Being a woman who loves horror flicks is tough, especially in October. As Halloween approaches and studios push out their scary slate in earnest, we’re forced to grapple with a litany of films that turn violence against women into entertainment. From the bevy of nameless young women in the “Friday the 13th” series who meet the wrong end of a machete after a few minutes of passion; to Tina, in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” who gets slashed to death post-coitus; the mutilation, rape, and punishment of women who are seen as sexually “loose” is a gross staple of the horror genre that came to prominence in the 1980s and never left. To be a sexual woman in horror is to welcome death with open arms, and the women who survive — the Nancys (“Nightmare on Elm Street”) and Laurie Strodes (“Halloween”) of the genre — are, more often than not, chaste, innocent, and virginal.
These virtuous survivors are so common that they’ve even earned their own horror movie cliché: “Final Girls.” And although some modern films, like Karyn Kusama’s “Jennifer’s Body,” have turned the trope on its head and started to get meta about the violence toward women the horror genre propagates, as well as the narrow sexual morality lessons characters like the Final Girl promote, they still have a long way to go. Trailers for recent horror pics like “Don’t Breathe,” “31,” and “Happy Death Day,” that literally show women strangled, chained, stabbed, and set on fire, are proof of this. Still, for feminists who love all things gore and slash, there’s hope.