Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Notes from Phallic panic by Barbara Creed

Creed, Barbara, (2005), Phallic Panic - Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny, Austrilla, Melbourne Unversity Publishing LTD

1. Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny

- Uncanny relates to what is frightening and arouses dread and horror

- Many films explore the eye as a signifier of horror

- Male monster - surreal creature invoking a strong emotion response in viewer

- Hybrids human/ creature especially figures such as Werewolves and Vampires change form bring to light what should of remained hidden - animal at heart of human

- Cannibalism siginifer of animal behaviour and uncanny alongside incest, bestiality and the corspe

- Male monster uncanny alignment with death, nature, maternal body - bodies of creatures appear phallic

- Woman trigger different areas of uncanny - birth, nature, animal and death, Freud relates women's sexual and reproductive organs as things that should of remained hidden but brought to life in the body

- idea of women's body in pregnancy becomes unstable changes shape, exudes bodily fluids milk and blood. Also seen as penetrable, can be dominated taken by force, as a threat to male symbolic order of law, civilisation and language

2. Film and the Uncanny Gaze

- Uncanny gaze central to horror as object, person, event that should of remained hidden

- Strange atmospheric situations "covered over by a veil or mist" (Creed, 2005, 28)

- The double as a reflection revealing the strangness and failure to recognise your own image

- Fractured identity of the character on screen as they become troubled "... wholeness is illusory and the familiar self is always in danger of not knowing self" (Creed, 2005, 29)

- Uncanny can also be the strange lure for the viewer, pleasure in watching what has been brought to view - opening of taboo areas

- Cinema consititues as uncanny where audiences sit alongside strangers and watch strange images of human form and face flicker across screen in a dark space

3. Man as Womb Monster: Frankenstein, couvade and the Post - Human

- Frankensteinian - a male scientist attempting to give birth to new life without the agency of woman monster perceived as creator and science cannot take place of woman

- Pg 42 - list of film examples

- " ... male womb monster of the horror film re-creates an intra-uterine mise en scene..." (Creed, 2005, 43), birth of the physical form of unconcious memory of his first home, wanting to live in the uncanny space again

- Films also explore cloning and post - human reproductive technologies

- neurotic men fear women's genitals - uncanny feeling of being buried alive by mistake as entrance to former home

- Freud's analysis of 'wolf man' - womb phantasy sexual intercourse with father - phantasy of rebirth

- The Alien films - uncanny images of birth, interine shapes, female reproductive organs, doubles and death

- Cloning of Ripley with the alien queen growing from within

4. Man as menstrual monster: Dracula and his Uncanny Brides

- Dracula true sense of familiar and unfamiliar - alive and dead, male and female, human and animal, seductive and repulsive

- Day he lies in sated coffin like a sleeping foetus
- Night he is a ravenous sexual monster in search of fresh female blood

- The brides are depicted as seductive beautiful woman with long flowing hair

- Dracula sexuality is uncanny - undermining play of sexual and gender opposites that so called sexual identity is founded

- Dracula and vampires perceived as strange feminised creature that makes him/ them irresistible to victims

- The bite of a vampire depicted as erotic and sexual energiser to women as they desire this taboo

5. Freud's Wolfman, or the Tale of Granny's Furry Phallus

- 'The Uncanny' explores Wolfman as 1. castrating/ castrated woman and 2. savage wolf, aligned with castrating father but ignored as a terrifying animal in it's own right

- Freud turned to wolf man's childhood for the origin of his pschological problems

- Boy's nightmare of primal scene of parental sex

- Freud interpretes the wolves as child's parents due to their sexual activity

- The wolf man had same interest in sex with various servants and women

- Uncanny merge of human and animal

- Incest as the father depicted to wanting to have his way with the family

- Idea of still being able to see the familiar human within the monster

1 comment:

  1. Interim Online Review 14/12/2010

    Hey Adam,

    Wow - some hugely complex and juicy quotes from Barbara Creed (and many others). It's really great that you're digging into this stuff and at this level - just be sure that you're also taking the time to fully digest it - it's not straight-forward stuff! It looks as if you're problem with the written assignment won't be NOT having enough to write about! Re. the assignment, check out this link for guidance notes:


    Okay - so, you're settling on the idea of asylums etc as the location for your environment. In his essay, Freud mentions specifically that fits and madness etc. create an uncanny effect, as individuals are taken over and changed, becoming something 'less' than normal (familiar/unfamiliar). I suppose I'm a bit concerned that your depictions of strap-down chairs, beds etc. are too obvious somehow and a more silent, sophisticated and restrained approach might offer more chance of creating a haunting atmosphere, as in


    I suggest you attempt something in common with that image - something with strong emphasis on lighting, space and texture - and leave the madhouse cliches for another time. Less is more, Adam - use the cropping of doorways and windows - keep it simple and confident, and finesse the details.



    and if you haven't done so already, look up Hellingly Asylum...