WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ABOUT THE FILMS DISCUSSED.
The mother monster of “Alien,” Satan-possessed girl of “The Exorcist,” female vampires of “The Hunger,” witch of “Carrie,” and monster-producing womb of “The Brood.” In 1993, Barbara Creed, Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Melbourne, discussed the power of these and other female film monsters in “The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism and Psychoanalysis.” Click here to read the book’s introduction.
Since then, the world has launched into a new millennium, but, for reasons identified by Creed, fear of female monsters (femonsters) remains eternal. William Congreve’s 1697 play "The Mourning Bride," has been slightly paraphrased into the still-popular expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” See below for a list of the top 15 “femonsters” of this new millennium, which give The Alien, Regan, Miriam and Sarah, Carrie, and Nola a run for their money. In many cases, some sympathy lies with the femonsters, since often their mistreatment by others brings about their destructive behavior.
Father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud postulated that men fear women because the woman is castrated (lacks a phallus). Creed puts forth an alternate idea, that women evoke fear instead because they are castrators. According to Wikipedia, the myth of the vagina dentata (toothed female genitalia) first appeared as folk stories to discourage sex and rape. In a figurative rather than literal sense, the “femonster” terrifies because it subverts the traditional patriarchal order. A powerful female necessarily negates male dominance.
Creed discusses the Freudian concept of the “uncanny,” where something feels familiar yet alien, which, according to Wikipedia, results in a simultaneous attraction and repulsion. Often, horror films exploit the uncanny, which creates in viewers the impulse to look away but the inability to do so. The familiar woman/mother, classically viewed as nurturer, in a femonster horror film, instead becomes devourer (alien). She embodies the essence of evil, subscribed to Woman in the Biblical book of Genesis, when Eve gives in to the serpent and bites the forbidden apple, bringing about original sin and humanity’s banishment from paradise. A femonster horror film discomfits because it overturns Woman as comforter and instead brings out Woman as wicked temptress or crone.
TOP 15 FEMONSTERS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM: