Revenge is a Dish Best Served Sapphic: The Lesbian Vampire Film as Revenge Fantasy
journal contributionposted on 23.05.2017 by Jay Daniel Thompson
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The lesbian vampire is one of the most controversial celluloid monsters. Scholars have tended to regard her as either an embodiment of anxieties about female sexual empowerment; or as a kind of feminist icon. Puzzlingy, few critics have noted the recurring theme of revenge in lesbian vampire films. The article will focus specifically on three such films: The Blood Spattered Bride (1972), Daughters of Darkness (1971), and Vampyres (1974). All three films feature female protagonists who are intent on avenging their abysmal treatment at the hands of men, and who do so with the aid of lesbian vampires.
In particular, I suggest that it is helpful to theorise these films as being revenge fantasies. The realm of fantasy has been characterised by shifting and unpredictable points of identification. With this in mind, I ask: Who exactly is the viewer asked to identify with in lesbian vampire films—the vampire, her lover, and/or the vampire’s male opponents? To what extent does identifying with the lesbian vampire mean identifying with a woman who is retaliating against patriarchy (and identifying with her male opponents mean identifying with —or at least not challenging—patriarchy)? Teasing out these questions will enable us to understand just how complex the sexual politics of these films are.