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Monstrous Feminine & Final Girl

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Presentation on theme: "Monstrous Feminine & Final Girl"— Presentation transcript:

1 Monstrous Feminine & Final Girl
2 Key Female Archetypes in Horror Films Warning: Blood and Gore Next

2 Alien Eggs

3 Species Searching for a mating partner so she can become pregnant, Sil leaves bodies in her wake.

4 Dawn of the Dead, 2004

5 Monstrous Feminine Barbara Creed – Feminine Reproductive Biology Made Monstrous

6 Stephen King on Carrie “If The Stepford Wives concerns itself with what men want from women, then Carrie is largely about how women find their own channels of power, and what men fear about women and women’s sexuality Which is only to say that, writing the book in 1973 and only out of college three years, I was fully aware of what Women’s Liberation implied for me and others of my sex. The book is, in is more adult implications, an uneasy masculine shrinking from a future of female equality.”

7 Monster, Victim, or Hero? “For me, Carrie White is a sadly misused teenager, an example of the sort of person whose spirit is so often broken for good in that pit of man- and women-eaters that is your normal suburban high school. But she’s also Woman, feeling her powers for the first time, and, like Samson, pulling down the temple on everyone in sight at the end of the book.” She is monster because of her excess and destruction She is also “victim-hero,” who gets revenge, but it is women’s liberation that allows her to exact revenge and which makes her a monster.

8 “Final Girl” – Carol Glover
Slasher Films – films that exploit women on one hand and make them heroes in the end, on the other hand. Men, Women and Chainsaws, Carol Clover

9 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974
Tobe Hooper (college professor) $83,532 production, $30million gross Unprecedented profit for indie film until Halloween broke that record Fake doc footage thought real, Ed Gein

10 Remake 2003


12 Production cost: $320,000 Grossed $75 milliion in 6 years
Halloween 1978 Production cost: $320,000 Grossed $75 milliion in 6 years

13 Michael vs. Jamie Lee

14 (We’ll come back to this)
Alien, 1980 (We’ll come back to this)

15 Friday the 13th, 1980 Jason vs. Betsy Palmer

16 Friday the 13th Part II “Ginny”

17 Nightmare on Elm Street

18 Freddy vs. Heather Heather Langenkamp

19 Terminator 1984

20 Terminator, 1984

21 The Classy Slasher Film
Silence of the Lambs 1991 The Classy Slasher Film

22 What do the “Final Girls” Have in Common?
Tom-boyish Usually not sexually active Specially skilled (e.g., mechanical) Is at the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Becomes an adult by becoming male (phallus) Kills the slasher and is last one standing in end

23 New Era “Final Girl”

24 T2: Judgment Day, 1991 Sarah (Linda Hamilton) isn’t crazy. She’s ready.

25 Sarah Connor Action Figure Doll

26 Mother/Savior Androgyny
A different kind of representation

27 Contrast 1979 – Ripley in the wrong place at the wrong time

28 1996 Ripley - Action Hero who chooses the battle.

29 1986 Final Girl Fights Monstrous Feminine (external and internal) symbolic internal battle

30 Champions Motherhood? A gruesome form of birth

31 Subverting Gender Norms
Vasquez Ripley 1992

32 The New “Final Girl” Intentionally takes on the challenge
Becomes a main action hero Visible from the beginning, physically fit We know about their lives & psychology Being a Woman is Integral to Character (being a mother, partner, etc.) Sequals Allowed This to Happen (move from traditional last girl to new last girl character)

33 Alien Movies Summary Alien 1979 (traditional last girl)
Aliens 1986 (superhero and mother) Alien (gender subversion, rape) Alien Resurrection 1997 (biotech violation)

34 Alien Resurrection 1997 How is this different?
It combinines final girl with monstrous feminine and undermines the agency and identity of Ripley. Alien Resurrection plot summary It is 200 years since Ellen Ripley died on Fiorina 161. Ripley's former employers, The Weyland-Yutani Company has dissolved and now the United Systems Military has assumed the task of breeding and harnessing the deadly aliens. With blood samples taken from her previous life, scientists clone a new Ripley in order to extract the queen alien inside of her. The new Ripley, known as number 8, acquires physical and emotional traits from both humanity and the aliens, making her question where her allegiances lie. Shortly after, the aliens break free and commence killing those onboard. Ripley, along with a crew of smugglers that unknowingly helped in delivering hosts to breed the alien species, must now escape the perilous ship. Along the way, Ripley encounters a shocking revelation that truly sets herself against both humanity and the alien species. She must now decide what she truly is, in order to save humanity once more.and with their ship making their way towards earth, automatically, it really is war. Alien Resurrection ending / spoiler Call (Winona Ryder) turns out to be a robot. Ripley discovers that the alien queen has mutated and has given birth to an alien/human hybrid. The hybrid chases Ripley onto the Betty. After it kills the remaining marine, Ripley cuts herself and with her blood destroys the airlock window. The hybrid is sucked out into space and only Call, Ripley, Vreiss and Johner escape while the military ship crashes into France. In the theatrical release Call and Ripley look outside the ship's window and gaze at an island. In the special edition they land in (a now nuked) Paris. Call tells Ripley that it's the type of place they get could lost in.

35 Side Note: Thelma & Louise (1991) comes out during the transition.

36 Theme of Violation – Final Girls
The Final Girls Must Be Sexually Violated to Be Heroic and Still Be a Women

37 Theme of Violation Ridley struggles against the monstrous feminine— (the monster is at times separate from her, at times internalized as a pregnancy or DNA, and at times phallic and violating—tonge, tail, etc.)

38 1991 Clarice Starling allows herself to be incest victim to Lecter in order to solve the crime and show her competence. This is how she becomes a “woman” (vulnerable, etc.)

39 “Sidney” vs. her boyfriend . . . ?
Scream 1996

40 Questions? In your opinion, what ways are “final girls” positive or negative characterizations of women?

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