Death, disintegration of the body and subjectivity in the contemporary horror film
This thesis is an attempt to account for the contemporary American horror film's increased reliance upon images of bodily dismemberment and decay. At the core of this exploration is an inspection of the body's capability as a metaphor by which our understanding of the relation of self to society is articulated. The horror film is shown to be a genre traditionally disposed towards the interrogation of categories of human identity,and one which is now responding to the kind of cultural developments often referred to by the expression postmodernism. As such the genre is placed in a context of other social discourses about the body, death, disease and decay.In proposing the body as the central metaphor of the modern horror film, and pursuing its significance in a range of recent film texts, the thesis triesto provide a positive basis for understanding an aspect of popular culture often left 'explained' by accusations of exploitation or dismissed by the traditionalists as aberrant. The thesis does not attempt to be a theory of genre per se, nor does it offer an exhaustive account of the field; the outlining of the emergence of a new tendency is not meant to imply that more conventional material has been discontinued. 'Body Horror' is argued to be the most important development in the field however, and the work concludes after demonstrating its vitality in recent examples where its deployment takes radically varied positions with respect to the construction of the masculine subject in particular. The work is broken down into five Chapters. In Chapter One the existing theoretical literature is critically examined. In Chapter Two, the nature of the contemporary horror film is laid out. In Chapter Three the body as a symbo is considered in relation to the genre. In Chapter Four this idea is developed through textual analysis in relation to discourses of death and disease. In Chapet Five the emergence of a postmodern horror film is considered. A conclusion acts as a summary and as a focus in which the implication of the work for feminist and psychoanalytical theories of the subject can be drawn.