Economies of Fear: Menstrual Blood and Psi as War-Machines in s Horror

Maria Parson



The menstrual body has both culturally and historically been located as one of consternation and conflict. No more so is this evident than in the horror genre and particularly in the 1960s and 1970s conflation of Christian and militaristic anxieties with the menstrual young girl and the paranormal. A remarkable number of novels and films which centre on manifestations of the paranormal – including psychic abilities, telekinesis and possession – were produced between the late 1960s and 1970s; these include, for example, The Power (1968), The Exorcist (1973), Carrie (1976), The Spell (1977), The Initiation of Sarah (1978), The Fury (1978) and The Medusa Touch (1978). In this article, I wish to articulate a link between the menstruant, the paranormal, the State and military concerns. I will argue that the menstruant in horror is an anti-Oedipal war-machine. As Robert Deuchars explains, the war machine is better thought of as ‘a politico-philosophical project’ or as “a war of becoming over being” (Deuchars, 2011, p. 1). The young menstrual-Psi warriors of 1960s and 1970s horror literature and cinema generate positive lines of flight, activating resistance to gender and capitalist politics. However, in order demonstrate the resistance of the leaky, menstrual body, I will first investigate why the 1970s were ripe for the production of literary and cinematic texts which brought together the connected, yet seemingly disparate strands of feminism, the body, medicine, science, capitalism, the military and Psi research.


Keywords: menstrual blood, horror, fiction, film, feminism, capitalism, Psi research, militarism