One of the most commonly reiterated opinions in regards to Hollywood slasher films is that it is nothing more than a hack and slash film genre meant to scare and thrill audiences rather than incite deep feelings of amazement, wonder, fascination or thoughtful reflection.
It is often thought that such films are gory for the sake of gore, scary for the sake of being scary and lack any form of true artistry in their rendition of their respective storylines. Such statements aren’t far from the truth as seen by the rather redundant and often predictable plot lines that most of these films follow. Yet what must be understood is that based on the opinion of the article “Her Body, himself” there is actually more to a slasher film than meets the eye.
In terms of box office popularity such films will never truly reach the levels of financial success seen by big budget productions such as Avatar, Titanic, Terminator, the Godfather or a Beautiful Mind however as seen by movies such as Halloween, Aliens and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (whose budgets ranged between $320,000 to $2 million) large budgets often aren’t necessary for such films to develop a substantial degree of interest which often results in substantial profits in the long run ($320,000 was invested into Halloween which resulted in $75 million in profits within 6 years).
Not only that, slasher films always seem to develop sequels, prequels and a variety of spin-offs that indicate that there must be something truly interesting about them that would warrant the development of new movies.
It is based on this and other such arguments that the essay “Her Body, Himself” attempts to enlighten readers by showing how the slasher genre isn’t just a gore fest whose primary aim is to scare and disturb but rather such aspects are actually part of a far greater whole whose purpose is to depict a variety of situations which address aspects related to sex, desire, domination, psychological disturbance, revenge, sadism and a whole host of other topics that “traditional” film genres often times portray in a “watered down” fashion.
The main argument of the author in the essay “Her Body, Himself” is that slasher/stalker films have a far deeper meaning that goes beyond mere gore and fright and actually connects to the concepts of the “forbidden” and the “sexual”.
In fact, the author said it best when he elaborated on the “shot for shot” analysis of the movie “Psycho” in which he stated that each shot “shows so little yet suggests so much”. This is actually the inherent nature of slasher films wherein there is a considerable degree of suggestiveness in the actions of the protagonists and the antagonists that goes beyond the mere act of terror and murder.
Proving the Main Argument
In order to prove his argument the author goes about this in 3 distinct ways: the first of which is he presents the various factors that go into the development of a traditional slasher film.
From the presentation of the principles of slasher film creation such as the depiction of the “Terrible place”, the use of a variety of weapons aside from guns as well as the formula involving the “final victim” the author attempts to show that your average slasher/horror film is not just a mish mash of scenes involving gore and violence rather there is an inherently purposeful plan in the scenes and methods of killing within the film itself.
The second way in which the author attempts to prove his argument is when he enhances the principles needed to create a slasher film by presenting examples from various movies of the same genre and how they “connect” to these basic principles. For example, the author relates how the principle of using no guns had its roots in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and how the various reiterations of slasher films today are inherently based off this particular movie.
Lastly, the author shows how most films of this nature depict an inherently sexualized or “forbidden” concept that is meant to create a certain connection between the audience and the characters in the film wherein the depicted sexual or forbidden acts are often those which lurk deep within the recesses of the mind yet one which people would never truly act on.
The author of the essay shows how sex and gender feature prominently within the storyline of slasher films wherein in order to appeal to its main intended audience (young males) the film heavily features a variety of sexual themes and scenes meant to entice and appeal to the baser desires of men.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Arguments
When examining the way in which the author showed the formulaic context of slasher movie production, how various scenes have deeper meanings and go beyond mere gore and violence as well as how slasher films have become a staple of the Hollywood movie scene it is apparent that the arguments presented are quite effective it showing how slasher films have a far greater depth than initially perceived.
Further enhancing such arguments are the examples given regarding a variety of slasher films from the past few decades and as such helps to strengthen the arguments presented. Overall the essay has few weak points and as such provides a very vivid and excellent depiction of slasher films as being a genre that people should not immediately associate as being nothing more than a staple of bargain basement video bins.