The wounds of nations

Horror cinema, historical trauma and national identity

Author: Linnie Blake

This book explores the ways in which the unashamedly disturbing conventions of international horror cinema allow audiences to engage with the traumatic legacy of the recent past in a manner that has serious implications for the ways in which we conceive of ourselves both as gendered individuals and as members of a particular nation-state. Exploring a wide range of stylistically distinctive and generically diverse film texts, its analysis ranges from the body horror of the American 1970s to the avant-garde proclivities of German Reunification horror, from the vengeful supernaturalism of recent Japanese chillers and their American remakes to the post-Thatcherite masculinity horror of the UK and the resurgence of hillbilly horror in the period following 9/11 USA. In each case, it is argued that horror cinema forces us to look again at the wounds inflicted on individuals, families, communities and nations by traumatic events such as genocide and war, terrorist outrage and seismic political change, wounds that are all too often concealed beneath ideologically expedient discourses of national cohesion. Thus proffering a radical critique of the nation-state and the ideologies of identity it promulgates, horror cinema is seen to offer us a disturbing, yet perversely life affirming, means of working through the traumatic legacy of recent times.

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