The Pure Moment of Murder: The Symbolic Function of Bodily Interactions in Horror Film

Jones, Steve (2011) The Pure Moment of Murder: The Symbolic Function of Bodily Interactions in Horror Film. Projections, 5 (2). pp. 96-114. ISSN 1934-9688

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Both the slasher movie and its more recent counterpart the "torture porn" film centralize graphic depictions of violence. This article inspects the nature of these portrayals by examining a motif commonly found in the cinema of homicide, dubbed here the "pure moment of murder": that is, the moment in which two characters’ bodies adjoin onscreen in an instance of graphic violence. By exploring a number of these incidents (and their various modes of representation) in American horror films ranging from Psycho (1960) to Saw VI (2009), the article aims to expound how these images of slaughter demonstrate (albeit in an augmented, hyperbolic manner) a number of long-standing problems surrounding selfhood that continue to fuel philosophical discussion. The article argues that the visual adjoining of victim and killer onscreen echoes the conundrum that in order to attain identity, the individual requires and yet simultaneously repudiates the Other that constitutes unique subjectivity.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedited version of an article published in Projections, 5, 2, Winter 2011. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Projections, Volume 5, Number 2, Winter 2011 , pp. 96-114(19) is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: aesthetics, body, cinema, other, self, torture porn, violence
Subjects: P300 Media studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
Depositing User: Steve Jones
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 10:31
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 13:47

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