Everyone is susceptible to bewitchment and the evil machinations of the ‘monstrous female’. Of the practices and nature of this type of female, which are most abominable: sexual immorality, perversion, corporeal alteration, collapse of boundaries between human and animal, or simply the desire to kill?
In exploitation cinema these forms of abjection are central to the construction of the female body as monstrous. Paranoia, insatiability, jealousy, evil and hysteria are disruptive fictions that are presented as oppositional to the desired traits of being female, and obstinate to the globalised homogenous understanding of human culture. The female characters from this sub-genre of horror cinema – the vampire, the werewolf, the wife, the witch and the mother – are often used as markers to subvert the infrastructures of church, state and heteronormative socialities. No longer the victim but the perpetrator of violence, the monstrous female is a practitioner of alternate identities, systems and orders.
Within the minimal narratives of the exploitation film – sensationalised sex and violence contained within a sadistic and voyeuristic fantasy – how might these dangers associated with the monstrous female situate themselves on the female body, claiming it as a site of violent rage?
Nature of the Hunt is a project by Auto Italia in collaboration with Harman Bains, considering what is at stake in our contemporary desire to re-imagine folkloric and historic modes of violence and resistance. Explored through a disembodied survey of twentieth-century exploitation and body horror cinema, this project asks how the biological danger associated with the nature of the female in these materials might be claimed and shaped. Through a moving image survey of archive material developed in collaboration with Ruth Angel Edwards, the project aims to explore on new terms these female subjects historically considered dangerous to society.
With special thanks to Jim Bicknell-Knight, Imogen Brady, Kane Britnell, Alex Craig, Monika Dorniak, Julius Grifin, Cecilia Johnson, Jihno Lim, Abi MIller, Dani Smith, Andrea Toro and Harry Wood Allington for bringing it to life.