The Pure Moment of Murder: The Symbolic Function of Bodily Interactions in Horror Films
Abstract:Both the slasher movie and its more recent counterpart the “torture porn” film centralize graphic depictions of violence. This article inspects the nature of these portrayals by examining a motif commonly found in the cinema of homicide, dubbed here the “pure moment of murder”: that is, the moment in which two characters' bodies adjoin onscreen in an instance of graphic violence. By exploring a number of these incidents (and their various modes of representation) in American horror films ranging from Psycho (1960) to Saw VI (2009), the article aims to expound how these images of slaughter demonstrate (albeit in an augmented, hyperbolic manner) a number of long-standing problems surrounding selfhood that continue to fuel philosophical discussion. The article argues that the visual adjoining of victim and killer onscreen echoes the conundrum that in order to attain identity, the individual requires and yet simultaneously repudiates the Other.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2011
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Projections is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that explores the ways in which recent advancements in fields such as psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, genetics and evolution help to increase our understanding of film, and how film itself facilitates investigations into the nature and function of the mind. The journal incorporates articles on the visual arts and new technologies related to film. The aims of the journal are to explore these subjects, facilitate a dialogue between people in the sciences and the humanities, and bring the study of film to the forefront of contemporary intellectual debate.
Published on behalf of The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image and The Forum for Movies and Mind
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