The female horror film audience : viewing pleasures and fan practices
What is at stake for female fans and followers of horror cinema? This study explores the pleasures in horror film viewing for female members of the audience. The findings presented here confirm that female viewers of horror do not refuse to look but actively enjoy horror films and read such films in feminine ways. Part 1 of this thesis suggests that questions about the female viewer and her consumption of the horror film cannot be answered solely by a consideration of the text-reader relationship or by theoretical models of spectatorship and identification. A profile of female horror film fans and followers can therefore be developed only through an audience study. Part 2 presents a profile of female horror fans and followers. The participants in the study were largely drawn from the memberships of horror fan groups and from the readerships of a cross-section of professional and fan horror magazines. Qualitative data were collected through focus groups, interviews, open-ended questions included in the questionnaire and through the communication of opinions and experiences in letters and other written material. Part 3 sheds light on the modes of interpretation and attempts to position the female viewers as active consumers of horror films. This study concludes with a model of the female horror film viewer which points towards areas of female horror film spectatorship which require further analysis. The value of investigating the invisible experiences of women with popular culture is demonstrated by the very large proportion of respondents who expressed their delight and thanks in having an opportunity to speak about their experiences. This study of female horror film viewers allows the voice of an otherwise marginalised and invisible audience to be heard, their experiences recorded, the possibilities for resistance explored, and the potentially feminine pleasures of the horror film identified.