Grande Dame Guignol Cinema: A History of Hag Horror from Baby Jane to Mother

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Bringing out Baby Jane, p. 2

Davis insisted on sporting realistic, grisly wounds, including the vengeful cross that is carved into her cheek. When Jane imprisons Blanche in her bedroom, tying her arms to an overhead notch, Blanche looks uncannily like a parody of the mother in the delivery room, in a suspended birth-giving scene. Deepening this metaphor, Jane cries out for Blanche at one point near the end of the film, desperately seeking her help; Blanche, starved, abused, near-death, can offer no maternal help to this deranged, pitiable daughter.

At the end of the film, set on a beach, Blanche lies dying as Jane reverts to a child-like role, girlishly spinning around. In a grim parody of a mother-daughter beach outing, Jane, her mind flooding with images of happier days of herself as the child star Baby Jane playing with her family at the beach, procures an ice cream cone for Blanche and herself. In her book The Monstrous-Feminine, Barbara Creed argues that the primary fear at the core of the horror film genre is that the subject will be re-engulfed by the terrifying figure of the archaic mother, whose maw-like threat hovers around the cultural narratives—such as Freudian psychoanalysis and Hollywood film—that repress her presence; exemplary films in this regard include The Exorcist William Friedkin, , Carrie Brian De Palma, and Alien Ridley Scott, and its sequels.

I argue, however, that an equally urgent desire for return to the mother also informs the genre.

Modern horror inherits longstanding anxieties over and conflictual wishes for return to the mother. In its weaving together of these proto-feminist themes, the Demeter-Persephone myth emerges as a resonant rubric—though, given the centrality of rape and violence, a volatile one as well—through which to understand reinterpret both female melodrama and female-centered horror. Stahl, ; Douglas Sirk, , in which the light-skinned daughter of the black woman rejects her mother but desperately mourns her death in the end. Cast off by the studios that had made them great and which they helped to make successful, Davis and Crawford, in their careers, emerge as errant daughters never properly nurtured, albeit by the studio fathers who cast them off once their star power faded Jack Warner, the head of Warner Brothers, where Davis was the premier female star from the later s to the mids, and where Joan Crawford enjoyed a mid-career resurgence with Mildred Pierce , directed by Michael Curtiz, released in ; Louis B.

Lucy sports similar dramatic dark hair and baubles that hang from her ears and wrists. Strait-Jacket differs from Marnie in making the traumatized mother, not the daughter, the protagonist and the center of sympathetic identification; indeed, the daughter, far from being the heroine, emerges as the villain. Throughout the film, Crawford oscillates between this touching fragility and a vibrant coarseness that is itself shot through with a genuine vulnerability.

Crawford was always terrific in scenes in which she railed against class warfare. This scene recalls another righteous-anger Crawford moment in her fine melodrama Sadie McKee Clarence Brown, , in which her servant girl upbraids the lazy elites she works for because of their callous indifference to the plight of the working-class singer she loves. Strait-Jacket continues and reimagines the trope of female transformation in the Crawford film. As the two struggle, Lucy preventing Carol from killing again, Lucy unmasks her daughter.

Tatiana Fajardo

Beneath its exploitation-horror trappings is an exquisite study in the construction of femininity in a misogynistic culture. Freud and feminist psychoanalysis have both argued that women in culture have been able to derive some social satisfaction and wield phallic power through narcissism.

In this manner, Strait-Jacket provides a more outwardly lurid but also resonant reflection on the themes that affectingly inform Joseph L. Women must impersonate femaleness within a culture that constructs femininity as a series of masks, and this act of impersonation causes considerable pain for the woman.

7 Replies to “16 Creepy Grande Dame Guignol Horror Films to Freak You Out”

That this is an entirely arbitrary fate yet seems inevitable reveals a great deal, far too much, about the ways in which culture organizes gendered and sexual development and identity. And if she does marry, how will marriage affect her? It is the coarse and self-conscious Lucy falling apart and railing against propriety in the middle-class setting that is a much bigger obstacle for the young heroine. Go to page 3. Jane is obsessed with her manufactured child image. Passed 86 min Horror, Mystery, Thriller.

A woman is haunted by recurring nightmares, which seem to be instigated by her late husband who supposedly was killed in a fire. Not Rated min Thriller. A young couple who are into kinky "mind games" get more than they bargained for when a mysterious woman comes into their lives. PG 99 min Horror, Mystery, Thriller. Ellen Wheeler, a rich woman, is recovering from a nervous breakdown with the help of her husband and a good friend. One day, while staring out the window, she witnesses a murder. But does Director: Brian G. R 90 min Comedy. An ex-pop singer kills her much-hated husband to be with her young lover.

Her daughter plots Electra-like revenge. R min Biography, Drama. The abusive and traumatic adoptive upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother, screen queen Joan Crawford , is depicted. Not Rated min Drama, Film-Noir. A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return. Votes: , PG 95 min Drama, Horror, Thriller. Young David Masters drowns his mothers cat Sheba in its milk, claiming she loves it more than he, one of many such Shebas he has killed. As a grown man, he returns home with his wife Janie Votes: PG 98 min Thriller, Drama.

A former actress clashes with her wealthy and spoiled stepdaughter over their inheritance after the death of their protector. R 92 min Crime, Drama, Romance. A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.

ISBN 13: 9780786445691

Unrated 74 min Horror, Mystery. They are staying at Lorna's estate while interviewing old "friends" of Lorna. Joel, whose father Director: E. R 92 min Horror. Votes: 8, PG min Drama, Horror, Mystery. A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past. PG 93 min Drama, Mystery, Thriller.

TV 86 min Drama, Horror, Mystery. After the sudden death of their father, four children face cruel treatment from their ruthless grandmother. TV 85 min Drama, Horror, Romance. A decade after Cathy, Christopher, and Carrie escaped from their grandparents' attic at Foxworth Hall, Petals on the Wind continues to follow the twisted plight of the family as they Votes: 3, The Sheffield family deals with home truths as their middle child inherits the Foxworth mansion with the family's ghosts ever-looming. The curse lives on and more tragedies are in store. TV min Drama, Horror, Mystery.

Living together with their loving and happy new family, Christopher and Cathy's past come to haunt them.

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (1991) - Official Trailer

Their mother Corrine moves in next door. Approved 82 min Comedy, Horror, Thriller. Teenagers Libby and Kit innocently spend an evening making random prank calls. These calls lead to murderous consequences. A man and his girlfriend plan to rob the mansion of the man's eccentric but wealthy aunt. However, the aunt keeps dozens of cats in her home, and the man is deathly afraid of cats. Not Rated 74 min Drama, Horror, Mystery.