virgin/whore

Every Spooky Thing is Phallic

When you watch a slasher film, someone is going to get penetrated.

With a knife, yes, but I think we all know the real implications here: Knives, chainsaws, and the like are often used against (women) victims, and even vampire fangs, which penetrate the skin can be phallic in nature. Vampire kings often have castle towers, and victims in these films are more often than not young, sexual women.

After all, that’s why you never have sex in a horror film.

Unless the horror movie is Cherry Falls. Then you can have all the sex.

Unless the horror movie is Cherry Falls. Then you can have all the sex.

This is especially true of slasher films, which gave us the concept of the “Final Girl”–a pure female character who survives until the end because she upholds some form of “correct” behavior. In Halloween, she’s a sweet girl who works hard and isn’t a dirty loudmouth like her friend. In Friday the 13th she’s kind little Alice. In Wishmaster, she’s an innocent woman wracked with guilt over her parent’s death and who refused to succumb to the greed of wishes.

Which plays upon the “virgin/whore” dichotomy: Either a character is a raucous slut who deserves to get (excuse my language) metaphorically “fucked” by the overtly masculine (but apparently incapable of sex) bad guy, or she’s pure enough to make it to the end.

But masculine/feminine symbols don’t end with slasher films, or even the concept of the Final Girl. Bruce “Don’t Call Me Ash” Campbell’s character, Ash, in Evil Dead is not a woman, but he is the only survivor. Thrice. That doesn’t stop director Sam Raimi from making the most overt phallic symbol in a horror movie ever when he has a character who is literally raped by trees and thus turns into a Candarian Demon.

 

And so a woman becomes violated, and thus turns evil–despite being the only non-raucous person heading to the woods that day.

The problem with this concept being that it was not left in the 80s and early 90s: And is still played upon in films like All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, The Collection, The House of the Devil, and most obnoxiously the impending film Final Girl.

In fact, the concept of masculine sexual actions being represented in horror film as a way to kill women is so prevalent they even wrote a book about it, which is worth a read for anyone interested in film, horror, or feminism.

So next time you watch a horror film pay attention, because everything is phallic.

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