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Lindsay Hallam
Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia

Kiss Me, Monster!: The Female Vampire as Sadean Woman

Photograph of Lindsay Hallam making presentation

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In contrast to the male vampire’s popularity in Hollywood horror, the female vampire is more widely prevalent in European cinema, in films that flirt with the boundaries of both art and ‘trash’. As well as transgressing barriers separating high and low culture, the character of the female vampire also represents a transgression of other cultural taboos regarding sexuality, death and violence. In order to examine the transgressive nature of the female vampire I will utilise the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade. Sade, within fiction, explored the possibilities and limitations of the body through sexual practices that went beyond the prevailing norm of genital-centred heterosexual intercourse, incorporating seemingly ‘non-sexual’ body parts, acts, and objects, as well as pain and violence. The female vampire is a distinctly Sadean creature, whose sexuality is inseparable from her instinct for violence and murder. She is polymorphously perverse, gaining sexual pleasure from all over the body (demonstrated by the act of drinking blood from the neck). They are also bisexual creatures that carry traits from both genders, with the ability to penetrate both men and women with their fangs. Through this illustration of female vampire as Sadean woman I will argue that the female vampire represents a rejection of society’s oppressions on sexual expression, revealing the power and attraction of transgression. However, as Sade also illustrated, unbridled sexual expression is inextricably linked with violent instinct. Despite her apparent youth, stunning beauty and sexual availability, the female vampire has transgressed the boundary between life and death, and has therefore become something other than human – a monster. She is looking for victims, not husbands. In order to possess her you must in turn give up your life. In order to kiss her you have to let her kiss you back!

conference poster

European Nightmares - An International Conference on European Horror Cinema

1st – 2nd June 2006

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