Italian Cinema pp 133-172 | Cite as

Looking at Medusa: Investigating Femininity in the Horror Film

  • Maggie Günsberg


The Italian horror film, like the peplum, is a fantasy genre particularly concerned with the body and the exploration of gender. The main focus of the peplum was on the well-defined, pumped-up male body as differentiated from femininity and other masculinities. The horror film, on the other hand, centres on the female body and the threat femininity poses to masculinity in terms of problems of differentiation and the dissolution of subjectivity through the invasion of boundaries, incorporation and castration. The films often investigate this threat through the opposing gothic dynamics of fear and desire as experienced by masculinity in relation to femininity.1 At the same time, some films posit problems of incorporation and loss of identity between female characters, using the dyadic, age-differentiated figures of the monstrous, archaic mother and the innocent, passive daughter (a variation of conflicts between older and younger femininity encountered in melodrama and the peplum).


Female Body Male Character Female Character Female Victim Mirror Stage 
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Copyright information

© Maggie Günsberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maggie Günsberg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ManchesterUK

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