Miskatonic NYC Announces Spring 2020 Lineup of Talks

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies celebrates its 10th anniversary of offering classes in horror history, theory and production this spring, with an electrifying slate of illustrated lectures by some of the genre’s most renowned scholars, filmmakers and luminaries. We are proud to announce the Spring 2020 lineup for our New York branch.

First up on February 12 is scholar Kate Robertson with MAN-EATER: CANNIBAL WOMEN IN FILM, which explores how these films capture ever-present social anxieties about the tense and endlessly complicated relationship between gender, hunger, desire, sex, autonomy and power.

On March 26 we welcome special guest filmmaker Jeff Barnaby (Blood Quantum, Rhymes for Young Ghouls) and instructor Kali Simmons for HAUNTING THE NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE RISE OF INDIGENOUS HORROR, where they will guide us through the cultural shifts that have affected and informed the depiction of Indigenous cultures onscreen over the last 50 years of horror history.

One of the genre’s most celebrated and beloved historians, Stephen Thrower, visits us from the UK on April 30 to present his class JESÚS FRANCO: SHOOTING AT THE SPEED OF LIFE, in which he will explore exploitation legend Jess Franco’s ability to juggle the commercial and personal dimensions of filmmaking through his confrontational works of horror, sadism and erotic spectacle.

We close out the semester on May 21 with writer and DJ Andi Harriman’s class TALKIN’ TO DRACULA AND HIS CREW: THE GOTH SUBCULTURE’S ETERNAL AFFAIR WITH HORROR, which looks at the inextricable link between horror and the goth subculture through music, visuals, fashion, and spaces – with an emphasis on the 1980s.

FULL CLASS DESCRIPTIONS AND BIO LINKS FOLLOW BELOW.

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About the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies™:
Founded by House of Psychotic Women author Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies offers classes in horror history, theory and production, with branches in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Our New York classes take place at:
Film Noir Cinema
122 Meserole
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Tickets are $12 advance/$15 door with the exception of international speaker classes, which are $15/$17. Full Season Passes giving access to all four spring classes can be purchased for the discounted price of $45.00 USD.

Questions? Contact us at miskatonicinstitute@gmail.com

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MAN-EATER: CANNIBAL WOMEN IN FILM
with instructor Kate Robertson
Wednesday, Feb 12- 7:00pm-9:30pm
Tickets: https://www.miskatonicinstitute.com/events/man-eater-cannibal-women-in-film-nyc/

A representation of crossing bodily and social boundaries, cannibalism exemplifies transgression. If it provokes revulsion in theory, then its enactment on screen is truly affecting, tapping into a deep horror. Drawing from my long-term project, ‘Man-Eater: Cannibal Women in Contemporary Visual Culture’, introduced in The Atlantic and the peer-reviewed Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, this lecture focuses on women cannibals in films from the past fifty years. These women devour – sexually, metaphorically and, sometimes, literally. Their excessive physical hunger, often tied to unrestrained sexual desire, disturbs the idea that they are objects, empty vessels to be filled. But these women cannot (or will not?) deny or contain their urges.

The type of the cannibalistic woman can be found in stories throughout history – Lilith, the Sirens, Snow White. But she is of particular interest right now by capturing ever-present social anxieties about the tense and endlessly complicated relationship between gender, hunger, desire, sex, autonomy and power. The characters in these films negotiate and subvert expectations for how women should look and behave. Drawing in particular from the legacy of the femme fatale, many of them actively deceive the men they intend to eat, using their beauty to seduce and then devour. They reflect the dangers of the female body, taken literally and to the extreme – mouths that swallow, teeth that bite, nails that tear. The presence of this type in cinema provokes an exploration of the idea of boundaries, interrogating distinctions between self and other, inside and outside, touch and penetration. In their pursuit of complete incorporation, these women reduce humans to their physical qualities, treating bodies like meat, provoking an experience of abjection which forces the question of what it means to be human.

Examples in this lecture are drawn from a lineage of women cannibals on screen, across a diverse range of roles: Mothers (Flesh Eating Mothers 1988; Parents, 1989; Macabre, 2009); Demons (Jennifer’s Body, 2009); Mermaids (The Lure, 2015); Women with a family curse (Frightmare, 1974; Raw, 2016); Cult members (Cannibal girls, 1973; The Perfume of the Lady in Black, 1974; We are what we are, 2013); Club-members (Femmine Carnivore, 1970; Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club, 2017); Scientific test subject (Trouble Every Day, 2001); Autocannibal (In My Skin, 2002); Youth-seekers (Dumplings, 2004); Fame-seekers (Neon Demon, 2016). Though it is for a variety of reasons, the women in these films actually eat people, narrowing the focus from a much broader range of types, like vampires, werewolves and zombies.

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HAUNTING THE NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE RISE OF INDIGENOUS HORROR
with instructor Kali Simmons and special guest Jeff Barnaby
Thursday March 26 – 7:00pm-9:30pm
Tickets: https://www.miskatonicinstitute.com/events/burying-the-indian-burial-ground-the-rise-of-indigenous-horror/

Indigenous peoples have long participated in the history of cinema, dating back to the Indigenous written and produced silent films of James Young Deer and Lillian M. St. Cyr (aka “Princess Red Wing”). Despite the labors of many Indigenous writers, actors, crew, directors, and audiences, much of this early cinema represented Indigenous peoples in limited and stereotypical ways. Additionally, popular representations of Indigenous peoples were generally relegated to the Western genre, with limited crossover into other genres or modes of storytelling.

