The Week In Horror: Drag In Horror, Arrow Video, Swamp Thing

Have you seen Don’t Go In The House, fiends? I missed this one. That’s what I’m watching while I pull together this week’s Week In Horror. Set in New Jersey, released in 1979, one year after Halloween and one year before Friday the 13th. There are shades of Psycho and a shot that is very reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s supposedly this nasty, mean spirited film that was banned as a Video Nasty in the UK and got 3 minutes of violence trimmed and the first kill was supposed to be very controversial. But I ask you, fiends, could Amazon have a cut version streaming? Apparently yes, because the full first kill is available on Youtube and it is much longer and nastier. So the violence is super tame and off camera, in this version. Not that it doesn’t have some very effective and creepy moments. Not bad so far, to be honest, just not what was advertised and so I can’t in good conscience recommend it. Try to find an uncut DVD.

But what’s new, you ask? Well it’s a drag…(I’m not sorry) The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies London is tackling a fascinating topic.

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The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – London Presents:     
DRAG ME TO HELL: REPRESENTATIONS OF DRAG AND TRANSVESTISM IN HORROR FILM AND TELEVISION

at The Horse Hospital September 13th!

The Miskatonic Institute Horror Studies – London ventures towards the history of drag and transvestism in horror through its many faces and roles over the years (from Ed Wood’s GLEN OR GLENDA all the way to RuPaul’s Drag Race), and cross-examines the two worlds to explore the many ways they are profoundly linked.
 
‘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?

About the Instructor:

Sarah Crowther is a Lecturer in Media at Swansea University. She was the director of the 13th Fantastic Films Weekend at the National Media Museum in Bradford and has served on festival juries at Leeds International Film Festival and Celluloid Screams in Sheffield. She has written for Diabolique magazine and has recently featured in the i newspaper and The Conversation on the subjects of The Exorcist and correlations in the comedy and horror genres. She is currently working towards her PhD in Creative Writing, scripting a feature length comedy horror film and developing a thesis on the characterization and correlation of genre. She also loves drag.
Arrow Video has released their September 2018 schedule and as usual it’s a good mix of classic and obscure films with beautiful packaging. All on Blu-ray, we’re getting Deep Red, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, The Hired Hand, Horrors of Malformed Men, The Pyjama Girl Case, Day of the Jackal, and The Baby. Arrow always does a killer a job on every release and while the price tag is at times prohibitive for someone on my budget, the releases I have in my collection are prized possessions.

In Swamp Thing news, it has been confirmed that the live action series first story arc, on DC’s new streaming service, will be an adaptation of Alan Moore’s “Anatomy Lesson.” Amazing news! James Wan is ushering the series into being as producer and the series will land some time in 2019. Up first for the channel will be the live action Titans series, with Doom Patrol spinning off that into it’s own series, with Brendan Fraser cast as Robot Man!

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