Revisiting The Ghosts of Vatican II: Gender in Catholic Horror Cinema of the American 60s and 70s

  • Author(s): Currie Dixon McKinley
  • When: 2015-05
  • Where: The University of Mississippi
  • This thesis contextualizes 1960s and 1970s American horror films against the historical backdrop of Vatican II with the intent of discovering how the texts, reception, and legacies of the films could illuminate the gender politics of the various changes implemented over the course of Vatican II. The first chapter analyzes the text of Rosemary’s Baby as a metaphor for restrictive policies on birth control on the part of the post-Vatican II papacy. The second chapter considers the implications of disagreements between the author and director of The Exorcist with regard to how different individuals wanted the Catholic Church to present itself in Vietnam-era America. The third and final chapter analyzes the legacy of The Amityville Horror as the end of the Catholic horror renaissance and the beginning of the more female-friendly paranormal horror genre.

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