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Just a girl

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Just a girl the role of violent adolescent females in contemporary American horror film
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Villegas, Zachary Philip
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Teenage girls in motion pictures ( lcsh )
Horror films -- United States ( lcsh )
Violence -- Sex differences ( lcsh )
Horror films ( fast )
Teenage girls in motion pictures ( fast )
Violence -- Sex differences ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
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non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Women have traditionally been assigned to the victim role in the horror genre. The purpose of this study is to examine two contemporary examples of American horror films that place women in a position of power. Hard Candy and Teeth both challenge the notion of the helpless and abused female through the introduction of a violent adolescent girl character. A brief history of two distinct waves of horror preceding the post-millennium case studies reveal a change in the applicability of gender theory to contemporary horror. Laura Mulvey's scholastic presence in first-wave horror--defined by films in the 1960s to mid-70s--examines women strictly in a victim-role. Carol Clover's criticism of slasher and possession films of the mid-1970s and 80s demonstrates the empowerment of women who are willing to sacrifice their sexuality and sexual identity. This study argues how Hard Candy and Teeth are the next step in women's separation from a tradition of victimization. The paper concludes with an examination of the culture in which these films emerged and how the violent girl character is a response to the social norms girls are raised to accept.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by Zachary Philip Villegas.

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Full Text
JUST A GIRL: THE ROLE OF VIOLENT ADOLESCENT FEMALES
IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN HORROR CINEMA
By
Zachary Philip Villegas
B.A, Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2008
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements of
Master of Humanities
2012


This thesis for the Master of Humanities degree by
Zachary Philip Villegas
has been approved for the
Humanities
By
Margaret Woodhull, Chair
Gillian Silverman
Brian Ott


Villegas, Zachary, Philip (M.H., Master of Humanities)
Just a Girl: The Role of Violent Adolescent Females in Contemporary American Horror
Cinema
Thesis directed by Margaret Woodhull/Gillian Silverman/Brian Ott
ABSTRACT
Women have traditionally been assigned to the victim role in the horror genre. The
purpose of this study is to examine two contemporary examples of American horror films
that place women in a position of power. Hard Candy and Teeth both challenge the notion
of the helpless and abused female through the introduction of a violent adolescent girl
character. A brief history of two distinct waves of horror preceding the post-millennium case
studies reveal a change in the applicability of gender theory to contemporary horror. Laura
Mulvey's scholastic presence in first-wave horrordefined by films in the 1960s to mid-
70sexamines women strictly in a victim-role. Carol Clover's criticism of slasher and
possession films of the mid-1970s and 80s demonstrates the empowerment of women who
are willing to sacrifice their sexuality and sexual identity. This study argues how Hard Candy
and Teeth are the next step in women's separation from a tradition of victimization. The
paper concludes with an examination of the culture in which these films emerged and how
the violent girl character is a response to the social norms girls are raised to accept.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Margaret Woodhull


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My deepest thanks to Susan Linville and Tiel Lundy for all the valuable advice and support
they have given in developing this thesis, as well as the incredible influence they have
provided in my academic career. I also wish to thank my advisor, Margaret Woodhull, for
her consistent encouragement and invaluable contributions to my research and intellectual
development. My thanks, also, to the members of my committee for their constructive
insights and invested interest in my work; I could not have asked for a better experience.
IV


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...................................................1
II. THEORY.........................................................6
First-Wave Movies............................................7
First-Wave Theory...........................................14
Second-Wave Movies..........................................23
Second-Wave Theory..........................................32
III. HARD CANDY....................................................42
Victimization...............................................42
Transference of Power.......................................50
The Role of Terror..........................................60
Redefining Convention.......................................68
IV. TEETH.........................................................75
Another Victim..............................................75
Realization of Power........................................84
Defying History.............................................90
V. SOCIAL RELEVANCE.............................................102
Societys Victim...........................................102
Youthful Rebellion.........................................109
WORKS CITED......................................................115
v


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The setting is an isolated motel and a woman screams out in terror and
surprise as she is stabbed to death in the shower. The setting is an eerily empty street
in suburbia and a teenage girl runs frantically from a masked figure carrying a bloody
butcher knife. The setting is a swank Hollywood residence and a young girl, around
the age of fourteen, flirtatiously addresses the wolfishly leering thirty-something man
who has invited her into his home. This is the setting for horror, for victims, and for
tormentors. The question, however, is who plays what role? Alfred Hitchcock once
articulated the belief that much of Hollywood horror was abiding by when he
declared, I always believe in following the advice of the playwright Sardou. He said,
Torture the women! The trouble today is that we dont torture women enough
(Clover 42). Traditionally, the role of the victim has been reserved for women within
the American horror genre, while the terror that stalks the night is generally male or
masculine in nature. For decades, women have been beaten, raped, and brutally
murdered in the name of entertainment; however, there have been changes in the
genre that help establish three distinct waves of American horror films.
Carol Clover distinguishes the first two cycles in her book, Men, Women and
Chain Saws. She explains, We have, in short, a cinematic formula with a twenty-six-
1


year history, of which the first phase, from 1960 to 1974, is dominated by a film
clearly rooted in the sensibility of the 1950s, while the second phase, bracketed by the
two Texas Chain Saw films from 1974 and 1986, responds to the values of the late
sixties and early seventies (Clover 26). The first of these waves, or phases, can be
characterized as Hitchcockian horror of the 1960s and early 70s. Women in their
twenties or thirties are sexualized and victimized. They effortlessly die at the hands of
a male or masculine murderer. Laura Mulvey addressed issues of the objectification
of women by the voyeuristic male in her essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative
Cinema. She began the exploration of gender representation in horror through a
psychoanalytical lens and broached the question of why women are exploited and
punished for their sex and sexuality. Here, women are purely the victim; there is no
salvation for the leading ladies, as they are confined to a role of helpless passivity.
The late 1970s and 80 brought a change to the genre. Slasher films began
gaining popularity and often revolved around a group of young men and women in
their teens or early twenties who were methodically stalked and brutally murdered by
a faceless killer. A single survivor, typically a woman, would then directly aggress
the killer in order to defeat or successfully escape her tormentor. Building upon the
psychoanalytical groundwork of Mulvey, Carol Clover became the scholar who
helped provide theoretical credence to this subgenre of blood and gore. Her look at
the androgynous Final Girl and the masculine ambiguity of the killer began to
challenge the tradition of women as victims. While females were still the primary
2


recipients of torture, they were also becoming the only characters capable of escaping
or defeating the terror. The second wave of horror depicted women who were no
longer helpless victims but could be independent and strong heroines. Even if that
independence came at a cost of a distinct sexual identity.
This second wave of horror also contained another type of shift in gender
representation separate from that seen in the slasher film. The possession flick
allowed women to transcend the role of victim by turning them into the source of
horror. Through the process of demonic possession or supernatural manipulation,
female characters could be depicted as grotesque sexualized monsters devoid of
sympathy or humanity. These villainous women, while strong, supported negative
representations of women. The female body became something abhorrent that needed
to be contained and controlled. The films of the second wave altered the
representation of women in horror films yet they were a far cry from being considered
feminist representations. However, this wave helped set the stage for the third wave.
The focus of this paper is on the yet undefined and unexplored third wave of
horror. New trends and representations have begun emerging in American
independent horror film in the new millennium and the scholarly criticism that helped
shape gender awareness in the past waves has not been applied and adapted to the
new film cycle. The third wave is characterized by teenage girls, distinctly younger
than the females of second wave movies, who are developed as sexualized and
threatening heroines. These girls become the violent judicators against men guilty of
3


exploiting and victimizing the innocent. The sudden shift of female representation in
modern horror challenges the tradition of feminine passivity and helplessness.
Chapter Two of the project will outline the characteristics of films and major
theories of the first two waves. Chapter Three and Four will examine two case study
films representative of the third wave: Hard Candy (2003) and Teeth (2005). The two
films contain violent adolescent girls who are exposed to varying degrees of abuse
but have aggressively reacted against their situation. They can be viewed as tragic
heroines, vengeful anti-heroines, or even antagonistic victimizers themselves. They
are not the androgynous females of second wave horror; these girls are aggressive,
sexual, and unafraid of marring their innocence by reveling in the grotesque. These
films represent a change in the cinematic landscape and, as a result, the theory that
accompanies it must also evolve. Chapter Five will hypothesize the significance the
violent adolescent girl archetype will have on feminism and American societys
perception of gender and sexuality. While directorial analysis of Hard Candy and
Teeth is not the focus of the project, this section will also briefly consider the
influence the male directors had in the audiences reception of their heroines.
The old mantra of torturing the women in horror has undergone a gradual
change and the commonality of female victimization is becoming less pronounced.
The conventions are being rearranged and the transference of power is made visibly
apparent. Men may still be the conventional villains in horror films but it is their
wicked intentions that lead to their violent downfall. Horror films, now more than
4


ever, are celebrating the power of female sexuality and the patriarchal nightmare that
can unfold when women are exploited and abused.
5


CHAPTER 2
THEORY
The violence-against-women movies have generally been explained as a hysterical
response to 1960s and 1970s feminism: the male spectator enjoys a sadistic revenge
on women who refuse to slot neatly and obligingly into his patriarchally
predetermined view of the way things should naturally be. This interpretation is
convincing so long as one sees it as accounting for the intensity, repetitiveness, and
ritualistic insistence of these films, and not for the basic phenomenon itself. From
Caligari to Psycho and beyond, women have always been the main focus of threat
and assault in the horror film.
Robin Wood
In the following pages, I will trace the trajectory of the horror genre, both in
thematic appearance as well as criticism. I will begin with First-Wave horror and
provide examples of films that properly represent the wave before introducing Laura
Mulveys analysis of prevalent themes of the period. Next, I will examine the genre-
shift that developed into Second-Wave horror; here I will discuss the characteristics
that shape specific films of the class. A breakdown of Carol Clovers theories on
Second-Wave horror, as well as the scholars who built upon her criticism, will be
explored in the final section of this chapter. Understanding the history of the horror
genre and the criticism that traces it will provide stronger distinction to the Third-
Wave films which will be discussed in chapters three and four.
6


First-Wave Movies
Horror films were around long before the 1960s, but it was in this decade that
fear became directed not monsters or aliens but at other people. Sadistic voyeuristic
desire began to find a place on screen as terror became the internal perversion of the
common man rather than an external supernatural adversary. The 60s were populated
by horror films addressing madness, murderous lust, and possessive obsession.
Women became the objects of desire in which violent and forceful men tried to obtain
and contain by any means necessary. The trend of violence towards women in horror
did not originate in this decade but did, however, find an apt audience to perpetuate
its popularity.
A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon outlines the growing interest
in sexism and sadism in the 1960s. Dixon states:
One of the most violent films of the era was a rather lavishly budgeted British
film that was screened at childrens matinees throughout the United States
during the early 1960s: Arthur Crabtrees remarkably sadistic Horrors of the
Black Museum (1959). .Horrors of the Black Museum is a virtual catalogue
of murders presented without a shred of conscience or commentary. (73)
The narrative revolves around an audiences demand for violence. Dixon summarizes,
crime reporter Edmond Bancroft (Michael Gough). .realizes that his readers are
hungry for the gory details of violent crimes and consequently arranges incidents. .to
keep his public satisfied (74). Bancrofts primary victims were young, attractive
7


women and the film was filled with highly sexist dialogue. Dixon emphasis how,
Bancroft proudly keeps his own private Black Museum, showcasing the savage
crimes hes committed, and he is a thoroughgoing misogynist. At one point he blurts
out to Rick (Graham Curnow), his young assistant, that no woman can hold her
tongue. Theyre a vicious, unreliable breed! (74). The film begins to address the
subject of the objectifying gaze that much of first wave theory examines.
Shortly after the Horrors of the Black Museum, Alfred Hitchcock provided his
own contribution to horror cinema and changed the landscape of the genre. Dixon
states, The film that truly put an end to the 1950s and opened up a new era for the
horror film was Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho (1960), a surprising brutal film with
significant horror elements (violent death, an old dark house) from a filmmaker best
known as a purveyor of sleek suspense (75). The film plays heavily on voyeuristic
pleasure, embodies in the films antagonist, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) as well
as the threatening quality of female sexuality to patriarchal stability. David Sterritt
describes the film as, Hitchcocks nastiest meditation on performance as a way of
life, the home as theater and prison, and the predominance of physicality over
psychology and morality in the world of film. Complicating the schema is
Hitchcocks deep loathing of the body, unleashed here as never before and touching
off a tidal wave of cinema as nausea (24). Norman, as orchestrator of the action,
demonstrates a violent reaction to the corporeal body, and that body is distinctly
female.
8


The plot revolves around Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is trying to escape
after stealing a large sum of money from a client of her employer. She spends the
night in an isolated motel and is brutally murdered while bathing in, what has now
become, an iconic shower scene. The timid motel owner, Norman Bates, believes it
was his jealous mother who murdered his love interest but the films climax reveals
that Norman and his mother are one in the same. His dual personality causes a violent
reaction of guilt toward women he finds attractive, and his mother persona disposes
of the female threats accordingly.
Sterrit details Marions death scene and dissects the significance of the
montage. The blend of what is seen and unseen to the viewer plays upon the theme of
gaze possession and the pleasure that is derived from the violent murder. He explains
the sequence:
Its most significant aspect may be the fact that its kineticism not only shows
but obscures. That is, we see a great many views from a great many angles;
yet far from feeling surfeited with information about the event, we instead feel
confused as to exactly whats going on, except in the general sense that
Marion is being knifed to death. With its paradoxical suggestions of
squeamishness and a bizarre sort of tact in the midst of horrific violence this is
an important consideration about a scene that has been cited, often
simplistically, as evidence of misogyny on Hitchcocks part. (Sterrit 108)
9


Stripped down to its most basic narrative purpose, the scene is about the death of the
films heroine. The stylistic garnish only elevates the sexualized bloodshed into
something visually pleasing. The obscured voyeuristic perspective Hitchcock
provided his audience turned a scene of stark sadism into celebrated cinematic
achievement. The film illustrated that torturing the women could be a commercially
and critically successful avenue. Sterrit, also, directly acknowledges Hitchcocks
misogyny. Women, not men, are the victims of a Hitchcockain narrative; men control
the action, influence the audience, and direct the gaze of the camera: a point that
scholars would soon come to dissect.
In 1968, Roman Polanski released Rosemarys Baby, a film that displayed
female helplessness and passivity in a drastically different way than Psycho. Instead
of being the victim of murderous intent, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) becomes an
unwilling prisoner of her own biology. Polanski tells the tale of a newlywed couple
who move into an old apartment and are befriended by their eccentric neighbors.
When Rosemary becomes pregnant following a nightmarish fit of delirium, she
slowly begins to suspect her neighbors, their network of professional friends, and her
husband of being involved in the occult and interfering with her pregnancy. The film
concludes with the discovery that she has given birth to a demonic abomination; she
accepts the child as her own in spite of her exploitive treatment.
Rosemarys role as a subordinate victim to her husband and society lacks the
violence of other horror films of the first wave but displays a more constricting form
10


of domestic oppression. Virginia Wright Wexman states, if Polanskis horror films
deal with outsiders to the worlds they portray, they are even more centrally concerned
with the outsiders who invariably exist within these worlds: women. The presence of
women in such stories raises cultural anxieties not only about social status but also
about sexual identity (31). The narrative depicts Rosemary as merely an extension of
her husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), and she is frequently dismissed with infantilized
condescension. At one point in the story, Guy scolds Rosemary for not eating the
dessert Minnie (Ruth Gordon), the neighbor, has made them. When she relinquishes
and conceals the dessert in a napkin when Guy is not looking, she says in a child-like
voice, there daddy, do I get a gold star? Guy is displayed as a domineering parental
figure over his wife and confines her to the domestic sphere. When she tries to
interact with the public world, to seek advice from friends, and exercise independent
though, she is escorted back into isolation.
Her sexual repression is made possible by the separation of self and body.
Rosemarys condition becomes the vehicle for division between mind and maternity.
Wexman elaborates:
As the heroines figure changes, idealized representations of bodies begin to
intrude in the mise-en-scene. Suggesting Rosemarys increasing estrangement
from her own body. A slim, long-legged nude statue occupies an important
position in the frame when Rosemary is feeling unwell on the first day of her
period, and we see the statue again as she sits in front of the television set
11


doubled over in pain, watching women dancers moving in perfect
synchronization. (38)
The alienation from self is only further compounded by the occults direct violation
of Rosemarys reproductive freedom. Her willingness to procreate with her husband
is distorted and perverted by outside influences which reduce her to a dehumanized
vessel. The occult strips Rosemary of her sexual power and exploit her fertility for
their satanic benefit. The misogynistic abuse of the film demonstrated a form of
sexism more common in reality. The terror was not of a violent killer but a
manipulative society who preys on the vulnerable. The tragic conclusion is not
through the death of the victim but rather through her resignation to accept such
manipulative abuse.
This theme of the triumphant patriarchal system is seen again in The Stepford
Wives (1975). By this time, the second wave feminist movement was firmly
recognized and cinema was incorporating female characters who were openly
feminist. The Stepford Wives revolves around a progressive couple, Joanna (Katharine
Moss) and Walter Eberhart (Peter Masterson), who move to a quiet suburban
community populated by obedient and submissive housewives and their cheery
husbands. The disquiet Joanna feels towards the other wives, who blatantly reject her
attempts to promote domestic and sexual liberation, lead her to suspect that the Mens
Association is somehow responsible for their unnatural passivity. Her unease is
further amplified by her husbands approval of the community and the sudden
12


behavior shift in her friend and neighbor, Bobby Markow (Paula Prentiss), a fellow
liberal-minded wife. The film reaches a climax when she discovers that the husbands
of Stepford are responsible for disposing of rebellious wives and replacing them with
mechanical replicas programmed to cook, clean, and fulfill their spouses sexual
desires. Immediately after making this discovery, she is confronted by her own
replacement and presumably killed. The film concludes with the automaton Joanna
monotonously conversing with Bobby at the grocery store.
While Rosemarys Baby depicted the victimization of a single, already passive
female character, The Stepford Wives demonstrated a system that aggressively attacks
the very notion of liberated female sexuality. The men of the film idealize womens
body but are apprehensive of female propensity for independent thought. The film
illustrates how patriarchal institutions work to address strong women who threaten
conservative gender roles. If The Stepford Wives is a reactive response to the
misogynistic history of the horror film, then the heavy-handed depiction of the sexism
second-wave feminism was combating both undermines and perpetuates the gender
conventions of the genre. The film establishes audience sympathy and identification
with the female characters, with Joanna being the primary protagonist. Female
characters possess the narrative ability to be developed as independent-minded,
intelligent, and career-oriented, yet they ultimately become conventional helpless
damsel archetypes. The men are portrayed as villainous keepers of traditional gender
roles in a hyperbolic fashion. The film leaves the viewer with the implied message
13


that while the oppressive patriarchy is despicable, an intelligent, progressive woman
is not capable of escaping a fate of domestic imprisonment.
The films from this first-wave of American horror cinema all shared a
foundation of female-abusive narratives. Through physical death, the death of
independence or individuality, or even the death of a sexual identity, women were the
assumed victims of the silver screen; that was the accepted formula. However in
1975, the same year that The Stepford Wives was released, Laura Mulvey published
her seminal essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema and began to theoretically
dissect the misogynistic subtext of motion pictures.
First-Wave Theory
Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, significantly altered the state of
psychoanalytical analysis by appropriating the male-centric school of thought into an
instrument to give voice to Feminist Film Theory. Mulvey explains, It is helpful to
understand what the cinema has been, how its magic has worked in the past, while
attempting a theory and a practice which will challenge this cinema of the past.
Psychoanalytic theory is thus appropriate here as a political weapon, demonstrating
the way the unconscious of patriarchal society has structured film form (771). The
essay focuses on the meaning of the image and the power balance between the
observer and the observed. By examining why women are placed in a subordinate
position and are objectified and punished for their sex, Mulvey begins creating social
awareness of the misogynistic connotations of cinematic language. Her theory is
14


easily applied to the horror films of the 1960s and reinforces concepts intrinsic to
second-wave feminism, while providing a theoretical platform for further scholarly
exposition to bloom.
Laura Mulvey pays special attention to the male gaze and how male anxiety
helps shape the visual representation of woman. She elaborates Woman then stands
in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in
which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by
imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of
meaning, not maker of meaning (712). The visual image of woman is not an image
of actuality but of male creation. The Stepford Wives is a clear illustration of this idea.
The domesticated mother/wife figure is removed from the public sphere, while the
men construct meaning in their lives and design women in the image of their fantasies
and obsessions. A linguist within the Mens Association asks the new wives of the
community to record themselves reading a list of specific vocabulary he has provided
them, under the guise that he is compiling data for his hobby in researching accents.
The true intentions of the recording is to give the robotic replicas of the wives a voice
and vocabulary. Men, thus, become the controllers of the female lexicon and can use
language to limit freedom of expression and thought.
While The Stepford Wives demonstrates an aggressive form of men physically
defining women to construct personal fantasy, Mulvey also explores Freudian theory
on scopophilia and the very act of looking. She states:
15


[Freud] associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting
them to a controlling and curious gaze. .Although the instinct is modified by
other factors, in particular the constitutions of the ego, it continues to exist as
the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the
extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs
and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching,
in an active controlling sense, an objectified other. (713)
By examining the perversion of scopophilia, Mulvey begins to address a major tenet
of horror cinema. The sexual undertones of the violence in the genre is undeniable.
Psycho, in particular, demonstrates the blood-spattered consequences of the obsessive
voyeuristic male gaze. After spying Marion through his peephole, Norman is moved
to greater action. David Sterritt comments that, Norman reacts to his discovery of
the crime by grasping his mouth in a gesture connoting nausea. As he does this, he
stands next to the bathrooms open door while directing his eyes away from the room
itself. In a film so fascinated by the power of the gaze, and Normans gaze in
particular, this must be read as an attraction-repulsion response (108). Normans
conflicting desires to both look and to look away at the grisly murder scene reflect his
similar struggle when gazing upon a woman he finds attractive. In her essay,
Learning to Scream, Linda Williams looks at how this conflict of wanting and not
wanting to look also carries over to the audience. She writes:
16


Thus while the men in the audience look conventionally masculine, while they
appear to stay cool in the face of danger and to look steadily at the screen,
there is something just a little forced about their poses. In the face of the
gender-confused source of terror on screen, their dogged masculinity seems
staged. The more masculine they try to appear. .the more it is clear that a
threat of femininity has been registered. (Williams 167)
The gaze brings both pleasure and discomfort to the character on screen and the
audience watching the character. The gaze, while suggesting power by looking upon
also creates vulnerability by looking within. Norman and the audience simultaneously
share this power and vulnerability. This connects to Mulveys discussion of the
sadistic nature of voyeurism.
Marion as the victim is also constructed as being criminal deserving of
punishment. After stealing the money, her character is marked as immoral. Sterritt
examines the narrative clues that pertain to her guilt. He states, the rainstorm that
comes down on her near the Bates Motel has a flushing and cleansing function. But
her sin is already too great for such abstract absolution. Tormentingly, her vision is
obscured (as it will be later by the shower curtain and the shower water), and the
windshield wipers slash across the frame (Sterritt 106). Redemption is not possible
for the guilty woman and also prevents her from seeing events with the same clarity
as the male gaze. Mulvey comments:
17


Power is backed by a certainty of legal right and established guilt of the
woman (evoking castration, psychoanalytically speaking). True perversion is
barely concealed under a shallow mask of ideological correctnessthe man is
on the right side of the law, the woman on the wrong. Hitchcocks skillful use
of identification processes and liberal use of subjective camera from the point
of view of the male protagonist draw the spectators deeply into his position,
making them share his uneasy gaze. (719)
Within the context of Psycho, woman is guilty by law and in need of moral
retribution. While Marion has decided to return the money and resolve herself of her
moral transgression, Normans gaze and desire provides retribution before she can
act. In this sense, she is relegated into the role of passive female while he becomes the
active male. Through her death, he also becomes the films main character.
Outside of being guilty by law, Marion is also guilty simply by being a
woman. Mulvey discusses the male viewers plight in visually appeasing sexual
anxiety caused by woman as other. The gaze must take one of two forms in order for
the female image to remain pleasurable for the male viewer. Mulvey explains, This
second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the physical beauty of the object,
transforming it into something satisfying in itself (718). Norman attempts this but is
unable to alleviate his guilt and anxiety. Mulvey continues, The first avenue,
voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure lies in ascertaining
guilt (immediately associated with castration), asserting control and subjecting the
18


guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. This sadistic side fits in well with
narrative. Sadism demands a story (718). The self-conflict Norman experiences
when secretly gazing at Marion creates his need to punish the sources of his guilt.
Normans gaze objectifies Marion, and thus makes her a thing that can be sadistically
abused in order for him to regain pleasure from the anxiety the sight of her brings. It
is his violence, then, that shapes the story; through her death, her storyline also dies
and Norman becomes the crux of the narrative.
While Psycho and The Stepford Wives overtly demonstrate the concepts of
Mulveys theory, it should be noted that neither of these films are discussed in her
essay. They are films that I have chosen to highlight her claims but Mulvey focused
primarily on earlier Hitchcockian thrillers such as Vertigo and Rear Window. My
reason for using Psycho is due to the films close correlation with horror instead of
suspense; the film also bridges first-wave with second-wave horror and introduces
some of the characteristics that develop significant meaning in this later cycle.
Mulveys essay is best understood as a beginning; she brought a critical awareness of
female objectification and victimization in cinema not previously addressed. Most
importantly, Mulveys essay connected with other predominate feminist literature of
the time and provided a foundation for future research to be built upon.
The application of Mulveys analysis ties into other significant pieces of
feminist theory, such as Sherry B. Ortners essay Is Female to Male as Nature Is to
Culture? Ortner looks at the universal cultural tendency to place women in a
19


subordinate position and explores why this conflict in power exists. She connects this
sexism to a tradition of correlating woman to nature while men are the credited as the
architects of culture and civilization. The connection, Ortner assesses, is that:
[Wjoman's body seems to doom her to mere reproduction of life; the male, in
contrast, lacking natural creative functions, must (or has the opportunity to)
assert his creativity externally, 'artificially,' through the medium of technology
and symbols. In so doing, he creates relatively.. .eternal transcendent objects,
while the woman creates only perishableshuman beings. (75)
Since men are falsely attributed as constructing, sustaining, and progressing culture,
the structures and institutions of society favor patriarchal rule. Women, are
henceforth, confined to the domestic sphere with children while men engage in public
interaction.
Films such as The Stepford Wives link the two theories through its emphasis
on the gaze as well as its illustration of the social barriers women face in order to
escape the domestic. The film literally depicts man as the creator of the artificial
womanwho is little more than an attractive shellto support his desires. Women
who try to disconnect from nature find themselves in a disorientating male sphere
before they are pushed back into the domestic. Joannas attempt at photography, a
symbol of possessing the gaze, is met with little success. When she tries to market her
portfolio at a gallery, the director asks, What fascinates me is, what is it that you
want from it all? Do you know?
20


