EDITORIAL: It’s About Time For A Female Slasher Icon

*Editor’s note– Genre writer Danni Darko asked me if there was a topic I was passionate about and I said, “I really want a female slasher icon, I think it’s time for Freddy and Jason to have a female counterpart,…wanna write a piece about that?”, and here we are, a piece that I absolutely love. Read on! -Jerry


2000px-Venus_symbol.svg Looking through the annals of cinematic history, the Slasher sub genre is the proud home of some of the most iconic killers in film.  Thanks to horror, movie audiences around the globe, have been introduced to the child killer Freddy Kruger, the unfortunate Summer Camp casualty Jason Voorhees, the silent madman Michael Myers, and the cannibalistic Texans, the Hewitt clan, namely the large and not so in charge Leatherface.  These killers defined an entire sub genre and set the tone for subsequent releases for years to come, and in many ways this still holds true today.   Creating impressive franchises and spawning legions of fanatics, the ‘Forefathers of Slasher Frights’ have reigned supreme, rightfully so, for decades.  In my most humble opinion, there’s only one companion missing among these legends.  An equally sinister killer, one who’s insatiable and methodical.  One who is female.

Thankfully, the popularity of horror has been on the rise, but it seems as if enjoying a bloody good scare has always been a fond pastime of the ladies.  One fact many are surprised to learn, is the large percentage of women, since 1999 that are consistently in the theaters supporting the latest genre releases, as well as catching screenings of the classics and loyally attending horror conventions.  Fortunately, recent studies have aided in relaying this, shifting some preconceived thoughts regarding the number of women actually in the audience.

I believe it’s time for fans and the world to become acquainted with a bloodthirsty, enraged source of estrogen, adding another female acting dynamic to the horror adorned screens.  Helping lay rest, the cliched notions that, in horror, roles for women are limited to Stage 5 Clinger Psycho Bitch, overbearing mother, young single pregnant female, the mercilessly slaughtered victim, the Coeds which seem as if they are in heat, and lastly, our beloved Final Girls.  Over the years, an ‘unofficial’ list of criteria for a film to be considered a true Slasher was created, and often very closely adhered to.  Teenage premarital sex, drugs and or drinking, virgins, and high bloody body counts all made their home amongst the ‘sanctioned slasher stereotypes’.  Other common story elements which have frequently been addressed ; local legends and myths, thunderstorms, babysitting gigs, parties, and becoming isolated and vulnerable.  Almost always having a female becoming a target of the killer, experiencing an extreme terror over a short time, forced to endure the elements and their friends being brutally picked off one by one.  Often the killer strategically posing the slaughtered friends in positions maximizing the fear and helplessness experienced by the surviving character(s).

Women can be incredibly resourceful, patient, and cunningly cruel.  I have witnessed elaborate, calculating maneuvers made by some females, to ensure the damages sought by themselves upon specific others, reach incredible levels.  Bitches go hard.  Just note Sigourney Weavers epic battles in space as Ellen Ripley versus the downright terrifying Xenomorph in the ALIEN films.  Ripley’s quick wit, knowledge, and resilience time and time again helped earned her victory and my undying adoration for this character.  Personally speaking, the SciFi/Horror franchise is just as much a thriller as it is an empowering saga of captivating womanly courage and triumph.  Despite a daunting list of obstacles in addition to fending off and eliminating a formidable alien foe, Ripley repeatedly displayed unparalleled logical, effective solutions paired with personal strength.  Ellen Ripley is one of the most celebrated cinema icons, male or female.  The number of roles as of late, that are not easily pigeoned holed, providing an artistic opportunity championing what it means to be a ‘bad ass bitch’ have slowly become more available.  So why have we not been made privy to the birth of a ‘sister slasher’?  It seems the story possibilities are infinite, giving pause for the idea of a franchise worthy Femme Fatale, and we all know how much horror and franchise adore going hand in hand.

