Sanguisughe Sexy: Vampires in Italian Genre Cinema between 1956 and 1975

Guarneri, Michael (2018) Sanguisughe Sexy: Vampires in Italian Genre Cinema between 1956 and 1975. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

Sanguisughe Sexy: Vampires in Italian Genre Cinema between 1956 and 1975 explores the ways in which 1956-1975 Italian vampire cinema functioned within its then-contemporary, and nationally-specific, industrial and socio-historical context. Taking as its subject thirty-five vampire movies made, distributed and exhibited during the peak years of genre film production in Italy, and certified to be of Italian nationality by the Italian government, this thesis asks: why, and how, is the protean, transnational and transmedial figure of the vampire appropriated by Italian genre cinema practitioners between 1956 and 1975? Or, more concisely, what do the vampires of post-war Italian genre cinema mean? Situated at the intersection of Italian film history, horror studies and cultural studies, the research shows that Italian cinematic vampires reflect their national zeitgeist from the ‘economic miracle’ of the late 1950s to the mid-1970s austerity (two decades of large political and socio-economic change in which gender politics were also in relative flux), thus demonstrating the importance of cultural specificities in understanding the metaphorical functions of vampire figures.

Resultantly, a threefold contribution to knowledge is offered. Firstly, since scholars of vampire fiction have so far concentrated their efforts on Anglo-American literature and film, the thesis reveals, indicts and partially counterbalances the almost total neglect towards world-cinema vampires in the academia. Secondly, and more specifically, as the first sustained attempt to historicise and analyse the Italian vampire subgenre, which spanned several, more or less popular film genres across three decades, the research sheds light on so-called lower forms of cinematic culture, whose study has until very recently been largely ignored by Italian-cinema scholars. Thirdly, since the existing, English-language scholarly work on Italian cinema has approached horror and the other genres produced in post-war Italy mainly through the prism of psychoanalysis, the thesis seeks to introduce an alternative method by reworking Siegfried Kracauer’s reflectionist paradigm from the 1947 book From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film. Here, psychoanalysis’ attempts at accessing the timeless, immutable dimension of universally-shared, unconscious fears via an exclusive focus on textual analysis are traded off for a historicist approach blending textual and contextual analysis in order to highlight the Italianness of 1956-1975 Italian vampire cinema, i.e. the interconnections between the filmic texts and their then-contemporary, national context of production and consumption. Ultimately, by accounting for the composite, polymorph monstrosity of Italian vampires in relation to the gender, socio-economic and political issues of the post-war Italian Republic, the thesis offers a template for future studies concerned with the cultural specificity of monsterdom.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: horror cinema, postwar Italian cinema, vampire fiction, Siegfried Kracauer
Subjects: R300 Italian studies
W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2019 15:01
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2019 08:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39785

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