She responds, I want somewhere, someday, someone to look at something
and say hey that reminds me of an Ingalls. Ingalls was my maiden name. I guess I
want to be remembered. The dialogue addresses the female desire to be valued for
more than just childbirth but also for the creation of lasting art and persevering ideas.
This desire is juxtaposed in the narrative by the male perspective who just like[s] to
watch women doing little domestic chores (The Stepford Wives). Ortner comments:
[Wjhat would constitute evidence that a particular culture considers women
inferior? Three types of data would suffice: (1) elements of cultural ideology
and informants statements that explicitly devalue women, according them,
their roles, their tasks, their products, and their social milieux less prestige
than are accorded men and the male correlates; (2) symbolic devices, such as
the attribution of defilement, which may be interpreted as implicitly making a
statement of inferior valuation; and (3) social structural arrangements that
exclude women from participation in or contact with some realm in which the
highest powers of the society are felt to reside. (69)
When Joanna tries to sit-in on the Mens Association meeting, her contributions are
ignored and she becomes a passive observer as the men converse. Her position is seen
as inferior and she is therefore not allowed to actively participate in community
choices. In Rosemarys Baby, Rosemary and the other women are often left to discuss
in the kitchen about recipes, childbirth, and household responsibilities while the men
discuss business, religion, travel and philosophy in the study. Within the context of
21


first-wave horror, there is a clear separation between male and female space. The
applicability of Ortners article complement Mulveys examination of the female
image while also addressing issues relating to classic gothic motifs.
The gothic, both in literature and cinema, establishes a space of repression and
oppression, especially within the domestic. As a result, first-wave horror draws a
clear influence from the gothic. Women become the primary victims and are
frequently objectified by the dominating father figures and husbands of the genre.
Michelle Masse comments in her book, In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism,
and the Gothic, that the heroines of the Gothic, inculcated by education, religion,
and bourgeois familial values, have the same expectations as those around them for
what is normal. Their social contract tenders their passivity and disavowal of public
power in exchange for the love that will let them reign in the interpersonal and
domestic sphere (18). The reoccurring themes of passivity and the domestic are
undeniable. The gothic also incorporates the implications of domestic entrapment.
Space becomes suffocating and the female protagonist is slowly imprisoned by her
surroundings. In his book, Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form, George Haggerty explains
that, space is always threatening and never comfortable in the Gothic novel. .The
space of the novel becomes a source of haunting in itself: Story lines are ruptured,
fragmented, suppressed, misplaced, even forgotten. Time, too, either ticks with
threatening deliberation or flies with destructive rapidity (20). The cinematic
representation of the female victim derives from a complicated history, a history that
22


has literarily and critically questioned the nature of woman. Laura Mulveys essay
was just a small part in the larger field of feminist exploration and illustrates the
interconnectivity between multiple disciplines and perspectives. While a detailed look
at other feminist and gothic conceptions will be addressed in Chapter Four, it is
important to realize their place in conjunction with first-wave horror and the
development of the second-wave heroine.
Second-Wave Movies
Going into the mid to late 1970s, the landscape of horror began to shift yet
again. A new subgenre of the slasher flick began to gain popularity. Many of the
characteristics of first-wave horror remained, and even became more pronounced in
some cases. A popularity in Point-of-View angles added to the theme of sadistic
voyeurism, phallic weapons became commonplace, and the women became younger,
increasingly sexualized, and even more helpless in the face of danger. However,
besides these exaggerated first-wave conventions, there were subtle changes that
required additional attention that Mulveys theory did not answer.
Psycho has often been credited as the first slasher but the genre gained
momentum in the late seventies and continued into the eighties. Characters from the
first-wave were often developed to varying degrees before being violently dispatched;
characters from the second-wave were often disposable flat teenage stereotypes. In
his essay, Returning the Look, Robin Wood explains:
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The chief, indeed almost the only, characteristic of the films teenagers (who
are obviously meant to be attractive to the youth audiences as identification
figures) is a mindless hedonism made explicit by a character in Steve Miners
Friday the 13th Part 3, who remarks (without contradiction) that the only
things worth living for are screwing and smoking dope. The films both
endorse this and relentlessly punish it; they never suggest that other options
might be available. (80-1)
Woods comment illustrates the transition from first-wave, where violence against
women was used to propel the narrative, to second-wave, in which violence is the
narrative. Developed characters are no longer necessary to the plot and the cast of
young attractive teens primary function is to die fantastically.
The basic formula of the slasher film contains a fairly consistent list of traits.
A mysterious, visually obscured killer methodically stalks and murders a group of
promiscuous and/or mischievous teens. One teen, often female, is able to recognize
the threat and manages to survive or defeat the killer. Vera Dika discusses the film
cycle in her article, The Stalker Film, 1978-81 in which she lists the abundance in
which these film were released. Halloween was released in 1978; Friday the 13th,
Prom Night, and Terror Train were released in 79. The following year saw the
release of My Bloody Valentine, Night School, and The Burning and 1981 contained
Friday the 13th Part 2, Graduation Day, Happy Birthday to Me, and Hell Night (Dika
87). The films Dika lists all comply with the conventions of the slasher/stalker genre.
24


The point made is that the subgenre attracted a large audience and studios responded
by saturating the market with stalker/slasher films despite the lack of character
development and formulaic plots. Audiences were drawn, not to the story or the
characters but the violence, and often that violence was directed at highly sexualized
women.
Dika expands her look at the genre in her book Games of Terror. She argues
that the slasher establishes a participation appeal for the spectator. She explains:
The point-of-view shot, the use of space, the frameline, and even the screen
time and spectator knowledge, are all made palpable to the spectator of the
stalker film. But again this unmasking does not result in a demystification of
the stalker film. Instead, the anti-illusion, or, at least, the lowered realism,
functions to lighten and necessarily distance the effects of extreme violence
depicted on-screen, a technique that ultimately facilitates a gaming attitude
toward the films. (23)
The slasher instigates a different relationship with the audience than films from the
first-wave. Discovering who the killer is and why they kill are not the audiences
primary concerns; guessing who will be the first victim and how they will be killed
becomes the motivating attraction. This difference trivializes violence and, as a result,
the victims of that violence. The consequence of this audience engagement becomes
apparent when analyzing the slasher, which will be discussed in the following section.
25


The genre was exemplified by films like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre. John Carpenters Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers, an escaped
mental patient who murdered his sister as a child. Myers returns to his hometown on
Halloween, steals a mask from a local shop, and begins to stalk and murder the
friends of a teenage girl, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who reminds him of his sister.
Once her friends are dead, he turns his attention to Laurie. Myers is obscured through
a majority of the film; he is either a blurred figure in the background, a silhouetted
shape in the night, veiled behind a mask or sheet, or provides the POV perspective for
a scene. He is established as a character who can see but is unseen; only Laurie, who
is revealed to be the final surviving girl, is able to match his gaze. Lauries friends are
preoccupied with sex and socializing, while Laurie is viewed as quiet and virginal.
Consequently, they do not see the danger approaching or are not prepared to react
when Myers does attack; Laurie, however, is able to sense the threat and refuses to be
made an easy victim.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, while released in 1974, distinctly fits into the
second-wave horror paradigm. Carol Clover concisely summarizes the plot: Five
young people are driving through Texas in a van; they stop at an abandoned house
and are serially murdered by the psychotic sons of a degenerate local family; the sole
survivor is a woman (24). The primary antagonist goes by the name of Leatherface,
due to the mask he has sew together comprised of the skin of the victims he has killed
with his chainsaw. While Halloween displays violence intruding into a normal, quiet
26


suburban community, Chain Saw depicts the opposite. The teenagers, representatives
of a normal suburban lifestyle trespass into a world of savage abnormality. Clover
elaborates Three generations of slaughterhouse workers, once proud of their craft but
now displaced by machines, have taken up killing and cannibalism as a way of life.
Their house is grotesquely decorated with human and animal remainsbones,
feathers, hair, skins (24). Like Laurie from Halloween, Sally, the final girl, must use
raw determination and ingenuity to survive the death that stalks her with a chainsaw.
Second-wave horror is not confined only to the slasher/stalker subgenre. The
possession film also achieved a recognizable amount of popularity during the 1970s
and 80s. These films depicted threats that invaded the body, transforming the
innocent into the sinister. In her book, Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic, Linda
Badley states, The modem horror film, as Philip Brophy put the issue, played on the
fear of ones own body, of how one controls and relates to it (8) (26). While the
slasher generally has a distinct split between villain and victim, the possession
subgenre often meshes the role of threat and victim together. Films such as Carrie
(1976), Hie Exorcist (1973), Alien (1979), or The Hiing (1982) all contain intangible
adversarieseither an erratic supernatural ability, an alien parasite, or demonic
beingwho use the victim as a host for its nefarious deeds. The source of possession
often uses blood and other bodily fluids for the purpose of horror. The viewer, thus, is
not frightened by the supernatural, but rather of the natural.
27


Female biology, especially in the form of menstruation and childbirth, is
commonly exploited to convey bodily terror. Of the four films above, only The Thing
examines bodily possession with an ungendered lens. With an all-male cast, the alien
parasite, when exposed, distorts the body into monstrous forms: heads detach from
bodies and sprout spidery legs, bodies ooze blood, torsos split open to reveal tangles
of hissing tentacles. The threat is corruption of the body, but not specifically the male
or female body, nor does the corruption carry any hyperbolic gender connotations as
is the case with Alien.
Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, was a sci-fi horror involving a space mining
crew who attempts to kill a creature after it bursts out of fellow crewmembers chest.
Unlike the other possession films, the contaminated person still behaves normally and
is merely a vessel for the parasite until the alien is ready to be birthed.
consequently, cannot be viewed concretely as a possession film but does display the
characteristics of the subgenre in its approach to depicting the body. The alien pods
that release a small creature, referred to as facehuggers, that latch onto a victims
head and implant an embryo down the victims throat represent a violent and horrific
perversion of pregnancy. The birthing process is visibly agonizing as the creature
explodes forth in gouts of blood from the carriers abdomen.
The films sequel, Aliens (1986), further developed the grotesque maternal
thematic imagery. The facility in which the aliens dwell in has become womb-like, a
mysterious slime oozes from the walls and the egg-shaped pods containing the
28


facehuggers litter the floor. The introduction of the queen alien emphasizes the
perversion of childbirth, as she is a monstrous creature, suspended above the ground
while a long translucent sack slowly disperses eggs. Badley provides the description:
Like the ghost, Alien's monster produces a gap in the symbolic order. It took
liminality to new levels, transgressing lines between the natural and supernatural, the
biological and the mechanical, male and female, sex and deathall the while
dripping viscous, corrosive goo (44). The Thing and the Alien series address the fear
of the body, but they do not provide the complete picture of the terror that can lie
within. It is The Exorcist, however, that fully realizes the corporeal horror of the
possession genre.
Directed by William Friedkin, The Exorcist is about a young girl, Regan
(Linda Blair), who is possessed by a demon spirit and the two priestsone of whom
is struggling to remain devout after suffering personal losswho try exorcise the
malevolent force. In her description of the film, Badley illustrates the nature of the
girls transformation. She states, the battle of God and the Devil was fought with
unprecedented clinicism and intensity on and within the body of a twelve-year-old
girl. Regan erupted in boils, exuded noxious fluids, and spoke in the monstrous voice
of the bisexual archaic mother (Badley 25-6). Regans transformation from innocent
and normal young girl to a putrefying demonic entity is visually jarring. The viewer
witnesses a graying of her skin, the appearance of deep gashes begin to line her face
and body, bilious green vomit gushes from her mouth, and she violently stabs her
29


vagina with a crucifix while yelling sexual obscenities in a deep and masculine voice.
The transformation plays significantly on taboos of female sexuality, especially that
of a pre-teen girl. The presence of blood again ties back to menstruation with the
added element of demonic implications. A few years after The Exorcist, another film
was released that placed stronger emphasis upon the imagery of menstrual blood.
Adapted from the Stephen King novel, Carrie is about a teenage girl going
through puberty when she discovers she has telekinetic powers. Carries naivete about
sexual maturation leaves her at the mercy of her malicious classmates and her
fanatically religious mother. Carol Clover quotes, Plug it up! Plug it up! Carries
schoolmates call as they toss tampons in a film that is from beginning to end
permeated with menstrual references and imagery. When Carries mother links
menstruation to the supernatural, she articulates one of horrors abiding verities (77).
The constant torment the girl endures finally pushes her to a breaking point in which
her telekinetic abilities turn her school prom into a bloodbath. Carrie is not
possessed in the sense that Regans body is inhabited in The Exorcist, but she does
become a gateway for terror and destruction. The fact that her dangerous ability is
connected to her sexuality provides the message that a sexualized woman is both the
victim and threat. Clover remarks:
When Carrie (Carrie, 1976) realizes that she has the power to will events, she
goes to the library to research miracles. .We know better: such is her pain
and rageat her cruel schoolmates and her awful motherthat she has in fact
30


become the devils portal. So supernatural and psychosexual intersect: cause a
girl enough pain, repress enough of her rage, andno matter how
fundamentally decent she may beshe perforce becomes a witch. (71)
The character, in short, is possessed by emotion and displays a disconnection from
making moral evaluations. The result allows for bodily impulse that demands violent
vengeance to take control.
The two subgenres of the second-wave horror cycle complicate but do not
overtly improve the representation of women. The slasher elevates the level of
titillation and sadomasochistic violence, but also incorporates ambiguous gendering
of the two main components, respectively, the killer and the final girl. Men also
become frequent targets in the slasher so while women are the primary casualties,
they are not the only. The possession film looks at the victimization of women much
differently by using the female body, for female motifs, to dually play the role of
tormentor and tormented. The body, more notably the female body, becomes
perverse, and female biology is linked to otherness, mystery, and evil. The theories
of first-wave horror does provide some insight to the issues of gaze, objectification,
and male privilege but does not satisfactorily address the growing threatening nature
female sexuality in the possession flick or the need for slasher heroines to be devoid
of a distinct sexual identity. The evolution of the horror genre demanded an evolution
of the theory.
31


Second-Wave Theory
In 1987, the article, Her Body, Himself, which would later be included as a
chapter in her more expansive look at the horror genre, Men, Women and Chain
Saws, Carol J. Clover examines the attributes of the exploitive slasher genre. What
was initially dismissed as lowbrow cinema that pandered to the audiences demand
for senseless bloodbaths, Clovers analysis exposed deeper psychoanalytical
workings to the genre by the formulaic, yet complex depiction of gender in these
films. She built upon the theories of Mulvey and adapted her psychoanalytic approach
to undermine the misconception that horror is about killer-identification. Clover
comments in the introduction of her book that Needless to say, horror movies spend
a lot of time looking at women, and in first-person ways that do indeed seem well
described by Mulveys sadistic-voyeuristic gaze. But the story does not end there. .
I shall be arguing throughout this book that by any measure, horror is far more
victim-identified than the standard view would have it (8). Clovers argument does
not remove women from a disadvantaged position of representation but it does
provide a necessary step in the progression of womens transition from victim to
heroine.
The step shows a female willingness to be aggressively angry instead of being
passively discontent. Second-wave feminism was beginning to be fully integrated into
popular culture and the changing roles of women on screen was indicative of this.
Clover remarks, The womens movement has given many things to popular culture,
32


some more savory than others. One of its main donations to horror, I think, is the
image of an angry womana woman so angry that she can be imagined as a credible
perpetrator (I stress credible) of the kind of violence on which, in the low-mythic
universe, the status of full protagonist rests (17). The inclusion of the angry, violent
woman into mainstream culture appears to conflict with the helpless woman image
conventionally dominant in the horror genre but Clover examines the industrys
construction of the Final Girl, a victim-heroine archetype. The evolution of this
hybrid character, a woman brutally victimized but capable of rising to face her
tormentor in the final act, boils down to the needs of the audience.
Audience is an important point of consideration in understanding the trends in
horror and Clover addresses the point that adolescent males are the primary audience
of the typical horror film. She assesses that the audience is initially and falsely
aligned with a misleadingly masculine killer. Male characters for a predominantly
male audience to identify with are scarce. Clover discusses how boyfriends, male
students or co-workers are typically quickly disposed of by the killer. Male figures of
authority are discredited and dismissed by their lack of understanding of the threat
(44). All of these figures prove to be inadequate characters of identification, thus
leaving the killer. The use of Point-of-View shots of the killer can be interpreted as a
way in which the audience becomes witness and accomplice of the villains
murderous deeds.
33


Clover points out, however, that even this relationship is flawed. She explains,
The killer is often unseen or barely glimpsed, during the first part of the film, and
what we do see, when finally get a good look, hardly invites immediate or conscious
empathy. He is commonly masked, fat, deformed, or dressed as a woman. Or he is a
woman. .In either case, the killer is himself eventually killed or otherwise evacuated
from the narrative (44). Looking at killers from films like Halloween or Friday the
13th, despite have muscular builds and masculine aggression, the psyche, and
sometimes their anatomy, betray their gender polarity. Clover states, [t]he notion of
a killer propelled by psychosexual fury, more particularly a male in gender distress,
has proved a durable one, and the progeny of Norman Bates stalk the genre up to the
present day (27). The killer's attraction to phallic weaponry, such as knives,
chainsaws, and machetes, does not represent a hyper-sexualized masculine persona
but rather overcompensation for gender confusion. Behind the mask that conceals the
killer is a much less polarized masculine figure. Clover expands on this idea by
stating, The killer's phallic purpose, as he thrusts his drill or knife into the trembling
bodies of young women, is unmistakable. At the same time, however, his masculinity
is severely qualified: he ranges from the virginal or sexually inert to the transvestite
or transsexual, and is spiritually divided ('the mother half of his mind') or even
equipped with vulva and vagina (47). As a result, the male audience is falsely
aligned with the killer and finds a more suitable character to identify with in the Final
34


Girl. This cross-gender identification is at the root of Clover's argument for why the
horror genre is not purely constructed on feminine torture.
The Final Girl, like the killer, represents a blurring line between genders. The
last surviving target of the killer, Clover points out, is typically a female who makes
the transition from victim to hero. While the character is sexed female, her gender is
less defined. Clover states:
The Final Girl is boyish, in a word. Just as the killer is not fully masculine,
she is not fully femininenot, in any case, feminine in the ways of her
friends. Her smartness, gravity, competence in mechanical and other practical
matters, and sexual reluctance set her apart from the other girls and ally her,
ironically, with the very boys she fears or rejects, not to speak of the killer
himself. (40)
Clover argues that the girl male audiences are able to identify with is only female in
form but represents male anxiety. The reason the hero is female and not male is due
to the subject matter of the genre. Clover explains [t]he Final Girl is. .a congenial
double for the adolescent male. She is feminine enough to act out in a gratifying way,
a way unapproved for adult males, the terrors and masochistic pleasures of the
underlying fantasy, but not so feminine as to disturb the structures of male
competence and sexuality (51). While the theory still illustrates how the genre
privileges the masculine over the feminine, women are not merely the object of the
male gaze. Clover expounds, [t]he willingness and even eagerness. . of the male
35


viewer to throw in his emotional lot, if only temporarily, with not only a woman but a
woman in fear and pain, at least in the first instance, would seem to suggest that he
has a vicarious stake in that fear and pain (61). This exposes a transition of woman
as other to woman becoming part of the self.
The slasher film generally provides a female character for male audiences to
associate with, but this representation rarely is representative of actual femaleness.
Clover argues that while the body is sexed as female, the personality and non-
physical traits are coded as being male (53). The Final Girl character, thusly, does
signal a progression for women within the horror tradition simply by her ability to
separate from her victim status, but the circumstances are muddled by the motivations
of her gender construction. She is still primarily a victim and is only able to transcend
that role in the final act of the narrative and must be devoid of a distinctly female
sexual identity in order to do so.
The possession film provides a different set of gender complications than the
slasher. Clover explains how, frequently, the narrative of the possession genre are
broken into two intertwined stories: the female and the male. The female character is
representative of the possession and the male narrative is about self-understanding.
Clover expounds by stating In the language of the film, Linda [from Witchboard] is
the devils portal. She and Regan [The Exorcist] stand in a long line of female
portals, from the equally gullible Eve through the professional portalssibyls and
prophetessesof classical and medieval times to the majority of psychic and New
36


Age channelers of our own day (70). This likeness to Eve as the devils instrument
reinforces a tradition of negative female representation by labeling women as
deceitful enemies of men, while also branding women in a subordinate role. They
become an object of masculine possession or invasion and independent thought is
withheld from these characters. The narrative makes sure to draw extra attention to
the possessed characters femaleness by emphasizing themes or imagery pertaining to
menstruation. Clover explains, In the world of occult horror, in any case, menstrual
blood would seem to have little to do with castration or loss and much to do with
powerful things going on behind closed doors (78). The blood imagery in Carrie and
The Exorcist, thus, become indicators for the wickedness that has invaded the self.
Clover elaborates, occult films do their best, in much the way pornography does, to
make the female body speak its experience. Through moaning, vomiting, fevers,
hypnotic revelations, swearing, swaggering, swelling, and sudden appearance of
rashes, bruises, and scars (sometimes spelling out a message), the woman is made to
bring forth her occulted self (109-10). In terms of narrative division, the female story
is about the internal being expressed externally.
Consequently, since the internal is occupied by an outside invader, the
narrative is not about women and, like the demon or entity that possesses them, they
are merely an instrument for narrative progression. Clover uses The Exorcist to
illustrate this point. She points out, The text hints at its own priorities when it has the
devil say to Merrin during the exorcism, You care nothing at all for the pig [the
37


devils word for Regans body]. You care nothing! You have made her a contest
between usd. .Certainly the novelists (and filmmakers) target is not the female
body, but the transformation that body prompts in the male psyche (88). This brings
to attention the male story common to the possession/occult film. Clover asserts:
[T]o say that the foregrounded or spectacle story of the possession film is built
around the female body does not mean that the films as a whole are about
females only or even mainlyor even, as individual characters, at all. .The
Exorcist, for all its focus on Regans excrescences, turns on Father Karrass
tortured relation to his mother, his guilt, his spiritual father (Merrin), his
calling. (85)
If the woman story is about the internal being reconciled externally, then the male
story is about the external being reconciled internally. Outside conflict must be
resolved in order for the men to better understand themselves. Clover deduces that the
transformation of the conflicted male is the result of the narrative rejecting traditional
and emotionally-closed masculinity in support of the new man, who is sensitive and
open.
Clover looks at the male story echoes that of the Final Girl from the slasher
genre. Given that the Final Girl exists in a world populated by phallic symbols and
images of male anxiety, her transformation represents a middle ground in gender
representation. The overly masculine male and the heavily sexualized female die, so
the marginally female character willing to harnessing male aggression becomes the
38


heroine. Clover states, It is by the same token only fitting that, given its concern with
masculinity, the occult film is a world of passageways, interiors, conception,
pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and that even males may find themselves
burdened, or blessed, with something from the list. The difference. . is that
masculinizing a woman is a far more acceptable project than feminizing a man
(107). The danger the male story presents is that the male risks sacrificing his
maleness. For the slasher film, a woman losing her femaleness is culturally acceptable
but for men to be placed in the same position, adjustment must be made. Clover
explains Crudely put, for a space to be created in which men can weep without being
labeled feminine, women must be relocated to a space where they will be made to
wail uncontrollably; for men to be able to relinquish emotional rigidity, control,
women must be relocated to a space in which they will undergo a flamboyant
psychotic break; and so on (105). Again, this boils down to male privilege that
favors masculine representation over feminine. Clover concludes her look at the
occult/possession film by stating, That the feintsnarling, hyperpregnant, toxic
womenis offensive goes without saying. My concern in this chapter has been to
suggest that it is that offensive because it has that much to hide, and more generally to
propose that we have as much to learn, in the study of popular culture, from what
frightful women are meant to conceal as from what they are meant to represent
(113). Like Mulvey before her, Clover confronted convention and drew attention to
the representation of women on the screen. She carved a foothold in which other
39


scholars were able to articulate theories that complemented and challenged her
pioneering analysis.
Linda Williams examines Clovers theories by looking not only at horror, but
other genres of excess in which the female body is made the spectacle of the gaze. In
the article, Film Bodies, she explains I am expanding Clovers notion of low body
genres to include the sensation of overwhelming pathos in the weepie. The body
spectacle is featured more sensationally in pornographys portrayal of orgasm, in
horrors portrayal of violence and terror, and in melodramas portrayal of weeping
(Williams 604). Williams demonstrates that the female body becomes the cinematic
source for excess emotion, whether that is pleasure, fear, or sadness. It also connects
women to the body rather than the mind. The female representation is thus dissected
and marveled at for its gross display of humanness; woman becomes the primal
exposition of debased humanity while man avoids similar visual treatment. Williams
continues by stating:
[E]ven when the pleasure of viewing has traditionally been constructed for
masculine spectators, as is the case in most traditional heterosexual
pornography, it is the female body in the grips of an out-of-control ecstasy
that has offered the most sensational sight. So the bodies of women have
tended to function, ever since the eighteenth-century origins of the these
genres in the Marquis de Sade, Gothic fiction, and the novels of Richardson,
as both the moved and the moving. It is thus through what Foucault has called
40


the sexually saturation of the female body that audiences of all sorts have
received some of their most powerful sensations. (605)
While Clover looks at the loss of female sexuality as the narrative conclusion in
second-wave horror, Williams focuses on the genres emphasis of steeping the
narrative conflict in female sexuality. Separating from Clovers conclusion that
androgyny and desexualization provides order to chaos, Williams argues that, In
horror a violence related to sexual difference is the problem, more violence related to
sexual difference is also the solution (612). Gender representation, for Williams, is
less concerned with the presentation of the image of woman on screen but rather the
implications that the image reflects about society. She states:
[T]hese gross body genres which may seem so violent and inimical to
women cannot be dismissed as evidence of a monolithic and unchanging
misogyny, as either pure sadism for male viewers or masochism for females.
Their very existence and popularity hinges upon rapid changes taking place in
relations between the sexes and by rapidly changing notions of genderof
what it means to be a man or woman. (615)
Williams acknowledgement of societys quickly changing understanding of sex
shows the importance of examining both the image and the culture that digests the
image. This idea is even more relevant when that image enters a new cycle of
representation, and as the second-wave horror heroines faded from the mainstream, a
new type of female replaced them.
41


CHAPTER 3
HARD CANDY
Is it not that the ugly is only the unknown, and that truth seen for the first time
offends the eye?
Etienne-Jules Marey qtd in Sklar
David Slade's Hard Candy is a film about predators, victims, charming liars,
and cruel conquerors. Hard Candy is a film about subversion and role reversals. It is
about the fatal consequences that come from sexual objectification and the corruption
of innocence. The story challenges the viewers' understanding of character
identification and polarized morality but before it does, it begins with a familiar
foundation: the female victim.
Victimization
The introduction of the two main characters, Hayley (Ellen Page) and Jeff
(Patrick Wilson), does much to establish them within conventional gender roles and
reinforces Mulvey's theories of the gaze. Even before the viewer is formally
introduced to the main characters, a conversation is shown between their IM screen
names. Jeff is Lensman319 and Hayley is Thonggrrrll4. The names provide insight
into the power dynamics of their online relationship. Jeffs IM icon is a camera which
lends immediate voyeuristic connotations to his character. He views himself as the
42


eye and directly labels his gaze as being masculine by including man in his moniker.
Hayley, on the other hand, uses a heart as her icon shading her as emotional and
immature. Her title also contains a highly sexualized article of clothing. She
associates herself with thong underwear which acts to reduce her female identity to an
eroticized inanimate object. Her young age is reinforced by her colloquial use of the
term grrrlwhich is a combination of girl and an animalistic growlto express a
self-view of female independence and attitude while still sexually objectifying
herself. The titles and icon, alone, establish Jeff as a dominant male; through the
visual subtext, it is made clear that this interaction is between a man and a girl, not a
man and a woman or a boy and a girl, which would suggest equality. The terminology
plays to a male advantage which is only further supported within the IM conversation.
The audience witnesses Jeffs words first. It is clear that Hayley has made a
preceding comment but the cinematic focus privileges Jeffs response. Jeff writes, So
we should finally hook up, baby? Hayley rebukes NOT a baby, i keep telling you
and he responds with I'll have to see for myself. In the context of Laura Mulvey,
Jeff is filling the role of the active male. He is pushing the action of the conversation.
His desire to meet so he can see for himself expresses his interest in the gaze. His
words are shown first and they gradually shift from being questions to commands.
His language is condescending and attempts to infantilize Hayley so as to establish
his dominance. She is placed on the defensive, needing to repeatedly remind Jeff that
she is not a child. Her telling, however, is dismissed by his need to see. Her attempt to
43


qualify herself as an intellectual is quickly met with doubt. When Hayley comments
on his supposed knowledge of babies, Jeff responds, Only one I study is you, thus
connecting his authority to visual power. Mulvey theorizes:
In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split
between the active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze
projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In
their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and
displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so
that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness. (715)
Hayley, again, is likened to an object to be observed under a microscope. Jeff has
constructed a fantasy in his mind and now desires to look upon the object he has built.
Jeffs voyeuristic impulses only become more pronounced as the conversation
progresses. He openly states that he is fantasizing about Hayley and she provokes him
by saying you oughta film me with that videocam. .then you wouldn't have to
fantasize. When they agree to meet for coffee, Hayley explains that she can be there
after she showers. Jeff remarks that hell picture it. The scene heavy-handedly
constructs Jeff as the visual male who seeks to posses the gaze. His language, IM
name, and icon all connect him to photography. The conversation sets the familiar
stage for an active male to dominate over a passive female. The conversation acts as a
prelude to a familiar tale of victimization.
44


