Sisterhood of terror: the monstrous feminine of southeast asian horror cinema

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This chapter focuses on films featuring a specific female creature known throughout the region. Known as Nang Nak in Thailand, Tiyanak in The Philippines, Kuntilanak in Indonesia, and Pontianak in Malaysia, she is believed to be the revenant of a woman who has died during childbirth, and subsequently lingers to prey on the living. The popularity of this creature throughout Southeast Asia cannot be overemphasized: she not only is a staple of the horror genre of Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, but plays a significant role in their cinematic histories as well. While the representation of women is main concern, this dimension cannot be isolated from other related ideologies such as religion, modernity, and nationalism, since they construct, inform, and uphold regional codes of gender and sexuality. Analysis of women in Southeast Asian horror will touch upon the socio-cultural contexts from which these films emerge, and within which they ambivalently operate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to the Horror Film
EditorsHarry M. Benshoff
Place of PublicationWest Sussex UK
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781118883648
ISBN (Print)9780470672600
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Kuntilanak
  • Malaysia
  • Monstrous female
  • Nang Nak
  • Pontianak films
  • Southeast Asian horror cinema

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