Our Old Monsters

Witches, Werewolves and Vampires from Medieval Theology to Horror Cinema


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About the Book

The witch, the vampire and the werewolf endure in modern horror. These “old monsters” have their origins in Aristotle as studied in the universities of medieval Europe, where Christian scholars reconciled works of natural philosophy and medicine with theological precepts. They codified divine perfection as warm, light, male and associated with the ethereal world beyond the moon, while evil imperfection was cold, dark, female and bound to the corrupt world below the moon. All who did not conform to divine goodness—including un-holy women and Jews—were considered evil and ascribed a melancholic, blood hungry and demonic physiology. This construct was the basis for anti-woman and anti–Jewish discourse that has persisted through modern Western culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in horror films, where the witch, the vampire and the werewolf represent our fear of the inverted other.

About the Author(s)

Brenda S. Gardenour Walter is an associate professor of history at the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy with research interests in the role of Aristotelian discourse, learned medicine, scholastic theology and the continued influence of medieval otherness on the horror genre. She lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Brenda S. Gardenour Walter

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos & illustrations, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7680-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1942-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Introduction  3

Part I: Medieval Foundations  15
1. Upside-Down and ­Inside-Out: The Medieval Construction of Earthbound Evil  16
2. Satanic Cinema: His Legacy Is Legion  42
3. Wanton Flesh and Poisoned Breath: Crafting the Satanic Witch  68
4. Wicked Women: Female Flesh, the Satanic Witch and the Horror Film  98

Part II: Modern Permutations  135
5. The Transgressive Monster: From the Melancholic Jew to the ­Blood-Sucking Vampire  136
6. A Cursed Embodiment: Modernity, Medievalism and the Melancholic Werewolf  166

Epilogue  195
Chapter Notes  197
Bibliography  223
Filmography  234
Index  237