If in text, Jeff is aggressive and abrasive, in person, he is charismatic and
calm. He speaks professionally and interacts effortlessly with Hayley. Their meeting
would seem perfectly normal if she was not a drastically underage girl, and the
narrative makes it clear that Jeffs pleasant demeanor is overshadowing an unsettling
social taboo. The comfortable way that he licks his finger after wiping chocolate from
Hayley's mouth or his stipulation that she must model the shirt he has just purchased
for her all contribute to the viewers perception that he is a morally questionable
character. His charm and disarming friendliness, however, do not immediately
establish him as an evil, villainous, or even dislikable character. As Hayley,
comments [he doesn't] really look like the kind of guy who has to meet girls over the
internet and while that appears to be appealing to her, it strikes the audience as
inappropriate. Jeff seems to express genuine interest in the girl and maturely
converses with her. He discusses long-term interest and a willingness to wait for a
physical relationship until she is no longer a minor. He allows her to direct the action
of their meeting and she flirtatiously invites herself back to his home. A picture of a
missing girl is briefly seen hanging on a board behind them as they talk which acts as
a reminder of the dangerous possibilities of meeting strangers.
Their interaction at the coffeehouse, while not menacing, further places Jeff in
a commanding role. Hayley is established as an intelligent and mature individual by
her interests in literature, her advanced placement in academics, and her articulate
responses to topics outside of romance and relationships, yet it is clear she views
45


herself as being inferior to Jeff. Jeff comments you look older than you are and you
certainly act older than you are. .1 was not expecting someone as impressive. Jeff
becomes the fawning male while Hayley behaves in a manner to flatter and impress
her admirer. Lucy Fischer explains in Shot/Countershot that:
Simone de Beauvoirs existentialist-derived concept of woman as Other is
most useful here. If man can see in a woman only his opposite, then it is not
surprising that a female who dares to share some of his qualities
(intelligence, strength, eroticism) might be viewed as suspect or unnatural.
Patriarchy rejects the allegedly masculine womanthe woman who claims
her total human range and refuses to be entirely non-male. (187)
Jeff gains control of their coffeehouse meeting and is able to passively converse due
to Hayley's need to win his approval. There are multiple shots in which he stares
intently at the young girl, while she simultaneously averts her eyes out of
embarrassment and mumbles compliments under her breath. Jeff recognizes her as
intelligent but this masculine trait is undercut by her suspected naivete, her
bashfulness, and lack of confidence. Her gaze is not equal to his and she submits to
his visual desire to look upon her. She plays the role of the passive female and stands
in direct contrast to Jeffs nonchalant sexually-suggestive dominance.
Jeffs casual behavior illustrates that he is confident in his control and is
comfortable allowing Hayley to feel she has power over him. He playfully kneels
down and kisses her shoes in the parking lot and jokingly likens her to a goddess. He
46


tells her that he is not worthy and refers to her as oh Magnificent Thong-Girl. He
at once mockingly worships her form while returning to a sexually objectifying label.
At this point in the narrative, Jeff is merely a proponent of scopophilia and Male
Gaze; upon returning to his house, the line between voyeuristic and pedophilic intent
begins to blur.
Jeffs walls are mounted with the portraits of young models. The content is
technically innocent, but it is the photographers eye and the frame that transforms the
images into pictures of grotesque metaphorical dismemberment. The young girls in
the frames become a headless dancer, a faceless female, and a ghostly shadow. The
scene is reminiscent of Mulveys claim that [the active instinct] continues to exist as
the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the extreme, it
can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping
Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active
controlling sense, an objectified other (713). Hayley comments, So why are they on
your walls instead of magazine covers. Here, looking at you while you know, you do
the most intimate things. Jeff explains that his studio is also his home, and his
portfolio hangs on his walls. None of his pictures provide the complete female form;
heads are cropped out of the frames or lighting reduces the subject to an inky
silhouette. No faces are made visible thus dislocating the models from emotional
expression; only their fragmented physical form remains. His craft is to strip the girls
of their humanness and transform them into marketable objects. A clear sexual
47


interest can also be gleaned in Jeffs motives as a photographer. Hayley asks how
many models Jeff has had sexual relationships with and he responds none of them,
they are underage mostly. I'd be arrested.
Hayley questions, so you're not arrested for photographing them like this?
I'm very aware of the legal boundaries. I have to.
Hayley: Right. Right, because secretly, secretly you would like to do them.
Hayley prods Jeff playfully with her questions but he does not directly deny her
accusations of being sexually attracted to the young models; instead, he bases his
defense off of his firm understanding of the law involving minors, not a disinterest in
them. Between the sexualized models that decorate his home and his current
flirtatious presence with a fourteen year girl, Jeffs sexual interests are presented as
being misaligned and he is in clear violation of acceptable social behavior, but it is
not apparent if he is a more sinister form of victimizer.
At the coffeehouse, Jeff shows no sign of a temper or anger issues. In the
security of his own home, however, small glimpses of rage become noticeable. Jeff
confides he did have a relationship with a model, Janelle, many years previous and
Hayley deduces that she is someone Jeff still cares for greatly. She teasingly persists
that Jeff is still infatuated with Janelle despite his refusal to admit it. As Hayley
relentlessly pushes the issue, Jeff suddenly aggressively and irritably gives Hayley a
firm no. Her reaction suggests she is surprised by his quick change in tone. Hayley
instantly recovers and insists that Jeff shoot her. In the film commentary with actors
48


Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page, Patrick remarks that director, David Slade, instructed
him to carry his camera as if it was a gun. From the moment of Jeffs first irritable
outburst he becomes an increasingly threatening character. Slade's figurative
parallelism between Jeffs camera and a firearm provide a deadly double meaning to
Hayley's pleading to be shot. The phallic nature of the symbol also likens Jeffs
photo shoots to sexual intercourse. He tells Hayley it's not as easy as you think;
models don't just pout their lips. They have to be willing to open up. They have to
show us a little of their soul, their secrets. Photography becomes an invasive form of
voyeuristic intimacy. Intimacy enacted upon young girls. The gun parallel also makes
it an act of violence. Jeffs gaze is no longer a distant manifestation of normative
heterosexual desire; it is rape.
Slade continues to dehumanize Jeff by means of subconscious visual cues. As
Jeff becomes more frustrated with Hayley's disobedience and as the drugs he's been
slipped begin to have a stronger effect, his control over his temper rapidly
deteriorates. Slade vaguely comments about a subtle image that helps demonize Jeff.
While Slade withholds specific details in his commentary, Wilson explains the scene
directly in his commentary on the film. Seconds before Jeff collapses, he screams at
Hayley to stop. His mouth is digitally stretched but the image only lasts a fraction
of a second. The viewer thus recognizes that Jeff has reacted in an unnatural and
unsettling way. Jeffs expression, while the exact reason may not be clear, defies
normality and becomes grotesque. Slade's conscious use of the technique succeeds in
49


making the character more monstrous and threatening. The scene acts as the pinnacle
of Jeffs role as the dominant male and victimizer. The final image he sees before
blacking out is the blurring form of Hayley. A smile can barely be made out on her
face. From this point forward in the narrative, there is a clear shift in power dynamics
between the two.
Transference of Power
Jeff wakes to a new reality, a reality in which he is no longer the powerful and
watchful eye but rather the helpless witness. His collapse is both literal and
metaphorical and in the commentary, the director explains that Patrick was weighted
down to place emphasis on the importance of his fall. The heavy crash illustrates he is
no longer the dominant male controlling the action. In his collapse, his camerahis
weaponare taken with him.
When Jeff wakes, he is tied to his office chair and a jacket is draped over his
face. Hayley has already stripped him of his masculine power by immobilizing him
and obstructing his sight. Her new power is immediately recognizable by the framing
of the scene in which Jeff awakens. While he once towered above Hayley at the
coffeehouse and only jokingly lowered himself to sarcastically kiss her feet, she now
stands over him and only lowers herself to his level to deliver serious information that
further establishes her control over him. His loss of power is not immediately
recognizable to Jeff and he assumes that Hayley has tied him up as a playful sexual
act. Still groggy from the effects of the drugs, Jeff slyly asks w-why do I get tied up
50


first, if, if this is how we're going to play? Hayley quickly destroys Jeff hopeful
assumption that he is still in control by responding, Jeff, playtime is over. It's time to
wake up. Lucy Fischer points out [Simone de Beauvoir] notes that women devote
themselves to men in order to partake of male powera sphere from which they are
otherwise excluded: The adolescent girl wishes at first to identify herself with males;
when she gives that up, she then seeks to share in their masculinity by having one of
them in love with her (91). The narrative initially suggests that Hayley passively
views Jeff as a romantic interest capable of being her agent in a masculine adult
world. Tales of his active lifestyle seem to inspire jealous reactions from Hayley,
suggesting her desire to live vicariously through Jeff. Jeffand the audiencewake
to realize that Hayley is not adhering to Beauvoirs claim but reacting against it. She
is not interested in peripherally acquiring masculine dominance; she is intent on
exercising her own power. His active status is revoked and he is left vulnerably
confined to an office chair. His home which was once his sanctuary to delight in
gazing has become his prison.
As the film progresses and Jeff manages to escape his shackles, he is swiftly
incapacitated by Hayley. The office chair allows him limited mobility and, while his
arms are pinned, he still has use of his hands. When he is moved to a gurney-like
metal table, his helplessness is overtly displayed by his bottomless exposure. While
his chair forced him to endure primarily verbal abuse, his nakedness on the table
leaves Jeff susceptible to physical torture. His hands are bound by thicker ropes, and
51


due to lack of circulation, his hands have turned a painful blue. The small wheels on
the table reduce his movement to inches and only with great physical exertion. His
immobile state exposes him to the possibility of drastic, life altering surgery, but
Hayley does not suggest that her intentions are deadly. Finally, Jeff is left standing on
a chair, his hands tightly tied and a noose around his neck. He is now fully clothed,
but his position is now potentially fatal. His movement is now limited to the seat of
the chair. The progressively confining constrains Jeff is placed in are used to show
the transference of power between him and Hayley.
Hayley becomes the controller of action. Against Mulvey's claims, she has
become the active female while Jeff has become the passive onlooker to his own
deconstruction. When Jeff tries to reclaim a voice, she is able to silence him by
spraying cleaning product in his mouth. Her control is near absolute. She explains
there is really no point in me taking any risks, Jeff. Technically I can let you scream
your fucking brains out, and no one is going to hear you. Yeah, I waited till today
because Mr. Coughlin is at work, and the Kraskows they're vacationing in Santa
Barbara. She knows him, his neighbors, and his methods of manipulation, while he
remains clueless about the girl who he seemingly lured into his house.
During her initial interrogation of Jeff, Hayley puts on his glasses thus
illustrating that she possesses the insight into his character while he remains blind.
She directs the conversation and asks the questions, while he was the dominant
inquisitor at the coffeehouse. This gives her the power of the gaze. She objectifies
52


him and minimizes his humanistic qualities. He becomes like the furnishing he is
bound to. She controls his voice, his movement, and his understanding of her. She is
able to run freely around his house and guide his movements when he manages to
escape his constraints
Her power is also visible in the way she is capable of extracting knowledge
from him by a single, seemingly inconsequential, gesture. When she asks him if he
has a hiding place for his pedophilic images, pictures that would be dangerous to
leave unsecured, she is able to see the answer by an isolated but revealing blink. His
inability to match her gaze silently exposes the truth and sends her into a frenzy to
find the evidence of his guilt. Jeffs initial desire to study Hayley, which was
discussed during the IM chat has been inverted and she is the one who is able to place
him under the microscope and read him closely.
When Jeff tries to emulate her insightful deductions, he is met with false
success. Jeff believes he has found an opportunity to get Hayley to question her own
motives when she expresses that her parents will not notice her extended absence. Jeff
prods, oh, is that it? What? They're too busy to keep track of you, so you reach out to
somebody who seems like he might care about you? And you're so mad because they
ignore you? They always made the fuss over your older sister because she learned to
do everything first? You're furious with them, but they do love you and they pay for
your existence, but you can't let them see any of that anger.
Hayley quietly replies, I'm not angry at them.
53


Jeff soothes, no, no. Absolutely not. That would be too dangerous. But you
are angry and you gotta let it out somehow. SO you find a guyan older guy
Maybe he reminds you a little of your dad. Let me guess. I look like him?
Hayley responds You don't look anything like him.
Jeff: If you say so. But you gotta let that anger out somehow. And I seem
like a good target.
Hayley angrily lashes out, Will you just shut up, seriously, just shut up. You
know nothing about me.
Jeff calmly suggests, no, you're right. So sit down and tell me. We'll talk.
We can sit on the sofa. And I'll call a taxi for you. If you want, I'll hold you. If you
don't want, I'll keep my distance.
Jeffs attempt at addressing Hayley is to reestablish his dominance by
proposing he physically comfort her. He asks to sit on the couch which would remove
her ability to look down upon him. His attempt to read her character is aimed to mar
Hayley's self-perception of herself by creating doubt of her self-worth. Jeff becomes
representative of the social pressures real girls face which breeds feelings of
inadequacy; this cultural trend of degradation is an issue that will be explored in
depth in Chapter Five, which focuses on the social implications of aggressive girls in
society. His ploy is quickly exposed as Hayley reveals she is only mocking him with
her meek and vulnerable demeanor. She laughs coldly, Did you seriously think that
that was gonna work? You're good at what you do, Jeff. What you do is work with
54


teenage girls, put them at ease so they can trust you with all their secrets. She calls
his bluff and recognizes that his comforting nature is another method of getting girls
to express their vulnerability. Hayley, however, breaks the cycle of passive femininity
with her aggressive ability to possess the gaze, drive the action, and separate from a
cinematic tradition of victimization.
The exchange recalls Clovers assessment of the violence of the Final Girl.
She comments:
To the critics objection that Halloween in effect punished female sexuality,
director John Carpenter responded They [the critics] completely missed the
boat there, I think. Because if you turn it around, the one girl who is the most
sexually uptight just keeps stabbing this guy with a long knife. Shes the most
sexually frustrated. Shes the one that killed him. Not because shes a virgin,
but because all that repressed energy starts coming out. She uses all those
phallic symbols on the guy... She and the killer have a certain link: sexual
repression (Clover 49).
Clover presents Carpenters idea as a partial-truth in that sexual frustration can act as a
catalyst for violence and the severely abused would be the most prone to seize the
knife as an outlet. Jeff approaches Hayleys aggression with this mentality. Hayley is
dismissed as being mad with emotion. Clover adjusts Carpenters point by clarifying,
But the certain link that puts killer and Final Girl on terms, at least briefly, is more
than sexual repression. It is also a shared masculinity, materialized in all those
55


phallic symbolsand it is also shared a shared femininity, materialized in what
comes next (and what Carpenter, perhaps significantly, fails to mention): the
castration, literal or symbolic, of the killer at her hands (49). However, Clovers
correction doesnt fit Hayley either. Her actions are not based on emotional whims
but premeditated strategy. The perception of shared masculinity is complicated by the
fact that she does not use the phallic symbols at instruments of violence. She does not
shoot or stab Jeff; she only disarms him, thus tying her to the feminine. It is Jeff who
displays repressed sexual frustration, as seen when he finally seizes a butcher knife.
He is the one who seizes the phallic symbols with deadly intent, and it is he who is
continually stripped of these power symbols. These characters do not reside in clear
designation as victim and villain but are heavily shrouded in disguise until the
conclusion. Because of this, Hayley and Jeff do not fit neatly into Clovers slasher
model, as will be discussed in the subsequent sections of this study.
Hayley further separates from the victim role by her consistent correlation
with phallic symbols, which becomes more exaggerated over the course of the film.
As mentioned, this does not separate her from her feminine identity but rather shows
her ability to manipulate and control masculine objects and characters. Jeff initially
operates a phallic symbol vis-a-vis his camera, but once he is incapacitated, his
ability to remain in possession of phallic representations is removed. Hayley first
discovers the gun he stores in his bedroom but sets it on his bed. At this point in the
narrative, she has not clearly established herself as the dominating individual between
56


the two; consequently, she does not utilize the symbolic firearm until the films
climax. When Jeff attempts to seize the gun, he is asphyxiated and disarmed by
Hayley, who wraps his head in saran wrap. The use of Saran Wrap locates Hayley
within the female domestic of the kitchen and connotes that her femininity is able to
overpower Jeffs phallic masculinity.
Once Jeff as been pacified again, Hayley consistently is in possession of a
representative phallus. She simulates castrating Jeff with a scalpel and subdues him a
second time with a taser gun when he tries to attack her. The presence of rope
becomes emphasized as the film builds towards a climax; at first it is used only to
restrain Jeff but later takes the fatal form of a noose, which significantly first appears
within the kitchen, or the distinctive domestic sphere. By the films conclusion, the
rope retains its deadly presence even in the public sphere, in which Jeff finally
succumbs to his defeat and voluntarily places the rope around his neck. Jeffs demise
is the result of being hung by his own rogue sexuality.
When Jeff attempts to seize a phallic weapon, Hayley is able to beat him by
using a more powerful instrument. When he escapes from the make-shift operation
table, he grabs the scalpel but is rendered unconscious by multiple shocks from
Hayley's taser. When he escapes from his kitchen gallows and grabs a butchers knife,
he is forced to accept defeat when Hayley holds him at gunpoint. The dynamic
between the two remains consistent. Hayley is in control. When Jeff tries to alter the
power dynamic, Hayley adapts and is able to maintain the advantage. Masculinity is
57


represented as being irrational and reckless while the female representation is
masterfully disciplined and systematic in pursuing her desired outcome. She has
complete control over Jeff and is even able to manipulate what he sees. By taking
possession of his photographic equipment, she is able to control the gaze.
Hayley's ability to control what Jeffand the audiencesees gives her power
over the narrative instead of just power within the narrative. She is able to fully take
advantage of Jeffs vulnerability and subject him to the dehumanizing nature of the
gaze. Hayley informs him that she will be performing a castration and then proceeds
to shave, numb, and finally disposes of two bloody testicles. She allows Jeff to watch
the procedure by connecting a video camera to his television. The physical sensations
he feels and the bloody images he sees are an illusion orchestrated by Hayley. The
live footage is actually a pre-recorded tape, the blood and testicles he sees are also
props that Hayley has brought with her, and the physical pain he feels is created by a
metal clamp instead of an incision. The tension and terror Hayley is able to produce
in both Jeff and the viewer is genuine.
When Jeff wakes to find himself pantless on a metal table, he is aware of his
vulnerability but reluctant to accept of the severity of his situation. As the scene
progresses and Hayley informs him of her intentions, his reaction moves from
disbelief, to panic, to emotional collapse. His replies begin as being sarcastic, snidely
remarking about Hayley's mental health but quickly deteriorates into frantic screams
58


for help. When he is silenced, he desperately pleas There's money in the safe. .You
could take it. Take the camera equipment. Take whatever you want!
Hayley curtly informs Jeff I am. You really can't talk me out of this by
bribing me, okay? As Jeffs breathing quickens, and his voice shakes on the verge of
hysterics, the realization that Hayleyto explain crudelyhas him figuratively and
literally by the balls becomes blatantly clear. Due to his limited perspective, to which
the viewer is also subjugated, the reality of the castration seems unnervingly absolute.
Only Hayley is privileged with the knowledge that the simulation is only a form of
emotional torture. Her hidden gaze is the one that hold the power and the male gaze
that Jeff believes he possesses through the camera is a fabrication of truth. By turning
his own cameras on himself, Jeff is able to see the cruel objectification that occurs
through the act of gazing. A part of the person becomes representational of the whole.
Much as Mulveys criticism discusses how the male gaze objectifies the female
subject by using the external sexual form as the entire representation of femaleness,
the film subverts this idea by using a misleading surgical internal image to represent
Jeffs masculine misalignment in society.
The taped surgery takes Jeffs philosophy of looking inside the gazed upon
object to a grotesque extreme. While Jeff discussed the need for a model to open up
and expose her soul, Hayley takes Jeffs words and shows him the brutally invasive
nature of the gaze. He uses his authority as a photographer to dismember the
identities of his models under the pretense that he is looking inward. Hayley uses the
59


tape to look inward under the pretense that Jeffs physical anatomy fully represents
his deviant function in society. She uses his manipulative attitude of the gaze against
him to terrifying effect.
The Role of Terror
Hard Candy does not just separate women from the role of victim; it places
her in control of the horror. Unease is created in the audience by a lack of immediate
polarization of character morality. The line between justified vigilantism and sadistic
cruelty is not always clear and the motivations of each character are consistently
brought into doubt. The moral ambiguity, by itself, would place the film within the
thriller genre; however, it is the stark presence of male abuse that turns the film into
an unconventional horror. Instead of a demonic male killer stalking helpless women,
the film provides a morally obscure girl tormenting a charismatic sexually deviant
man. The formula for horror is rewritten through gender roles.
While horror traditionally dissects the female body, Hard Candy makes the
gesture to subvert the convention. The male body is illusory cut open and maleness is
placed on under the microscope. Linda Badley comments, we participate in the
technological reconstructions and colonization of the body that continually threatens
revolt. And because the body is gendered female as the medical gaze is gendered
male, bodies have become fields of contestation (26).The film reverses the roles by
placing the scalpel in Hayleys hand and Jeff on the operating table, yet does not
commit to actually breaking skin. In this sense, the films reworking of horror
60


