Wild Motherhood: The Lady of Horror Movies

By simulating the maternal role, in its various forms and dimensions, the cinema presented almost innumerable models and images of the personality of the mother. There is a compassionate and devoted mother. Overbearing and dominating mother. The absent or emotionally unavailable mother. supportive mother. The mother who practices emotional blackmail, and many others. Despite their diversity, these models all fall under the good/bad mother dichotomy, a dichotomy that categorizes women according to whether or not they possess the innate qualities of motherhood.But there is a model that transcends this binary divide and eludes it, embodying the contradictions and transformations of motherhood that, beyond appreciation and reverence, terrify societies that have always feared the female body and its ability to procreate, demonizing him and imitating him in the myths and horror films that surround him. She is the wild mother. The evil of horror films, those which transform, by virtue of their motherhood, from a state of purity and innocence to a wild, wild and unearthly state.

Female characters often play victim roles in horror movies. This with the exception of the mother figure who is sometimes employed as the motive behind the perpetration of rough behavior, and sometimes as a supernatural monster or a figure possessed by supernatural forces. In her book “The Wild Feminine”, author and researcher Barbara Creed introduces the concept of the “wild womb” as one of the themes of horror films, in addition to “the bumpy vagina”, “the mother /special woman”, and “the monster possessed”… which are all images Derived from myths and legends through which humans have attempted to demystify the mystery surrounding women’s sexuality and reproductive capacity, so they wore terrifying and deadly elements.

wild uterus
One of the most notable horror films that adopts the wild womb model is Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” which tells the horrifying story of a woman’s transformation that gives birth to a devil’s son. . At the beginning of the film, Rosemary appears as the beautiful, pure and obedient woman. It is the young woman who awaits her pregnancy with all her amorous fantasies and her fantasies which place the mother in the rank of a saint. But as she is raped by Satan in the dream, the purity and sanctity of rosemary is violated and she is transformed into a carnivorous beast capable of the most terrible things.

Unlike holiness, the film presents disgust as the other side, the most shameful, of the experience of pregnancy and motherhood, as women experience it and as society adopts it. Rosemary gasps in disgust when she sees her reflection biting into a raw chicken heart. But, in the end, she reconciles the two contradictory aspects of motherhood, even if by sacrificing herself, we see her shaking the baby’s cradle and desperately defending her offspring, even if she is the devil himself. She is the holy and savage mother at the same time.

This horrifying representation of the womb can be linked to an ancient tradition initiated by philosophers like Hippocrates and Plato who considered that the womb had its own appetite, acting as a force independent of the ego and the rationality of women, capable of attempt strange things and dark forces in order to cross the limits of this body, if not by “touching” it. Or by mingling with him, by raping him, or by implanting a child in him.

Maternal power: a world without modesty
For its part, “The Exorcist” tells another story of transformation, that of a pubescent girl, possessed by a demon, who deprives her of all her sweet and childlike feminine qualities, thus transforming her into a strange, rude and monster. disgusting. What is perhaps most affected by this evil is the relationship of the child with his mother, which begins with love and tenderness, then is dominated by violence and hatred charged with the whims of the ‘incest. For Sarah Arnold, author of Maternal Horror Movies, this demonic possession is a metaphor for the child’s rebellion stemming from his desire to remain in the original unfrozen relationship with the mother.

As for Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho”, it presents the model of the idiosyncratic mother, that is to say the authoritarian tyrant who refuses to untie her son, and he ends up identifying completely with him, that is to say to a state of psychosis and madness. In this context, the researcher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, author of the book “The Powers of Terror”, distinguishes between patriarchal law and maternal authority, which is the child’s first contact with the concept of authority. , which Kristeva describes as “a world without shame and guilt” because these concepts are not recognized The child only enters the world of language and the symbolic system which is controlled by the authority of the father.

castration anxiety
It is this division between the two worlds and the two laws that generates psychosis, according to Kristeva, as seen in the case of Norman Bates, the hero of the film “Psycho”. Therefore, his relationship with all women is based on a fear of castration and on the question: is this woman a castration or a characteristic? With the different personal characteristics of the images of the mother in “The Exorcist” and “Psycho” – the former being compassionate and the latter authoritative – what unites the two mothers is their disregard for the law of the father, that is- that is, the law of society which necessitates the separation of the mother from her children.

The reason for the popularity of the theme of motherhood in horror films is that it is a site in which unconscious childhood desires and fantasies associated with maternal fusion and separation (weaning ) are satisfied. In addition to the fear of castration. Unlike the mainstream narrative that glorifies the institution of motherhood and demonizes those who reject it, some of these films portray the fanatical respect for the institution of motherhood as an act of terror in itself. The source of the cruelty is not the abandonment of her children by the mother, but the failure of the family law which guarantees her separation from them. The brutality of the mother is not in her hatred for her children, but in her excessive love for them and her willingness to sacrifice herself for them. It’s “the corrupting maternal instinct”, as Sarah Arnold puts it.


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