Generic hybridity and gender crisis in British horror of the new millennium
This chapter addresses some concerns of British horror cinema with specific reference to an extraordinary proliferation of what Noël Carroll would term ‘fusion monsters’, represented in various films. In each of these highly self-reflexive films a new kind of ‘fusion hero’ can also be seen to emerge: one who undertakes a hybridisation of earlier models of British masculinity in his mission to conquer the monster and become a man. Thus, in new millennial British horror one can also see not only a tendency to parody and pastiche earlier horror texts but a will to explore earlier models of British masculinity—specifically those drawn from Britain's imperial past. As such, attitudes to women are highly significant in each of these films. Thus a new form of masculine identity can be seen to emerge from the ruins: one that is simultaneously hard-hitting and gentle, innovative and steady, decisive and compassionate. British horror of the new millennium not only points to the traumatised nature of the contemporary British male self-image but to the ways in which it is possible to work through the horror and, in so doing, become a new kind of man. Various examples of films are also presented that are indicative of the patterns followed in British cinema.
This chapter reveals that this study is engaged with a number of debates drawn from horror film scholarship, trauma theory, post-colonial studies and cultural studies. This chapter also discusses that horror cinema's specific sub-genres, such as the onryou, the necrophiliac romance, the hillbilly horror adventure and others have been shown not only to allow for a mediated engagement with acts so disgusting or violent that their real-life realisation would be socially and psychologically unacceptable, but for a re-creation, re-visitation or re-conceptualisation of traumatic memories that lie buried deep within the national psyche; memories themselves so outrageous that their very actuality as past events appears a logical impossibility. Within a traumatised culture in which hegemonic conceptions of national identity are loudly contested by dissenting groups whose challenges are nonetheless marginalised or suppressed by their economic and political masters, horror cinema can be seen to fulfill an additional function. This chapter highlights how horror cinema's socially engaged deployment of humorous pastiche and affectionate parody might bring forth a new form of subjectivity from the trauma of the past, unbinding the wounds of the nation and in so doing offering them the opportunity to heal.
National identity and the spirit of subaltern vengeance in Nakata Hideo’s Ringu and Gore Verbinski’s The Ring
This chapter discusses Gore Verbinski's 2002 film The Ring, a remake of Nakata Hideo's Ringu, which was itself an adaptation of Suzuki Koji's 1991 novel The Ring. Both Ringu and The Ring are ideally positioned to explore the ideological function of models of national identity promulgated by the media in Japanese and US society internalised by members of each. These were often in direct contradiction of the realities of national history or contemporary social and cultural practices. Sasaki Sadako, as spirit of vengeance, asserts her own right to survive, and to reproduce, by becoming both mother and father to a new breed of infected individuals. Her meta-hybridity echoes in the book's inference that her father was not in fact human but a water spirit summoned by the real-life ascetic En no Ozunu.