homicidal8

Drag Me to Hell: Representations of Drag and Transvestism in Horror Film and Television (London)

Date/Time
Date(s) - Thu. Sep. 13, 2018
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Location
The Horse Hospital

Instructor
Sarah Crowther

Admission
£10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs TICKETS HERE

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‘When reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion – he dressed up, even to a cheap wig he bought.’ (Psycho, 1960)

From Ed Wood’s Glen Or Glenda (1953) to the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula (2017-), drag and transvestism have appeared as a recurring theme in genre cinema and television. This history of representation could be argued to have been broadly delineated into two categories: the ‘deviants’ and the divas. Appropriately, perhaps, the double-Ds. A recurrent representation of cross-dressing/gender subversion in horror has been that of the opposite gender embodying the protagonist’s murderous or ‘deviant’ impulses.

‘And so Warren created Emily, a homicidal maniac who did his killing for him’ (Homicidal, 1961)

Simultaneously, however, some of genre cinema’s greatest anti-heroes have simply just been transvestite (get over it), or played by iconic drag queens. This lecture will explore key cinematic and televisual genre representations, identifying shared symbolic themes and imagery. Progression of representation will be considered in the context of societal change and increased visibility.

The lecture will explore scenes from films which may include A Blade in the Dark (1983), Sleepaway Camp (1983), Homicidal (1961), Der Samurai (2014), Psycho (1960), Switchblade Romance (2004), Dolly Deadly (2016) and Dressed to Kill (1983), alongside the televisual delights of RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-) and Dragula (2017-). There may also be a Divine sprinkling of John Waters and the chance to chew over O’Brien/Curry’s Frank’n’Furter.

We will explore the two key categories of representation, while also considering those who fall in between, and what that difference signifies. Angela, Linda, Bobbi, Warren… Male to female and female to male transvestism will be explored. Are there thematic links between drag and horror and what are the recurrent elements? The culture of subversion? Of extremity? The ‘fear of the other’ which is a recurrent narrative driver in genre cinema? In contemporary society where representations of drag are crossing into the mainstream (RuPaul’s Drag Race, 2009-) and cross-dressing represents less of an extreme counter-cultural revolt, what has been the impact on that relationship? And did some of the more progressive filmmakers representing drag reflect this in earlier representations?

 

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