2nd Edition

The Monstrous-Feminine Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis

By Barbara Creed Copyright 2023
    284 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is a timely update of a seminal text which re-interprets key films of the horror genre, including Carrie, The Exorcist, The Brood and Psycho.

    In the first edition, Creed draws on Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection to challenge the popular view that women in horror are almost always victims, and argues that patriarchal ideology constructs women as monstrous in relation to her sexuality and reproductive body to justify her subjugation. Although a projection of male fears and paranoid fantasies, the monstrous-feminine is nonetheless a terrifying figure. Creed’s argument contests Freudian and Lacanian theories of sexual difference to offer a provocative rereading of classical and contemporary horror.

    This updated edition includes a new section examining contemporary feminist horror films in relation to nonhuman theory. Creed proposes a new concept of radical abjection to reinterpret the monstrous-feminine as a figure who embraces abjection by reclaiming her body and re-defining her otherness as nonhuman – while questioning patriarchy, anthropocentrism, misogyny and the meaning of the human. Films discussed include Ginger Snaps, Teeth, Atlantics, The Girl with All the Gifts, Border and Titane.

    Barbara Creed’s classic remains as relevant as ever and this edition will be of interest to academics and students of feminist theory, nonhuman theory, critical animal studies, race, and queer theory.

    Preface to the Second Edition

    Part I Faces of the Monstrous-Feminine: Abjection and the Maternal


    1 Kristeva, Femininity, Abjection

    2 Horror and the Archaic Mother: Alien

    3 Woman as Possessed Monster: The Exorcist

    4 Woman as Monstrous Womb: The Brood

    5 Woman as Vampire: The Hunger

    6 Woman as Witch: Carrie

    Part II Medusa’s Head: Psychoanalytic Theory and the

    Femme Castratrice


    7 ‘Little Hans’ Reconsidered: or ‘The Tale of Mother’s Terrifying Widdler’

    8 Medusa’s Head: the Vagina Dentata and Freudian theory

    9 The femme castratrice: I spit on your grave, sisters

    10 The Castrating Mother: Psycho

    11 The Medusa’s Gaze

    Part III Revolt of the Monstrous-Feminine: Embracing the Nonhuman

    Introduction: The Nonhuman Turn an Women’s Horror of the New Millennium

    12 Coming of Age: The Monstrous-Feminine as Virginal Dentata: Ginger Snaps: (2000), Teeth (2007), Jennifer’s Body (2009).

    13 The Monstrous-Feminine as Avenging Zombie: The Girl With All The Gifts (2016), The Dark (2018), Atlantics (2019).

    14 The Monstrous-Feminine as Uncanny Creatrix: Border (2018), Little Joe (2019), Titane (2021).






    Barbara Creed is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of seven books, including Darwin’s Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema (2009); and Stray: Human- Animal Ethics in the Anthropocene (2017). She is the director of the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE). She has been on the boards of Writers Week, the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

    "Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous-Feminine is one of the most influential books to emerge in the early 90s. The Monstrous-Feminine defined how our generation and our discipline viewed the horror genre. In this new edition, Creed does it again, recontextualizing the conception of the monstrous-feminine to track many of the evolutions in the horror genre and this revised edition will continue to shape our understanding of the horror genre in the new millennium."
    Aaron Kramer, Professor, and Director of the SFSU School of Cinema, San Francisco State University

    "Creed’s The Monstrous-Feminine radically changed the logic of abjection and how it is linked with women. In her profoundly original analysis of horror films, Creed upended a concept emanating from psychoanalysis, traditionally perceived as scaffolding supporting patriarchy, to demonstrate how women could be seen as the agents of abjection rather than as its passive victims. In this new edition Creed expands and updates the filmography to include horror films created by women to augment the ways in which the monstrous-feminine functions deliciously as patriarchy’s retribution."
    Sneja Gunew, Professor Emerita (English/Social Justice Institute), University of British Columbia, Canada

    "In this new and expanded edition of the classic The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Barbara Creed adds a crucial monstrous-feminine register: the nonhuman. With the nonhuman, female horror touches the profound source of abjection. Twenty-first Century feminist horror, Creed shows, introduces a series of startling tropes: the metamorphizing adolescent girl, the female zombie, and the creatrix. Together these female monsters question the stability and uniqueness of the human. In an age at which anthropogenic and patriarchal harms threaten the very survival of the planet, embracing the nonhuman becomes a remedial, even liberating gesture."
    Anat Pick, Reader in Film, Queen Mary University of London

    "Thirty years after the publication of Barbara Creed’s classic text, which revolutionised approaches to the analysis of women in horror films, the monstrous- feminine looms large. This updated edition, which includes entirely new chapters, interrogates the concept in contemporary contexts through a range of diverse films directed by women, and through the exploration of recent progressive social movements. What emerges are newer "faces", more nuanced forms of horror that speak to a global audience and that revitalise the force of the abject in more expanded ways that continue to revolt against patriarchal order."
    Rina Arya, Professor of Visual Culture and Theory, University of Huddersfield