Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Emasculation of Horror

Cover of "Hostel - Part II (Unrated Wides...Cover via Amazon

The Emasculation of Horror
In the past of horror films certain rules reigned supreme. New Horror films have sought to break that pattern. Horror films of the past tried to show men going up against evil forces and saving women. Women whose role it was to scream and faint. Over time new genres of horror have emerged where women rescue men or themselves. Of course there are horror films like House of a Thousand Corpse where Monty Python’s foot comes down and everyone dies.
Torture Porn is a genre which has broken from main street horror. It has sought to break free from traditional films and show things that would not have been in older films. One type of scene that clearly shows a break from the traditional values is the castration scene. Castration scenes tend to be in only low budget shock films like Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, I Spit on Your Grave, Night of the Demon and the original Last House on the Left. However only two of those films show women doing the castration and in both the castration is not actually seen.
Newer horror films like Teeth and Hostel 2 have tried to break that pattern by showing women taking things into their own hands and cutting things off. Of course in Teeth some of the many castrations happen by accident. It isn’t until later in the film when the main character embraces her feminine power and willfully castrates men. Hostel 2 shows us a powerful wealthy woman who is turned into a victim and later seizes back her power by castrating one of the men who made her into a victim. The interesting is that the man she castrated had already been emasculated by his wife. So in some ways the main character was just finishing the job that his wife had already began.
One thing these films fall short in, is the fact that these brutal acts seem to be justified. In most mainstream horror a psychopath does brutal things to women and even some men for no apparent reason. Even in newer films they try to soften the image of women by always giving them a reason for doing horrible things to other people.
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