• “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all?” The Elderly as “Other” in Countess Dracula

Richards, Jennifer, 2018, Book Section, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all?” The Elderly as “Other” in Countess Dracula Elder Horror: Essay's on Film's Frightening Images of Ageing. McFarlane, United States of America, pp. 128-137. ISBN 978-1-4766-7537-4

Abstract or Description:

Throughout the history of cinema, depictions of female characters have varied sharply with the characters’ age. Lead roles for women in film have, with some limited exceptions, celebrated the youth, positivity, and enthusiasm of the stereotypical female ingénue. Aging female characters have, in contrast, been depicted in largely negative terms, as figures toward whom the audience is expected to be unsympathetic, or even fearful. The age dichotomy is particularly striking in horror films, where younger women are almost invariably cast as sympathetic victims or resourceful heroines, and images of older women as nurturing grandmothers or wise mentors are less common than they are outside the genre. Elderly female characters in horror films are, overwhelmingly, reflec- tions of archetypal figures such as the Hag or the Witch. From the old woman in the bath who propels Danny Torrance into a catatonic state in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) to the terrifying character of Sylvia Ganush in Drag Me to Hell (2009), the elderly woman has served only to instill a sense of fear and dread into cinema audiences. Such depictions frame aging women as what Julia Kristeva and Barbara Creed identify as “the Other.” The fear and anxiety surrounding the aging process are examples of abjection, defined by both authors as a means of separating “the human from the non-human.”1 Abjection is a state in which the self can experience repulsion from the bodily experience. Kristeva and Creed each use the example of a person viewing a corpse to illustrate their theory. The corpse serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death, and links can be made between this experience and the aging process. While aging is a natural part of our every- day lives, women are encouraged—and often feel pressured—to strive for perfection by preserving their youthful appearance.

Official URL: https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/elder-horror/
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2019 11:40
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2021 16:48
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3764
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