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Situating representative fantasy films within their cultural moments, Joshua David Bellin illustrates how fantastic visions of monstrous others seek to propagate negative stereotypes of despised groups and support invidious hierarchies of social control. Framing Monsters not only contests dismissive attitudes toward fantasy but also challenges the psychoanalytic criticism that has thus far dominated its limited critical study.
Bellin locates King Kong (1933) within the era of lynching to evince how the film protects whiteness against supposed aggressions of a black predator and reviews The Wizard of Oz (1939) as a product of the Depression's economic anxieties. From there, the study moves to the cult classic animated Sinbad trilogy (1958-1977) of Ray Harryhausen, films rampant with xenophobic fears of the Middle East as relevant today as when the series was originally produced.
Bellin focuses on the image of the monstrous woman and the threat of reproductive freedom found in Aliens (1986), Jurassic Park (1993), and Species (1995) and on depictions of the mentally ill as dangerous deviants in 12 Monkeys (1996) and The Cell (2000). An investigation into physical freakishness guides his approach to Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Beauty and the Beast (1991). He concludes with a discussion of X-Men (2000) and Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), commercial giants that extend a recent trend toward critical self-reflection within the genre while still participating in the continuity of social alienation.
|Introduction : monsters of our making||1|
|1||Killing the beast : King Kong in black and white||21|
|2||The promise of miracles : technology and class conflict in The Wizard of Oz||48|
|3||Monsters from the Middle East : Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad Trilogy||71|
|4||Dragon ladies : fantasy film and "family values"||106|
|5||Monstrous minds : fantasy film and mental illness||137|
|6||Seeing things : the "freak" on film||165|
|Conclusion : monsters' end?||196|