Academic journal article Journal of Film and Video

"Look What You Did to Me!": (Anti)Feminism and Extratextuality in the Remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Academic journal article Journal of Film and Video

"Look What You Did to Me!": (Anti)Feminism and Extratextuality in the Remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Article excerpt

THE SLASHER FILM GENRE, A SUBSET OF THE larger horror genre, first surfaced in 1974 with the release of genre forerunners such as Black Christmas (1974) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), which were followed by the successful slasher masterpiece Halloween (1978) and its many imitators. Slasher films reached the peak of their popularity in the early 1980s, producing a string of Halloween-inspired projects, such as Friday the 13th (1980), My Bloody Valentine (1981), and Prom Night (1980). Much of the widely cited scholarship on the slasher genre has seen this earliest batch of films, by virtue of the films' narrative traits, as vastly gendered (Clover; Dika) and even indicative of an antifeminist agenda. For example, Vera Dika states that feminists have "decried the films as beneath contempt and dangerous, especially because of the high level of violence they portray against women" (9). With the appearance of slasher films in the 1970s-80s occurring in tandem with the growth of feminism in the same time period, some critics have alleged that the genre's seemingly misogynistic treatment of its "predominantly femal[e]" casts of characters (Keisner 412) was "part of the backlash against the feminist movement" (Kawin 109) and the movement's progressive ideals.

Staking a claim on whether slasher films promote antifeminism can be complicated by the fact that many contemporary filmmakers have turned to these early slasher films and remade their stories with bigger Hollywood budgets and enhanced production values for the entertainment of present-day audiences. These audiences, in addition to perhaps holding different views on gender or dis/identifications with feminism than slasher film audiences in previous decades, are immersed in newer extratextual media technology (Brookey and Westerfelhaus) that has significant ramifications on how they view and interpret a film text. Even some of the burgeoning scholarship on slasher remakes (Lizardi) has not adequately considered these dynamics to the films. Scholars should devote more criticism to these films because, for better or worse, the slasher film remake has been a staple of American cinema in the early twentyfirst century. Many of the aforementioned slasher titles have been remade recently, including Black Christmas (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Halloween (2007), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Prom Night (2008), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), showing that the genre continues to be profitable with the American public.

The 1984 horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street is yet another slasher tale that has been subjected to this contemporary remake trend. The 1984 Nightmare was the first chapter (followed by seven sequels and a short-lived television anthology) in what could be considered one of the last great slasher series that gave the genre a temporary surge in popularity in the mid-1980s. The 1984 Nightmare has also been one of the most frequently discussed slasher films in recent academic literature (DeGraffenreid; Gill; Kingsley; Shimabukuro), especially by scholars intrigued by how traditional gender or sex roles and identities have been (re)constructed in the film (Christensen; Kendrick; Markovitz; Trencansky). Nearly three decades after the original film was released, the remade version of A Nightmare on Elm Street premiered in theaters nationwide in April 2010. In contrast to the 1984 Nightmare, though, very little scholarship has been written on the 2010 Nightmare remake.1

This study aims to bring the 2010 Nightmare into the spotlight in order to enhance scholarly understanding of the intersection between (anti)feminist gender identification and the newer media responsible for presenting these slasher film remakes to the viewing public. This study comparatively analyzes the endings (both the theatrical ending and the alternate ending) to the 2010 Nightmare remake, ultimately arguing that the media used in viewing the film can significantly influence how, and if, the viewer is exposed to (anti)feminist outlooks within the film. …

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