Category Archives: Slasher Films

Research on slasher films

Across a number of posts I have looked at the editing style of some slasher films (see here for example), and there is a large amount of research freely available on this most disreputable of genres. This research comes in many forms from to studies of narrative structure and representation to economic analyses of the place of the slasher film in the film industry to sociological research on the perception of violent and sexual scenes. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that the slasher film is one of the most extensively studied genres in the cinema, and so this week I collect some articles on this topic. I do limit my selections to slasher films proper and I do not include so-called ‘torture porn’ films because while I love slasher movies and their dreadful sequels I can’t stand films like Hostel or Saw.

Christensen K 2011 The final girl versus Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: proposing a stronger model of feminism in slasher horror cinema, Studies in Popular Culture 34 (1): 23-47.

This study will first provide background on the Final Girl, as well as other elements of Clover’s work on gender in slasher horror (namely, the masculine killer, the “Terrible Place,” and the phallic weaponry of the films). Then this study will seek to revise two possible misconceptions about the Final Girl and the slasher genre. The first misconception is that the Final Girl is inherently a feminist figure. The second misconception, which will be challenged in the bulk of this study, is that Laurie Strode, the Final Girl of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), is the superlative model of feminism in the slasher genre; instead, this study will detail why Nancy Thompson, the Final Girl of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, is the stronger model of feminism in classical slasher horror cinema.

Lizardi R 2010 ‘Re-imaging’ hegemony and misogyny in the contemporary slasher film remake, Journal of Popular Television and Film 38 (3): 113-121.

Recently, cinema has been inundated with 1970s/1980s ‘slasher’ horror canon ‘re-imaginings,’ such as Halloween (2007). Comparing remakes to original, the texts allegorically address contemporary concerns and power structures. Cultural implications of slasher remakes include hyperemphasis of the originals’ hegemony and misogyny. Ironically, the remakes contain optimistic endings, pointing to hegemonic, misogynistic futures.

Murphy J 2012 Re-Presenting Fear: The Slasher Remake as Cumulative Hypertext, MA Thesis, University of Otago.

This thesis argues that the slasher remake functions as a cumulative hypertext, incorporating content not only from the original film, but also the many sequels and intertexts that exist between original and remake. In doing so, it expands analyses of the film remake beyond issues of fidelity to the original, and shows that sequels and intertexts are a crucial consideration when analysing remakes of franchise or previously adapted films.

The first chapter surveys the slasher sub-genre’s history and place within genre theory (with specific reference to theories of horror), highlighting the fact that the implication of sequels, cycles and series for genre theory, and subsequently, the remaking of genre films, is an area which has been commonly overlooked. The second chapter looks at the history of remake studies, and uses Robert Stam’s concept of the cumulative hypertext (drawn from Gerard Genette’s work on intertextuality) as a theoretical framework within which to consider how the slasher remake draws content from each slasher franchise’s sequels and intertexts, as well as the original film. The third and fourth chapters analyse three slasher remakes, Halloween (2007), Friday the 13th (2009) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) in terms of how they have retained and adapted content from the original franchise, in order to affirm and explicate their function as cumulative hypertext.

Nolan JM and Ryan GW 2000 Fear and loathing at the Cineplex: gender differences in descriptions and perceptions of slasher films, Sex Roles 42 (1-2): 39-56.

This study investigates gender-specific descriptions and perceptions of slasher films. Sixty American undergraduate and graduate students, 30 males and 30 females, were asked to recount in a written survey the details of the most memorable slasher film they remember watching, and to describe the emotional reactions evoked by that film. A text analysis approach was used to examine and interpret informant responses. Males recall a high percentage of descriptive images associated with what is called “rural terror,” a concept tied to fear of strangers and rural places, while females display greater fear of “family terror,” including the themes of betrayed intimacy and spiritual possession. It is found that females report a higher level and a greater number of fear reactions than males, who report more anger and frustration responses. Gender-specific fears as personalized through slasher film recall are discussed with relation to socialization practices and power-control theory.

Sopolksy BS, Molitor F, and Luque S 2003 Sex and violence in slasher films: re-examining the assumptions, Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly 80 (1): 28-38.

A content analysis of popular 1990s slasher films found such films contain more acts of violence than similar films from the 1980s. Recent slasher films rarely mix scenes of sex and violence. This finding calls into question claims that slasher films portray eroticized violence that may blunt males’ emotional reactions to film violence. Slasher films feature males more often as victims of violence. However, the ratio of female victims is higher in slasher films than in commercially successful action-adventure films of the 1990s. Finally, females are shown in fear for longer periods of time.

Welsh A 2009 Sex and violence in the slasher horror film: a content analysis of gender differences in the depiction of violence, Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 16 (1):

The slasher horror film has been the subject of frequent criticism based on the assumption that female characters in these films are more likely to be the victims of serious, graphic violence that is juxtaposed with explicit sexual imagery. The purpose of this study was to address limitations inherent in previous analyses of slasher films and examine whether gender differences exist in the nature of violent presentations. A content analysis of several indicators of violent and sexual content was conducted using a random sample of 50 slasher films that were released in North America between 1960 and 2007. Findings suggested that there are several significant gender differences in the nature of violent presentations found in slasher films. In general, female characters were more likely to be victims of less serious and graphic forms of violence, but were also significantly more likely to be victimized in scenes involving a concomitant presentation of sex and violence.