Monsters from ID
Margaret Tarratt
(from Film Genre Reader IV)
Although the majority of science fiction films appear to express some kind of concern with the moral state of contemporary society, many are more directly involved with an examination of our inner nature.
‘This article will argue that these films are deeply involved with the concepts of Freudian psychoanalysis and seem in many cases to derive their structure from it.’
They may deal with society as a whole, but they arrive at social comment through a dramatization of the individual’s anxiety about his or her own repressed sexual desires, which are incompatible with the morals of civilized life
Freud “Anxiety and Instinctual Life”: “The commonest cause of anxiety neurosis is unconsummated excitation. Libidinal excitation is aroused but not satisfied, not employed; apprehensiveness then appears instead of this libido that has been directed from its employment...What is responsible for anxiety in hysteria and other neurosis is the process of repression.”
The conquest of the “monster of the id” is the structural raison d’etre of many science fiction films. There are also some science fiction films which, while based on psychoanalytical concepts, concern themselves with a variation on this theme. A number of them deal with impotence and frigidity. This group included such films as Spider Woman (Roy William Neill, 1944), Wasp Woman (Roger Corman, 1960), and the The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958), which explore insect phobia- fear of castration and dread of the phallic mother. One of the earliest science fiction films to look at the sexual nature of woman is James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Frankenstein (Whale, 1931) itself provides a fairly straightforward example of the kind of film discussed earlier, which examines the tension between subconscious sexual desires and the mores of civilization. The Bride assumes a knowledge of the earlier film in its continued exploration of such secret desires.