My Bloody Valentine: Alternative Visions of Love in the Horror Genre

My Bloody Valentine

An eternal question in our society still remains: what is love? Is it the joining together of two people forever committed to a relationship built on respect and trust?  Or is it the emotion you feel for a family member or person you have bonded with over time?  Is it nature’s way of tricking us into the act of procreation? 

Perhaps it’s an abstract and emotional concept created by a higher power to ensure we act positively? For some, it could be a dark force which enlivens obsession and stalking and violence or maybe it’s a marketing delusion forced upon us by greedy advertisers, florists and chocolate vendors?  Maybe it’s simply all of the above?!

Studies by Helen Fisher of Rutgers University propose that we fall in love in three stages involving a different set of chemicals. These stages include lust, attraction and attachment. Indeed, the events occurring in our mind when we fall in love are akin to mental illness.

Chemicals like testosterone, oestrogen, dopamine, serotonin all conflict and combine to change our emotions when we’re attracted to someone. Further studies show that when choosing a partner we are at the mercy of our subconscious and inner sexual desires as proffered in psychoanalytical studies.

Love or the lack of love has provided the springboard for millions of stories, films, plays, songs, poems, slogans, TV show and adverts! Conversely, the horror film genre, while not synonymous with romantic love, often explores the darker side of relationships and sexuality. Indeed, as a cultural phenomenon, the horror genre is wholly malleable in its narrative omni-presentation; crisscrossing literary, theatrical, dance and televisual culture offerings.

Horror intends to elicit a physiological reaction through stress and shock while presenting: monsters, ghosts, aliens, the fantastic, the supernatural, murderers, bloody gore, kidnappings, mutilation, witches, zombies, psychopaths, natural and unnatural phenomenon, demons and many more aspects which draw on our inner, societal and global fears. But what of love and how is it represented in the horror genre?

**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

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Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor.

Audition

It would be unfair to label Miike’s gory shocker a simplistic example of ‘torture porn’. It is, in fact, an incredibly scary and inventive revenge satire. In her highly influential essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Laura Mulvey commits the powerful theory that cinema is coded via the “Male Gaze”. According to Mulvey, “. . . pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female.” Yet, while beginning with this dynamic, Audition turns it around with the female anti-heroine Asami reversing the gaze on her male contemporaries.

What starts as one man’s attempt to find a wife, via his own creepy version of the casting couch, is turned into a violent proto-feminist-carve-up-par-excellence as Asami cuts and slices her male victims with vicious aplomb.

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Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor.

DEAD RINGERS

Freud’s work on the unconscious, dreams, repression and psychosexual stages are, of course, incredibly influential on both psychology, psychoanalysis and film theory. His concept of the unconscious feeding our every day and the idea that repressed emotions drive our motivations is none more prevalent than in Cronenberg’s exquisite Dead Ringers.

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