acknowledges a barrier it is unwilling to cross. It mimics the form of bodily horror
with its blurred image of the castration procedure going on in the background, but
stops short of fully placing the male victim in the traditional female position, an issue
that is not present in film Teeth, which will be discussed in Chapter Four. The
hesitation the film makes can be attributed to keeping Hayleys hands clean of spilt
blood, a trait that makes her an unusual horror tormentor.
Unlike the helpless teenage scream queens of horror tradition, Jeff is a
successful thirty-something professional who finds himself in the victim role as a
result of his own predatory inclinations. As the films revealed villain, he initially is
presented as an innocent victim wrongly punished for supposed crimes. His behavior
for associating with a young teenage girl is condemnable but his persistent insistence
of his innocence lead the viewer to question the severity of his offense. The range of
emotion Jeff expresseshis humor, fear, confusion, anger, despair, and
determinationanchor him to humanity. This makes him a character audiences cant
disassociate with despite the incriminating evidence that begins to emerge which
expose his monstrous side.
The duality of being both victim and villain complicate the role of Jeffs
character. The psychological and physical torture he sustains, along with his friendly
demeanor align him with audience sympathies while his hidden transgressions
suggest that his public persona mask his private violence. He hides a firearm under
his bed, has child pornography locked in a concealed safe, and he is in possession of a
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photograph of the girl, Donna Mauer, from the Missing poster at the coffeehouse.
Despite all this evidence, he clings to his innocence so convincingly that his facade
breaks only when he believes he has Hayley on the defense. When the disguise is
removed, Jeff speaks in a deep, menacing voice. After he furiously stabs one of his
photographs, he declares to the empty room, You're right. You're right, Hayley.
Thank you. Thank you. This is me. This is who I am. Thank you. Thank you for
helping me see it. By the film's third act, it is clear that Jeff really is the deceitful
monster that Hayley has claimed he is. Just as Hayley wears the mask of vulnerability
in the first act, Jeff dons his own disguise. Discussing the conventional slasher killer,
Clover comments that, [w]e catch sight of them only in glimpsesfew and far
between in the beginning, more frequent toward the end (30). The subtle temper of
his seen in the beginning of the film gives the viewer a glimpse behind the mask of
innocence. Unlike killers of the conventional slasher, his role as villain is a process of
realization and is not established early but concealed by a lack of internal visibility.
His ability to mimic innocence and manipulate the emotions of his victimsthe girls
he has photographed and the viewers he has swayed with his defenseestablish Jeff
as more dangerous villain, perhaps because he so convincingly does not appear to be
so. Yet it is Hayley who is depicted as the heartless tormentor and the recipient of the
audiences scorn.
While Jeffs drastic personality shift occurs at the end of the film, Hayley's
change signals the start of the second act, around twenty minutes into the narrative.
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The change is sudden and vicious; she is no longer the vulnerable, meek, and
flirtatiously quirky girl from the coffeehouse but a tough, aggressive, merciless
femme fatale. Her capacity for sympathy and compassion seem to have died in the
transformation making her a less relatable and likable character. Her treatment of Jeff
is coldly systematic and given that the viewer is not privileged with her perspective or
knowledge, her interrogation tactics appear unjustified.
The lack of background and character insight of Hayley contributes greatly to
her being falsely labeled as antagonistic. Her motivation for tracking and torturing
dangerous pedophiles is left unclear, leaving the viewer to ponder if she is seeking
retribution for personal trauma or if she is seizing the opportunity to sadistically
exploit and objectify those who have done the exact same to young girls. Near the end
of the film, Jeff threatens, I'll find you. I'll track you down!
Hayley interrupts Assuming you knew anything about me.
Calabasas girl whose dad teaches at UCW shouldn't be that hard to find.
You believed all that, huh?
Jeff falters who are you?
Hayley: It's hard to say for sure. Maybe not a Calabasas girl. Maybe not the
daughter of a med school professor.
Maybe not even a friend of Donna Mauer.
Maybe not even named Hayley
Jeff growls in frustration, Who the hell are you?
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Hayley spits I am every little girl you ever watched, touched, hurt, screwed,
killed
Hayley is not a person but rather an embodiment of social retribution. She is
frightening because she is the unknown; in terms of the audience, she has no past. Her
false history protects her from Jeff, but simultaneously alienates her from audience
identification. Jeff comments You walk into somebody's house, you start looking
through their shit. You're gonna find things that embarrasses them. Like the killers
of the slasher cycle, she holds the power because she knows her victims while they
know little to nothing about her. She is able to invade Jeffs life while revealing little
about herself.
This fact, alone, makes her a mysterious character but her teasing responses to
Jeffs anxiety and pain imply a deep-seated cruelty and cold-heartedness. She plays
with his emotions by offering false promises, reading him damaging letters in a
sweetly innocent voice, and insistently suggesting he commit suicide. While it is clear
that she takes her vengeance seriously, a certain amount of pleasure is seen in her
actions. She does not merely want to stop Jeffs deviant actions, she wants him to
suffer terribly before he dies. At one point, Jeff is tied to the operation table and
Hayley reads him the email she threatens to send to Janelle, the model he still cares
for. Using an overly sugary voice, she reads:
Dear Janelle. My name is Hayley Stark. I hope you don't mind me writing you
like this. I met this guy that I think you knowJeff Kohlver. He's so cute.
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Well, he seems to really like me. He even asked me over to his place to do
some photography, and I am so excited about this because, well, for a 14-year-
old like me, this could be a huge break, you know.
She mocks Jeffs innocent persona by adopting her own, yet purposely demonstrates
its transparency by having her sweet tone overtly contradict her words. She casually
drops her age into the message to draw attention to Jeffs implied perverse behavior.
The innocence that once appealed to Jeff when he believed he was the one in control,
when he was the predator, now resurfaces to taunt his vulnerability and incriminating
situation. Hayley continues:
So, so, so, so, I found your e-mail address in his PDA, and I thought I'd just
ask. Is this insane? Am I insane? Is Jeff? And this other girl he talks about all
the time. Her name is Donna Mauer. Do you know anything about her? I
found these photos on his computer but silly me, I can't figure out how to
open them, but I'm attaching them to this note. Are they pictures of you or
Donna? Anyhoo, thanks a mil.
Ignorant innocence is used to mask her dangerous insight. She understands the
painful and destructive consequences of sending incriminating pictures to the one
person Jeff cares for but she hides the viciousness of the act behind a facade. Even in
death, she wants Jeff to suffer. She promises that she will remove any evidence of his
pedophilic and violent lifestyle if he kills himself. Jeff finally accepts death as his
escape but as he leaps from the roof with the noose around his neck, Hayley revokes
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her promise. She systematical strips Jeff of the smug pride he exhibits at the
beginning of the film, and denies him even small victorieslike dying without
Janelle ever having to find out about his monstrous activities. While Jeff is the films
villain, Hayley's unremorseful and uncompromising deconstruction of her victim
paints her character as a mean-spirited, untrustworthy manipulator.
Part of her perceived cruelty is due to the severity of her tactics preceding the
darker truths they reveal of Jeffs past. He is bound before it is revealed that he
possesses child pornography. He is threatened with castration before his connection
with Donna Mauer is exposed. He is in a noose before he confesses to playing a direct
role in the sexual abuse and murder of Mauer. What appears to the audience as
assumption-based torture is actually meticulously calculated. Just as Hayley
seemingly agrees to meet Jeff on a whim, which is later revealed as a day she chose
based on the privacy she would be granted due to the neighbors schedules; she has
targeted Jeff after already knowing of his guilt. The purpose of her forceful
interrogation is to get Jeff to admit to himself that he is the wicked person she knows
him to be. Before he jumps from the roof, he confessesyet still withholds the
complete truththat I didn't kill her. I just watched. I wanted to take pictures but he
wouldn't let me. It was me and another guy. I didn't do it. I swear. I'll tell you the
name, and I'll help you find him. Hayley responds in disappointment, I know his
name, Jeff. You know what's funny? Aaron told me you did it before he killed
himself. Her brash actions, in reality, are carefully crafted and what appears to be
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unprovoked brutality is supported by information hidden from the viewer. The film is
presented from Hayley's perspective and since she is not the subject of the gaze, her
knowledge is not intrusively displayed. She controls what Jeff and the audience see
and know, thus making her an imposing and terrifying figure despite her small
stature.
In addition to representing social retribution through false innocence, Hayley
also embodies the masculine fear of castration anxiety. She is originally portrayed as
the non-threatening fetishized image of female beauty. Her objectification is
reinforced by the fact she is asked to pose for Jeff while wearing a T-shirt that
displays an image of an iconic painting. This scene refers back to Mulveys claim that
women beckon to be looked at and the male shapes the female image to fit his erotic
fantasy. She is likened to a piece of art and Jeff becomes the patron who bows down
in mock-worship. He shapes her image by telling her to model the shirt for him and
she indulges his desire to gaze by flashing her bra while she is changing. Hayley
appears to embrace her role as an erotic object; the shift in power dynamics, however,
changes her from the idolized woman to the dangerous and unknown. Her lack of a
phallus becomes a threat to Jeffs own masculinity. Clover discusses how horror is a
genre that is primarily targeted toward a young male audience. With this in mind, the
abuse that is sustained by the male lead becomes an issue of audience discomfort.
Hard Candy alters the horror paradigm by addressing castration anxiety in the literal
instead of metaphorical manner. Jeffs situation, while immorally founded, place him
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in a audience-resisted sympathetic role and Hayley in an antagonistic role with male
viewers. The film consequently makes both characters unidentifiable due to
perceptions of male abuse and moral deviance. While this can be dismissed as a
shortcoming of the film, it provides subversive commentary on the nature of audience
identification. Hayley represents a new type of heroine and while she is cold and
abrasive, it should be recognized that she possess the same qualities that define
idolized male protagonists. Haley is cut from the same cloth as a Bogart detective, an
Eastwood cowboy, and a Pacino gangster. Yet she is defined as abrasive and cruel. In
a review, Desson Thomson of The Washington Post describes Hayley with her
batting eyelashes and a grim agenda, shes a soulless avenger. The dismissive
attitude towards a raw female protagonist provides insight into the social norms of
contemporary American culture which will be discussed in Chapter Five.
Redefining Convention
Violent female characters are not a new occurrence in films; what truly
establishes Hayley as a unique character is the combination of her violent actions,
clear sexuality, and her young age. The price of a woman's aggressive independence,
traditionally in American cinema, is her sexuality. To remain a violent and sexual
female often reduces a character to a morally venomous femme fatale. To sacrifice
feminine sexuality forces a character to become revered as a masculine heroine who
is only female in body but gendered male.
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Hayley's behavior echoes those of other cinematic incarnations of violent
sexualized women, such as Foxy Brown or Thelma and Louise. She is strong,
independent, and uses her sexuality to gain advantage over her foes. But unlike those
characters, she is just a teenage girl. This broaches the topic of the differences
between violent women and violent girls. Neal King and Martha McCaughey explain
in Reel Knockouts that:
Violent women appear in a variety of genres, from classic horror and film noir
to 1970s blaxploitation and 1990s road movies... Sometimes violent female
characters are malicious villains; other times they save the world from
destruction or just uphold the law. In almost all cases, however, somebody
will imply that such action, because done by a woman, falls below standards
of human decency. (1-2)
The social resistance to accept violent women hinges on conventional representation.
An expectation of passivity and submissiveness are violated by the active woman,
whether her actions are moral or malicious. Lucy Fischer adds, it becomes clear that
the female killer has been deemed more perverse than the male, for she violates
obtaining views of woman as life giver and nurturerfigurations that do not apply to
men (269). As was the case with the femme fatale who frequented film noir,
violently sexual women lured the hapless hero into social ruination, emasculation and
death. She did not just kill; her violence destroyed perceptions of the nuclear family.
Her rogue sexuality threatened the American way. Fischer states, For [Meda
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Chesney] Lind, a similar folklore has attached to the female criminal, another rebel
who is seen as monstrous. She writes: The fear of defiant women is as old as the
history of male domination and has necessitated the creation of.. .figures.. .to serve as
warnings to all women that those who defy male authority suffer ignominious
consequences (283). Thus the violent woman becomes the image of the wicked and
undesirable woman; she becomes an instrument to promote domesticity and
compliance. The notion of the invisible obedient woman has greatly diminished as
has the commonality of the femme fatale due to the reassessment of polarized gender
roles and the growing social understanding of feminism.
The highly negative representation of the aggressive woman has dramatically
decreased as society adapts to images of women active in the public sphere.
McCaughey and King discuss the social changes. They state:
Barbara Ehrenreich observes the recent decline of patriarchy, in which
many women became economically independent of men (though often raising
children in poverty) and many men gave up the pretense of providing for and
protecting women. In this new world, women move away from the moral (and
nonviolent) purity of the Victorian Cult of True Womanhood and onto
mens turfpolice work, military service, and a growing self-defense
movement. Such a culture puts violent women (as heroes or villains) in its
movies. (5)
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With the increased visibility of women and the separation from archaic tradition,
violence becomes normative behavior for men and women, alike. However, for
women, that comes at a greater cost. To enter into a world of masculine violence
means to sacrifice a feminine identity. Hilary Neroni comments that [violence
functions primarily within ideas of complementarity insofar as men are violent and
women are spectators and guarantors of violence (92). While the image of the
violent women is becoming more commonplace, violence and aggression are still
viewed as intrinsic to the male experience. Neroni continues, When women react
with violence toward the loss or threatened loss of their femininity, they do not regain
their femininity, but instead position themselves even further from that femininity and
their complementary relationship with masculinity (92). This is the case for iconic
heroic women such as Ripley from the Alien franchise, Sarah Conner from
Terminator 2, and Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. Women who partake in
violence compromise their ability to be maternal. If they care for a child, it is in a
paternal sense by offering protection instead displaying a nurturing nature. To be the
violent heroine is to be become devoid of a feminine sexual identity.
Hayley falls between the two poles and is a neither a pure representation of
evil or good. Unlike classic femme fatales, Hayley's sexuality is used as a powerful
asset instead of being portrayed as a tragic flaw. Instead of using her sexuality to
corrupt innocent men, she lures deceitful men to atonement. Female sexuality has
overwhelmingly been depicted as perpetuating deviant lifestyles and moral
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degradation. Hard Candy subverts the message by presenting the predatory quality of
male sexuality and uses the sexualized female as judicator. Jeff represents rogue
desire which has become dangerous, while Hayley is controlled and capable of
speaking maturely about sex. The rules that define acceptable sexual behavior come
from Hayley's mouth. She tells Jeff, just because a girl knows how to imitate a
woman, does not mean she's ready to do what a woman does. I mean, you're the
grown-up here. She becomes an advocate for protecting young girls from sexual
exploitation. She maintains a sexual identity without engaging in sex. Her comment
to Jeff is not about female abstinence but is a remark about social pressure. Sex is not
the defining factor in being womanly, and Hayley recognizes that Jeff uses his age to
manipulate young girls into thinking sexual activity is what makes a woman.
Hayley is reclaiming that sexual identity from masculine interpretation. Her
method is aggressive, violent, and unsettling. Hayley's awareness about age and its
role in constructing a sexual identity is a major point to note. The film understands
the social taboo that surrounds pedophilia and uses the discomfort that is apt to be
created in the viewer from observing a sexualized fourteen year old to draw attention
to the commonplace of objectification of legally aged girls. At one point Jeff tells
Hayley as she flirtatiously poses on the couch, Don't do that. .That phony music
video crap. The music video aesthetic Jeff refers to is popular cultures version of
the exploitive voyeurism that Jeff partakes in, though his desire is outside of the law.
By disturbingly mimicking the behavior of the girls so prevalent in society, Hayley
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places emphasis on the sexual objectifying nature of what has been deemed socially
routine. By Hayley being radically underage yet acting in a provocative manner, the
viewer is reluctantly forced to share Jeffs incriminating perspective.
This same sexualized lens that objectifies older females is what makes Hayley
unique and independent. The viewer is able to recognize her as a hyper-sexualized
female but she is not subjugated to the intrusive and oppressive eye of desire by
audiences due to the social taboo surrounding pedophilia. She is able to stand as
sexually independent and free of a preordained victim-status due to her age. Her age
is what grants her power over the gaze and subverts its appeal. What was once
visually pleasurable has become sexually deviant.
Her rise to power and her ability to preside over adult men only contribute to
the strength of her character. The film emphasizes her power by granting her
physical strength. She is able to lift Jeffs dead weight onto chairs and tables and to
sustain multiple injuries. While this lifting occurs off-camera, the illogical actuality of
Hayley being able to accomplish such feats and survive such abuse is overlooked in
the narrative. This is not to suggest that she is to be viewed as a supernatural
phenomenon or the film lazily cut corners but rather her power operates in a
metaphorical sense. Her female sexuality and identity are able to dominate over the
inferior masculine predator. Her physical form belies her actual strength. It is in this
sense that the film provides a pro-female perspective.
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Hard Candy reworks many of the conventions of female victimization within
horror cinema, but it is still a transitory piece. Hayley can be examined as an
androgynous representation despite her clear flirtatiousness. Her short hair and
technological adeptness liken her to Clover's Final Girl but she is far too assertive and
proactive to be categorized as such. Her ability to wield and monopolize control over
phallic weaponry demonstrates that she is not merely a passive player in a masculine
world. She is not a victim of the male gaze; rather those who live by the male gaze
are victims of her. While Hayley does maintain a clear sexual identity, her power is
derived from the combination of perceived female passivity or weakness and
masculine brutality and violence; hence the overwhelming presence of the male gaze
and phallic symbols. Hard Candy, while progressive, cannot be classified as a purely
feminist horror film. Hayley is powerful because she is able to subvert misogynistic
conventions for her own gain, not because she, as a woman, is powerful in her own
right. She merely knows how to play the game to her advantage. In a separate film,
two years later, another violent, sexual, teenage girl graced the screen who was able
to accomplish what Hayley was not, a girl who did not just play the game but devised
her own.
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CHAPTER 4
TEETH
Mitchell Lichensteins film is a direct attack on the conventions of the horror
genre. The purpose of the film is about empowerment and refusal of male domination
of the female body. What begins as a traditional portrayal of the submissive,
victimized woman is soon transformed into a violent redistribution of gender power-
dynamics.
Another Victim
Teeth, like Hard Candy, follows a teenage girl who is established as being
vulnerable to victimization before transforming into a symbol of violent, sexual
female independence and strength. While both characters begin as victims, their
climb to power takes very different forms. Hayley's course is a calculated plan of
deception, while Dawn's path is of self-realization. Hayley is deliberately seeking out
conflict, while Dawn is simply trying to survive within a hostile and exploitive
environment. As a result, Dawn is the more honest character, because she is not
concealing her true identity but rather trying to find and understand it.
Dawn is able to find herself and her power through her role as victimand
her role as victim is a complicated one. Most clearly, Dawn is taken advantage by a
number of men who use varying methods to exploit the attractive and prudent high
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school girl who comes to them for help. She falls victim to rape, molestation,
deception, and perverse infatuation over the course of the film, but emerges more
powerful from each incident. Indirectly, she is the victim of a society that is leery of
female sexuality and has taken great effort in keeping the populace uneducated and
bound by conservative definitions of morality.
Before Dawn is even aware of the societal issues surrounding female
sexuality, she is faced with multiple incarnations of male sexual perversion,
manipulation, and aggression. Tobey is the first male she encounters on her rise from
victim to self-realized heroine. Tobey is initially presented as a like-minded
individual who shares Dawn's fervor for abstinence. He is quick to support her
comments about maintaining sexual purity until marriage yet confesses to having
given in to temptation by masturbating once. He tells Dawn that he's a virgin, in His
eyes. It was just once. .about a year and a half ago. Still dealing with the guilt.
While both teens are caught in internal conflict with their hormones and their
commitment to abstinence, Tobey is the one who allows his sexual repression to
become sexual deviance. Dawn exhibits guilty hesitation in expressing physical
intimacy outside of gentle kissing, yet Tobey continues to push for more body
contact.
Tobey, consequently, becomes a representation of domineering and forceful
male sexuality. His willingness to become a rapist because he hasn't even jerked off
since Easter belie his loyalty to abstinence. The purity ring he wears is simple
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ornamentation to increase his personal appeal and value to Dawn. When consensual
sex is not possible, he refuses to listen to Dawn's insistent demands to stop. The
agreeable, conservative character quickly becomes a brutish, sex-crazed individual
who forces himself upon Dawn, unintentionally knocks her unconscious, and seizes
the opportunity for sexual gratification. His need for physical pleasure supersede his
adherence to moral, social, and judicial awareness and regulation. The crime that
Tobey personifies is that of extreme sexual abuse. He is the pinnacle of the selfish
disregard and exploitation of women as sex objects. His propensity to force himself
on Dawn while she is unconscious illustrates how Tobey views her as nothing more
than an inanimate instrument used to help him to obtain pleasure. Tobey stands as the
most overt portrayal of threatening male sexuality but Dawn quickly realizes that it
can take many forms.
After her encounter with Tobey, Dawn's confusion about her anatomy leads
her to seek the advice of medical professionals. The gynecologist she visits, however,
uses his position of authority for malicious purposes. His demeanor changes upon
sensing that Dawn is unfamiliar with the procedure and protocol of gynecology. He
comments, So, I imagine you have no idea what to expect in which she nervously
responds, not really. Using the question to assess her naive vulnerability, he
proceeds to painfully take advantage of her under the guise that he is checking her
vaginal flexibility.
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Unlike Tobey, the doctor is a figure of authority and is placed in a position of
trust. Tobey acts out of selfish sexual frustration but the gynecologist uses Dawn to
exercise a sense of superiority and dominance. His motivation is that he derives
pleasure from the pain he causes in others, specifically the pain of the innocent and
the naive. His actions are displayed in a hyperbolic manner as he applies lubricant to
his whole hand before aggressively inserting his fingers. Despite the noticeable pain
he is causing, he maintains a tone of authority when he tells her to just lie back and
relax. Just breathe. Breathe through the pain. His unmotivated sadistic misogynistic
behavior links him to the traditional villains of first-wave horror who torture women
for the mere fact they are women.
The other men Dawn encounters are exploitive in more subtle or passively
perverse ways. Ryan represents the manipulative aspect of consensual sex. When
Dawn comes to his home, he attempts to comfort her as she tries to cope with the
violent consequences of her interactions with Tobey and the gynecologist. His
generosity and concern, however, are used to sexually coax Dawn. He provides her
with alcohol and muscle-relaxers to inhibit her judgment. He ignores her concern
about vagina dentata and reassures her that he will be the hero to conquer her
supposed abnormality. Unlike the aggressive rapists and molesters she previously
encountered, Ryan is the embodiment of passive seduction. His intentions, while
seemingly selflesshe is the only character who seems to place Dawn's pleasure
before his ownare undermined by a bet with a classmate.
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The interest he has shown towards Dawn through the film were not founded in
genuine feelings but were rather a ploy to sleep with her. As the two are having sex
in the morning, Ryan answers a phone call from his friend, Elliot. When Dawn
questions Ryan, he smugly admits that we made a bet that I could, uh, you know
[gestures with pelvic thrusts].
Dawn responds So, you made a bet about me when I had taken a sacred vow
of abstinence?
Ryan scoffs, I had a hunch that it wasn't all that sacred.
It was though.
Your mouth is saying one thing, babe, but your sweet pussy is saying
something very different
The exchange between the two characters reveals the sexist and deceitful
nature of to Ryan's character. He has a blatant disrespect for Dawn's personal
commitment to chastity, thus exposing a philosophy that women are sexually
animalistic and that their convictions can waiver on a whim. He reduces her cognitive
ability to make rational decisions to what he interprets her genitalia seem to imply.
He is blind to the individual and only sees women for their sexual function. He
exploits Dawn for her sexuality yet reveals a vulgar aspect of his own sexual identity
in a few sentences. Language begins to break down for him as an instrument of
manipulation as illustrated by him finishing his thought with sexually-implicit
gestures as well as his use the infantilizing term babe. His words are also used to
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fragment Dawn from a complete individual into a mouth and a pussy. His
dehumanization of women is only supported by his willingness to bet on their actions
as if they were animals at the track.
If the other men in the film are just minor players in the representation of
misogyny, then Brad, Dawn's step-brother, represents the apex of abrasive, lewd,
exploitive men, within the film. His threateningly aggressive demeanor is reinforced
by his numerous tattoos and piercings, his willingness to go to fisticuffs with other
malesincluding his fatherwho attempt to distance him from Dawn, and the
guttural growls of death metal music that spews from his room. Brad is rarely seen
outside of his bedroom, which is comparable to a lair and he is the beast who protects
its vile sanctity. The walls are covered in pictures of scantily clad or naked women,
death metal posters, and shooting range targets. While Dawn promotes purity, Brad is
displayed taking bong hits and exhibiting a penchant for having anal sex with his
girlfriend, Melanie.
His hyper-sexuality and hyper-masculinity are also accompanied by a severe
lack of emotional expression and a clear satisfaction for creating displeasure in
others. Dawn overhears Melanie arguing with Brad through the wall; she yells
fucking bastard, why can't we do it normal like everybody else? Why do we always
have to do it that way, Brad? It hurts! I don't want to do it! It hurts! You're not being
fair! Like the gynecologist, Brad derives pleasure from the pain of others. He
selfishly exploits Melanie's proclamation that she loves him. He responds to her
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comment of pleading affection by giggling and I love you too. I love your ass.
Brad, like Ryan, only views women as an object and defines them by their body.
Melanie is fragmented by Brad and is treated as subhuman because he only views her
as a piece of ass. At one point, with malicious mirth, he holds a dog treat against
Melanie's teeth and forces it into her mouth when she tries to verbally protest. The
action can be viewed as a metaphoric rape in which Brad is forcing his will, vis a vis
a very phallic dog treat, into his opposing girlfriend's mouth. Brad, similar to Tobey,
directs this imposing attitude toward Dawn.
Throughout the film, Brad relentlessly harasses his step-sister, often with clear
sexual undertones. At one point, he hides in the shower while she is about to undress,
which is a reference to traditional horror films in which female characters become
victims while bathing. This is further supported by the fact he has a sign on his door
which states Who you calling 'psycho' thus linking him to the classic Norman Bates
character. Brad is consequently established as the primary antagonist who poses the
greatest threat to Dawn's self-perception. He tells her, you know, all that abstinence
bullshit? We all know who you've been saving yourself for. And I've been real
patient. .So why don't you just set that pretty ass down? While he does not force
himself upon her, he explicitly states that he is sexually interested in her and proceeds
to make her home-life as difficult as he can. Melanie represents the defeated female
that Dawn is in danger of becoming if she succumbs to Brad's overbearing sexism.
Dawn is victimized in different way my the other men, but Brad stands as the
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amalgamation of their abusive traits. He possesses Tobey's forcefulness, Ryan's
dehumanizing perspective, and the gynecologist's sadistic pleasure.
The men, however, are only the products of a society that breeds female
submissiveness and repressed sexuality. Teeth provides commentary of the higher
institutions of religion and education and how they promote gender inequality. The
school's sex education lesson is highly uninformative and leaves the students with
little understanding about their developing sexuality. The teacher lectures his class,
that's it, then, for the penis. Let's move on to the. .to the, ahem, uh, the next page.
The female. .privates. He is able to speak easily about male anatomy but expresses
great discomfort by his speech disfluencies, adding pauses, and improperly
addressing female genitalia with vague terminology. The page in the textbook
depicting the vulva and vagina is concealed with a large gold sticker while the penis
diagram remains uncovered. When the student's question the purpose of the
censorship, the teachers replies the state school board has rightly ordered it be
concealed, a detailed diagram of. .of the. . Vulva, interrupts Ryan. The school
system's resistance to openly discussing female sexuality leaves the public
uneducated and, either sexually frustratedlike Tobeyor sexually exploitivelike
Ryan. Ryan is the only one comfortable using proper names for the female sexual
organs and is self-taught on the anatomical function, yet he is also the one who
reductively perceives people by their parts rather than the complete individual. This is
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the result of only learning about sex and not sexuality, which recognizes an
individual's mental involvement in sex.
Aside from skewing male understanding of the opposite sex and leaving them
uneducated, female self-understanding is also compromised. When the teacher is
struggling to rationalize the purpose of censoring the female and not the male
diagram, Dawn lends support by explaining that girls have a natural modesty. It's
built into our nature. Her response illustrates a patriarchal construction of female
sexuality. Dawn perpetuates the social norm that women must passively confine
themselves and their sexual identities to the domestic sphere. By agreeing that women
are naturally modest, Dawn is naively uninformed of the historical line of male-
centric societies that defined what was considered proper gender behavior. Genetics
and nature have little to do with Dawn's perception. The school system acts as an
extension of this history by suggesting that female sexuality is not something for the
public realm and should not be openly discussed.
Later in the film, Dawn begins to see why the issue of female sexuality has
been suppressed and even demonized. The education system takes an indirect route in
instilling this message in the youth while religion is displayed as being much more
direct. When Dawn speaks again at an abstinence meeting the day after being raped
by Tobey, the event is portrayed as a fevered dream. While she stumbles through her
speech trying to rationalize the discovery that she is different, the children in the
audience blankly chant the scripture the serpent beguiled me and I ate. She is
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interrupted by the program director, Mr. Vincent, who tells the audience I think what
Dawn is getting at is so important, people. Exile from the garden. Though it was not
part of God's original plan, thanks to Eve and the devil, we His words are not
finished due to a cut in the scene but the blame religion has assigned women, starting
with the Christian creation myth, is made very clear. Women are allied with the devil,
and are the product of man.
Even before Dawn encounters the abusive men, she's been a victim of social
and religious exploitation. She is the victim of an education system that views female
sexuality as a taboo topic and leaves the populace uninformed. She is the victim of
religious preaching that teaches followers that women are inherently wicked and
inferior to men. The internalization of these messages place Dawn in a disadvantaged
capability of achieving self-realization and leave her with feelings of guilt and
confusion about her sexual identity. She is firmly established as a victim yet still
manages to obtain the self-actualization that society tries to strip from her.
Realization of Power
One of the big differences that separates Dawn in Teeth from Hayley in Hard
Candy is the method in which the teenage girl gains her power. Hayley exhibits a
transference of power in which she places herself in the victim role and slowly
reveals to Jeff that she is the one in the dominant position. She is aware of her
capabilities the entire time and the viewer, sharing Jeffs perspective, watches as she
dismantles his power to expose her own. Dawn, however, is unaware of her power
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and as a result is victimized by those around her. It is through victimization that she
begins to recognize her power, and what is originally viewed as a cursed abnormality
becomes a symbol of female sexual strength once she gains knowledge about herself.
Dawn's role as a passive victim becomes less distinct with each misaligned
male she encounters. Near the beginning of the film upon meeting Tobey, she is still
in full support of conservative definitions of feminine behavior. She is in conflict with
her sexual inclinations and her commitment to purity. The perceived weakness men
see in her confusion incite their exploitive conquests, but their intentions quickly
sour. The pain they inflict on Dawn is returned sevenfold and she soon begins to
understand the power she holds due to her sexuality. Tobey's act of rape is rebutted
with his castration and a death due to blood-loss. The gynecologist's sadistic abuse of
authority leaves him fingerless on one hand and with a drastically altered perspective
on the potential retribution that mistreated women can exact.
Outside of her natural biological defenses, her character also displays a clear
transition from passivity to assertiveness, making her a consciously strong individual.
Dawn's transformation begins with Tobey in the cave behind the waterfall. She
unsuccessfully protests his advances before she is knocked unconscious by him. In
the scene, she is quickly incapacitated and reduced to little more than an immobile
warm-body left helpless to the desires of her attacker. It is at her most helpless that
she comes to discover her natural defense against sexual abuse. Once she fully
understands her sexual identity and her body, she becomes a confident and aggressive
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individual. Her interaction with Brad at the end of the film, displays a Dawn who
directs the action of the scene and is in complete control of the man.
Dawn's entrance into Brad's domain signifies a direct assault on patriarchal
abuse and misogynistic practice. It is the first instance in which she initiates conflict
and represents her self-assurance in her strength as a female and her confidence in her
sexual power. She finally realizes that her own power not only matches the most
sexually intimidating male of the film, but exceeds it. She accentuates her femaleness
by wearing a dress and wearing a noticeable amount of makeup; this stands in stark
contrast to the dingy lair of masculinity she's invaded. Brad's reaction to his step-
sister is noticeably different upon seeing her dressed provocatively. He does not
berate her with crude remarks but rather stares in confusion. His speech becomes
broken and there are long pauses between his responses, if he manages a response at
all. Dawn's deliberate and purposeful sexual advances disrupt the power balance
between the sexes and Brad is no longer the smug, confident individual he was
before. Here, the viewer learns that Brad does not have an anal fetish but rather a
vaginal aversion by the unease and hesitation he has towards Dawn's sexual offer.
She refuses to have sex with him any other way and it is a demand Brad realizes he
must adhere to. He is reduced to the one who is unsure about his sexual identity and is
overshadowed by a stronger sexual partner. The tryst between the twowhich leaves
Brad castrated and stripped of his sexualityshows Dawn's investment in not just
realizing her own sexual independence but removing threats who hinder the freedom
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of other women. Her act of dethroning Brad was in retaliation to his dehumanizing
mistreatment of Melanie, his unsympathetic and indirect participation in the death of
Dawn's mother, and his perpetuation of female-objectifying culture through his
derogatory lexicon and exploitive wall decorations. The assertive action Dawn takes
underscores her change in self-perception and illustrates her unwillingness to
participate in the indoctrination of the concepts of self-alienation and passivity that is
instilled in women by patriarchal institutions.
Dawn's change is promoted by her self-education on her sexuality. While she
is initially complacent and in agreement with the sexism and censorship present in
schools, her attitude changes as she tries to understand her sexuality. Witnessing the
violence her anatomy is able to create demands exploration and rationalization and it
is through the process of self-education that Dawn's self-loathing is able to become
self-confidence. The naivety that made her a victim to her classmates' teasing, a
messenger of a restrictive patriarchal belief system, and a target for sexual abuse is
replaced by an enlightened autonomous identity.
In the beginning of the film, Dawn views her sexuality as monstrous. Any
sexual urges are repelled with a strong sense of guilt. While fantasizing about Tobey,
her temptation to masturbate to the thought of what their wedding night would be like
is interrupted by image of a giant creature from an old monster movie she glimpsed
earlier. The mental intrusion of the abomination into Dawn's fantasy just as she is
about to touch herself illustrates her perception that her sexual desire is something to
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be terrified of instead of embraced. The monster, a giant slimy scorpion, attempts to
thrust a man caught in its mandibles into its small, sharply-toothed mouth. The
creature becomes representational of Dawn's fearful reaction to her own body; her
lack of knowledge about the body is transformed into a grotesque comparison.
After being raped and Tobey's fatal plunge into the lake, Dawn's shattered
innocence and self-conceptualized loss of purity only further develop her fear about
her own anatomy. She returns home from the lake and after taking a long shower, sits
on the side of the bathtub with a tight grip on her towel. Her hands twist from anxiety,
distress, and confusion on her lap as she hesitantly considers exploring the pubic
mound. While she does not, the scene establishes her growing contemplation about
her body as both a source of personal distress and empowerment. Later, she returns to
the school textbook with the concealed diagram of the female genitals. Dawn soaks
the page in water and removes the obstructive sticker to expose the diagram. She
stares at the picture, fascinated before moving her hands to her lap. This stands as the
moment of realization for her; by gaining access to educational material, Dawn is able
to discover what is normal and unique about her sexual anatomy.
The diagram motivates her to seek additional knowledge so that her unusual
biology can be understood rather than feared. Consequently, she finds information
online documenting the vagina dentata myth as well as the patriarchal rationale
behind the mythologies. She reads, in these myths, the story is always the same. The
hero must do battle with the woman, the toothed creature, and break her power. .The
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myth springs from a primitive masculine dread of the mysteries of women and sexual
union. Fears of weakness, impotence. .It is a nightmare image of the power and
horror of female sexuality. The myth imagines sexual intercourse as an epic journey
that every man must make back to the womb, the dark crucible that hatched him.
This knowledge starts bringing her closer to viewing the world in a critical manner;
she begins to question the institutions she blindly followed. Learning that she is the
reality from which myth has been built leads her to seek professional examination.
Her outreach to the gynecologist only reinforces her budding skepticism of male
dominated professions that seek to define and abuse female sexuality. The
gynecologist follows a tradition of men using medicine to oppress women through
ambiguous and self-serving rules and regulations.
At this point in the narrative, she is able to let go of her purity ring and
recognize it's true symbolic representation of man's tight control over female
sexuality. Dawn's freedom from societys biased definition of what is pure allows her
to develop as a sexually aware individual, instead of being a byproduct of a
propaganda program. By the films conclusion, Dawn is masterfully able to direct
male desire and turn it into a source of extreme displeasure after determining if the
mans intentions support a tradition of female victimization and suffering. Dawns
growth as a character provides a message of female empowerment and the strength
that can come from self-realization.
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Defying History
What makes Teeth such a progressive film is its ability to depict and subvert
historical ideologies of defining what is female. The film references conceptions of
female purity, passionlessness, and misogynistic medicine. Gothic motifs, phallic
power, and the gendered public/private spheres are challenged and subverted within
the film. The result is that Teeth becomes a true venture into feminist horror, and in
doing so, challenges the very genre, itself.
Dawns transformation echoes much of the development of the suffrage and
womens right movement beginning with mid-eighteenth century constructions of the
proper woman and continuing to present-day issues of sexual equality. Dawn, despite
being a present day protagonist, displays mannerism reflecting the 1762 male ideal of
femininity. In Emile, Jean-Jacques Rousseau asserts, A perfect woman and a perfect
man should resemble one another neither in mind nor in face, and perfection admits
of neither less nor more. .Once should be strong and active, the other weak and
passive; one must necessarily have both the power and the willit is sufficient for
the other to offer little resistance (44). Dawns early passivity is witnessed in her
lack of confrontation with the men who harass her in daily life. While walking to
class, a schoolmate makes a lewd remark and sprays her with soda yet she barely
acknowledges the degrading pass. Brads constant torments are left without
retaliation, and Tobey attempts to exploit what he perceives as weakness. Rousseau
further states, Thus it is not enough that a wife should be faithful, but that she should
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be so judged by her husband, by her neighbors and by the world. She must be modest,
devoted, reserved and she should exhibit to the world as to her own conscience
testimony to her virtue (46). Dawns self-defined purpose revolves around marriage
and being able to offer her husband her virginity. Life, for her, is built around a man
as well as the social image she must hold once she has devoted herself to this
hypothetical husband. Her happiness is not self made but relies on the presence of a
strong male companion in whose life she can be absorbed.
In addition to trying to conform to the Rousseauian version of the proper
passive, virtuous female, Dawn also represents the Victorian model of being
passionless. Nancy F. Cott discusses the sexual ideology commonly accepted at the
turn of the eighteenth century and into the mid-nineteenth. She states, [T]he
Christian belief system that called unsanctified earthly women the devils agents
allowed, on the other hand, that women who embodied Gods grace were more
spiritual, hence less susceptible to carnal passion, than men (Cott 220). Dawn
attempts to meet this ideal by suppressing any sexual urges; she creates a public
persona dedicated to promoting a message of abstinence which is perpetuated by
heavy religious influence. Cott continues, Indeed, the underlying theme that women
had to appeal to men turned modesty into a sexual ploy, emphasizing womens sex
objectification (224). Women are, thus, simultaneously expected to be pure,
virtuous, and sexually uninterested yet also deceptive and manipulative. They are
both disassociated from being daughters of Eve yet expected to develop social tactics
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reminiscent of their Original Sin. Dawn, both in name and action, is placed in
juxtaposition with the Eve construct. Her delirious nightmare reinforces her
separation from the oppressive natural order that she initially believes. Instead of a
fall from grace, Dawns disavowal of archaic interpretations of female sexuality
signal her rise to power.
The film undermines and cautions against these patriarchal-defined gender
roles well before Dawn gives up her subscription to them. When Tobey violently
takes advantage of Dawns apparent vulnerability, nature reveals that power and will
are not strictly masculine traits. Her unwillingness to sexually submit ends up being
stronger than Tobeys desire. The consequences of their confrontation comments on
the dangers that Rousseaus assumptions of male advantage can create. Mary
Wollstonecrafts criticism of Rousseau can also be seen in the exchange.
Wollstonecraft argues, Educate women like men, says Rousseau, and the more
they resemble our sex the less power will they have over us. This is the very point I
am at. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves (60).
Dawns perception of her weakness stems from her lack of self knowledge;
consequently the male nightmare that develops is the result of society trying to locate
women in an uneducated and dependent position. Dawn symbolizes a natural
rebellion against this inequality. A woman who does not have power over herself
cannot be overpowered by a man without posing a direct threat to the offenders very
maleness.
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The films depiction of a character who resembles a Rousseau/Victorian
woman and the sudden and violent destruction of that image becomes the narratives
method of deconstructing patriarchal belief systems throughout history. Dawn
represents the male ideal but the outcome of that representation is a source of terror
and anxiety. Anxiety as a source of horror is a fundamental aspect of the Gothic genre
and while Teeth cannot be defined as being entirely Gothic, it does adapt a number of
conventions of the genre to serve its purposes.
Within the Gothic, marriage and domesticity constrict female mobility and
slowly push the woman into the realm of being a non-person. A womans father and
then her husband are the dictating forces in her life that entrap her in the home. As
George Haggerty explains, space is always threatening and never comfortable in the
Gothic novel (20). The home thus transforms into an entity that threatens to swallow
the female prisoner within its walls. Attempts to escape are denied due to her
husbands monopolization of the public space. Michelle Masse explains, the
husband who will remold her, forever hold her, and whose loving clasp will be like a
gate closing off all exit is a Gothic husband (21). Like the films of first-wave horror,
women are placed in a position of pure helplessness. Their narrative function is to
suffer and they are denied any power or autonomy. Masse continues, like so many
heroines of the Gothic, the protagonist cannot alter the environment that traumatizes
her. Her attempts to modify it by increasing her independence of voice and movement
are fruitless (35). The only escape a women is given within the Gothic is typically in
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madness. Fracturing from social norms and domestic duty can only be achieved by
violently shirking acceptability. Marta Caminero-Santangelo argues in her book, The
Madwoman Can't Speak.
Madness is to be celebrated as a complete rupture with constraining traditions
and stale conventions. [Women's narratives of madness] also mark a distance
from the way antipsychiatric thought has been inherited by much recent
feminist criticism, from the Gilbert and Gubar school, in which madwomen
are subversive rebels expressing their rage, to the feminist version of labeling
theory, in which madness is entirely explicable as a category imposed on
women in punishment for unfeminine behaviors. (17)
This basic overview of the Gothic, while minimalistic, provides the groundwork
which Teeth subverts.
Gothic space exists in the film yet it does not dominate Dawn. Confined
spaces become locations in which Dawn is attacked. Brad lurks in the shower and his
room is depicted as dark and threatening. A small and isolated cave becomes the
setting for rape. Yet, she is not confined to these interior locations and moves freely
in the world. She is predominantly located outside riding her bike and by the films
conclusion, she is entirely severed from the domestic and faces an open world.
The men, instead, are frequently limited to the domestic. Brad is never seen
outside of the house and the interior space of his room has become an extension of his
personality. His identity is contained within the walls. His room does contain a direct
94


