Viewing Daughters of Darkness through the lens of Queer Fear

Broadhead, Samantha ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Viewing Daughters of Darkness through the lens of Queer Fear. Senses of Cinema, 106. ISSN 1443-4059


Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) was founded in 1987 and is supported by Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire in the UK. "Queer Fear", which aims to chart queer communities’ lasting association with the horror genre, has been included in the Festival since 2021, previously screening The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963 ) and The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932). In 2022 Queer Fear chose to screen a 4K restoration of Daughters of Darkness (1971) at Vue cinema. When the film had finished there was an opportunity for the audience to discuss, “its enduring impact and legacy of LGBTQIA+ representation and female empowerment within horror, as well as its iconic brand of European erotica”, with the film’s director and co-writer Harry Kümel. I suggest that the experience of viewing the remastered film in the cinema enhances the visual and haptic qualities that contribute to how the film’s narrative is read and understood by the audience. Costume rather than schlock gore is used to evoke the blood-lust of the vampire. The fabrics, surfaces and textures are important elements that construct meaning and support narrative pleasure. The works of Jennifer Barker and Lauren Marks provide a lens through which Daughters of Darkness can be analysed in regard to how the eye can become an organ of touch. In particular, the Queer Fear screening of Daughters of Darkness opened up opportunities to view its narrative, visual and haptic pleasures that underscore how integral queer discourses are to its meaning.

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