2) Discuss any aspect of Black Swan (ideas: good versus evil [white swan/black swan & the overt usage of black and white clothing as symbol in the film], obsession and self-destructive behavior [Delicate self-cutting/compulsive self-inflicted wounds], BDD [Body Dysmorphic Disorder], perfectionism as insanity, mental illness/DID [Dissociative Identity Disorder], overprotective mothers/uncomfortable mother-daughter relationships, loss of reality/hallucination/transformation, Becoming the Text [Nina’s devolvement into a “real” swan and eventual suicide, mirroring the ending of Swan Lake], and/or compare the film to any other of Aronofsky’s works.
3) Discuss/analyze/explore the fairly recent phenomenon of the “Young Asian Female”character as a figure of either abject terror (villainous) or of complete victimization in recent Asian “Extreme Horror” cinema (or respectable Western adaptations thereof)—as seen in films such as The Red Shoes, A Tale of Two Sisters, Ringu/The Ring (and all prequels/sequels), Ju-on/The Grudge (and all prequels/sequels), Dark Water, One Missed Call (I & II), The Ghost, The Eye, Audition, Unborn but Unforgotten, Whispering Corridors, Séance, Cure, Art of the Devil, The Sisters, Phone, Cello, Cinderella, The Heirloom, Bunshisaba [Witchboard], The Ghost of Mae Nak, etc. Perhaps ask yourself: “Why are these films so intriguing/scary to begin with, and further, why might this particular [Cinematic] form of formulaic Xenophobia (Fear of the “Other”) have taken root in a specific race/gender/culture/time?”
4) Discuss the idea of the Abject in relation to horror films as discussed by Barbara Creed [and prefigured by Kristeva and others], especially as it refers to the demonization of the female body. Use specific films such as Carrie or The Exorcist [or others] to reinforce your ideas.
5) Discuss the concept of “The Terrible Place” in Horror cinema as a potential
metaphoric site for the female sexual organs [Vagina Dentata, the lethal
womb, etc]. These places include closets, tunnels, basements, attics, sheds,
6) Compare and contrast at least two Occult films with at least two Slasher
films; how exactly are they different manifestations of horror? Do they share anything at all, especially in their articulations of gender and sexuality? Be sure to reference Chapter 2 [“Opening Up”] in Carol Clover’s book.
7) In many Horror films since the rise of the Slasher film [mid-to-late 1970’s-
early 1980’s…hmmm: sounds like a familiar timeline with the Golden Age of Porn, right?], the violence inherent to the genre is often less about killing and death itself than the evisceration, vivisection, torture, cutting-up, breaking down, disfiguring, and humiliation of the human body. Linda Williams [again] discusses other critics’ responses to the Horror genre in relation to sexuality, gender and the body:
Clover argues that the decidedly “male gaze” of the predominantly male adolescent viewer of these films does not necessarily identify “with men” and “against women,” since the Final Girl is clearly an active hero (not a passively rescued heroine) even in her most extreme moments of victimization. Clover also emphasizes the ambiguous gender of both the killer and the girl, noting his confused sexuality or impotence, borrowed from the Psycho model, and her androgyny, sexual inactivity, and difference from other girls; she concludes that the killer is a feminine-male, the Final Girl is a masculine-female. In the end the masculine-female prevails over the feminine male to wield
the knife and symbolically (or literally) castrate him. So even though masculine (phallic) power and potency prevail, the viewer has temporarily been put in a passive feminine position through identification with the aggressed-upon and terrified female victim-hero. (207)
So, then, using one or more specific Horror films as examples, discuss how the genre either reinforces or subverts stereotypes about the hyper-gendered/hyper-sexualized male or female body. Why is gender an important factor in the direction of Horror narratives? What does Horror as genre overall do, good or bad, in our ever-evolving understanding of gender, sexuality, bodies, violence, and psychology/mindset [abnormal or normal]?
8) Discuss the representation of “horrific”/Abject parent/child [often
mother/daughter] relationships in one or more horror films such as The Exorcist, The Brood, Carrie, The Others, The Baby, The Red Shoes, The Bad Seed, Strait-Jacket, One Missed Call, The Ring/Ringu, Phone, Cello, etc. etc. Be in-depth and specific about the abject dynamic of the parent/child relationship[s] you choose to analyze—are they rooted in abuse? Neglect? Abandonment? Indifference? Rage/hate/jealousy? Or is it one or more of these elements combined with the Paranormal?
9) Create your own prompt related to horror films/thrillers/suspense, etc. and Gender and Sexuality. Use specific examples, and see me ASAP if you need help/suggestions.
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