outlet to the outside world but it is only used by his dog, Mother. Ryan, also is most
confident and comfortable inside. His bedroom, however is located in the garage of
his familys house. He does function in the public realm but often is humiliated,
harassed, or attacked when he leaves the safety of the domestic. Tobey, inversely
exists entirely in the public sphere; his bedroom is never shown and he interacts only
with Dawn away from the home. This creates an inversion of the Gothic construction
of the public male; in the film, the more masculine the male, the more home-bound he
is.
The traditional Gothic male figure is also present in the film. Tobey, the future
husband she sees in her fantasies, becomes the forceful rapist. His initial charm and a
gentle veneer melt away once Dawn is trapped, in this case, by stone walls instead of
the institution of marriage. Ryan, as her next suitor also hides behind a selfless
persona. His use of gentle manipulation still has the same goal as Tobeys brute
aggression: to bend woman to mans desire and exercise power over female action.
Since Dawns sexual prudence is what she cherishes most, the men of the film realize
to fully possess her, they must control her sexually. For Ryan, this is accomplished
through coercion and deceit. Instead of tonics, he provides her with muscle relaxers
to ease her hysterical state, a gesture comparable to the Gothic husband.
Given that the Gothic husband was commonly a physician or in close
allegiance with a male medical practitioner, Ryans methods reflect accepted
Victorian medical practices. His actions echo the tradition, especially present in the
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Full Text

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JUST A GIRL: THE ROLE OF VIOLENT ADOLESCENT FEMALES IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN HORROR CINEMA By Zachary Philip Villegas B.A, Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2008 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Master of Humanities 2012

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ii This thesis for the Master of Humanities degree by Zachary Philip Villegas has been approved for the Humanities By Margaret Woodhull, Chair Gillian Silverman Brian Ott Date

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iii Villegas, Zachary, Philip (M.H., Master of Humanities) Just a Girl: The Role of Violent Adolescent Females in Contemporary American Horror Cinema Thesis directed by Margaret Woodhull/Gillian S ilverman/Brian Ott ABSTRACT Women have traditionally been assigned to the victim role in the horror genre. The purpose of this study is to examine two contemporary examples of American horror films that place women in a position of power. Hard Candy and T eeth both challenge the notion of the helpless and abused female through the introduction of a violent adolescent girl character. A brief history of two distinct waves of horror preceding the post millennium case stud ies reveal a change in the applicabilit y of gender theory to contemporary horror. Laura wave horror defined by films in the 1960s to mid 70s examines women strictly in a victim possession films of the mid 1970s and 80s demonstrates the empowerment of women who are willing to sacrifice their sexuality and sexual identity. This study argues how Hard Candy and Teeth paper concludes with an examination of the culture in which these films emerged and how the violent girl character is a response to the social norms girls are raised to accept. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Margaret Woodhull

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iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENT My deepest thanks to Susan Linville and Tiel Lundy for all the valuable advice and support they have given in developing this thesis, as well as the incredible influence they have provided in my academic career. I also wi s h to thank my advisor, Margaret Woodhull, for her consistent encouragement and invaluable contributions to my research and intellectual development. My thanks, also, to the members of my committee for their constructive insights and invested interest in my work; I could not have asked for a better experience.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ............................... 1 II. THEORY ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 6 First Wave Movies ................................ ................................ ............................ 7 First Wave Theory ................................ ................................ .......................... 14 Second Wave Movies ................................ ................................ ..................... 23 Second Wave Theory ................................ ................................ ...................... 32 III. HARD CANDY ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 2 Victimization ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 4 2 Transference of Power ................................ ................................ .................... 5 0 The Role of Terror ................................ ................................ .......................... 6 0 Redefining Convention ................................ ................................ ................... 6 8 IV. TEETH ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 7 5 Another Victim ................................ ................................ ............................... 7 5 Realization of Power ................................ ................................ ....................... 8 4 Defying History ................................ ................................ .............................. 9 0 V. SOCIAL RELEVANCE ................................ ................................ .................. 10 2 ................................ ................................ ............................ 10 2 Youthful Rebellion ................................ ................................ ........................ 1 09 W ORKS CITED ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 11 5

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The setting is an isolated motel and a woman screams out in terror and surprise as she is stabbed to death in the shower. The setting is an eerily empty street in suburbia and a teenage girl runs frantically from a masked figure carrying a blood y butcher knife. The setting is a swank Hollywood residence and a young girl, around the age of fourteen, flirtatiously addresses the wolfishly leering thirty something man w ho has invited her into his home. This is the setting for horror, for victims, and for tormentors. The question, however, is who plays what role? Alfred Hitchcock once articulated the belief that much of Hollywood horror was abiding by when he declared, I always believe in following the advice of the playwright Sardou. He said, (Clover 42). Traditionally, the role of the victim has been reserved for women within the American horr or genre, while the terror that stalks the night is generally male or masculine in nature. For decades, women have been beaten, raped, and brutally murdered in the name of entertainment; however, there ha ve been changes in the genre that help establish th ree distinct waves of American horror films. Carol Clover distinguishes the first two cycles in her book, Men, Women and Chain Saws She explains, We have, in short, a cinematic formula with a twenty six

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2 year history, of which the first phase, from 1960 to 1974, is dominated by a film clearly rooted in the sensibility of the 1950s, while the second phase, bracketed by the two Texas Chain Saw films from 1974 and 1986, responds to the values of the late sixt ies and early seventies (Clover 26). The first of these waves, or phases, can be characterized as Hitchcockian horror of the 1960s and early 70s. Women in their twenties or thirties are sexualized and victimized. They effortlessly die at the hands of a ma le or m asculine murderer. Laura Mulvey addressed issues of the objectification o f women by the voyeuristic male in h er essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema She began the exploration of gender representation in horror through a psychoanalytical le ns and broached the question of why women are exploited and punished for their sex and sexuality. Here women are purely the victim; there is no salvation for the leading ladies, as the y are confined to a role of helpless passivity. The late 1970s and 80 brought a change to the genre. Slasher films began gaining popularity and often revolved around a group of young men and women in their teens or early twenties who were methodically stalked and brutally murdered by a faceless killer. A single survivor, ty pically a woman, would then directly aggress the killer in order to defeat or successfully escape her tormentor. Building upon the psychoanalytical groundwork of Mulvey, Carol Clover became the scholar who helped provide theoretical credence to this subgen re of blood and gore. Her look at the androgynous Final Girl and the masculine ambiguity of the killer began to challenge the tradition of women as victims. While females were still the primary

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3 recipients of torture, they were also becoming the only charac ters capable of escaping or defeating the terror. The second wave of horror depicted women who were no longer helpless victims but could be independent and strong heroines. Even if that independence came at a cost of a distinct sexual identity. This seco nd wave of horror also contained another type of shift in gender representation separate from that seen in the slasher film. The possession flick allowed women to transcend the role of victim by turning them into the source of horror. Through the process o f demonic possession or supernatural manipulation, female characters could be depicted as grotesque sexualized monsters devoid of sympathy or humanity. These villainous women, while strong, supported negative representations of women. The female body becam e something abhorrent that needed to be contained and controlled. The films of the second wave altered the representation of women in horror films yet they were a far cry from being considered feminist representations. However, this wave helped set the sta ge for the third wave. The focus of this paper is on the yet undefined and unexplored third wave of horror. New trends and representations have begun emerging in American independent horror film in the new millennium and the scholarly criticism that hel ped shape gender awareness in the past waves ha s not been applied and adapted to the new film cycle. The third wave is characterized by teenage girls, distinctly younger than the females of second wave movies, who are developed as sexualized and threatenin g heroines. These girls become the violent judicators against men guilty of

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4 exploiting and victimizing the innocent. The sudden shift of female representation in modern horror challenges the tradition of feminine passivity and helplessness. Chapter Two of the project will outline the characteristics of films and major theories of the first two waves. Chapter Three and Four will examine two case study films representative of the third wave: Hard Candy (2003) and Teeth (2005). The two films contain violent adolescent girls who are exposed to varying degrees of abuse but have aggressively reacted against their situation. They can be viewed as tragic heroines, vengeful anti heroines, or even antagonistic victimizers themselves. They are not the androgynous fem ales of second wave horror; these girls are aggressive, sexual, and unafraid of marring their innocence by reveling in the grotesque. These films represent a change in the cinematic landscape and, as a result, the theory that accompanies it must also evolv e. Chapter Five will hypothesize the significance the perception of gender and sexuality. While directorial analysis of Hard Candy and Teeth is not the focus of the project, this section will also briefly consider the The old mantra of torturing the women in horror has undergone a gradual change and the commonalit y of female victimization is becoming less pronounced. The conventions are being rearranged and the transference of power is made visibly apparent. Men may still be the conventional villains in horror films but it is their wicked intentions that lead to th eir violent downfall. Horror films, now more than

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5 ever, are celebrating the power of female sexuality and the patriarchal nightmare that can unfold when women are exploited and abused.

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6 CHAPTER 2 THEORY The violence against women movies have generally been explained as a hysterical response to 1960s and 1970s feminism: the male spectator enjoys a sadistic revenge on women who refuse to slot neatly and obligingly into his patriarchally erpretation is convincing so long as one sees it as accounting for the intensity, repetitiveness, and ritualistic insistence of these films, and not for the basic phenomenon itself. From Caligari to Psycho and beyond, women have always been the main focus of threat and assault in the horror film. -Robin Wood In the following pages, I will trace the trajectory of the horror genre, both in thematic appearance as well as criticism. I will begin with First Wave horror and provide examples of films that properly represent the wave before introducing Laura analysis of prevalent themes of the period Next I will examine the genre shift that developed into Second Wave horror; here I will discuss the characteristics on Second Wave horror as well as the scholars who built upon her criticism, will be explored in the final section of this chapter. Understanding the history of the horror genre and the criticism that traces it will provide stronger distinction to the Thi rd Wave films which will be discussed in chapters three and four.

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7 First Wave Movies Horror films were around long before the 1960s but it was in this decade that fear became directed not monsters or aliens but at other people. Sadistic voyeuristic desi re began to find a place on screen as terror became the internal perversion of the common man rather than an external supernatural adversary. The 60s were populated by horror films addressing madness, murderous lust, and possessive obsession. Women became the objects of desire in which violent and forceful men tried to obtain and contain by any means necessary. The trend of violence t owards women in horror did not originate in this decade but did, however, find an apt audience to perpetuate its popularity. A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon outlines the growing interest in sexism and sad ism in the 1960s. Dixon states: One of the most violent films of the era was a rather lavishly budgeted British Horrors of the Black Museum (1959). . Horr ors of the Black Museum is a virtual catalogue of murders presented without a shred of conscience or commentary (73) The narrative revolves around an audiences demand for violence. Dixon summarizes, crime reporter Edmond Bancroft (Michael Gough) . rea lizes that his readers are hungry for the gory details of violent crimes and consequently arranges incidents . to

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8 women and the film was filled with highly sexist dialogue. Dixon emphasis how, her (74). The film begins to address the subject of the objectifying gaze that much of first wave theory examines. Shortly after the Horrors of the Black Museum Alfred Hitchcock provided his own contributi on to horror cinema and changed the landscape of the genre. Dixon states, The film that truly put an end to the 1950s and opened up a new era for the Psycho (1960), a surprising brutal film with significant horror elemen ts (violent death, an old dark house) from a filmmaker best know n as a purveyor of sleek suspense (75). The film plays heavily on voyeuristic antagonist Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) as well as the threatening quality o f female sexuality to patriarchal stability. David Sterritt describes the film as life, the home as theater and prison, and the predominance of physicality over psychology and morality in the wor ld of film. Complicating the schema is off a tidal wave of cinema as nausea (24). Norman, as orchestrator of the action, demonstrates a violent reaction to the corporeal b ody, and that body is distinctly female.

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9 The plot revolves around Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is trying to escape after stealing a large sum of money from a client of her employer. She spends the night in an isolated motel and is brutally murdered while bathing in, what has now become, an ico nic shower scene. The timid motel owner, Norman Bates, believes it that Norman and his mother are one in the same. His dual personality causes a violent reaction of guilt t oward women he finds attractive, and his mother persona disposes of the female threats accordingly. montage. The blend of what is seen and unseen to the viewer plays upon the theme of gaze possession and the pleasure that is derived from the violent murder. He explains the sequence: Its most significant aspect may be the fact that its kineticism not only shows but obscures That is, we see a great many views from a great many angle s; yet far from feeling surfeited with information about the event, we instead feel Marion is being knifed to death. With its paradoxical suggestions of squeamishness and a bizarre so rt of tact in the midst of horrific violence this is an important consideration about a scene that has been cited, often

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10 Stripped down to its most basic narrative purpose, the scene is about the death of the something visually pleasing. The obscured voyeuristic perspective Hitchcock provided his audience turned a scene of stark sadism into celebrated ci nematic achievement. The film illustrated that torturing the women could be a commercially and critically successful avenue. Sterrit, also, directly acknowledges misogyny. Women, not men, are the victims of a Hitchcockain narrative; men contr ol the action, influence the audience, and direct the gaze of the camera: a point that scholars would soon come to dissect In 1968, Roman Polanski released a film that displayed female helplessness and passivity in a drastically differen t way than Psycho Instead of being the victim of murderous intent, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) becomes an unwilling prisoner of her own biology. Polanski tells the tale of a newlywed couple who move into an old apartment and are befriended by their eccentric ne ighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant following a nightmarish fit of delirium, she slowly begins to suspect her neighbors, their network of professional friends, and her husband of being involved in the occult and interfering with her pregnancy. The film concludes with the discovery that she has given birth to a demonic abomination ; she accepts the child as her own in spite of her exploitive treatment. a subordinate victim to her husband and society lacks the violence of other horror films of the first wave but displays a more constricting form

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11 of domestic oppression. Virginia Wright Wexman states, deal with outsiders to the worlds they portray, they are even more centrally concerned with the outsiders who i nvariably exist within these worlds: women. The presence of women in such stories raises cultural anxieties not only about social status but also about sexual identity (31). The narrative depicts Rosemary as merely an extension of her husband, Guy (John C assavetes) and she is frequently dismissed with infantilized condescension. At one point in the story, Guy scolds Rosemary for not eating the dessert Minnie (Ruth Gordon), the neighbor, has made them. When she relinquishes and conceals the dessert in a na pkin when Guy is not looking, she says in a child like voice, there daddy, do I get a gold star? Guy is displayed as a domineering parental figure over his wife and confines her to the domestic sphere. When she tries to interact with the public world, to seek advice from friends, and exercise independent though, she is escorted back into isolation. Her sexual repression is made possible by the separation of self and body. Wexman elaborates: intrude in the mise en from her own body. A slim, long legged nude statue occupies an important positio n in the frame when Rosemary is feeling unwell on the first day of her period, and we see the statue again as she sits in front of the television set

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12 doubled over in pain, watching women dancers moving in perfect synchronization. (38) The alienation from is distorted and perverted by outside influences which reduce her to a dehumanized vessel. The occult strip s Rosemary of her sexual power and exploit her fertility for their satanic benefit. The misogynistic abuse of the film demonstrated a form of sexism more common in reality. The terror was not of a violent killer but a manipulative society who preys on the vulnerable. The tragic conclusion is not through the death of the victim but rather through her resignation to accept such manipulative abuse. This theme of the triumphant patriarchal system is seen again in The Stepford Wives (1975). By this time, the s econd wave feminist movement was firmly recognized and cinema was incorporating female characters who were openly feminist. The Stepford Wives revolves around a progressive couple, Joanna (Katharine Moss) and Walter Eberhart (Peter Masterson), who move to a quiet suburban community populated by obedient and submissive housewives and their cheery husbands. The disquiet Joanna feels towards the other wives, who blatantly reject her attempts to promote domestic and sexual liberation, lead her to suspect that Association is somehow responsible for their unnatural passivity. Her unease is

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13 behavior shift in her friend and neighbor, Bobby Markow (Paula Prentiss ), a fellow liberal minded wife. The film reaches a climax when she discovers that the husbands of Stepford are responsible for disposing of rebellious wives and replacing them with mechanical replicas programmed to cook, clean, and fulfill their spouses s exual desires. Immediately after making this discovery, she is confronted by her own replacement and presumably killed. The film concludes with the automaton Joanna monotonously conversing with Bobby at the grocery store. While depicted the victimization of a single, already passive female character, The Stepford Wives demonstrated a system that aggressively attacks body but are apprehensive of female prop ensity for independent thought. The film illustrates how patriarchal institutions work to address strong women who threaten conservative gender roles. If The Stepford Wives is a reactive response to the misogynistic history of the horror film, then the hea vy handed depiction of the sexism second wave feminism was combating both undermines and perpetuates the gender conventions of the genre. The film establishes audience sympathy and identification with the female characters, with Joanna being the primary pr otagonist. Female characters possess the narrative ability to be developed as independent minded, intelligent, and career oriented, yet they ultimately become conventional helpless damsel archetypes. The men are portrayed as villainous keepers of tradition al gender roles in a hyperbolic fashion. The film leaves the viewer with the implied message

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14 that while the oppressive patriarchy is despicable, an intelligent, progressive woman is not capable of escaping a fate of domestic imprisonment. The films from this first wave of American horror cinema all shared a foundation of female abusive narratives. Through physical death, the death of independence or individuality, or even the death of a sexual identity, women were the assumed victims of the silver screen; that was the accepted formula. However in 1975, the same year that The Stepford Wives was released, Laura Mulvey published her seminal essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema and began to theoretically dissect the misogynistic subtext of motion pict ures. First Wave Theory Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, significantly altered the state of psychoanalytical analysis by appropriating the male centric school of thought into an instrument to give voice to Feminist Film Theory. Mulvey explains, It is helpful to understand what the cinema has been, how its magic has worked in the past, while attempting a theory and a practice which will challenge this cinema of the past. Psychoanalytic theory is thus appropriate here as a political weapon, demonst rating the way the unconscious of patriarchal society has structured film form (771). The essay focuses on the meaning of the image and the power balance between the observer and the observed. By examining why women are placed in a subordinate position an d are objectified and punished for their sex, Mulvey begins creating social awareness of the misogynistic connotations of cinematic language. Her theory is

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15 easily applied to the horror films of the 1960s and reinforces concepts intrinsic to second wave fem inism, while providing a theoretic al platform for further scholarly exposition to bloom. Laura Mulvey pays special attention to the male gaze and how male anxiety helps shape the visual representation of woman. She elaborates Woman then stands in patr iarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not ma ker of meaning (712). The visual image of woman is not an image of actuality but of male creation. The Stepford Wives is a clear illustration of this idea. The domesticated mother/wife figure is removed from the public sphere, while the men construct mean ing in their lives and design women in the image of their fantasies community to record themselves reading a list of specific vocabulary he has provided them, under the guise that he is com piling data for his hobby in researching accents. The true intentions of the recording is to give the robotic replicas of the wives a voice and vocabulary. Men, thus, become the controllers of the female lexicon and can use language to limit freedom of expression and thought. While The Stepford Wives demonstrates an aggressive fo r m of men physically defining women to construct personal fantasy, Mulvey also explores Freudian theory on scopophilia and the very act of looking. She states:

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16 [Fre ud] associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze . Although the instinct is modified by other factors, in particular the constitutions of the ego, it continues to exist as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectifie d other. (713) By examining the perversion of scopophilia, Mulve y begins to address a major tene t of horror cinema. The sexual undertones of the violence in the genre is undeniable. Psycho in particular, demonstrates the blood spattered consequences of the obsessive voyeuristic male gaze. After spying Marion through his peephole, Norman is moved to greater action. David Sterritt comments that, the crime by grasping his mouth in a gesture connoting nausea. As he does this, he particular, this mu st be read as an attraction repulsion response conflicting desires to both look and to look away at the grisly murder scene reflect his similar struggle when gazing upon a woman he finds attractive. In her essay, Learning to Scream, Lind a Williams looks at how this conflict of wanting and not wanting to look also carries over to the audience. She writes:

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17 Thus while the men in the audience look conventionally masculine, while they appear to stay cool in the face of danger and to look ste adily at the screen, there is something just a little forced about their poses. In the face of the gender confused source of terror on screen, their dogged masculinity seems staged. The more masculine they try to appear . the more it is clear that a thre at of femininity has been registered. (Williams 167) The gaze brings both pleasure and discomfort to the character on screen and the audience watching the character. The gaze, while suggesting power by looking upon also creates vulnerability by looking wit hin Norman and the audience simultaneously share this power and vulnerability. This connects sadistic nature of voyeurism. Marion as the victim is also constructed as being criminal deserving of punishment. After stealing the money, her character is marked as immoral. Sterritt examines the narrative clues that pertain to her guilt. He states, the rainstorm that comes down on her near the Bates Motel has a flushing and cleansing function. But her sin is already too great fo r such abstract absolution. Tormentingly, her vision is obscured (as it will be later by the shower curtain and the shower water), and the windshield wipers slash across the frame (Sterritt 106). Redemption is not possible for the guilty woman and also pr events her from seeing events with the same clarity as the male gaze. Mulvey comments:

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18 Power is backed by a certainty of legal right and established guilt of the woman (evoking castration, psychoanalytically speaking). True perversion is barely concealed under a shallow mask of ideological correctness the man is l ful use of identification processes and liberal use of subjective camera from the point of view of the male protagonist draw t he spectators deeply into his position, making them share his uneasy gaze. (719) Within the context of Psycho woman is guilty by law and in need of moral retribution. While Marion has decided to return the money and resolve herself of her moral transgress act. In this sense, she is relegated into the role of passive female while he becomes the active male. Through her death, he also becomes the film s main character. Outside of being guilty by law, Marion is also guilty simply by being a anxiety caused by woman as other. The gaze must take one of two forms in order for the female image to remain pleasurable for the male viewer. Mulvey explains, This second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the physical beauty of the object, transforming it into something satisfying in itself (718). Norman attempts this but is unable to alleviate his guilt and anxiety. Mulvey continues, The first avenue, voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure lies in ascertaining guilt (immediately associated with castration), asserting control and subjecting the

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19 guilty person through punishment or forgivenes s. This sadistic side fits in well with narrative. Sadism demands a story (718). The self conflict Norman experiences when secretly gazing at Marion creates his need to punish the sources of his guilt. a thing that can be sadistically abused in order for him to regain pleasure from the anxiety the sight of her brings. It is his violence, then, that shapes the story; through her death, her storyline also dies and Norman becomes the crux of the narrative. While Psycho and The Stepford Wives overtly demonstrate the concepts of essay. They are films that I have chosen to highlight her claims but Mulvey focused primarily on earlier Hitchcockian thrillers such as Vertigo and Rear Window My reason for using Psycho suspense; the film also bridges first wave with second wave horror and introduces some of the character istics that develop significant meaning in this later cycle. female objectification and victimization in cinema not previously addressed. Most y connected with other predominate feminist literature of the time and provided a foundation for future research to be built upon. Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? Ortner looks at the universal cultural tendency to place women in a

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20 subordinate position and explores why this conflict in power exists. She connects this sexism to a tradition of correlating woman to nature wh ile men are the credited as the architects of culture and civilization. The connection, Ortner assesses, is that : [W] oman's body seems to doom her to mere reproduction of life; the male, in contrast, lacking natural creative functions, must (or has the op portunity to) assert his creativity externally, 'artificially,' through the medium of technology while the woman creates only perishables human beings (75) Since men are falsel y attributed as constructing, sustaining, and progressing culture, the structures and institutions of society favor patriarchal rule. Women, are henceforth, confined to the domestic sphere with children while men engage in public interaction. Films such a s The Stepford Wives link the two theories through its emphasis on the gaze as well as its illustration of the social barriers women face in order to escape the domestic. The film literally depicts man as the creator of the artificial woman who is little m ore than an attractive shell to support his desires. Women who try to disconnect from nature find themselves in a disorientating male sphere symbol of possessing the gaze, is met with little success. When she tries to market her portfolio at a gallery, the director asks, What fascinates me is, what is it that you want from it all? Do you know?

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21 She responds, I want somewhere, someday, someone to look at something want to be remembered. The dialogue addresses the female desire to be valued for more than just childbirth but also for the creation of lasting art and persevering ideas. This desire is juxtaposed in the narrative by the male perspective who just like[s] to watch women doing little domestic chores ( The Stepford Wives ). Ortner comments: [W]hat would constitute evidence that a particular culture considers women inferior? Three types of data would suffice: (1) elements of cultural ideology explicitly devalue women, according them, their roles, their tasks, their products, and their social milieux less prestige than are accorded men and the male correlate s; (2) symbolic devices, such as the attribution of defilement, which may be interpreted as implicitly making a statement of inferior valuation; and (3) social structural arrangements that exclude women from participation in or contact with some realm in w hich the highest powers of the society are felt to reside. (69) When Joanna tries to sit ignored and she becomes a passive observer as the men converse. Her position is seen as inferior and she i s therefore not allowed to actively participate in community choices. In Rosemary and the other women are often left to discuss in the kitchen about recipes, childbirth, and household responsibilities while the men discuss business, religi on, travel and philosophy in the study. Within the context of

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22 first wave horror, there is a clear separation between male and female space. The complement image while also addressing issu es relating to classic gothic motifs. The gothic, both in literature and cinema, establishes a space of repression and oppression, especially within the domestic. As a result, first wave horror draws a clear influence from the gothic. Women become the pr imary victims and are frequently objectified by the dominating father figures and husbands of the genre. Michelle Masse comments in her book, In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism, and the Gothic that the heroines of the Gothic, inculcated by education, religion, and bourgeois familial values, have the same expectations as those around them for what is normal. Their social contract tenders their passivity and disavowal of public power in exchange for the love that will let them reign in the interpersonal and domestic sphere (18). The reoccurring themes of passivity and the domestic are undeniable. The g othic also incorporates the implications of domestic entrapment. Space becomes suffocating and the female protagonist is slowly imprisoned by her surroundi ngs. In his book, Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form George Haggerty explains that, space is always threatening and never comfortable in the Gothic novel . The space of the novel becomes a source of haunting in itself: Story lines are ruptured, fragmented, suppressed, misplaced, even forgotten. Time, too, either ticks with threatening deliberation or flies w (20). The cinematic representation of the female victim derives from a complicated history, a history that

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23 has literarily and c was just a small part in the larger field of feminist exploration and illustrates the interconnectivity between multiple disciplines and perspectives. While a detailed look at other feminist an d gothic conceptions will be addressed in Chapter Four, it is important to realize their place in conjunction with first wave horror and the development of the second wave heroine. Second Wave Movies Going into the mid to late 1970s, the landscape of horror began to shift yet again. A new subgenre of the slasher flick began to gain popularity. Many of the characteristics of first wave horror remained, and even became more pronounced in some cases. A po pularity in Point of View angles added to the theme of sadistic voyeurism, phallic weapons became commonplace, and the women became younger, increasingly sexualized, and even more helpless in the face of danger. However, besides these exaggerated first wav e conventions, there were subtle changes that Psycho has often been credited as the first slasher but the genre gained momentum in the late seventies and continued into the eighties. Char acters from the first wave were often developed to varying degrees before being violently dispatched; characters from the second wave were often disposable flat teenage stereotypes. In his essay, Returning the Look, Robin Wood explains:

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24 The chief, indee d almost the only are obviously meant to be attractive to the youth audiences as identification Friday the 13th Part 3 who remarks ( without contradiction) that the only things worth living for are screwing and smoking dope. The films both endorse this and relentlessly punish it; they never suggest that other options might be available. (80 1) rom first wave, where violence against women was used to propel the narrative, to second wave, in which violence is the narrative. Developed characters are no longer necessary to the plot and the cast of antastically. The basic formula of the slasher film contains a fairly consistent list of traits. A mysterious, visually obscured killer methodically stalks and murders a group of promiscuous and/or mischievous teens. One teen, often female, is able to re cognize the threat and manages to survive or defeat the killer. Vera Dika discusses the film cycle in her article, The Stalker Film, 1978 81 in which she lists the abundance in which these film were released. Halloween was released in 1978; Friday the 1 3th Prom Night and Terror Train release of My Bloody Valentine Night School and The Burnin g and 1981 contained Friday the 13th Part 2 Graduation Day Happy Birthday to Me and Hell Night (Dika 87). The films Dika lists all comply with the conventions of the slasher/stalker genre.