I believe that many movie goers would wholeheartedly embrace the concept of a woman initiating a gore filled, suspenseful blood bath.  A story detailing the chilling demises of many at the hands of the fairer sex.  A complex killer, battling her feminine moral compass………creative evisceration a la estrogen.  This could potentially be a fresh approach, a unique undertaking within storytelling involving terror.  The unprecedented premise of an American Slasher led by a maniacal lady killer is something I’ve often pondered in my years.  Some time ago, the French successfully creeped under my skin with the films Haute Tension ( Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur ) and Inside ( Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo ), both seriously effective and both created by a two man team.  I honestly expected, that within the past five years, I’d hear of a production incorporating similar details, would have become green lit.  Especially with the continued growth and success of WiHM ( Women in Horror Month celebrated it’s 7th year this past February ) and the advent of Ax Wound Film Festival initiated by the hardworking Hannah Nuerotica.  This effort was in addition to the premier annual Film Fest showcasing female led genre films, the Etheria Film Night which is passionately led by Stacy Pippi Hammon, Heidi Honeycutt, and Kayley Viteo.

I want to see the awareness of Lisbeth Salander, the sensitivity of Mallory Knox, and the aptitude for insanity cleverly masked like history’s Countess Bathory.  I want to see a woman wielding an implement of murder, signifying eminent and total annihilation, bringing a very big smile upon my face.  The ability to experience a woman exercising the mad, mindless qualities the Forefathers of Slasher Fright have, would perhaps present a cathartic release.  It’s no secret that violence against women has risen to alarming numbers.   1 out of 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime with 1 out of 3 suffering physical abuse.  Severe physical abuse is sadly experienced by 1 out of 5 women*.  Add this with the fucked up fact that most of the women who reported the crimes against them, confirm that their attackers were acquaintances.  Thought to be trustworthy or of no harm.  It is a scary world out there, with the women knowing this all too well.  When you’re a victim of a violent incident from the hands of another, it can be devastating.  Self confidence can vanish, with social anxieties taking it’s place and taking control.  Hobbies and loved ones become alienated and neglected, with restful sleep hardly ever being obtained.  To have someone else, willingly take away much of what defines you, in such an unapologetic and painful manner, well, it’s debilitating at times.  The aftermath of such actions, create pieces of rubble, difficult to recognize and put back together.

During America’s Great Depression, there were two main industries consistently earning profits, staying afloat.  The alcohol and film industries, both representing a means of escaping everyday life, and creating a temporary pleasant distraction.  I believe many forms of artistic expression, filmmaking being one, can help heal individuals that suffer, help them feel confident enough again to connect with others and not feel alone.  Or use that medium as a creator, to purge inner demons.  A therapeutic value could be determined with such an addition to the Slasher family of films.  No, I’m not hoping a young lady would gain some unhealthy, deviant pleasure from the thought of arbitrarily initiating a killing spree.  I wish the viewer to have the ability to giggle at some teenage inebriated exploits, witnessing a killer who takes a cool yet distinct command.  Not relying on only sex appeal to trap her prey, and possibly experiencing sympathy towards the killer.  Ultimately, the jaded actions played out upon the screen forfeited the female killers humanity ( hopefully ) causing the viewer to reconnect with their own.  Realize that son of a bitch that damaged them, didn’t kill them, didn’t destroy them.

The potential for an engrossing, smart horror film, utilizing an under represented point of view is readily available!  This particular take on the Slasher sub genre would undoubtedly pique interests, and put butts in theater seats, also earning views on VOD platforms.  I would hope, whoever takes this idea on, will skip the PG13 rating and go straight for the Slasher friendly R.

Since the ladies make up more than half of theater goers, it’s about time we have our own antihero, don’t you agree?

* Statistics compiled by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( www.ncadv.org )

 

 

 

 

Comments
2 Responses to “EDITORIAL: It’s About Time For A Female Slasher Icon”
  1. Joey Hollywood says:

    The Clown in Camp Blood

  2. Robert says:

    Neighbor

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