So too the cinematic apparatus The classic split between spectacle and nar

So too the cinematic apparatus the classic split

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So too the cinematic apparatus. The classic split between "spectacle and nar- rative," which "supposes the man's role as the active one of forwarding the story, making things happen," is at least unsettled in the slasher film.68 When the Final Girl (in films like Hell Night, Texas Chain Saw II, and even Splatter University) assumes the "active investigating gaze," she exactly reverses the look, making a spectacle of the killer and a spectator of herself. Again, it is through the killer's eyes (I-camera) that we saw the Final Girl at the beginning of the film, and through the Final Girl's eyes that we see the killer, often for the first time with any clarity, toward the end. The gaze becomes, at least for a while, female. More to the point, the female exercise of scopic control results not in her annihilation, in the manner of classic cinema, but in her triumph; indeed, her triumph depends on her assumption of the gaze. It is no surprise, in light of these developments, that the Final Girl should show signs of boyishness. Her symbolic phallicization, in the last scenes, may or may not proceed at root from the horror of lack on the part of audience and maker. But it certainly proceeds from the need to bring her in line with the epic laws of Western narrative tradition-the very unanimity of which bears witness to the historical importance, in popular culture, of the literal representation of heroism in male form-and it proceeds no less from the need to render the reallocated gaze intelligible to an audience conditioned by the dom- inant cinematic apparatus. It is worth noting that the higher genres of horror have for the most part resisted such developments. The idea of a female who outsmarts, much less out- fights-or outgazes-her assailant is unthinkable in the films of De Palma and Hitchcock. Although the slasher film's victims may be sexual teases, they are not in addition simple-minded, scheming, physically incompetent, and morally defi- cient in the manner of these filmmakers' female victims. And however revolting their special effects and sexualized their violence, few slasher murders approach the level of voluptuous sadism that attends the destruction of women in De Palma's films. For reasons on which we can only speculate, femininity is more conventionally elaborated and inexorably punished, and in an emphatically mas- culine environment, in the higher forms-the forms that are written up, and not by Joe Bob Briggs. That the slasher film speaks deeply and obsessively to male anxieties and desires seems clear-if nothing else from the maleness of the majority audience. Gender in the Slasher Film 219 This content downloaded from 128.114.34.22 on Thu, 12 May 2016 20:34:35 UTC All use subject to
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And yet these are texts in which the categories masculine and feminine, tradi- tionally embodied in male and female, are collapsed into one and the same char- acter-a character who is anatomically female and one whose point of view the
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  • Spring '14
  • Horror film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Slasher film

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