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25 The point made is that the subgenre attracted a large audience and studios responded by saturating the market with stalker/slasher films despite the lack of character development and formulaic plots. Audiences were drawn, not to the story or the characters but the violence, and often that violence was directed at highly sexualized women. Dika expands her look at the genre in her book Games of Terror She argues that th e slasher establishes a participation appeal for the spectator. She explains: The point of view shot, the use of space, the frameline, and even the screen time and spectator knowledge, are all made palpable to the spectator of the stalker film. But again this unmasking does not result in a demystification of the stalker film. Instead, the anti illusion, or, at least, the lowered realism, functions to lighten and necessarily distance the effects of extreme violence depicted on screen, a technique that ultim ately facilitates a gaming attitude toward the films. (23) The slasher instigates a different relationship with the audience than films from the first wave. Discovering who the killer is and why they kill are not the audience s primary concerns; guessing w ho will be the first victim and how they will be killed becomes the motivating attraction. This difference trivializes violence and, as a result, the victims of that violence. The consequence of this audience engagement becomes apparent when analyzing the slasher, which will be discussed in the following section.

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26 The genre was exemplified by films like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers, an escaped mental patient who murdered his sister as a child. Myers returns to his hometown on Halloween, steals a mask from a local shop, and begins to stalk and murder the friends of a teenage girl, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who reminds him of his sister. Once her friends are dead, he turns his attention to Laurie. Myers is obscured through a majority of the film; he is either a blurred figure in the background, a silhouetted shape in the night, veiled behind a mask or sheet, or provides the POV perspective for a scene. He is established as a character wh o can see but is unseen; only Laurie, who preoccupied with sex and socializing, while Laurie is viewed as quiet and virginal. Consequently, they do not see the dang er approaching or are not prepared to react when Myers does attack; Laurie, however, is able to sen se the threat and refuses to be made an easy victim. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre while released in 1974, distinctly fits into the second wave horror para digm. Carol Clover concisely summarizes the plot: Five young people are driving through Texas in a van; they stop at an abandoned house and are serially murdered by the psychotic sons of a degenerate local family; the sole survivor is a woman (24). The p rimary antagonist goes by the name of Leatherface, due to the mask he has sew together comprised of the skin of the victims he has killed with his chainsaw. While Halloween displays violence intruding into a normal, quiet

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27 suburban community, Chain Saw depi cts the opposite. The teenagers, representatives of a normal suburban lifestyle trespass into a world of savage abnormality. Clover elaborates Three generations of slaughterhouse workers, once proud of their craft but now displaced by machines, have taken up killing and cannibalism as a way of life. Their house is grotesquely decorated with human and animal remains bones, feathers, hair, skins (24). Like Laurie from Halloween Sally, the final girl, must use raw determination and ingenuity to survive the death that stalks her with a chainsaw. Second wave horror is not confined only to the slasher/stalker subgenre. The possession film also achieved a recognizable amount of popularity during the 1970s and 80s. These films depicted threats that invaded the b ody, transforming the innocent into the sinister. In her book, Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic Linda Badley states, (8) (26). While the slasher generally has a distinct split between villain and victim, the possession subgenre often meshes the role of threat and victim together. Films such as Carrie (1976), The Exorcist (1973), Alien (1979), or The Thing (1982) all co ntain intangible adversaries either an erratic supernatural ability, an alien parasite, or demonic being who use the victim as a host for its nefarious deeds. The source of possession often uses blood and other bodily fluids for the purpose of horror. The viewer, thus, is not frightened by the supernatural, but rather of the natural.

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28 Female biology, especially in the form of menstruation and childbirth, is commonly exploited to convey bodily terror. Of the four films above, only The Thing examines bodily p ossession with an ungendered lens. With an all male cast, the alien parasite, when exposed, distorts the body into monstrous forms: heads detach from bodies and sprout spidery legs, bodies ooze blood, torsos split open to reveal tangles of hissing tentacle s. The threat is corruption of the body, but not specifically the male or female body, nor does the corruption carry any hyperbolic gender connotations as is the case with Alien Alien directed by Ridley Scott, was a sci fi horror involving a space minin g Unlike the other possession films, the contaminated person still behaves normally and is merely a vessel for the parasite until the alien is ready to be birthed. Alien consequently, cannot be viewed concretely as a possession film but does display the characteristics of the subgenre in its approach to depicting the body. The alien pods that release a small creature, referred to as facehuggers, that latch onto a perversion of pregnancy. The birthing process is visibly agonizing as the creature The film s seque l, Aliens (1986), further developed the grotesque maternal thematic imagery. The facility in which the aliens dwell in has become womb like, a mysterious slime oozes from the walls and the egg shaped pods containing the

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29 facehuggers litter the floor. The in troduction of the queen alien emphasizes the perversion of childbirth, as she is a monstrous creature, suspended above the ground while a long translucent sack slowly disperses eggs. Badley provides the description: Like the ghost, Alien s a gap in the symbolic order. It took liminality to new levels, transgressing lines between the natural and supernatural, the biological and the mechanical, male and female, sex and death all the while dripping viscous, corrosive goo (44). The Thing and the Alien series address the fear of the body, but they do not provide the complete picture of the terror that can lie within. It is The Exorcist however, that fully realizes the corporeal horror of the possession genre. Directed by William Friedkin, Th e Exorcist is about a young girl, Regan (Linda Blair), who is possessed by a demon spirit and the two priests one of w hom is struggling to remain devout after suffering personal loss who try exorcise the malevolent force. In her description of the film, Ba dley illustrates the nature of the the battle of God and the Devil was fought with unprecedented clinicism and intensity on and within the body of a twelve year old girl. Regan erupted in boils, exuded noxious fluids, an d spoke in the monstrous voice of the bisexual archaic mother (Badley 25 and normal young girl to a putrefying demonic entity is visually jarring. The viewer witnesses a graying of her skin, the appearance of deep gashes begin to line her face and body, bilious green vomit gushes from her mouth, and she violently stabs her

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30 vagina with a crucifix while yelling sexual obscenities in a deep and masculine voice. The transformation plays significantly on taboos of female sexuality, especially that of a pre teen girl. The presence of blood again ties back to menstruation with the added element of demonic implications. A few years after The Exorcist another film was released that placed stronger emphasis upon the imagery o f menstrual blood. Adapted from the Stephen King novel, Carrie is about a teenage girl going sexual maturation leaves her at the mercy of her malicious classmates and he r fanatically religious schoolmates call as they toss tampons in a film that is from beginning to end menstruation (77). The constant torment the girl endures finally pushes her to a breaking point in which her telekinetic abilities turn her school prom into a bloodbath. Carrie is not possessed The Exorcist but she does become a gateway for terror and destruction. The fact that her dangerous ability is connected to her sexuality provides the message that a sexualized woman is both the victim and thr eat. Clover remarks: When Carrie ( Carrie 1976) realizes that she has the power to will events, she goes to the library to res earch miracles . We know better: such is her pain and rage at her cruel schoolmates and her awful mother that she has in fact

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31 girl enough pain, repress enough of her rage, and no matter how fundamentally decent she may be she perforce becomes a witch. (71) The character, in short, is possessed by emot ion and displays a disconnection from making moral evaluations. The result allows for bodily impulse that demands violent vengeance to take control. The two subgenres of the second wave horror cycle complicate but do not overtly improve the representati on of women. The slasher elevates the level of titillation and sadomasochistic violence, but also incorporates ambiguous gendering of the two main components, respectively, the killer and the final girl. Men also become frequent targets in the slasher so w hile women are the primary casualties, they are not the only. The possession film looks at the victimization of women much differently by using the female body, for female motifs, to dually play the role of tormentor and tormented. The body, more notably the female body, becomes perverse, and female biology is linked to otherness, mystery, and evil. The theories of first wave horror does provide some insight to the issues of gaze, objectification, and male privilege but does not satisfactorily address the growing threatening nature female sexuality in the possession flick or the need for slasher heroines to be devoid of a distinct sexual identity. The evolution of the horror genre demanded an evolution of the theory.

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32 Second Wave Theory In 1987, the article, Her Body, Himself, which would later be included as a chapter in her more expansive look at the horror genre, Men, Women and Chain Saws Carol J. Clover examines the attributes of the exploitive slasher genre. What was initially dis workings to the genre by the formulaic, yet complex depiction of gender in these films. She built upon the theories of Mulvey and adapted her psychoanalytic approach to undermine the misconception that horror is about killer identification. Clover comments in the introduction of her book that Needless to say, horror movies spend a lot of time looking at women, and in f irst person ways that do indeed seem well . I shall be arguing throughout this book that by any measure, horror is far more victim identified than the standard view woul d have it not remove women from a disadvantaged position of representation but it does heroine. The step show s a female willingness to be aggressi vely angry instead of being passively discontent. Second wave feminism was beginning to be fully integrated into popular culture and the changing roles of women on screen was indicative of this. Clover remarks, to popular culture,

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33 some more savory than others. One of its main donations to horror, I think, is the image of an angry woman a woman so angry that she can be imagined as a credible e low mythic universe, the status of full protagonist rests (17). The inclusion of the angry, violent woman into mainstream culture appears to conflict with the helpless woman image conventionally dominant in the horror genre but Clover examines the indus construction of the Final Girl, a victim heroine archetype. The evolution of this hybrid character, a woman brutally victimized but capable of rising to face her tormentor in the final act, boils down to the needs of the audience. Audience is an imp ortant point of consideration in understanding the trends in horror and Clover addresses the point that adolescent males are the primary audience of the typical horror film. She assesses that the audience is initially and falsely aligned with a misleadingl y masculine killer. Male characters for a predominantly male audience to identify with are scarce. Clover discusses how boyfriends, male students or co workers are typically quickly disposed of by the killer. Male figures of authority are discredited and d ismissed by their lack of understanding of the threat (44). All of these figures prove to be inadequate characters of identification, thus leaving the killer. The use of Point of View shots of the killer can be interpreted as a way in which the audience be murderous deeds.

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34 Clover points out, however, that even this relationship is flawed. She explains, The killer is often unseen or barely glimpsed, during the first part of the film, and what we do see, when fi nally get a good look, hardly invites immediate or conscious is a woman . In either case, the killer is himself eventually killed or otherwise evacuated from the narrative (44 ). Looking at killers from films like Halloween or Friday the 13th despite have muscular builds and masculine aggression, the psyche, and sometimes their anatomy, betray their gender polarity. Clover states, [t]he notion of a killer propelled by psychosexual fury, more particularly a male in gender distress, has proved a durable one, and the progeny of Norman Bates stalk the genre up to the present day (27). The killer's attraction to phallic weaponry, such as knives, chainsaws, and machetes, doe s not represent a hyper sexualized masculine persona but rather overcompensation for gender confusion. Behind the mask that conceals the killer is a much less polarized masculine figure. Clover expands on this idea by stating, The killer's phallic purpose as he thrusts his drill or knife into the trembling bodies of young women, is unmistakable. At the same time, however, his masculinity is severely qualified: he ranges from the virginal or sexually inert to the transvestite or transsexual, and is spiritu ally divided ('the mother half of his mind') or even equipped with vulva and vagina (47). As a result, the male audience is falsely aligned with the killer and finds a more suitable character to identify with in the Final

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35 Girl. This cross gender identific ation is at the root of Clover's argument for why the horror genre is not purely constructed on feminine torture. The Final Girl, like the killer, represents a blurring line between genders. The last surviving target of the killer, Clover points out, is typically a female who makes the transition from victim to hero. While the character is sexed female, her gender is less defined. Clover states : T he Final Girl is boyish, in a word. Just as the killer is not fully masculine, she is not fully feminine not, in any case, feminine in the ways of her friends. Her smartness, gravity, competence in mechanical and other practical matters, and sexual reluctance set her apart from the other girls and ally her, ironically, with the very boys she fears or rejects, not to speak of the killer himself (40) Clover argues that the girl male audiences are able to identify with is only female in form but represents male anxiety. The reason the hero is female and not male is due to the subject matter of the genre. Clover exp lains [t]he Final Girl is . a congenial double for the adolescent male. She is feminine enough to act out in a gratifying way, a way unapproved for adult males, the terrors and masochistic pleasures of the underlying fantasy, but not so feminine as to d isturb the structures of male competence and sexuality (51) While the theory still illustrates how the genre privileges the masculine over the feminine, women are not merely the object of the male gaze. Clover expounds, [t]he willingness and even eagern ess. . of the male

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36 viewer to throw in his emotional lot, if only temporarily, with not only a woman but a woman in fear and pain, at least in the first instance, would seem to suggest that he has a vicarious stake in that fear and pain (61). This expose s a transition of woman as other to woman becoming part of the self. The slasher film generally provid es a female character for male au diences to associate with, but this representation rarely is representative of actual femaleness Clover argues that w hile the body is sexed as female, the personality and non physical traits are coded as being male (53). The Final Girl character, thusly, does signal a progression for women within the horror tradition simply by her ability to separate from her victim stat us, but the circumstances are muddled by the motivations of her gender construction. She is still primarily a victim and is only able to transcend that role in the final act of the narrative and must be devoid of a distinctly female sexual identity in orde r to do so. The possession film provides a different set of gender complication s than the slasher Clover explains how, frequently, the narrative of the possession genre are broken into two intertwined stories: the female and the male. The female character is representative of the possession and the male narrative is about self understanding. Clover e xpounds by stating In the language of the film, Linda [from Witchboard ] is The Exorcist ] stand in a long line of female portals, from the equally gullible Eve through the professional portals sibyls and prophetesses of classical and medieval times to the majority of psychic and New

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37 Age channelers of our own day reinforces a tradition of negative female representation by labeling women as deceitful enemies of m e n, whi le also branding women in a subordinate role. They become an object of masculine possession or invasion and independent thought is withheld from these characters. The narrative makes sure to draw extra attention to the possessed character s femaleness by e mphasizing themes or imagery pertaining to menstruation. Clover explains, In the world of occult horror, in any case, menstrual blood would seem to have little to do with castration or loss and much to do with powerful things going on behind closed doors (78). The blood imagery in Carrie and The Exorcist thus, become indicators for the wickedness that has invaded the self. Clover elaborates, occult films do their best, in much the way pornography does, to ough moaning, vomiting, fevers, hypnotic revelations, swearing, swaggering, swelling, and sudden appearance of rashes, bruises, and scars (sometimes spelling out a message), the woman is made to bring forth her occulted self (109 10). In terms of narrativ e division, the female story is about the internal being expressed externally. Consequently, since the internal is occupied by an outside invader, the narrative is not about women and, like the demon or entity that possesses them, they are merely an inst rument for narrative progression. Clover uses The Exorcist to illustrate this point. She points out, The text hints at its own priorities when it has the all for the pig [the

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38 nothing! You have made her a contest between us! . body, but the transformation that body prompts in the male psyche (88). This brings to attention the male stor y common to the possession/occult film. Clover asserts: [T]o say that the foregrounded or spectacle story of the possession film is built around the female body does not mean that the films as a whole are about females only or even mainly or even, as indi vidual characters, at all . The Exorcist tortured relation to his mother, his guilt, his spiritual father (Merrin), his calling. (85) If the woman story is about the internal being reco nciled externally, then the male story is about the external being reconciled internally. Outside conflict must be resolved in order for the men to better understand themselves. Clover deduces that the transformation of the conflicted male is the result of the narrative rejecting traditional and emotionally closed masculinity in support of the new man, who is sensitive and open. Clover looks at the male story echoes that of the Final Girl from the slasher genre. Given that the Final Girl exists in a worl d populated by phallic symbols and images of male anxiety, her transformation represents a middle ground in gender representation. The overly masculine male and the heavily sexualized female die, so the marginally female character willing to harnessing mal e aggression becomes the

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39 heroine. Clover states, It is by the same token only fitting that, given its concern with masculinity, the occult film is a world of passageways, interiors, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and that even males may find themselves burdened, or blessed, with something from the list. The difference . is that masculinizing a woman is a far more acceptable project than feminizing a man (107). The danger the male story presents is that the male risks sacrificing his maleness. For the slasher film, a woman losing her femaleness is culturally acceptable but for men to be placed in the same position, adjustment must be made. Clover explains Crudely put, for a space to be created in which men can weep without being l abeled feminine, women must be relocated to a space where they will be made to wail uncontrollably; for men to be able to relinquish emotional rigidity, control, women must be relocated to a space in which they will undergo a flamboyant psychotic break; an d so on (105). Again, this boils down to male privilege that favors masculine representation over feminine. Clover concludes her look at the occult/possession film by stating, That the feint snarling, hyperpregnant, toxic women is offensive goes without saying. My concern in this chapter has been to suggest that it is that offensive because it has that much to hide, and more generally to propose that we have as much to learn, in the study of popular culture, from what frightful women are meant to conceal as from what they are meant to represent (113). Like Mulvey before her, Clover confronted convention and drew attention to the representation of women on the screen. She carved a foothold in which other

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40 scholars were able to articulate theories that compl e mented and challenged her pioneering analysis. other genres of excess in which the female body is made the spectacle of the gaze. In the article, Film Bodies, she explains I (Williams 604). Williams demonstrates that the female body becomes the cinematic source for excess emotion, whether that is pleasure, fear, or sadness. It also connects women to the body rather than the mind. The female repr esentation is thus dissected and marveled at for its gross display of humanness; woman becomes the primal exposition of debased humanity while man avoids similar visual treatment. Williams continues by stating: [E]ven when the pleasure of viewing has tra ditionally been constructed for masculine spectators, as is the case in most traditional heterosexual pornography, it is the female body in the grips of an out of control ecstasy that has offered the most sensational sight. So the bodies of women have tend ed to function, ever since the eighteenth century origins of the these genres in the Marquis de Sade, Gothic fiction, and the novels of Richardson, as both the moved and the moving It is thus through what Foucault has called

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41 the sexually saturation of the female body that audiences of all sorts have received some of their most powerful sensations. (605) While Clover looks at the loss of female sexuality as the narrative conclusion in second the conclusion that androgyny and desexualization provides order to chaos, Williams argues that, In horror a violence related to sexual difference is the problem, more violence related to se xual difference is also the solution (612). Gender representation, for Williams, is less concerned with the presentation of the image of woman on screen but rather the implications that the image reflects about society. She states: [T]hese gross body g enres which may seem so violent and inimical to women cannot be dismissed as evidence of a monolithic and unchanging misogyny, as either pure sadism for male viewers or masochism for females. Their very existence and popularity hinges upon rapid changes ta king place in relations between the sexes and by rapidly changing notions of gender of what it means to be a man or woman. (615) shows the importance of examining both the image and the culture that digests the image. This idea is even more relevant when that image enters a new cycle of representation, and as the second wave horror heroines faded from the mainstream, a new type of female replaced them.

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42 CHAPTER 3 HARD CANDY Is it not that the ugly is only the unknown, and that truth seen for the first time offends the eye? -Etienne Jules Marey qtd in Sklar David Slade's Hard Candy is a film about predators, victims, charming liars, and cruel conquerors. Hard Candy is a fi lm about subversion and role reversals. It is about the fatal consequences that come from sexual objectification and the corruption of innocence. The story challenges the viewers' understanding of character identification and polarized morality but before it does, it begins with a familiar foundation: the female victim. Victimization The introduction of the two main characters, Hayley (Ellen Page) and Jeff (Patrick Wilson), does much to establish them within conventional gender roles and reinforces Mulvey' s theories of t he g aze. Even before the viewer is formally introduced to the main characters, a conversation is shown between their IM screen names. Jeff is Lensman319 and Hayley is Thonggrrrl14. The names provide insight into the power dynamics of their o nline relationship. Jeff's IM icon is a camera which lends immediate voyeuristic connotations to his character. He views himself as the

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43 eye and directly labels his gaze as being masculine by including man in his moniker. Hayley, on the other hand, uses a h eart as her icon shading her as emotional and immature. Her title also contains a highly sexualized article of clothing. She associates herself with thong underwear which acts to reduce her female identity to an eroticized inanimate object. Her young age i s reinforced by her colloquial use of the term grrrl which is a combination of girl and an animalistic growl to express a self view of female independence and attitude while still sexually objectifying herself. The titles and icon, alone, establish Jef f as a dominant male; through the visual subtext, it is made clear that this interaction is between a man and a girl not a man and a woman or a boy and a girl, which would suggest equality. The terminology plays to a male advantage which is only further s upported within the IM conversation. The audience witnesses Jeff's words first. It is clear that Hayley has made a preceding comment but the cinematic focus privileges Jeff's response. Jeff writes, So we should finally hook up, baby? Hayley rebukes NO T a baby, i keep telling you and he responds with I'll have to see for myself. In the context of Laura Mulvey, Jeff is filling the role of the active male. He is pushing the action of the conversation. His desire to meet so he can see for himself expres ses his interest in the gaze. His words are shown first and they gradually shift from being questions to commands. His language is condescending and attempts to infantilize Hayley so as to establish his dominance. She is placed on the defensive, needing to repeatedly remind Jeff that she is not a child. Her telling however, is dismissed by his need to see Her attempt to

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44 qualify herself as an intellectual is quickly met with doubt. When Hayley comments on his supposed knowledge of babies, Jeff responds, Only one I study is you, thus connecting his authority to visual power. Mulvey theorizes: In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between the active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phanta sy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to be look ed at ness (715) Hayley, again, is likened to an object to be observed under a microscope. Jeff has constructed a fantasy in his mind and now desires to look upon the object he has built. Jeff's voyeuristic impulses only become more pronounced as the c onversation progresses. He openly states that he is fantasizing about Hayley and she provokes him by saying you oughta film me with that videocam . then you wouldn't have to fantasize. When they agree to meet for coffee, Hayley explains that she can be there after she showers. Jeff remarks that picture it. The scene heavy handedly constructs Jeff as the visual male who seeks to posses the gaze. His language, IM name, and icon all connect him to photography. The conversation sets the familiar sta ge for an active male to dominate over a passive female. The conversation acts as a prelude to a familiar tale of victimization.

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45 If in text, Jeff is aggressive and abrasive, in person, he is charismatic and calm. He speaks professionally and interacts ef fortlessly with Hayley. Their meeting would seem perfectly normal if she was not a drastically underage girl, and the narrative makes it clear that Jeff's pleasant demeanor is overshadowing an unsettling social taboo. The comfortable way that he licks his finger after wiping chocolate from Hayley's mouth or his stipulation that she must model the shirt he has just purchased for her all contribute to the viewers perception that he is a morally questionable character. His charm and disarming friendliness, how ever, do not immediately establish him as an evil, villainous, or even dislikable character. As Hayley, comments [he doesn't] really look like the kind of guy who has to meet girls over the internet and while that appears to be appealing to her, it strik es the audience as inappropriate. Jeff seems to express genuine interest in the girl and maturely converses with her. He discusses long term interest and a willingness to wait for a physical relationship until she is no longer a minor. He allows her to dir ect the action of their meeting and she flirtatiously invites herself back to his home. A picture of a missing girl is briefly seen hanging on a board behind them as they talk which acts as a reminder of the dangerous possibilities of meeting strangers. Their interaction at the coffeehouse, while not menacing, further places Jeff in a commanding role. Hayley is established as an intelligent and mature individual by her interests in literature, her advanced placement in academics, and her articulate respon ses to topics outside of romance and relationships, yet it is clear she views

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46 herself as being inferior to Jeff. Jeff comments you look older than you are and you certainly act older than you are . I was not expecting someone as impressive. Jeff become s the fawning male while Hayley behaves in a manner to flatter and impress her admirer. Lucy Fischer explains in Shot/Countershot that: derived concept of woman as Other is most useful here. If man can see in a woman o nly his opposite, then it is not surprising that a female who dares to share some of his qualities (intelligence, strength, eroticism) might be viewed as suspect or unnatural. Patriarchy rejects the allegedly masculine woman the woman who claims her to tal human range and refuses to be entirely non male. (187) Jeff gains control of their coffeehouse meeting and is able to passively converse due to Hayley's need to win his approval. There are multiple shots in which he stares intently at the young girl while she simultaneously averts her eyes out of embarrassment and mumbles compliments under her breath. Jeff recognizes her as intelligent but this masculine trait is undercut by her suspected naivet, her bashfulness, and lack of confidence. Her gaze is not equal to his and she submits to his visual desire to look upon her. She plays the role of the passive female and stands suggestive dominance. Jeff's casual behavior illustrates that he is confident in his control and is comfortable allowing Hayley to feel she has power over him. He playfully kneels down and kisses her shoes in the parking lot and jokingly likens her to a goddess. He

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47 tell s her that he is not worthy and refers to her as oh Magnific ent Thong Girl. He at once mockingly worships her form while returning to a sexually objectifying label. At this point in the narrative, Jeff is merely a proponent of scopophilia and Male Gaze; upon returning to his house, the line between voyeuristic and pedophilic intent begins to blur. Jeff's walls are mounted with the portraits of young models. The content is images into pictures of grotesque metaphorical dismember ment. The young girls in the frames become a headless dancer, a faceless female, and a ghostly shadow. The [the active instinct] continues to exist as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectified other (713). Hayley comments, So why are they on your walls instead of magazine covers. Here, looking at you while you know, you do the most intimate things. Jeff explains that his studio is also his home, and his portfolio hangs on his walls. None of his pictures provide the complete female form; heads are cropped out of the frames or lighting reduces the subject to an inky silhouette. No faces are made visible thus dislocating the models from emotional expression; only their fragmented physical form remains. His craft is to strip the girls of their humanness and transform them into marketable objects. A clear sexual

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48 interest can also be gleaned in Jeff's motives as a photographer. Hayley asks how many models Jeff has had sexual relationships with and he responds none of them, they ar e underage mostly. I'd be arrested. Hayley questions, so you're not arrested for photographing them like this? I'm very aware of the legal boundaries. I have to. Hayley : Right. Right, because secretly, secretly you would like to do them. Hayley prod s Jeff playfully with her questions but he does not directly deny her accusations of being sexually attracted to the young models ; instead he bases his defense off of his firm understanding of the law involving minors, not a disinterest in them. Between the sexualized models that decorate his home and his current flirtatious presence with a fourteen year girl, Jeff's sexual interests are presented as being misaligned and he is in clear violation of acceptable social behavior, but it is not apparent if he is a more sinister form of victimizer. At the coffeehouse, Jeff shows no sign of a temper or anger issues. In the security of his own home, however, small glimpses of rage become noticeable. Jeff confides he did have a relationship with a model, Janelle, many years previous and Hayley deduces that she is someone Jeff still cares for greatly. She teasingly persists that Jeff is still infatuated with Janelle despite his refusal to admit it. As Hayley relentlessly pushes the issue, Jeff suddenly aggressively and irritably gives Hayley a firm no. Her reaction suggests she is surprised by his quick change in tone. Hayley instantly recovers and insists that Jeff shoot her. In the film commentary with actors

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49 Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page, Patrick remarks that di rector, David Slade, instructed him to carry his camera as if it was a gun. From the moment of Jeff's first irritable outburst he becomes an increasingly threatening character. Slade's figurative parallelism between Jeff's camera and a firearm provide a de adly double meaning to Hayley's pleading to be shot. The phallic nature of the symbol also likens Jeff's photo shoots to sexual intercourse. He tells Hayley it's not as easy as you think; models don't just pout their lips. They have to be willing to ope n up. They have to show us a little of their soul, their secrets. Photography becomes an invasive form of voyeuristic intimacy. Intimacy enacted upon young girls. The gun parallel also makes it an act of violence. Jeff's gaze is no longer a distant manif estation of normative heterosexual desire; it is rape. Slade continues to dehumanize Jeff by means of subconscious visual cues. As Jeff becomes more frustrated with Hayley's disobedience and as the drugs he's been slipped begin to have a stronger effect, his control over his temper rapidly deteriorates. Slade vaguely comments about a subtle image that helps demonize Jeff. While Slade withholds specific details in his commentary, Wilson explains the scene directly in his commentary on the film. Seconds bef ore Jeff collapses, he screams at Hayley to stop His mouth is digitally stretched but the image only lasts a fraction of a second. The viewer thus recognizes that Jeff has reacted in an unnatural and ason may not be clear, defies normality and becomes grotesque. Slade's conscious use of the technique succeeds in

