University of Hertfordshire

'Revolting Queers': The Southern Gothic in Queer Horror Film and Television

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Darren Elliott-Smith
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Queer South on Screen
EditorsTison Pugh
PublisherUniversity of Georgia Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018

Abstract

This chapter's analysis of Southern Queer Horror will seek to demonstrate the ways in which Southern queerness can be seen to be transgressive, borderless, disorganizing, de-territorialising and shown to embrace a fluid state of ‘becoming’. It will do so firstly via a consideration of blurred sexual and gendered identities and bodies/subjectivities that are not fixed in space or time via Lucio Fulci’s surreal Louisiana-set zombie horror The Beyond (1981), the spectral Southern hospitality of the cannibal townsfolk of Pleasant Valley in Tim Sullivan’s Gaysploitation horror sequel 2001 Maniacs! (2005) and Alan Ball’s nostalgic-queer vampires in True Blood (HBO 2008-2014). Secondly, I will turn my attention to the importance of fluidly performative subjectivities (of gendered, racial and sexual subjectivities) as seen in the postmodern parody of new Queer Horror film and television which works to deconstruct ‘post-Southern’ identities. This postmodern play is where Bibler suggests that, ‘writers play with claims of truth and authenticity by self-reflexively referencing the images, tropes, signs and symbols of Southern culture from earlier works’ (Bibler 2013, 188), I will argue that this can be seen most clearly in the textual reflexivity that exists in the simultaneous gender and genre play as seen in Ball’s True Blood, and more recently in Alan Rowe Kelly’s A Far Cry From Home (2013) a Deliverance/Texas Chainsaw Massacre parody which queers the backwoods horror sub-genre in order to posit a critique of oppressive right-wing Christian homophobia. I will then conclude with a consideration of the literalization of the fluid queer body via Patricia McCormack’s concept of the ‘squishy’ body (2008), Jack Halberstam’s notion of queer ‘bodies that splatter’ (1995) or, in more Deleuzian terms, the ‘body without organs’ (1980). This is seen to be represented in the dilapidating, decomposing, rotten and melting bodies of the zombies and victims from The Beyond; the soft, splattering, pliant and queered flesh of Sullivan’s Maniacs sequels; and in the liquefying, gloopy corpses of True Blood’s vampires and vampire queers.

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