The Dread of Difference
Edited by Barry Grant

Gender in the Slasher Film
by Carol J. Clover

. . .Cinema, it is claimed, owes its particular success in the sensation genres (witness the early and swift rise of vampire films) to its unprecedented ability to manipulate point of view. What written narrative must announce, film can accomplish silently and instantaneously through cutting. Within the space of seconds, the vampire's first-person perspective is displaced by third-person or documentary observation. To these simple shifts can be added the variables of distance (from the panorama of the battlefield to the close-up of an eyeball), angle, frame tilt, lighting effects, unsteadiness of image, and so on - again, all subject to sudden and unannounced manipulation. Friday the 13th (1980) locates the I-camera with the killer in pursuit of a victim; the camera is hand-held, producing a jerky image, and the frame includes in-and-out-of-focus foreground objects (trees, bushes, window frames) behind which the killer (I-camera), is lurking - all accompanied by the sound of heartbeats and heavy breathing. "The camera moves in on the screaming, pleading victim, 'looks down' at the knife, and then plunges into the chest, ear, or eyeball. Now that's sick.". . . (p. 69)

Bringing It All Back Home
by Vivian Sobchack

. . .Over a ten year period, the horror film has obliquely moved from the representation of children as terrors to children terrorized. Unnatural natural infants or demonically possessed children become sympathetic victims whose special powers are justifiably provoked or venally abused. And, where once teenagers threatened an entire populace and its social regulation with their burgeoning sexuality and presumption to adulthood, in recent years they have been solipsistically annihilating each other in a quarantined and culturally negligible space. (Indeed, a subgenre solely devoted to teenagers watching and awaiting their own senseless annihilation emerged with Halloween in 1978 and Friday the 13th in 1980. These slasher movies seem to appeal to adolescent feelings of rage and helplessness - feelings always present but specifically articulated in apocalyptic terms in an age marked by generalized nuclear fear and the particularly brutal events of the 1960s youth and antiwar movements. These films abstract and ritualize adolescent isolation, rage, and helplessness, and its particularly interesting to note how they rigorously repress the presence of parents and families, the latter's impotence and failure an absence that necessitates and structures the violence of the narratives.). . . (p. 150)

Trying to Survive on the Darker Side: 1980s Family Horror
by Tony Williams

. . .The 1980s decade was extremely disappointing for critics impressed by the horror genre's brief 1970s renaissance. While the 1970s saw the emergence of radical works by directors such as Larry Cohen, Was Craven, and George Romero, the following decade appeared to feature reductive exploitation films such as the Friday the 13th, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street series - all highly dependent on spectacular special effects and gory bloodbaths of promiscuous (mostly female) teenagers. . . Patriarchal avengers such as Michael Myers, Mrs. Voorhees, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger slaughtered the youthful children of the 1960s generation, especially when they engaged in illicit activities involving sex and drugs. The whole decade appeared a cinematic wasteland. . .(p.164)

. . .[Carol] Clover's supposedly progressive Final Girls are never entirely victorious at the end of certain films nor are they devoid of the recuperation into a male order of things that they are supposedly free of. . . Alice (Adrienne King) survives at the end of Friday the 13th to fall victim to Jason in the sequel's prologue after suffering traumatic nightmares, Carrie-style. Although Friday the 13th's unseen assailant turns out to be a she rather than a he, Mrs. Voorhees does not act independently. The final battle reveals her as a split subject. She speaks in Jason's voice ("Kill her, Mummy. Kill her") and replies in her own, "I will! I will." Although eighties heroines may appear more masculinized than their predecessors, the conservative ideological dimensions of this gender change needs thorough investigation before we may safely regard it as progressive. The heroines of Friday the 13 Part 2 (1981) and Friday the 13th Part III (1982) are alive at the end of the films but catatonic. In the former, Ginny temporarily adopts Mrs. Voorhees's authoritarian role to survive. Although circumstances necessitate this, she clearly uses the enemy's strategy to become a phallic mother herself. This posture really questions the positive image of the Final Girl. As the final image shows, the mother's decapitated (but still powerful) head survives as an enshrined totem. Indeed, the latter film's Final Girl is actually carried away on a stretcher calling in vain for her boyfriend in a definitely non-independent manner, certainly not victorious! There is no Final Girl in Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter (1984). Young Tommy masquerades as Jason's mirror image, using a similar strategy to Ginny in the second film, before killing him. The film ends with Tommy's becoming Jason. In Friday the 13th - A New Beginning (1985), guilty parent Roy follows Mrs. Voorhees's vengeful trajectory in a film revealing the series' gradual changeover from dwelling excessively on teenage slaughter toward tentatively critiquing parental irresponsibility. Since Roy attempts displacing his guilt for neglecting his son onto violent revenge against teenagers, this also suggests an alternative reason for Mrs. Voorhees's original activities. Did she not, originally, neglect Jason and leave him to drown? Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) indirectly suggests this, but this tantalizingly anti-hegemonic motif never receives full development. Although Megan actually saves Tommy at the end of Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), this act occurs in a film that develops anti-family motifs absent from the earlier series.

. . .Both Friday the 13th, Part VII - The New Blood (1988) and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan develop these themes in different ways, a potential lost in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993), which celebrates family values in reuniting a Final Father and Mother! The Friday the 13th films are not entirely identical; despite the repetitive elements, there are also some significant differences. Clover's analysis elevates the Final Girl into a rigid model. Her work does not closely examine relevant specific instances within each particular film that often question the validity of her thesis. . . It is only after 1986 that heroines really survive, due to historical factors that Clover ignores. This era saw a growing revelation of cases of child abuse and dysfunctional families, giving the lie to the Reagan family dream. At the same time, the developing Iran and Contragate revelations showed not only the Father did not know best but that, like a doddering grandfather, he was not even aware of what was going on in the White House. Later versions of the Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street films emphasized the role of dysfunctional families, showing the necessity of constant vigilance against supernatural patriarchal avatars and their real-life dysfunctional counterparts. It is the latter factor that distinguishes the real survival of the Final Girl in Friday the 13th, Part VI, Friday the 13th, Part VII, and Jason Takes Manhattan, all three films involving the survival of both male and female teenagers. These Final Girls differ in every film as a result of relevant historical, not discursively theoretical, factors. . .(p.170)