Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Monstrous Mouths, Im/mature Lips: Orality and the Queering of Age and Gender in Contemporary Horror

Kyle Christensen

Data is provided by the student.


This dissertation analyzes representations of the mouth in the horror genre. I focus on contemporary iterations of well-known figures of horror defined by monstrous uses of the mouth, including the female rape avenger and the act of spitting in I Spit on Your Grave (2010), the blood-drinking vampire in Let Me In (2010), the voice of the slasher horror Final Girl in the television series Scream Queens, and the bite of the Zombie Mouth Fleshlight. I propose the term horr/orality to describe how the mouth provides a vantage point for exploring how identitiesin particular, age and genderare enacted through the body in horror. Applying Freudian psychoanalysis, queer theory, and critical feminist theory, I argue that horrors monstrous mouths shift between binary registers of age. Monstrous mouths often present a form of orality that is excessive, out-of-control, and equated to a childlike/immature state prior to the internalization of social law. However, as monstrous oral bodies are brought under control, they shift into a state coded as adult and mature. This adult identity is linked to, and also subverts, the figure of the mother and her role in taming and training the bodies of her children within the normative family unit. In all, these monstrous mouths work to de-essentialize age and gender identity by presenting them as being performed through the oral body and showing that, based on how the mouth is used (in an im/mature manner), the body is capable of oscillating between and performing across age/gender binaries.