Slasher films have gained immense popularity since the 1980’s. Essentially these films reuse similar ideas, plots, themes, and they all incorporate similar character traits. Most of the popular slasher films borrow from ideas from the 1976 film, Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock. The film generally provides an outline for how slasher films began developing later on. In Psycho the killer, Norman Bates is psychotic but overall still obtains human qualities and his victim is a beautiful woman who he is sexually attracted to. Women’s roles in slasher films are primarily sexual and for the intent to attract teenage males. In all of these films there is the woman who is sexually active and then brutally murdered alongside with her partner. Then, as every other person is killed the audience is always left with one surviving female who is expected to escape by being rescued or by killing her attacker. As explained in both articles, all of the killers are portrayed as characters who previously had some form of issue with their mothers. Most of their killings are in the place of sexual action.

For all of the killers, the murder takes place for any type of sexual activity. As seen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre after the killer is assumed to have an orgasm from encountering his female victim, he no longer seems as interested in his chainsaw or in killing her and takes a liking towards her. Most of the murders that occur generally go in hand with some type of sexual activity. For example, Freddy was killed for being a child molester, Michael kills his sister after acknowledging that she is having sexual relations with her boyfriend and looks to kill women, and it continues.

Women in all of these slasher films are subject to have gruesome deaths and suffer to greater extents than their male counterparts. In the Nightmare on Elm Street, the viewers experience Tina’s death more intensely and in a longer period of time than with Rod and Glen. Tina’s death was more bloody and intense whereas Rod and Glen’s were quick and not as vivid as hers was.

Overall women are subject to the male gaze in slasher films and are seen as sexual objects. The female that does survive at the end is seen as less feminine and not sexually active. Women’s roles in slasher films can be seen as the stereotypical view of what women are typically described to be.

–  Naomi Bracho


5 Comments so far

  1.    Nicholas Osorio on October 19, 2016 1:17 am

    I enjoyed reading this blog because it helped me reflect on what kind of position women are put into with horror movies. When looking over just Nightmare on Elm Street, it had not occurred to me that the first victims of the film were the two sexually active teens. I do not watch many horror films, so I never put that piece of the puzzle together. With these readings, I have been able to realize what role women play in these films. On one hand I think it is a negative to only look for female victims that are sexually active because it feels like it is more of a punishment for sexually active women than men, but I do feel that there is a positive; being that there’s a connection between the villains and mental illnesses. I do not think the intention was to put women in such a bad spot, but it is a shame that women are looked at for sex in slasher films. The main lesson I learned from all of this was that the main focus lies within the characteristics of the killer; not so much the victims.

  2.    Jonathan Eng on October 19, 2016 1:34 am

    The idea of women being damsels in distress is common throughout all sources of entertainment, including movies. Women are supposed to appear weak, defenseless, and beautiful. The ultimate goal for these women is to have a handsome male character heroically save them or possible die while trying (Making him even more heroic?). Because of this idea the scenes where the women are attacked is, like you said, sexualized. The surviving female character(s) are the ones to be viewed as the least appealing in terms of how sexual they can look when afraid, but the most appealing when fighting. Because men have the heroic stance in entertainment, their deaths are not at all sexualized and less graphic. Having a man get a sexualized scene is awkward, but having a woman get a sexualized scene feels normal and expected. Girl in a bathtub? Where is the killer? Man in the bathtub? Skip the scene! I overall agree with how you stated that women are sexualized when being “murdered.” It seems to be more like a rape than anything else.

  3.    Asim Shariff on October 19, 2016 1:37 am

    I agree with the arguments that you made. Its true that many of the horror films focus mainly on the female characters. The deaths of Rod and Glenn occurred faster than Tina’s death. Also Freddy spends a lot of time chasing after the female characters like Tina and Nancy. He doesn’t waste anytime when he kills Glenn and Rod. This shows that many horror films are similar, since many of them focuses on the female characters.

  4.    xianruichen on October 19, 2016 3:34 am

    I like you mention that the relationship between male and female characters. Just like what you saying, Woman have more stereotypical views in the movie. Tina has more stories layout more then other two male characters. I did not realize it until you mentioned. I also think that if the slasher is a male character, the targets should be female in order to make balance. In other words, people will take woman screaming more than men do.The screaming makes the movie more scary and interesting by giving the audience sound attacking! I totally agree with your ideas.

  5.    Hallie Peller on October 20, 2016 4:50 pm

    I like your point about the “Last Girl” being less feminine and not sexually active. I did get that vibe from Nancy because of her puffy hair and the way she dressed. The relationship between the killer and women is interesting in films because I used to just think of them as killers, and now I see they have an ulterior motive, sexual desires

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