In his newly re-issued book Horror: A Biography, E. Michael Jones advances a fascinating thesis. Horror fiction, he argues, grew out of the sexual decadence of the Enlightenment.
This was evident in the story of Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein wants to play God, to create life on his own terms--just as Percy Shelley had created an Enlightenment sexual ethic. But instead of designing a superb new species, Frankenstein gives life to a murderous monster.
The avenging monster from the id, as Jones calls it, took new form during the second phase of the Enlightenment--a time when syphilis had contaminated European blood. Tragically, adulterous husbands often infected their innocent wives. Dracula--a novel about a vampire who infects the blood of innocent girls--symbolizes this deadly plague. Dracula's author, Bram Stoker, had syphilis himself.
A century later, another vengeful monster emerged in the wake of the modern sexual revolution: that is, the creature in the 1979 film Alien. The man chosen to create the monster, H. R. Giger, claims he never procured an abortion for his mistress. And yet, Jones notes, "his art is full of images of abortion and dead babies." In any event, Jones writes, Giger's thwarting of child-bearing, through either contraception or abortion, "is so morally significant that it embeds itself onto his consciousness."
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