#31HorrorFilms31Days: The Gender Politics of Slashers

Recently, I revisited one of my favourite film criticisms to ponder: Siskel and Ebert’s “Women in Danger,” a special edition of their show Sneak Previews. Many horror lovers have admonished this episode as a complete misunderstanding of the genre. While I don’t agree with everything Siskel and Ebert observed, I have found some of their theories, such as their idea that some violent slashers are a reaction to women’s liberation, to be interesting ideas that I have often come back to in my own film essays throughout the years. I realized with this recent viewing of “Women in Danger,” that I had not seen most of the films that Siskel and Ebert declared women-in-danger films. How can I fully understand Siskel and Ebert’s arguments, whether that understanding be used to agree or disagree with them, if I haven’t even seen the examples they used? This oversight must be rectified immediately, and what better time to do so than during an October #31horrormovies31days challenge, where one watches a horror movie for everyday of October.

I have decided to do a women and slasher theme for my #31HorrorFilms31Days challenge to really explore some of my thoughts on the slasher genre’s representation of women.

I will be watching:

10 women-in-danger films (Women-in-danger films are defined by Ebert and Siskel as slasher films that feature women as helpless, isolated victims without depth, personality, or character development. These films position the audiences’ empathy with the killers instead of the women. The women are innocent people who appear to be punished for some level of independence in society. Often the killer is sexually frustrated with the women victims. Additionally the women-in-danger films add no artistic merit to the art of filmmaking.)

10 slashers written and directed by women.

10, out of many, of my favourite slasher films.

1 bonus film to make 31.

I will spend the month of October exploring these three categories of slasher films. Are there differences between a “good” slasher film and a women-in-danger film? Are women filmmakers guilty of making women-in-danger films? Do I enjoy the types of films Siskel and Ebert found so abhorrent? At the end of the month, I will examine what the differences and similarities are in these films, and take a look at these questions, and any more that may come up.

The Films:

Women-in-Danger Films

  1. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
  2. Prom Night (1980)
  3. Don’t Go in the House (1979)
  4. Terror Train (1980)
  5. The Boogey Man (1980)
  6. Motel Hell (1980)
  7. Mother’s Day (1980)
  8. Schizoid (1980)
  9. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
  10. Phobia (1980)

Written and Directed by Women

  1. American Psycho (2000)
  2. Boxing Helena (1993)
  3. Office Killer (1997)
  4. Sorority House Massacre (1986)
  5. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
  6. The Slumber Party Massacre 2 (1987)
  7. Amer (2009)
  8. A Night to Dismember (1983)
  9. Stripped to Kill (1987)
  10. Carver (2014)

Some Vincent Bec Favorites

  1. He Knows You’re Alone (1980)
  2. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  4. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
  5. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  6. Candyman (1992)
  7. Red Dragon (2002)
  8. Scream 2 (1997)
  9. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
  10. Saw (2004)

Bonus Movie

Halloween (2018) is going to make lucky number 31!

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