Sisters of Dread: The Monstrous Feminine of Southeast Asian Horror Cinema – a seminar by Andrew Ng (Wed, 12 September 2012)

Speaker: Andrew Ng (Monash University Malaysia)
Date: Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

The overlapping of beliefs, histories and traditions that form the region of Southeast Asia remains evident in the way its popular cultures reflect the shared terrains that no amount of individual state or religious ideologies can erase altogether. One feature found in the horror cinema of Southeast Asia is the prominence of a single creature. Although it goes by different names in the different countries in Southeast Asia – Nang Nak in Thailand, Pontianak in Malaysia and Singapore, the Kuntilanak in Indonesia and the Matianak in The Philippines – and although what it historically and ideologically signifies for the nation-states from which it hails may sometime also vary in degrees, that it is a similar creature is ascertained by unmistakable characteristics. This seminar will consider the Thai film Nang Nak (1999, dir, Nonzee Nimibutr), a selection of Pontianak films from Malaysia made between 1957 and 2004, and the Indonesian horror film, Kuntilanak (2006, dir. Rizal Mantovani) to show the way in which these films reflect their nation-states ideological moments, and how this particular creature can accommodate ambiguous, often contradictory, meanings that simultaneously reinforce even as it undermines them. Clips from the films will be shown to supplement some of the discussions undertaken.

About the speaker
Andrew Ng is Senior Lecturer at Monash University Malaysia, where he teaches primarily literary studies. He is the author of Dimensions of Monstrosity in Contemporary Narratives (Palgrave, 2004), Interrogating Interstices (Peter Lang, 2008) and Intimating the Sacred (HKU Press, 2011).