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50 making the character more monstrous and threatening. The scene acts as the pinnacle of Jeff's role as the dominant male and victimizer. The fi nal image he sees before blacking out is the blurring form of Hayley. A smile can barely be made out on her face. From this point forward in the narrative, there is a clear shift in power dynamics between the two. Transference of Power Jeff wakes to a new reality, a reality in which he is no longer the powerful and watchful eye but rather the helpless witness. His collapse is both literal and metaphorical and in the commentary, the director explains that Patrick was weighted down to place emphasis on th e importance of his fall. The heavy crash illustrates he is no longer the dominant male controlling the action. In his collapse, his camera his weapon are taken with him. When Jeff wakes, he is tied to his office chair and a jacket is draped over his face Hayley has already stripped him of his masculine power by immobilizing him and obstructing his sight. Her new power is immediately recognizable by the framing of the scene in which Jeff awakens. While he once towered above Hayley at the coffeehouse and o nly jokingly lowered himself to sarcastically kiss her feet, she now stands over him and only lowers herself to his level to deliver serious information that further establishes her control over him. His loss of power is not immediately recognizable to Jef f and he assumes that Hayley has tied him up as a playful sexual act. Still groggy from the effects of the drugs, Jeff slyly asks w why do I get tied up

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51 first, if, if this is how we're going to play? Hayley quickly destroys Jeff hopeful assumption that h e is still in control by responding, Jeff, playtime is over. It's time to wake up. Lucy Fischer points out [Simone de Beauvoir] notes that women devote themselves to men in order to partake of male power a sphere from which they are otherwise excluded: when she gives that up, she then seeks to share in their masculinity by having one of (91). The narrative initially suggests that Hayley passively views Jeff as a romantic interest capable of being her agent in a masculine adult world. Tales of his active lifestyle seem to inspire jealous reactions from Hayley, suggesting her desire to live vicariously through Jeff. Jeff and the audience wake to realize that Hayle is not interested in peripherally acquiring masculine dominance; she is intent on exercising her own power. His active status is revoked and he is left vulnerably confined to an office cha ir. His home which was once his sanctuary to delight in gazing has become his prison. As the film progresses and Jeff manages to escape his shackles, he is swiftly incapacitated by Hayley. The office chair allows him limited mobility and, while his arms are pinned, he still has use of his hands. When he is moved to a gurney like metal table, his helplessness is overtly displayed by his bottomless exposure. While his chair forced him to endure primarily verbal abuse, his nakedness on the table leaves Jeff susceptible to physical torture. His hands are bound by thicker ropes, and

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52 due to lack of circulation, his hands have turned a painful blue. The small wheels on the table reduce his movement to inches and only with great physical exertion. His immobile sta te exposes him to the possibility of drastic, life altering surgery, but Hayley does not suggest that her intentions are deadly. Finally, Jeff is left standing on a chair, his hands tightly tied and a noose around his neck. He is now fully clothed, but his position is now potentially fatal. His movement is now limited to the seat of the chair. The progressively confining constrains Jeff is placed in are used to show the transference of power between him and Hayley. Hayley becomes the controller of action. Against Mulvey's claims, she has become the active female while Jeff has become the passive onlooker to his own deconstruction. When Jeff tries to reclaim a voice, she is able to silence him by spraying cleaning product in his mouth. Her control is near a bsolute. She explains there is really no point in me taking any risks, Jeff. Technically I can let you scream your fucking brains out, and no one is going to hear you. Yeah, I waited till today because Mr. Coughlin is at work, and the Kraskows -they're v acationing in Santa Barbara. She know s him, his neighbors, and his methods of manipulation, while he remains clueless about the girl who he seemingly lured into his house. During her initial interrogation of Jeff, Hayley puts on his glasses thus illustr ating that she possess es the insight into his character while he remains blind. She directs the conversation and asks the questions, while he was the dominant inquisitor at the coffeehouse. This gives her the power of the gaze. She objectifies

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53 him and mini mizes his humanistic qualities. He becomes like the furnishing he is bound to. She controls his voice, his movement, and his understanding of her. She is able to run freely around his house and guide his movements when he manages to escape his constraints Her power is also visible in the way she is capable of extracting knowledge from him by a single, seemingly inconsequential, gesture. When she asks him if he has a hiding place for his pedophilic images, pictures that would be dangerous to leave unsecur ed, she is able to see the answer by an isolated but revealing blink. His inability to match her gaze silently exposes the truth and sends her into a frenzy to find the evidence of his guilt. Jeff initial desire to study Hayley, which was discussed duri ng the IM chat has been inverted and she is the one who is able to place him under the microscope and read him closely. When Jeff tries to emulate her insightful deductions, he is met with false success. Jeff believes he has found an opportunity to get H ayley to question her own motives when she expresses that her parents will not notice her extended absence. Jeff prods, oh, is that it? What? They're too busy to keep track of you, so you reach out to somebody who seems like he might care about you? And you're so mad because they ignore you? They always made the fuss over your older sister because she learned to do everything first? You're furious with them, but they do love you and they pay for your existence, but you can't let them see any of that anger Hayley quietly replies, I'm not angry at them.

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54 Jeff soothes, no, no. Absolutely not. That would be too dangerous. But you are angry and you gotta let it out somehow. SO you find a guy an older guy Maybe he reminds you a little of your dad. Let me g uess. I look like him? Hayley responds You don't look anything like him. Jeff : If you say so. But you gotta let that anger out somehow. And I seem like a good target. Hayley angrily lashes out, Will you just shut up, seriously, just shut up. You kn ow nothing about me. Jeff calmly suggests, no, you're right. So sit down and tell me. We'll talk. We can sit on the sofa. And I'll call a taxi for you. If you want, I'll hold you. If you don't want, I'll keep my distance. Jeff's attempt at addressin g Hayley is to reestablish his dominance by proposing he physically comfort her. He asks to sit on the couch which would remove her ability to look down upon him. His attempt to read her character is aimed to mar Hayley's self perception of herself by crea ting doubt of her self worth. Jeff becomes representative of the social pressures real girls face which breeds feelings of inadequacy; this cultural trend of degradation is an issue that will be explored in depth in Chapter Five which focuses on the social implications of aggressive girls in society His ploy is quickly exposed as Hayley reveals she is only mocking him with her meek and vulnerable demeanor. She laughs coldly, D id you seriously think that that was gonna work? You're good at what you d o, Jeff. What you do is work with

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55 teenage girls, put them at ease so they can trust you with all their secrets. She calls his bluff and recognizes that his comforting nature is another method of getting girls to express their vulnerability. Hayley, howeve r, breaks the cycle of passive femininity with her aggressive ability to possess the gaze, drive the action, and separate from a cinematic tradition of victimization. The exchange recalls She comment s: Halloween in effect punished female sexuality, director John Carpenter responded They [the critics] completely missed the boat there, I think. Because if you turn it around, the one girl who is the most sexually uptight but because all that repressed energy starts coming out. She uses all those e killer have a certain link: sexual repression (Clover 49) Clover presents Carpenters idea as a partial truth in that sexual frustration can act as a catalyst for violence and the severely abused would be the most prone to seize the knife as an outlet.

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56 and it is also shared a shared femininity, materialized in what comes next (and what Carpenter, perhaps significantly, fails to mention): the castration, literal or symbolic, of the killer at her hands but premeditated strategy. The perception of shared masculinity is complicated by the fact that she does not us e the phallic symbols at instruments of violence. She does not shoot or stab Jeff; she only disarms him, thus tying her to the feminine. It is Jeff who displays repressed sexual frustration, as seen when he finally seizes a butcher knife. He is the one who seizes the phallic symbols with deadly intent, and it is he who is continually stripped of these power symbols. These characters do not reside in clear designation as victim and villain but are heavily shrouded in disguise until the conclusion. Because of model, as will be discussed in the subsequent sections of this study Hayley further separates from the victim role by her consistent correlation with phallic symbols, which becomes more exag gerated over the course of the film. As mentioned, this does not separate her from her feminine identity but rather shows her ability to manipulate and control masculine objects and characters. Jeff initially operates a phallic symbol vis vis his camer a, but once he is incapacitated, his ability to remain in possession of phallic representations is removed. Hayley first discovers the gun he stores in his bedroom but sets it on his bed. At this point in the narrative, she has not clearly established hers elf as the dominating individual between

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57 climax. When Jeff attempts to seize the gun, he is asphyxiated and disarmed by Hayley, who wraps his head in saran wrap. The use of S aran W rap locates Hayley within the female domestic of the kitchen and connotes that her femininity is able to overpower Jeff's phallic masculinity. Once Jeff as been pacified again, Hayley consistently is in possession of a representative phallus. She s imulates castrating Jeff with a scalpel and subdues him a second time with a taser gun when he tries to attack her. The presence of rope becomes emphasized as the film builds towards a climax; at first it is used only to restrain Jeff but later takes the f atal form of a noose, which significantly first appears rope retains its deadly presence even in the public sphere, in which Jeff finally succumbs to his defeat and volun is the result of being hung by his own rogue sexuality. When Jeff attempts to seize a phallic weapon, Hayley is able to beat him by using a more powerful instrument. When he escapes from the make shift operation table, he grabs the scalpel but is rendered unconscious by multiple shocks from he is forced to accept defeat when Hayley holds him at gunpoint. The dynamic bet ween the two remains consistent. Hayley is in control. When Jeff tries to alter the power dynamic, Hayley adapts and is able to maintain the advantage. Masculinity is

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58 represented as being irrational and reckless while the female representation is masterful ly disciplined and systematic in pursuing her desired outcome. She has complete control over Jeff and is even able to manipulate what he sees. By taking possession of his photographic equipment, she is able to control the gaze. Hayley's ability to contro l what Jeff and the audience sees gives her power over the narrative instead of just power within the narrative. She is able to fully take advantage of Jeff's vulnerability and subject him to the dehumanizing nature of the gaze. Hayley informs him that she will be performing a castration and then proceeds to shave, numb, and finally dispose s of two bloody testicles. She allows Jeff to watch the procedure by connecting a video camera to his television. The physical sensations he feels and the bloody images h e sees are an illusion orchestrated by Hayley. The live footage is actually a pre recorded tape, the blood and testicles he sees are also props that Hayley has brought with her, and the physical pain he feels is created by a metal clamp instead of an incis ion. The tension and terror Hayley is able to produce in both Jeff and the viewer is genuine. When Jeff wakes to find himself pantless on a metal table, he is aware of his vulnerability but reluctant to accept of the severity of his situation. As the sce ne progresses and Hayley informs him of her intentions, his reaction moves from disbelief, to panic, to emotional collapse. His replies begin as being sarcastic, snidely remarking about Hayley's mental health but quickly deteriorates into frantic screams

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59 f or help. When he is silenced, he desperately pleas There's money in the safe . You could take it. Take the camera equipment. Take whatever you want! Hayley curtly informs Jeff I am. You really can't talk me out of this by bribing me, okay? As Jeff's breathing quickens, and his voice shakes on the verge of hysterics, the realization that Hayley to explain crudely has him figuratively and literally by the balls becomes blatantly clear. Due to his limited perspective, to which the viewer is al so subjugated, the reality of the castration seems unnervingly absolute. Only Hayley is privileged with the knowledge that the simulation is only a form of emotional torture. Her hidden gaze is the one that hold the power and the male gaze that Jeff believ es he possesses through the camera is a fabrication of truth. By turning his own cameras on himself, Jeff is able to see the cruel objectification that occurs through the act of gazing. A part of the person becomes representational of the whole. Much as Mu subject by using the external sexual form as the entire representation of femaleness, the film subverts this idea by using a misleading surgical internal image to represent Jeff's masculin e misalignment in society. The taped surgery takes Jeff's philosophy of looking inside the gazed upon object to a grotesque extreme. While Jeff discussed the need for a model to open up and expose her soul, Hayley takes Jeff's words and shows him the br utally invasive nature of the gaze. He uses his authority as a photographer to dismember the identities of his models under the pretense that he is looking inward. Hayley uses the

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60 tape to look inward under the pretense that Jeff's physical anatomy fully re presents his deviant function in society. She uses his manipulative attitude of the gaze against him to terrifying effect. The Role of Terror Hard Candy does not just separate women from the role of victim; it places her in control of the horror. Unease is created in the audience by a lack of immediate polarization of character morality. The line between justified vigilantism and sadistic cruelty is not a lways clear and the motivations of each character are consistently brought into doubt. The moral ambiguity, by itself, would place the film within the thriller genre; however, it is the stark presence of male abuse that turns the film into an unconventiona l horror. Instead of a demonic male killer stalking helpless women, the film provides a morally obscure girl tormenting a charismatic sexually deviant man. The formula for horror is rewritten through gender roles. While horror traditionally dissects the f emale body, Hard Candy makes the gesture to subvert the convention. The male body is illusory cut open and maleness is placed on under the microscope. Linda Badley comments, we participate in the technological reconstructions and colonization of the body that continually threatens revolt. And because the body is gendered female as the medical gaze is gendered male, bodies have become fields of contestation (26).The film reverse s the roles by able, yet does not

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61 acknowledges a barrier it is unwilling to cross. It mimics the form of bodily horror with its blurred image of the castration procedure going on in the backg round, but stops short of fully placing the male victim in the traditional female position, an issue that is not present in film Teeth which will be discussed in Chapter Four. The of spilt blood, a trait that makes her an unusual horror tormentor. Unlike the helpless teenage scream queens of horror tradition, Jeff is a successful thirty something professional who finds himself in the victim role as a result of his own predatory i nclinations. As the films revealed villain, he initially is presented as an innocent victim wrongly punished for supposed crimes. His behavior for associating with a young teenage girl is condemnable but his persistent insistence of his innocence lead the viewer to question the severity of his offense. The range of emotion Jeff expresses his humor, fear, confusion, anger, despair, and determination anchor him to humanity. This makes him a character audiences disassociate with despite the incriminating evidence that begins to emerge which expose his monstrous side. The duality of being both victim and villain complicate the role of Jeff's character. The psychological and physical torture he sustains, along with his friendly demeanor align him with au dience sympathies while his hidden transgressions suggest that his public persona mask his private violence. He hides a firearm under his bed, has child pornography locked in a concealed safe, and he is in possession of a

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62 photograph of the girl, Donna Maue r, from the Missing poster at the coffeehouse. Despite all this evidence, he clings to his innocence so convincingly that his facade breaks only when he believes he has Hayley on the defense. When the disguise is removed, Jeff speaks in a deep, menacing vo ice. After he furiously stabs one of his photographs, he declares to the empty room You're right. You're right, Hayley. Thank you. Thank you. This is me. This is who I am. Thank you. Thank you for helping me see it. By the film's third act, it is clear that Jeff really is the deceitful monster that Hayley has claimed he is. Just as Hayley wears the mask of vulnerability in the first act, Jeff dons his own disguise. Discussing the conventional slasher killer, Clover comments that [w] e catch sight of them only in glimpses few and far between in the beginning, more frequent toward the end (30). The subtle temper of his seen in the beginning of the film gives the viewer a glimpse behind the mask of innocence. Unlike killers of the conventional slasher, his role as villain is a process of realization and is not established early but concealed by a lack of internal visibility. His ability to mimic innocence and manipulate the emotions of his victims the girls he has photographed and the viewers he has sway ed with his defense establish Jeff as more dangerous villain, perhaps because he so convincingly does not appear to be so. Yet it is Hayley who is depicted as the heartless tormentor and the recipient of the audience s scorn. While Jeff's drastic persona lity shift occurs at the end of the film, Hayley's change signals the start of the second act, around twenty minutes into the narrative.

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63 The change is sudden and vicious; she is no longer the vulnerable, meek, and flirtatiously quirky girl from the coffeeh ouse but a tough, aggressive, merciless femme fatale. Her capacity for sympathy and compassion seem to have died in the transformation making her a less relatable and likable character. Her treatment of Jeff is coldly systematic and given that the viewer i s not privileged with her perspective or knowledge, her interrogation tactics appear unjustified. The lack of background and character insight of Hayley contributes greatly to her being falsely labeled as antagonistic. Her motivation for tracking and tor turing dangerous pedophiles is left unclear, leaving the viewer to ponder if she is seeking retribution for personal trauma or if she is seizing the opportunity to sadistically exploit and objectify those who have done the exact same to young girls. Near t he end of the film, Jeff threatens, I'll find you. I'll track you down! Hayley interrupts Assuming you knew anything about me. Calabasas girl whose dad teaches at UCW shouldn't be that hard to find. You believed all that, huh? Jeff falters w ho are you? Hayley : It's hard to say for sure. Maybe not a Calabasas girl. Maybe not the daughter of a med school professor. Maybe not even a friend of Donna Mauer. Maybe not even named Hayley Jeff growls in frustration, Who the hell are you?

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64 Hayley spits I am every little girl you ever watched, touched, hurt, screwed, killed. Hayley is not a person but rather an embodiment of social retribution. She is frightening because she is the unknown; in terms of the audience, she has no past. Her fa lse history protect s her from Jeff, but simultaneously alienates her from audience identification. Jeff comments You walk into somebody's house, you start looking through their shit. You're gonna find things that embarrasses them. Like the killers of the slasher cycle, she holds the power because she knows her victims while they know little to nothing about her. She is able to invade Jeff's life while revealing little about herself. This fact, alone, makes her a mysterious character but her teasing res ponses to Jeff's anxiety and pain imply a deep seated cruelty and cold heartedness. She plays with his emotions by offering false promises, reading him damaging letters in a sweetly innocent voice, and insistently suggesting he commit suicide. While it is clear that she takes her vengeance seriously, a certain amount of pleasure is seen in her actions. She does not merely want to stop Jeff's deviant actions, she wants him to suffer terribly before he dies. At one point, Jeff is tied to the operation table a nd Hayley reads him the email she threatens to send to Janelle, the model he still cares for. Using an overly sugary voice, she reads: Dear Janelle. My name is Hayley Stark. I hope you don't mind me writing you like this. I met this guy that I think you know Jeff Kohlver. He's so cute.

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65 Well, he seems to really like me. He even asked me over to his place to do some photography, and I am so excited about this because, well, for a 14 year old like me, this could be a huge break, you know She mocks Jeff's innocent persona by adopting her own, yet purposely demonstrates its transparency by having her sweet tone overtly contradict her words. Sh e casually The innocence that once appealed to Jeff when he believed he was the one in control, when he was the predator, now resurfaces to taunt his vulnerability and in criminating situation. Hayley continues: So, so, so, so, I found your e mail address in his PDA, and I thought I'd just ask. Is this insane? Am I insane? Is Jeff? And this other girl he talks about all the time. Her name is Donna Mauer. Do you know anyth ing about her? I found these photos on his computer but silly me, I can't figure out how to open them, but I'm attaching them to this note. Are they pictures of you or Donna? Anyhoo, thanks a mil. Ignorant innocence is used to mask her dangerous insight. She understands the painful and destructive consequences of sending incriminating pictures to the one person Jeff cares for but she hides the viciousness of the act behind a facade. Even in death, she wants Jeff to suffer. She promises that she will remove any evidence of his pedophilic and violent lifestyle if he kills himself. Jeff finally accepts death as his escape but as he leaps from the roof with the noose around his neck, Hayley revokes

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66 her promise. She systematical strips Jeff of the smug pride he exhibits at the beginning of the film, and denies him even small victories like dying without Janelle ever having to find out about his monstrous activities. While Jeff is the film s villain, Hayley's unremorseful and uncompromising deconstruction of her v ictim paints her character as a mean spirited, untrustworthy manipulator. Part of her perceived cruelty is due to the severity of her tactics preceding the darker truths they reveal of Jeff's past. He is bound before it is revealed that he possess es chil d pornography. He is threatened with castration before his connection with Donna Mauer is exposed. He is in a noose before he confesses to playing a direct role in the sexual abuse and murder of Mauer. What appears to the audience as assumption based tortu re is actually meticulously calculated. Just as Hayley seemingly agrees to meet Jeff on a whim, which is later revealed as a day she chose based on the privacy she would be granted due to the neighbors schedules ; she has targeted Jeff after already knowin g of his guilt. The purpose of her forceful interrogation is to get Jeff to admit to himself that he is the wicked person she knows him to be. Before he jumps from the roof, he confesses yet still withholds the complete truth that I didn't kill her. I ju st watched. I wanted to take pictures but he wouldn't let me. It was me and another guy. I didn't do it. I swear. I'll tell you the name, and I'll help you find him. Hayley responds in disappointment, I know his name, Jeff. You know what's funny? Aaron t old me you did it before he killed himself. Her brash actions, in reality, are carefully crafted and what appears to be

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67 unprovoked brutality is supported by information hidden from the viewer. The film is presented from Hayley's perspective and since she is not the subject of the gaze, her knowledge is not intrusively displayed. She controls what Jeff and the audience see and know, thus making her an imposing and terrifying figure despite her small stature. In addition to representing social retribution t hrough false innocence, Hayley also embodies the masculine fear of castration anxiety. She is originally portrayed as the non threatening fetishized image of female beauty. Her objectification is reinforced by the fact she is asked to pose for Jeff while w earing a T shirt that displays an image of an iconic painting. This scene refers back to women beckon to be looked at and the male shapes the female image to fit his erotic fantasy. She is likened to a piece of art and Jeff becomes the patron who bows down in mock worship. He shapes her image by telling her to model the shirt for him and she indulges his desire to gaze by flashing her bra while she is changing. Hayley appears to embrace her role as an erotic object; the shift in power dy namics, however, changes her from the idolized woman to the dangerous and unknown. Her lack of a phallus becomes a threat to Jeff's own masculinity. Clover discusses how horror is a genre that is primarily targeted toward a young male audience. With this i n mind, the abuse that is sustained by the male lead becomes an issue of audience discomfort. Hard Candy alters the horror paradigm by addressing castration anxiety in the literal instead of metaphorical manner. Jeff's situation, while immorally founded, p lace him

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68 in a audience resisted sympathetic role and Hayley in an antagonistic role with male viewers. The film consequently makes both characters unidentifiable due to perceptions of male abuse and moral deviance. While this can be dismissed as a shortcom ing of the film, it provides subversive commentary on the nature of audience identification. Hayley represents a new type of heroine and while she is cold and abrasive, it should be recognized that she possess the same qualities that define idolized male p rotagonists. Haley is cut from the same cloth as a Bogart detective, an Eastwood cowboy, and a Pacino gangster. Yet she is defined as abrasive and cruel. In a review, Desson Thomson of T he Washington Post describes Hayley with her batting eyelashes and a The dismissive attitude towards a raw female protagonist provides insight into the social norms of contemporary American culture which will be discussed in Chapter Five Redefining Convention Violent female charac ters are not a new occurrence in films ; what truly establishes Hayley as a unique character is the combination of her violent actions, clear sexuality, and her young age. The price of a woman's aggressive independence, traditionally in American cinema, is her sexuality. To remain a violent and sexual female often reduces a character to a morally venomous femme fatale. To sacrifice feminine sexuality forces a character to become revered as a masculine heroine who is only female in body but gendered male.

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69 H ayley's behavior echoes those of other cinematic incarnations of violent sexualized women, such as Foxy Brown or Thelma and Louise She is strong, independent, and uses her sexuality to gain advantage over her foes. But unlike those characters, she is just a teenage girl. This broaches the topic of the differences between violent women and violent girls Neal King and Martha McCaughey explain in Reel Knockouts that: Violent women appear in a variety of genres, from classic horror and film noir to 1970s characters are malicious villains; other times they save the world from destruction or just uphold the law. In almost all cases, however, somebody will imply that such action, because done by a woman, falls below standards of human decency. (1 2) The social resistance to accept violent women hinges on conventional representation. An expectation of passivity and submissiveness are violated by the active woman, whether her actions are moral or malicious. Lucy Fischer adds, it becomes clear that the female killer has been deemed more perverse than the male, for she violates obtaining views of woman as life giver and nurturer figurations that do not apply to men (269). As was the case with the femme fatale who frequented film noir, violently sexual women lured the hapless hero into social ruination, emasculation and death. She did not just kill; her violence destroyed perceptions of the nuclear family. Her ro gue sexuality threatened the American way. Fischer states, For [Meda

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70 Chesney] Lind, a similar folklore has attached to the female criminal, another rebel history of male domina warnings to all women that those who defy male authority suffer ignominious (283). Thus the violent woman becomes the image of the wicked and undesirable woman; she becomes an in strument to promote domesticity and compliance. The notion of the invisible obedient woman has greatly diminished as has the commonality of the femme fatale due to the reassessment of polarized gender roles and the growing social understanding of feminism. The highly negative repre sentation of the aggressive woma n has dramatically decreased as society adapts to images of women active in the public sphere McCaughey and King discuss the social changes. They state: Barbara Ehrenreich observes the recent de cline of patriarchy, in which many women became economically independent of men (though often raising children in poverty) and many men gave up the pretense of providing for and protecting women. In this new world, women move away from the moral (and nonv iolent) purity of the Victorian Cult of True Womanhood and onto police work, military service, and a growing self defense movement. Such a culture puts violent women (as heroes or villains) in its movies. (5)

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71 With the increased visibility of women and the separation from archaic tradition, violence becomes normative behavior for men and women, alike. However, for women, that comes at a greater cost. To enter into a world of masculine violence means to sacrifice a feminine identity. Hilary N eroni comments that [v] iolence functions primarily within ideas of complementarity insofar as men are violent and women are spectators and guarantors of violence (92). While the image of the violent women is becoming more commonplace, violence and aggres sion are still viewed as intrinsic to the male experience. Neroni continues, When women react with violence toward the loss or threatened loss of their femininity, they do not regain their femininity, but instead position themselves even further from that femininity and their complementary relationship with masculinity (92). This is the case for iconic heroic women such as Ripley from the Alien franchise, Sarah Conner from Terminator 2 and Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs Women who partake in violence compromise their ability to be maternal. If they care for a child, it is in a paternal sense by offering protection instead displaying a nurturing nature. To be the violent heroine is to be become devoid of a feminine sexual identity. Hayley fa lls between the two poles and is a neither a pure representation of evil or good. Unlike classic femme fatales, Hayley's sexuality is used as a powerful asset instead of being portrayed as a tragic flaw. Instead of using her sexuality to corrupt innocent m en, she lures deceitful men to atonement. Female sexuality has overwhelmingly been depicted as perpetuating deviant lifestyles and moral

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7 2 degradation. Hard Candy subverts the message by presenting the predatory quality of male sexuality and uses the sexuali zed female as judicator. Jeff represents rogue desire which has become dangerous, while Hayley is controlled and capable of speaking maturely about sex. The rules that define acceptable sexual behavior come from Hayley's mouth. She tells Jeff, just becau se a girl knows how to imitate a woman, does not mean she's ready to do what a woman does. I mean, you're the grown up here. She becomes an advocate for protecting young girls from sexual exploitation. She maintains a sexual identity without engaging in s ex. Her comment to Jeff is not about female abstinence but is a remark about social pressure. Sex is not the defining factor in being womanly, and Hayley recognizes that Jeff uses his age to manipulate young girls into thinking sexual activity is what make s a woman. Hayley is reclaiming that sexual identity from masculine interpretation. Her method is aggressive, violent, and unsettling. Hayley's awareness about age and its role in constructing a sexual identity is a major point to note. The film understa nds the social taboo that surrounds pedophilia and uses the discomfort that is apt to be created in the viewer from observing a sexualized fourteen year old to draw attention to the commonplace of objectification of legally aged girls. At one point Jeff te lls Hayley as she flirtatiously poses on the couch, Don't do that . That phony music video crap. The music video aesthetic Jeff refers to is popular culture s version of the exploitive voyeurism that Jeff partakes in, though his desire is outside of th e law. By disturbingly mimicking the behavior of the girls so prevalent in society, Hayley

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73 place s emphasis on the sexual objectifying nature of what has been deemed socially routine. By Hayley being radically underage yet acting in a provocative manner, th e viewer is reluctantly forced to share Jeff's incriminating perspective. This same sexualized lens that objectifies older females is what makes Hayley unique and independent. The viewer is able to recognize her as a hyper sexualized female but she is no t subjugated to the intrusive and oppressive eye of desire by audiences due to the social taboo surrounding pedophilia. She is able to stand as sexually independent and free of a preordained victim status due to her age. Her age is what grants her power o ver the gaze and subverts its appeal. What was once visually pleasurable has become sexually deviant. Her rise to power and her ability to preside over adult men only contribute to the strength of her character. The film emphasizes her power by granting her physical strength. She is able to lift Jeff's dead weight onto chairs and tables and to sustain multiple injuries. While this lifting occurs off camera, the illogical actuality of H ayley being able to accomplish such feats and survive such abuse is overlooked in the narrative. This is not to suggest that she is to be viewed as a supernatural phenomenon or the film lazily cut corners but rather her power operates in a metaphorical sen se. Her female sexuality and identity are able to dominate over the inferior masculine predator. Her physical form belies her actual strength. It is in this sense that the film provides a pro fem ale perspective.

