. . .What violence has wrought on sex is more than deplorable. Violence resolves itself into different
orientations that are by varying degrees sanitized, humorous, absurd, and graphic. These perspectives do not always
remain apart - sometimes they blend - but they all cast sexual expression in a supporting role. To choose one of
the more mystic perspectives, consider the absurd orientation to violence. Consider, in particular, its
distinctive application to one of entertainment's more visible pastimes: the sexual humiliation of women.
. . . One scenario of absurd violence takes the unwitting woman and fancifully
renders her dead meat. Apparently unkillable villains like Michael from Halloween (1978), Jason from
Friday the 13th (1980), and Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) prey on the female,
who, oblivious to her last few breaths, shows us a tantalizing moment of terminal passion. The artistry
centers on the style of execution - a different girl, a different way to die. This formula demands that
the females (and a sampling of males thrown in for variety) exercise sufficient denseness to deserve their
death. Filmmakers often apply the formula by exhibiting nubile teenagers without a sound thought to their
name, roaming about in places they shouldn't be. Not too surprising, they leave themselves open for a
sexual atrocity or two.
. . .Sex, in this context, becomes the filmmaker's instrument of rapture. Arouse your
audience sensuously, then bring out the blade, the axe, the sledgehammer, the chain saw, or the vampire fangs.
Edward Donnerstein, Daniel Linz, and Steven Penrod (1987, p. 114) note that in one variety of horror films,
known as slasher movies, filmmakers frequently preface the absurd violence by including a previous scene of
eroticism. A teenage girl undresses for bed and projects a titillating image, vulnerable and poised like a
promising victim. The authors point out that the effect of pleasant arousal followed by aggression lulls
viewers into a desensitization to violence. The positive arousal that arises just before a
horrific scene not only makes the violence more exciting, but more acceptable to moviegoers.
. . .And what if we add one final ingredient? Suppose we deem the girl expendable
(say, she's a bitch). Having her appear cruelly seductive just before her grand demise suggests the makings
of a good murder. A subtle, cinematic rule is worked to perfection: The girl dies horribly because
her unseemly behavior indicates that she deserves to die. Moviegoers find her death especially enticing
since the girl also loses her ability to seduce - perhaps a talent that she used selfishly before her
murder. Directors of exploitation movies know how to score a cinematic knockout: use sex, then violence;
the one-two punch of horror films. . .(p. 6).