Horror Films: Current Research on Audience Preferences and Reactions

By James B. Weaver III; Ron Tamborini | Go to book overview

coded by Molitor and Sapolsky (cf. Molitor & Sapolsky, 1994). This may be the case for the slasher films that have been used as stimuli in experimental studies of males' reactions to film violence (e.g., Friday the 13th: Part 2, I Spit on Your Grave, Maniac, Nightmare, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Toolbox Murders, and Vice Squad from Linzn, Donnerstein, & Penrod, 1984, 1988). These films may in fact dwell on women as victims, and often do so in the context of sexual activity. Other violent horror movies that might be compared to the more popular slasher films are those that have duplicated the plot (i.e., dead zombies eating victims) of Night of the Living Dead (e.g., Return of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead), and the Faces of Death series, which includes actual footage of gruesome accidental deaths, autopsies, and executions. Although these types of films have not been as popular in theatrical release, they may have received wider exposure through videotape rentals.

It is obvious that different conclusions about the level of extreme violence and the level of violence directed at women may be drawn, depending on which films are included in what we have referred to as the slasher subgenre. One characteristic that would appear to be important, for example, is the number of female characters present in a film and thus available to serve as targets of extreme violence ( Molitor & Sapolsky, 1994). We anticipate that further analyses of film content will reveal subtle distinctions in what have to date been broadly defined as slasher movies.


REFERENCES

Bass A. ( 1988, December 19). "Do slasher films breed real-life violence?" Boston Globe [from service Newsbank, FTV, 1989, fiche No. 5, grid B2-B4].

Broeske P. H. ( 1984, September 2). "Killing is alive and well in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times, pp. 19-22.

"Child's play". ( 1987, June 1). Time, p. 31.

Clover C. J. ( 1992). Men, women and chain saws: Gender in the modern horror film. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Continelli L. ( 1989, May 7). "Are slasher movies numbing us to violence?" Bufflo News [from service Newsbank, FTV, 1989, fiche No. 63, grid A7-A9].

Cowan G., & O'Brien M. ( 1990). "Gender and survival vs. death in slasher films: A content analysis". Sex Roles, 23, 187-196.

Doherty T. ( 1988). Teenagers and teenpics: The juvenilization of American movies in the 1950's. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Donnerstein E., Linz D., & Penrod S. ( 1987). The question of pornography. New York: The Free Press.

Farber S. ( 1972). The movie rating game. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press.

Hogan D. J. ( 1986). Dark romance: Sexuality in the horror film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

Kendrick W. ( 1991). The thrill of fear: 250 years of seary entertainment. New York: Grove Press.

Linz D., Donnerstein E., & Adams S. M. ( 1989). "Physiological desensitization and judgments about female victims of violence". Human Communication Research, 15, 509-522.

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