Review by Choice Review
A psychoanalytic study of cinematic specters, especially in terms of a masochistic aesthetic, seems destined for some future episode of The X-Files. But Fowkes argues that comedy ghost films illumine ways in which gender haunts film viewing and pleasures. In a remarkably lively seance, the author calls up the importance of voice over vision, of sound over spectacle, in setting up comedic responses. Against a classical Hollywood paradigm of patriarchal ideology and individual causality, supernatural agents like angels and ghosts can transform film narratives into divinely feminist comedies. What Carol J. Clover did for the genre of horror films in Men, Women and Chain Saws (CH, Sep'92), Fowkes does for films like Ghost, Always, and Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her study of salient topics like invisibility, delay, and communication (or miscommunication) fascinates. But ultimately, she weights her subject too heavily with the theoretical gravity and solemnity of feminist and psychoanalytic assumptions and language. Although her writing is careful, even scintillating at times, her choice of theoretical models reduces her ideas to proofs of masochistic pleasures. Ideology dominates understanding. Recommended only for graduate and research collections in film and gender. T. Lindvall; Regent University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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