However, history shows that Indigenous peoples played a key role in structuring the imaginary of other film genres, especially horror. In the 1960s, during the rise of the “Red Power” movement in the United States and Canada, Indigenous peoples again captured international attention by reigniting debates about environmental racism, land theft, and the destruction of cultural patrimony. Since this period, independent Indigenous filmmakers seized the opportunity to produce material that told stories from Indigenous perspectives, and Indigenous peoples soon began appearing in a variety of narrative contexts. Despite a surge in depictions of Indigenous peoples, Hollywood has continuously co-opted indigeneity, producing additional stereotypes, especially within the horror genre. This includes such representations as the “Medicine Man” who warned against both environmental catastrophe in films such as Nightwing and Prophecy (both 1979) as well as the lingering trope of “The Indian Burial Ground,” which we encounter in everything from blockbusters like The Amityville Horror (1979) and The Shining (1980), and in low-budget efforts such as Scalps (1983) and Grim Prairie Tales (1990). In addition, countless media productions by non-Indigenous producers have appropriated Indigenous cultural productions for monster lore, from films The Manitou (1978), Creepshow 2 (1987) and The Last Winter (2006), to the recent video game Until Dawn (2015).

In recent years, Indigenous filmmakers in the United States and Canada have increasingly embraced horror as a means to narrate their historic and ongoing experiences under settler-colonialism. From the brutal works of filmmaker Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2014), Blood Quantum (2019)) to Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw’s Edge of the Knife (2018), the latter of which is the first film told entirely in the Haida language, these filmmakers have not only utilized the horror genre to depict Indigenous boarding school experience, violence against Indigenous women, and the other ongoing horrors of colonization, they have actively refuted and critiqued Hollywood’s stereotypes.

For this class we welcome instructor Kali Simmons and special guest Jeff Barnaby, who will guide us through the cultural shifts that have affected and informed the depiction of Indigenous cultures onscreen over the last 50 years of horror history.

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JESÚS FRANCO: SHOOTING AT THE SPEED OF LIFE
with instructor Stephen Thrower
Thursday April 30 – 7:00pm-9:30pm
Tickets: https://www.miskatonicinstitute.com/events/jesus-franco-shooting-at-the-speed-of-life-nyc/

During a career spanning more than fifty years, Jesús (‘Jess’) Franco created a strange and unique style of commercial genre filmmaking, bordering at times on the avant-garde. Obsessed with ‘aberrant’ sex, erotic horror and the writings of the Marquis De Sade, he took a resolutely personal approach to movie-making, and after spending the 1960s honing his technique on slightly more conventional projects he embarked in the 1970s on a sustained period of intensive shooting, making as many as ten or twelve films in one year. Shooting with a small crew, exclusively on location, he worked at a speed that allowed little time for the honing of a perfect finished product, instead creating a cinema of spontaneity, improvisation and caprice. Franco valued freedom above all: by combining a rapid-fire series of small-scale commercial film projects, a ‘creative’ approach to finance, and a dedicated passion for the sensational, he was able to carve his own niche and digress into the most extraordinary experimental ellipses. In this evening’s discussion, Stephen Thrower will explore Franco’s ability to juggle the commercial and personal dimensions of filmmaking through his confrontational works of horror, sadism and erotic spectacle.

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TALKIN’ TO DRACULA AND HIS CREW: THE GOTH SUBCULTURE’S ETERNAL AFFAIR WITH HORROR
with instructor Andi Harriman
Thursday May 21 – 7:00pm-9:30pm
Tickets:https://www.miskatonicinstitute.com/events/talkin-to-dracula-and-his-crew-the-goth-subcultures-eternal-affair-with-horror-nyc/

Thou dost feel that I shudder. — My teeth chatter while I speak, yet is is not with the chilliness of the night — of the night without end.
Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial

In 1983, Tony Scott’s The Hunger introduced one of the most important moments of goth history. Cast as a vampire, David Bowie and his co-star Catherine Deneuve stalk the nightclub looking for prey. With fog so thick it casts a strange haze on the pit of writhing dancers, Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” begins its nine-minute long requiem with a foreboding, echoing bassline and a screeching guitar. Frontman Peter Murphy appears in frame behind a cage – his face sunken in, the light perfectly angled towards his high set cheekbones. The strobe light clicks, counting the seconds until Bowie’s character locks in on his victim. Here, goth’s past and future converge – forever and ever.

This lecture will discuss the inextricable link between horror and the goth subculture through music, visuals, fashion, and spaces – with an emphasis on the 1980s. It will focus on the allure of the unknown and its pleasurable horrors, as well as their underlying meanings. While the foundation of goth gathers inspiration from early horror films (Dracula, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), it also influenced later iterations of the horror genre through visuals and soundtrack selections (The Crow, Queen of the Damned). Additionally, we will discuss how the aesthetics of the horror genre leaked into the interior of the club: not only did the music set the tone, but the decor of its walls created the overall atmosphere, which at times included meat bags (Planet X, Liverpool) and an elevated coffin surrounded by candelabras (The Magic Circle, Zürich). Topics covered will also include Freud’s das unheimliche (the uncanny) within album art – such as X-Mal Deutschland’s cover for their 1982 single for “Incubus Succubus” – as well as Danielle Dax’s performance in The Company of Wolves, and Propaganda Magazine’s video trilogy. Plus, musical and visual samples from beloved artists including The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the ghastly theatrics of bands such as Specimen, Neva, Parálisis Permanente, and the Virgin Prunes.

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