Copyright 2011 by Gary Pullman
Before the middle of the last century, horror fiction, for the most part, borrowed its monsters from the world of the occult or from literary sources antecedent to the advent of film. Apart from Frankenstein’s monster, which was the result of a mad scientist’s--or science student’s--experiments gone awry, as he tried to usurp the reproductive role of women--most of horror fiction’s villains were metaphysical or mystical monsters, such as Dracula and his brood, the mummy, zombies, witches, ghosts, and demons.
However, after World War II, more and more villains turned out to be products of scientific misconduct and the hubris that typically produced such misbehavior, as scientists more and more tried to play God (although, even then, initially, these antagonists had literary antecedents, such as H. G. Wells’ Dr. Moreau, the incompetent scientists from his novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, or the perennial Victor Von Frankenstein, from Mary Shelley’s novel. To be sure, as The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and King Kong, among many others, indicate, traditional monsters still showed up on the silver screen with alarming frequency. However, more and more often, these monsters had to compete with test tube rivals, horrors spawned from Petri dishes, and the vile and wicked products of coiled tubes running in and out of various flasks and beakers (in scenes that looked more alchemical than chemical).
Science fiction and horror merged. It became difficult to tell one genre from the other. Perhaps this hybridization is what led, eventually, to the “cross-genre” genre, wherein adventure, comedy, espionage, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, the thriller, and even the Western are sometimes blended together, as in the novels of Dean Koontz and Stephen King.
In any event, one of the results of these developments was a revisiting of women by horror-science fiction writers, both male and female, and an overhaul of her image--or, rather, a transformation of her image. In fact, in some instances, she became so distorted as to be almost unrecognizable. In the process, she exposes some of the insecurities, anxieties, prejudices, biases, fears, and misogynistic attitudes of those who have created her anew, in their own images. Pygmalion, the eternal sculptor of the feminine form, is alive and well, although he sometimes changes not only his sex but also the tools of his trade. For example, as mentioned, he is sometimes male, sometimes female, and, nowadays, he more often uses words and paper (or computer software) instead of a hammer, a chisel, and a block of marble. Chipping away at his raw materials, actual women, until, little by little, an attitude, a belief, a dream, a fear, a prejudice, a sexist notion, a value at a time, he his (or her) vision emerges, and Woman Reborn is created as the ideal--Pygmalion’s own, that is--of what Woman was meant to be (but, fortunately, seldom or never is).
|The Warrior and the Sorceress|
|Star Trek V|
|Earth Girls Are Easy|
|Flesh Gordon 2|
|Good Luck, Chuck|
|Dumb and Dumberer|
|Silence of the Hams|
In recent science fiction (and comedy!) films, Galatea has had three (or more) breasts: The Warrior and the Sorcerer, starring David Carradine [four breasts]; Total Recall*, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger [three breasts]; Star Trek V, starring William Shatner [three breasts]; Earth Girls Are Easy, starring Geena Davis [four breasts]; Firecracker, starring Karen Black [three breasts]; Flesh Gordon 2, starring Vince Mordocco [more than four, but just on a sign]; Good Luck, Chuck, starring Jessica Alba [three breasts]; Dumb and Dumber [three breasts]; and Silence of the Hams, starring Dom DeLuise [three breasts]). (The condition of having multiple breasts is known, variously as having “accessory breasts,” supernumerary breasts, mammae erraticae, polymastia; women--or men--can also have one or more extra breasts or nipples. Having extra nipples is a condition known variously as supernumerary nipples, third nipple, accessory nipple, or polythelia. One individual had a nipple on the sole of the foot!)
Not since Deep Throat (on VHS tape) relocated Linda Lovelace’s clitoris have filmmakers, in the role of Pygmalion, taken such liberties with Woman. Surprisingly (and embarrassingly), except for Necropolis (1987), starring LeeAnne Baker (six breasts), horror fiction, which often expresses deformity, distortion, and disturbing images of body modification, has been late in contributing to the cause of transforming women into Woman. However, Teeth, a comedy-horror film starring Jess Weixler, supplies its protagonist with a second set of ivories--in her vagina (the old vagina dentata trick).
|The Human Centipede|
Since transsexuals do not exist in nature, but are man-made men or women, they may also be considered examples of the monstrous males and females who appear in science fiction and horror films, one of which is Sleepaway Camp, starring Angela Baker.
Total Recall (an image thrown in gratuitously)
*Not to worry, fans: the remake will also feature a woman with three breasts, the film’s director, Len Wiseman has promised.