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Monstrous Cockroaches and Horror Film: New Essay by Heumann and Murray

2015 January 21
by Shared by Steve Rust

The latest issue of the highly regarded online film and media journal JumpCut has just been published. Among the contributions is ““As beautiful as a butterfly”? Monstrous cockroach nature and the horror film” by ecocinema scholars Joseph Heumann and Robin Murray.

Here’s a short excerpt (click the title above to link to the full text).

Typically, then, altered and enhanced roaches are presented as horrific monsters that must be destroyed, perhaps because they too closely resemble the monstrous side of humanity. Damnation Alley illustrates how cockroaches might transform into killers after a nuclear holocaust, and The Nest explores the possible disastrous consequences of a biological experiment that turns roaches into flesh-eating fiends. Mimic and Bug, on the other hand, examine the destructive repercussions of genetic engineering meant to alter cockroaches for human benefit. Mimic explores the long-term effects after entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) creates a mutant breed of cockroach, the Judas Breed, to offset an epidemic spread by the common cockroach. Bug also examines the ramifications of developing a new breed of cockroach, in this case showing the roaches’ growth both in intelligence and destructive force. Cronos more explicitly highlights the symbolic value of the cockroach as a seemingly immortal survivor. All these films, however, demonstrate a similar perspective on the cockroach, suggesting that manipulating nature, even for beneficial results, ultimately leads to destructive ends.

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