“I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or a man.” – Darlo Argento, horror film director.
Before taking this class, it never really came to mind how much a role women had in film. Maybe its because I don’t necessarily think about these things because I’m a guy or maybe its just because it became a norm that I never thought of anything other than that. I never really though about how much there is a gender stereotype in films, most especially in horror films.
In Carol Clover’s article, Her Body, himself: Gender in the Slasher film, she blatantly mentions the common stereotype when it comes to males vs females in horror films. “The killer is with few exceptions recognizably human and distinctly male; his fury is unmistakably sexual in both roots and expression; his victims are mostly women, often sexually free and always young and beautiful ones.”
“The death of a beautiful woman is the “most poetical topic in the world” – Edgar Allan Poe
Like what I mentioned, women in horror films tend to be considered the victims. “Women in peril work better in suspense genre” says Brian de Palma. Men are pictured as the heroes of the film that fights off the killer in order to save the damsel. They show masculinity by protecting a helpless female.
Having watched numerous films in this class already which pertain to gender, women in particular, says something significant with regards to what society adheres to and what society wants to see with female characters now that there is this stigma with female roles in horror films. Films like the most recent film, Evil Dead (2013), puts into light the ability of a female character that is not weak, helpless, a damsel in distress, and not just a pretty face that will die or get tortured. This film embodies the idea of the Final Girl.
The Final Girl is more than just simply the last woman alive/standing by the end of the film. She is someone that is “masculine” because she is the one looks for the killer, looks at the killer, eventually fights the killer, and ultimately saves herself in the process. Although in Evil Dead we didn’t think that this would be the end result of the movie given that majority of the film highlights the experiences when Mia (Jane Levy), the eventual Final Girl, was possessed, victimized, and turned into this demon figure, again going back to original horror film stereotype of women becoming the victim. What makes Evil Dead stand out is the fact that it pushes the limits of what women in horror films can and should be. Mia was strong enough to overcome every thing she has been through to ultimately be the last woman standing. Not only was she able to man herself up, but she was able to unman her oppressor’s masculinity.
The only thing that I would like to criticize about this master of a film is all the cliche horror film moments because there was an abundance of them. From Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) separating from the group already knowing that something weird is going on in the household to Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) opening a barbed wire enclosed book that has numerous clues to not open and read the book, Evil Dead is your typical horror slasher film. But what I liked the most about this film is its story telling ability. The mere fact that the director wants the already famous Evil Dead franchise to revolve around a more modern story like a person struggling with heroin addiction puts into perspective the ability of films to actually paint a picture. Yes the main point of a horror film is to scare the living day lights out of you, but I truly appreciate those films that try and succeed to incorporate modern problems and its effects to the society (just like Evil Dead and It Follows).
This version of Evil Dead is a remake of the original movie filmed way back in 1981. The remake is suppose to be a updated version of the original film. I haven’t seen the original film but seeing the ability of the newer version to capture the audience and please horror fanatics with its jump scares, gore, and one of a kind story telling ability, it is no wonder why the original film was highly praised as one of the best horror films of that era. Being someone that is just getting into the horror genre, I would definitely say that the bar has been set for horror films, at least for the films that I have already watched and are planning to watch. Evil Dead is one of those classic horror films that would make you either hate or love the genre even more.
Carol J. Clover, “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)