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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.

The War on Terror and the resurgence of hillbilly horror after 9/11
Linnie Blake

5 ‘Squealing like a pig’: the War on Terror and the resurgence of hillbilly horror after 9/11 In a manner intriguingly reminiscent of President Bush’s Orientalist vilification of the terrorist threat in the months following the horrific events of 9 September 2001, the United States has a very long history of representing the inhabitants of its own isolated rural places or backwoods communities as monstrous, grotesque, diseased and polluted. Emerging as it did from the trauma of the Revolutionary War the foundational study of Colonial period self-image that is

in The wounds of nations
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Horror cinema and traumatic events
Linnie Blake

which the generic strategies of horror cinema allow for an exploration of those traumatic events and processes that in the post-war period have come to define ‘the nation’ as site of cultural production and identity formation. Thus 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

in The wounds of nations
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Linnie Blake

opposition to the totalitarian facelessness of the alien terrorist threat. As Chapter 5 of this study will illustrate though, such nationalist essentialism would be repeatedly challenged in the months and years following 9/11 by the resurgence of hillbilly horror, the 30-year-old cinematic horror sub-genre that had originally emerged from the political paranoia and flag flying Orientalism of the Vietnam years, being intimately concerned with the meanings of American freedom. In Chapter 3 I explored George A. Romero’s sense that it was in the 1970s that the United States

in The wounds of nations
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Urban versus rural in City Slickers and Hunter’s Blood
David Bell

). Hunter’s Blood , by contrast, belongs to a genre I have previously named ‘hillbilly horror’ (Bell, 1997 ). In fact, the film is routinely dismissed as a low-budget schlocker, and a poor Deliverance copy. And in some senses, it is; it certainly borrows heavily from the motifs of Boorman’s definitive hillbilly horror film, and from other staples in the genre, such as Southern Comfort . But I think the movie is

in Cinematic countrysides
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Traumatic events and international horror cinema
Linnie Blake

-industrial capitalist militarism and its cultural products since the 1970s. That sub-genre I term ‘hillbilly horror.’ Through exploration of films such as Wrong Turn (2002), Cabin Fever (2002), Wrong Turn (2003) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) we can therefore see the concerns of Vietnam-encoded classics The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and Southern Comfort (1981) being revisited in the modern age – specifically as the representation of the poor white rural South enables a potent critique of the nation-state, its modes of political organisation

in The wounds of nations
America’s last frontier hero in the age of Reaganite eschatology and beyond
Linnie Blake

oneself in the image of the purportedly perfectible nation. A small, female Appalachian who as an undergraduate ‘grilled’ the BSU head ‘pretty hard on the Bureau’s Civil Rights record in the Hoover years,’ Starling has a BA in Psychology and Criminology (Magna if not Summa) and has completed a postgraduate internship at an eminent psychiatric clinic. But still, as Lecter observes in a manner entirely apposite to the study of hillbilly horror in Chapter 5, she is ‘not more than one generation away from poor white trash.’ Subject to forms of sexist abuse from the prisoner

in The wounds of nations