WORK IN PROGRESS

"Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps): Re-reading The Burning and Friday the 13th in the #MeToo Era" (book chapter)

This chapter reflects on the political stakes of slasher film nostalgia by opening up the undertheorized role of “Final Boys” as viewer stand-ins in the Friday the 13th series and a Friday the 13th imitator that features a very conspicuous Final Boy: The Burning (1981). By comparing and contrasting the innocuous preteen voyeurism depicted in the Wolfie’s Just Fine "A New Beginning" music video (2016) with The Burning's Final Boy, Alfred, a sexually perverse but "heroically redeemed" stand-in for the film's creator and co-writer, Harvey Weinstein, this chapter revisits the slasher film's conjunction of sex and death in light of the #MeToo movement's critique of rape culture, finding a three-way refraction between the sexually disturbed (often male) monster, the sexually normative teen as monstrous bully, and the sexually perverse/compromised Final Boy.

"Every Ritual Has Its Purpose: Laboring Bodies in The Autopsy of Jane Doe" (book chapter)

Despite the parade of dead bodies left in a monster’s wake, the horror genre typically pays little sustained attention to the various forms of postmortem labor that bridge between the crime-scene investigation and the body’s final disposal—in other words, labor that becomes “invisibilized” because it occurs after the events of most horror narratives. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) represents a notable exception, as a father and son become hunted by risen corpses within their own morgue—yet keep returning to complete the autopsy in order to solve a mysterious case—their professional labor overlapping with the genre’s broader representations of the endangered body desperately laboring to survive, a means by which the genre disavows the uncomfortable existential fact that the actual passage into death seldom happens so melodramatically. Although bringing on-scene forms of labor that typically get too close to brute facticity of death, the film does so by maintaining that the dead can still “narrate” their experiences from beyond the grave—hence providing fodder for the work of creating further horror narratives themselves.

"The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes: Refn as Film Curator" (book chapter):

This chapter looks at how director Nicolas Winding Refn has foregrounded his taste in exploitation cinema, both within his films themselves and in extrafilmic curatorial efforts like his website ByNWR.com. Refn has parlayed his industry success into collecting rare posters and film prints, using this subcultural capital as a means of bolstering his cult reputation while also serving as a wealthy benefactor for otherwise neglected films (such as Andy Milligan’s work). And yet, if we compare the major stylistic evolution between his grittier, early films and his more recent films and TV series, Refn’s move to publicly position himself as a curator has coincided with an ever-slower visual aesthetic that foregrounds his characters as intradiegetic “watchers” of Refn’s various cinematic “fetishes,” suggesting a fascinating diffusion of authorial self befitting a technologically changing media landscape. 

"The Vanishing of Traci Lords: Industrial Traces of a Porn Scandal" (book chapter): This chapter revisits one of the most infamous scandals facing the adult video industry during the Reagan era, a period when the industry was attempting to shed its associations with illegality and bolster a more respectable public image. Exploring the legal debates that emerged in the pages of Adult Video News and in the courts, the chapter looks at the Lords scandal's relevance to the 1986 Meese Commission, the adult industry's response to the fallout, various attempts to retrospectively narrativize the scandal, and continuing issues around representation and sexual consent in the digital era.

Theatrical poster for The Orgy at Lil's Place (1963), a long-lost sexploitation film whose surviving 35mm prints I discovered during archival work in 2012, as recounted in my book Disposable Passions. Now available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.

© 2020 by David Church