Repression and Horror Films
In Robin Wood’s “The American Nightmare, Horror in the 70s,” it exposes the theory of how horror films are generated. According to Wood, horror films exemplify how repression comes in conflict with normality and brought to existence, and the effect it has on society. Repression is the rejection of thoughts or impulses that conflict with the standards of our society. Wood discusses many key points that our mind represses such as sexual energy, female sexuality, bisexuality, and children’s sexuality. In a horror film, the monster symbolizes either repressed feelings or the fears of society. The monster of the film also represents “otherness”, which is what society represses in one’s self and then projects onto another inferior part of society to be hated. Normality in horror films is “the heterosexual monogamous couple, the family, and the social institutions that support and defend them.” Society as a whole is a member of “patriarchal capitalist society” or “social norms.” Wood demonstrates that these components connect to make a horror film. He generated a basic formula to horror films with three variables: the monster, normality, and how they relate to one other. The correlation between the monster and normality are fundamentally the subject of the horror film. Wood also outlined the five recurrent motifs since the 60’s. These motifs are what society fears and represses. “Annihilation is inevitable, humanity is now completely powerless, no one can do anything to arrest the process.” Horror films embody the fears we have in ourselves and in society. We repress what is abnormal in society because we know that ultimately it is ourselves who do not want to become abnormal.
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