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74 Hard Candy reworks many of the convention s of female victimization within horror cinema, but it is still a transitory piece. Hayley can be examined as an androgynous representation despite her clear flirtatiousness. Her short hair and technological adeptness liken her to Clover's Final Girl but s he is far too assertive and proactive to be categorized as such. Her ability to wield and monopolize control over phallic weaponry demonstrates that she is not merely a passive player in a masculine world. She is not a victim of the male gaze ; rather those who live by the male gaze are victims of her. While Hayley does maintain a clear sexual identity, her power is derived from the combination of perceived female passivity or weakness and m asculine brutality and violence; hence the overwhelming presence of the male gaze and phallic symbols. Hard Candy while progressive, cannot be classified as a purely feminist horror film. Hayley is powerful because she is able to subvert misogynistic conventions for her own gain, not because she, as a woman, is powerful i n her own right. She merely knows how to play the game to her advantage. In a separate film, two years later, another violent, sexual, teenage girl graced the screen who was able to accomplish what Hayley was not, a girl who did not just play the game but devised her own.

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75 CHAPTER 4 TEETH genre. The purpose of the film is about empowerment and refusal of male domination of the female body. What begins as a traditional portrayal of the submissive victimized woman is soon transformed into a violent redistribution of gender power dynamics. Another Victim Teeth like Hard Candy follows a teenage girl who is established as being vulnerable to victimization before trans forming into a symbol of violent, sexual female independence and strength. While both characters begin as victims, their climb to power takes very different forms. Hayley's course is a calculated plan of deception, while Dawn's path is of self realization. Hayley is deliberately seeking out conflict, while Dawn is simply trying to survive within a hostile and exploitive environment. As a result, Dawn is the more honest character because she is not concealing her true identity but rather trying to find and understand it. Dawn is able to find herself and her power through her role as victim and her role as victim is a complicated one. Most clearly, Dawn is taken advantage by a number of men who use varying methods to exploit the attractive and prudent high

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76 school girl who comes to them for help. She falls victim to rape, molestation, deception, and perverse infatuation over the course of the film, but emerges more powerful from each incident. Indirectly, she is the victim of a society that is leery of female sexuality and has taken great effort in keeping the populace uneducated and bound by conservative definitions of morality. Before Dawn is even aware of the societal issues surrounding female sexuality, she is faced with multiple incarnations of male sexu al perversion, manipulation, and aggression. Tobey is the first male she encounters on her rise from victim to self realized heroine. Tobey is initially presented as a like minded individual who shares Dawn's fervor for abstinence. He is quick to support h er comments about maintaining sexual purity until marriage yet confesses to having given in to temptation by masturbating once. He tells Dawn that he's a virgin, in His eyes. It was just once . about a year and a half ago. Still dealing with the guilt While both teens are caught in internal conflict with their hormones and their commitment to abstinence, Tobey is the one who allows his sexual repression to become sexual deviance. Dawn exhibits guilty hesitation in expressing physical intimacy outsid e of gentle kissing yet Tobey continues to push for more body contact. Tobey, consequently, becomes a representation of domineering and forceful male sexuality. His willingness to become a rapist because he hasn't even jerked off since Easter belie his loyalty to abstinence. The purity ring he wears is simple

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77 ornamentation to increase his personal appeal and value to Dawn. When consensual sex is not possible, he refuses to listen to Dawn's insistent demands to stop. The agreeable, conservative character quickly becomes a brutish, sex crazed individual who force s himself upon Dawn, unintentionally knocks her unconscious, and seizes the opportunity for sexual gratification. His need for physical pleasure supersede his adherence to moral, social, and judicial awareness and regulation. The crime that Tobey personifi es is that of extreme sexual abuse. He is the pinnacle of the selfish disregard and exploitation of women as sex objects. His propensity to force himself on Dawn while she is unconscious illustrates how Tobey views her as nothing more than an inanimate ins trument used to help him to obtain pleasure. Tobey stands as the most overt portrayal of threatening male sexuality but Dawn quickly realizes that it can take many forms. After her encounter with Tobey, Dawn's confusion about her anatomy leads her to see k the advice of medical professionals. The gynecologist she visits, however, uses his position of authority for malicious purposes. His demeanor changes upon sensing that Dawn is unfamiliar with the procedure and protocol of gynecolog y He comments, So, I imagine you have no idea what to expect in which she nervously responds, not really. Using the question to assess her naive vulnerability, he proceeds to painfully take advantage of her under the guise that he is checking her vaginal flexibility.

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78 Unlike Tobey, the doctor is a figure of authority and is placed in a position of trust. Tobey acts out of selfish sexual frustration but the gynecologist uses Dawn to exercise a sense of superiority and dominance. His motivation is that he derives pleasure from the pain he causes in others, specifically the pain of the innocent and the naive. His actions are displayed in a hyperbolic manner as he applies lubricant to his whole hand before aggressively inserting his fingers. Despite the noticeable pain he is causing, he maintains a tone of authority when he tells her to just lie back and relax. Just breathe. Breathe through the pain. His unmotivated sadistic misogynistic behavior links him to the traditional villains of first wave horror who torture women f or the mere fact they are women. The other men Dawn encounters are exploitive in more subtle or passively perverse ways. Ryan represents the manipulative aspect of consensual sex. When Dawn comes to his home, he attempts to comfort her as she tries to c ope with the violent consequences of her interactions with Tobey and the gynecologist. His generosity and concern, however, are used to sexually coax Dawn. He provides her with alcohol and muscle relaxers to inhibit her judgment. He ignores her concern abo ut vagina dentata and reassures her that he will be the hero to conquer her supposed abnormality. Unlike the aggressive rapists and molesters she previously encountered, Ryan is the embodiment of passive seduction. His intentions, while seemingly selfless he is the only character who seems to place Dawn's pleasure before his own are undermined by a bet with a classmate.

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79 The interest he has shown towards Dawn through the film were not founded in genuine feelings but were rather a ploy to sleep with her. A s the two are having sex in the morning, Ryan answers a phone call from his friend, Elliot. When Dawn questions Ryan, he smugly admits that we made a bet that I could, uh, you know [gestures with pelvic thrusts]. Dawn responds So, you made a bet about me when I had taken a sacred vow of abstinence? Ryan scoffs, I had a hunch that it wasn't all that sacred. It was though. Your mouth is saying one thing, babe, but your sweet pussy is saying something very different The exchange between the two characters reveals the sexist and deceitful nature of to Ryan's character. He has a blatant disrespect for Dawn's personal commitment to chastity, thus exposing a philosophy that women are sexually animalistic and that their convictions can waiver on a whi m. He reduces her cognitive ability to make rational decisions to what he interprets her genitalia seem to imply. He is blind to the individual and only sees women for their sexual function. He exploits Dawn for her sexuality yet reveals a vulgar aspect of his own sexual identity in a few sentences. Language begins to break down for him as an instrument of manipulation as illustrated by him finishing his thought with sexually implicit gestures as well as his use the infantilizing term babe. His words are also used to

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80 fragment Dawn from a complete individual into a mouth and a pussy. His dehumanization of women is only supported by his willingness to bet on their actions as if they were animals at the track. If the other men in the film are just minor players in the representation of misogyny, then Brad, Dawn's step brother, represents the apex of abrasive, lewd, exploitive men, within the film. His threateningly aggressive demeanor is reinforced by his numerous tattoos and piercings, his willingness t o go to fisticuffs with other males including his father who attempt to distance him from Dawn, and the guttural growls of death metal music that spews from his room. Brad is rarely seen outside of his bedroom, which is comparable to a lair and he is the b east who protects its vile sanctity. The walls are covered in pictures of scantily clad or naked women, death metal posters, and shooting range targets. While Dawn promotes purity, Brad is displayed taking bong hits and exhibiting a penchant for having ana l sex with his girlfriend, Melanie. His hyper sexuality and hyper masculinity are also accompanied by a severe lack of emotional expression and a clear satisfaction for creating displeasure in others. Dawn overhears Melanie arguing with Brad through the wall; she yells fucking bastard, why can't we do it normal like everybody else? Why do we always have to do it that way, Brad? It hurts! I don't want to do it! It hurts! You're not being fair! Like the gynecologist, Brad derives pleasure from the pain of others. He selfishly exploits Melanie's proclamation that she loves him He responds to her

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81 comment of pleading affection by giggling and I love you too. I love your ass. Brad, like Ryan, only views women as an object and defines them by their body. Mel anie is fragmented by Brad and is treated as subhuman because he only views her as a piece of ass. At one point, with malicious mirth, he holds a dog treat against Melanie's teeth and forces it into her mouth when she tries to verbally protest. The actio n can be viewed as a metaphoric rape in which Brad is forcing his will, vis a vis a very phallic dog treat, into his opposing girlfriend's mouth. Brad, similar to Tobey, directs this imposing attitude toward Dawn. Throughout the film, Brad relentlessly h arasses his step sister, often with clear sexual undertones. At one point, he hides in the shower while she is about to undress, which is a reference to traditional horror films in which female characters become victims while bathing. This is further suppo rted by the fact he has a sign on his door which states Who you calling 'psycho' thus linking him to the classic Norman Bates character. Brad is consequently established as the primary antagonist who poses the greatest threat to Dawn's self perception. H e tells her, you know, all that abstinence bullshit? We all know who you've been saving yourself for. And I've been real patient . So why don't you just set that pretty ass down? While he does not force himself upon her, he explicitly states that he is sexually interested in her and proceeds to make her home life as difficult as he can. Melanie represents the defeated female that Dawn is in danger of becoming if she succumbs to Brad's overbearing sexism. Dawn is victimized in different way my the other men, but Brad stands as the

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82 amalgamation of their abusive traits. He possesses Tobey's forcefulness, Ryan's dehumanizing perspective, and the gynecologist's sadistic pleasure. The men, however, are only the products of a society that breeds fe male submissiveness and repressed sexuality. Teeth provides commentary of the higher institutions of religion and education and how they promote gender inequality. The school's sex education lesson is highly uninformative and leaves the students with littl e understanding about their developing sexuality. The teacher lectures his class, that's it, then, for the penis. Let's move on to the . to the, ahem, uh, the next page. The female . privates. He is able to speak easily about male anatomy but express es great discomfort by his speech disfluencies, adding pauses, and improperly addressing female genital ia with vague terminology. The page in the textbook depicting the vulva and vagina is concealed with a large gold sticker while the penis diagram remains uncovered. When the student's question the purpose of the censorship, the teachers replies the state school board has rightly ordered it be concealed, a detailed diagram of . of the . Vulva, interrupts Ryan. The school system's resistance to open ly discussing female sexuality leaves the pub l ic uneducated and, either sexually frustrated like Tobey or sexually exploitive like Ryan. Ryan is the only one comfortable using proper names for the female sexual organs and is self taught on the anatomical f unction yet he is also the one who reductively perceives people by their parts rather than the complete individual. This is

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83 the result of only learning about sex and not sexuality, which recognizes an individual's mental involvement in sex. Aside from s kewing male understanding of the opposite sex and leaving them uneducated, female self understanding is also compromised. When the teacher is struggling to rationalize the purpose of censoring the female and not the male diagram, Dawn lends support by expl aining that girls have a natural modesty. It's built into our nature. Her response illustrates a patriarchal construction of female sexuality. Dawn perpetuates the social norm that women must passively confine themselves and their sexual identities to th e domestic sphere. By agreeing that women are naturally modest, Dawn is naively uninformed of the historical line of male centric societies that defined what was considered proper gender behavior. Genetics and nature have little to do with Dawn's perceptio n. The school system acts as an extension of this history by suggesting that female sexuality is not something for the public realm and should not be openly discussed. Later in the film, Dawn begins to see why the issue of female sexuality has been suppr essed and even demonized. The education system takes an indirect route in instilling this message in the youth while religion is displayed as being much more direct. When Dawn speaks again at an abstinence meeting the day after being raped by Tobey, the ev ent is portrayed as a fevered dream. While she stumbles through her speech trying to rationalize the discovery that she is different, the children in the audience blankly chant the scripture the serpent beguiled me and I ate. She is

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84 interrupted by the pr ogram director, Mr. Vincent, who tells the audience I think what Dawn is getting at is so important, people. Exile from the garden. Though it was not part of God's original plan, thanks to Eve and the devil, we His words are not finished due to a cut i n the scene but the blame religion has assigned women, starting with the Christian creation myth, is made very clear. Women are allied with the devil, and are the product of man. Even before Dawn encounters the abusive men, she's been a victim of social and religious exploitation. She is the victim of an education system that views female sexuality as a taboo topic and leaves the populace uninformed. She is the victim of religious preaching that teaches followers that women are inherently wicked and infer ior to men. The internalization of these messages place Dawn in a disadvantaged capability of achieving self realization and leave her with feelings of guilt and confusion about her sexual identity. She is firmly established as a victim yet still manages t o obtain the self actualization that society tries to strip from her. Realization of Power One of the big differences that separates Dawn in Teeth from Hayley in Hard Candy is the method in which the teenage girl gains her power. Hayley exhibits a transference of power in which she places herself in the victim role and slowly reveals to Jeff that she is the one in the dominant position. She is aware of her capabilities the e ntire time and the viewer, sharing Jeff's perspective, watches as she dismantles his power to expose her own. Dawn, however, is unaware of her power

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85 and as a result is victimized by those around her. It is through victimization that she begins to recognize her power, and what is originally viewed as a cursed abnormality becomes a symbol of female sexual strength once she gains knowledge about herself. Dawn's role as a passive victim becomes less distinct with each misaligned male she encounters. Near the beginning of the film upon meeting Tobey, she is still in full support of conservative definitions of feminine behavior. She is in conflict with her sexual inclinations and her commitment to purity. The perceived weakness men see in her confusion incite th eir exploitive conquests but their intentions quickly sour. The pain they inflict on Dawn is returned sevenfold and she soon begins to understand the power she holds due to her sexuality. Tobey's act of rape is rebutted with his castration and a death due to blood loss. The gynecologist's sadistic abuse of authority leaves him fingerless on one hand and with a drastically altered perspective on the potential retribution that mistreated women can exact. Outside of her natural biological defenses, her char acter also displays a clear transition from passivity to assertiveness, making her a consciously strong individual. Dawn's transformation begins with Tobey in the cave behind the waterfall. She unsuccessfully protests his advances before she is knocked unc onscious by him. In the scene, she is quickly incapacitated and reduced to little more than an immobile warm body left helpless to the desires of her attacker. It is at her most helpless that she comes to discover her natural defense against sexual abuse. Once she fully understands her sexual identity and her body, she becomes a confident and aggressive

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86 individual. Her interaction with Brad at the end of the film, displays a Dawn who directs the action of the scene and is in complete control of the man. D awn's entrance into Brad's domain signifies a direct assault on patriarchal abuse and misogynistic practice. It is the first instance in which she initiates conflict and represents her self assurance in her strength as a female and her confidence in her se xual power. She finally realizes that her own power not only matches the most sexually intimidating male of the film, but exceeds it. She accentuates her femaleness by wearing a dress and wearing a noticeable amount of makeup; this stands in stark contrast to the dingy lair of masculinity she's invaded. Brad's reaction to his step sister is noticeably different upon seeing her dressed provocatively. He does not berate her with crude remarks but rather stares in confusion. His speech becomes broken and there are long pauses between his responses, if he manages a response at all. Dawn's deliberate and purposeful sexual advances disrupt the power balance between the sexes and Brad is no longer the smug, confident individual he was before. Here, the viewer learn s that Brad does not have an anal fetish but rather a vaginal aversion by the unease and hesitation he has towards Dawn's sexual offer. She refuses to have sex with him any other way and it is a demand Brad realizes he must adhere to. He is reduced to the one who is unsure about his sexual identity and is overshadowed by a stronger sexual partner. The tryst between the two which leaves Brad castrated and stripped of his sexuality shows Dawn's investment in not just realizing her own sexual independence but removing threats who hinder the freedom

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87 of other women. Her act of dethroning Brad was in retaliation to his dehumanizing mistreatment of Melanie, his unsympathetic and indirect participation in the death of Dawn's mother, and his perpetuation of female ob jectifying culture through his derogatory lexicon and exploitive wall decorations. The assertive action Dawn takes underscores her change in self perception and illustrates her unwillingness to participate in the indoctrination of the concepts of self alie nation and passivity that is instilled in women by patriarchal institutions. Dawn's change is promoted by her self education on her sexuality. While she is initially complacent and in agreement with the sexism and censorship present in schools, her attit ude changes as she tries to understand her sexuality. Witnessing the violence her anatomy is able to create demands exploration and rationalization and it is through the process of self education that Dawn's self loathing is able to become self confidence. The naivety that made her a victim to her classmates' teasing, a messenger of a restrictive patriarchal belief system, and a target for sexual abuse is replaced by an enlightened autonomous identity. In the beginning of the film, Dawn views her sexualit y as monstrous. Any sexual urges are repelled with a strong sense of guilt. While fantasizing about Tobey, her temptation to masturbate to the thought of what their wedding night would be like is interrupted by image of a giant creature from an old monster movie she glimpsed earlier. The mental intrusion of the abomination into Dawn's fantasy just as she is about to touch herself illustrate s her perception that her sexual desire is something to

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88 be terrified of instead of embraced. The monster, a giant slimy scorpion, attempts to thrust a man caught in its mandibles into its small, sharply toothed mouth. The creature becomes representational of Dawn's fearful reaction to her own body ; her lack of knowledge about the body is transformed into a grotesque compar ison. After being raped and Tobey's fatal plunge into the lake, Dawn's shattered innocence and self conceptualized loss of purity only further develop her fear about her own anatomy. She returns home from the lake and after taking a long shower, sits on t he side of the bathtub with a tight grip on her towel. Her hands twist from anxiety, distress, and confusion on her lap as she hesitantly considers exploring the pubic mound. While she does not, the scene establishes her growing contemplation about her bod y as both a source of personal distress and empowerment Later, she returns to the school textbook with the concealed diagram of the female genitals. Dawn soaks the page in water and removes the obstructive sticker to expose the diagram. She stares at the picture, fascinated before moving her hands to her lap. This stands as the moment of realization for her; by gaining access to educational material, Dawn is able to discover what is normal and unique about her sexual anatomy. The diagram motivates her to seek additional knowledge so that her unusual biology can be understood rather than feared. Consequently, she finds information online documenting the vagina dentata myth as well as the patriarchal rationale behind the mythologies. She reads, in these my ths, the story is always the same. The hero must do battle with the woman, the toothed creature, and break her power . The

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89 myth springs from a primitive masculine dread of the mysteries of women and sexual union. Fears of weakness, impotence . It is a nightmare image of the power and horror of female sexuality. The myth imagines sexual intercourse as an epic journey that every man must make back to the womb, the dark crucible that hatched him. This knowledge starts bringing her closer to viewing the w orld in a critical manner; she begins to question the institutions she blindly followed. Learning that she is the reality from which myth has been built leads her to seek professional examination. Her outreach to the gynecologist only reinforces her buddin g skepticism of male dominated professions that seek to define and abuse female sexuality. The gynecologist follows a tradition of men using medicine to oppress women through ambiguous and self serving rules and regulations. At this point in the narrat ive, she is able to let go of her purity ring and recognize it's true symbolic representation of man's tight control over female ed definition of what is pure allows her to develop as a sexually aware individual instead of being a byproduct of a male desire and turn it into a source of extreme displeasure after determining if the growth as a character provides a message of female empowerment and the strength that can come from self realization.

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90 Defying History What makes Teeth such a progressive film is its ability to depict and subvert historical ideologies of defining what is female. The film references conceptions of female purity, passionlessness, and misogynistic medicine. Gothic motifs, phallic power, and the gendered pub lic/private spheres are challenged and subverted within the film. The result is that Teeth becomes a true venture into feminist horror, and in doing so, challenges the very genre, itself. frage and eighteenth century constructions of the proper woman and continuing to present day issues of sexual equality. Dawn, despite being a present day protagonist, displays mannerism reflecting the 1762 male ide al of femininity. In Emile Jean Jacques Rousseau asserts, A perfect woman and a perfect man should resemble one another neither in mind nor in face, and perfection admits of neither less nor more . Once should be strong and active, the other weak and p assive; one must necessarily have both the power and the will it is sufficient for the other to offer little resistance lack of confrontation with the men who harass her in daily life. While walking to clas s, a schoolmate makes a lewd remark and sprays her with soda yet she barely retaliation, and Tobey attempts to exploit what he perceives as weakness. Rousseau further states, Thus it is not enough that a wife should be faithful, but that she should

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91 be so judged by her husband, by her neighbors and by the world. She must be modest, devoted, reserved and she should exhibit to the world as to her own conscience testimony to her virtue defined purpose revolves around marriage and being able to offer her husband her virginity. Life, for her, is built around a man as well as the social image she must hold once she has devoted herself to this hypothetical husband. Her hap piness is not self made but relies on the presence of a strong male companion in whose life she can be absorbed. In addition to trying to conform to the Rousseau ian version of the proper passive, virtuous female, Dawn also represents the Victorian model o f being passionless. Nancy F. Cott discusses the sexual ideology commonly accepted at the turn of the eighteenth century and into the mid nineteenth. She states, [T]he allow spiritual, hence less susceptible to carnal passion, than men (Cott 220). Dawn attempts to meet this ideal by suppressing any sexual urges; she creates a public persona dedicated to prom oting a message of abstinence which is perpetuated by heavy religious influence. Cott continues, Indeed, the underlying theme that women objectification (224). Women are, thu s, simultaneously expected to be pure, virtuous, and sexually uninterested yet also deceptive and manipulative. They are both disassociated from being daughters of Eve yet expected to develop social tactics

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92 reminiscent of their Original Sin. Dawn, both in name and action, is placed in juxtaposition with the Eve construct. Her delirious nightmare reinforces her separation from the oppressive natural order that she initially believes. Instead of a f female sexuality signal her rise to power. The film undermines and cautions against these patriarchal defined gender roles well before Dawn gives up her subscription to them. When Tobey violently reveals that power and will are not strictly masculine traits. Her unwillingness to sexually submit ends up being stronger than ir confrontation comments on an create. Mary Wollstonecraft argues, a m at. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves (60). knowledge; consequently the male nightmare that develops is the result of society trying to locate women in an uneducated and dependent position. Dawn symbolizes a natural rebellion against this inequality. A woman who does not have power over herself cann maleness.

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93 method of deconstructing patriarchal belief systems throughout history. Dawn represents the male ideal but the outcome of that representation is a source of terror and anxiety. Anxiety as a source of horror is a fundamental aspect of the Gothic genre and while Teet h cannot be defined as being entirely Gothic, it does adapt a number of conventions of the genre to serve its purposes. Within the Gothic, marriage and domestic ity constrict female mobility and slowly push the woman into the realm of being a non person. then her husband are the dictating forces in her life that entrap her in the home. As George Haggerty explains, space is always threatening and never comfortable in the Gothic novel (20). The home thus transforms into an entity that threatens to swallow the female prisoner within its walls. Attempts to escape are denied due to her the husband who will remold her, forever hold her, and whose loving clasp will be li ke a gate closing off all exit is a Gothic husband (21). Like the films of first wave horror, women are placed in a position of pure helplessness. Their narrative function is to suffer and they are denied any power or autonomy. Masse continues, like so m any heroines of the Gothic, the protagonist cannot alter the environment that traumatizes her. Her attempts to modify it by increasing her independence of voice and movement are fruitless (35). The only escape a women is given within the Gothic is typical ly in

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94 madness. Fracturing from social norms and domestic duty can only be achieved by violently shirking acceptability. Marta Caminero Santangelo argues in her book, The Madwoman Can't Speak : Madness is to be celebrated as a complete rupture with constrai ning traditions and stale conventions. [Women's narratives of madness] also mark a distance from the way antipsychiatric thought has been inherited by much recent feminist criticism, from the Gilbert and Gubar school, in which madwomen are subversive rebe ls expressing their rage, to the feminist version of labeling theory, in which madness is entirely explicable as a category imposed on women in punishment for unfeminine behaviors. (17) This basic overview of the Gothic, while minimalistic, provides the gr oundwork which Teeth subverts. Gothic space exists in the film yet it does not dominate Dawn. Confined spaces become locations in which Dawn is attacked. Brad lurks in the shower and his room is depicted as dark and threatening. A small and isolated cave becomes the setting for rape. Yet, she is not confined to these interior locations and moves freely conclusion, she is entirely severed from the domestic and faces an open world. The men, instead, are frequently limited to the domestic. Brad is never seen outside of the house and the interior space of his room has become an extension of his personality. His identity is contained within the walls. His room does contain a di rect

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95 outlet to the outside world but it is only used by his dog, Mother. Ryan, also is most confident and comfortable inside. His bedroom, however is located in the garage of harassed, or attacked when he leaves the safety of the domestic. Tobey, inversely exists entirely in the public sphere; his bedroom is never shown and he interacts only with Dawn away from the home. This creates an inversion of the Gothic construction of the public male; in the film, the more masculine the male, the more home bound he is. The traditional Gothic male figure is also present in the film. Tobey, the future husband she sees in her fantasies, becomes the forceful rapist. His initial charm and a gentle veneer melt away once Dawn is trapped, in this case, by stone walls instead of the institution of marriage. Ryan, as her next suitor also hides behind a selfless aggr to fully possess her, they must control her sexually. For Ryan, this is accomplished through c oercion and deceit. Instead of tonics, he provides her with muscle relaxers to ease her hysterical state, a gesture comparable to the Gothic husband. Given that the Gothic husband was commonly a physician or in close allegiance with a male medical pract Victorian medical practices. His actions echo the tradition, especially present in the

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96 American Gothic literary movement during the late 19th and early 20th century, of the dismissal and marginalization of women th rough the means of medicine. Marjorie Levine Clark, in her article emphasizes this point by explaining: empowerment, challenge marriage laws, and demand the su ffrage for women grew from the 1850s (Steinback 2004, 245 expanded rights and roles used medical evidence to assert their cases, and doctors themselves participated actively in debates on the woman question (Rowold 1996, xviii xix) . Claiming that women un sexed themselves by challenging their natural domestic roles (Showalter 1985, 123), doctors used r serious knowledge (Rowold 1996; Russet 1989). (4 5) Medicine became a way to subdue the unruly woman and to turn both society, as well as the self, against the diagnosed hysteric. Medical science claimed that women, and only women, were susceptible to t his nervous breakdowns. Carrol Smith Rosenberg states, Psychoanalysis can historically be called the child of the hysterical woman. It was defined as an entity that was peculiarly female and has almost always carried with it a pejorative implication (197). The exclusion of the male subject in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous disorders allow ed for a broad dismissal of female

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97 cognitive abilities and asserts male superiority. However, the development of these medical practices and the foundation o f psychiatric care stems from male authorship. The female voice in developing the definitions of abnormal femininity is nonexistent. Elaine Showalter argues Only when hysteria, under the new name it was giving during [World War I], became a widespread m alady of men did the talking cure enter English psychiatric practice. Not feminism but shell shock initiated the era of psychiatric modernism (164). Yet Teeth shows the progeny of medical malpractice. Dawn is given pills and quietly laughed at by Ryan w hen she presents her problem. Mentally instability is the first diagnosis applied to her condition and sedation is the primary treatment. The fact that Ryan uses this tactic for his sexual conquest binds the topics of sex and sanity together. The source of female instability, within Victorian medicine, was argued to be directly correlated to her sex. Marjorie Levine Clark comments, Nineteenth century medical texts emphasized that their ell being, compelling women to walk an incredibly thin line between health and illness, sanity and insanity (Digby 1989; Moscucci 1993; Poovey 1986; Showalter 1985) (4). manipulative male to sexually exploit the distressed girl. The gynecologist of the film provides a more drastic example of this same mentality. He openly assaults female sexuality in the name of medicine. Levine

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98 Clark, states, In his now infamous text, On the Curability of certain forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy, and Hysteria in Females (1866), the Victorian gynecologist Isaac Baker Brown detailed the removal of the clitoris as his preferred ecified in the title (1). While the film presents the abusive nature of male medicine in an exaggerated fashion, it pales in comparison to historical reality. The connection made between female nervous disorders and their sexual organs belie the social un dercurrent comments, During an era when patriarchal culture felt itself to be under attack by its rebellious daughters, one obvious defense was to label women campaigning for acce ss to the universities, the professions, and the vote as mentally disturbed, and of all the nervous disorders of the fin de siecle hysteria was the most strongly identified with the feminist movement (145). Dawn, while caught in this web of intrusive and abusive medicine, is not marginalized or mentally disqualified. The distress that she exhibits vanishes once she fully understands herself; she transcends medical definition and the negative connotation it attempts to place on her mental and physical cond ition. The men who work as agents of patriarchal authority on female sexuality either as a medical doctor or self taught sex expert are the ones bitten for their presumed knowledge and control over the female subject. Ryan and the gynecologist become vic tims of their own practices and are mocked by the surgeons who attempt to reconnect their severed appendages. These

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99 brief scenes in which the viewer sees these confused and helpless men on the operating table illustrate a switch in conventional portrayal. For the gynecologist, the field that once gave him power to define normative female biology now witnesses him bloodied and more willing to sedate himself than to explain his injury. His voice is forfeited, and his self subjugation to anesthesia acts as a d isavowal of his medical authority. He accepts a role as the helpless patient instead of the commanding doctor. Teeth also challenges the conventions representative of masculine power. The cornerstone phallic symbol of the horror genre is exchanged for va ginal symbols instead. There is a noticeable absence of guns, knives and other penetrating instruments; instead, the penis is presented directly and without figurative glorification. While the phallus threatens Dawn, the penis, itself is not presented a s t hreatening. Unlike Hard Candy in which the camera, the gun, and the scalpel are depicted as dangerous weapons, the phallic symbol presented in the most literal of forms is synonymous with weakness instead of power. The film addresses Laura that bleeding wound, she can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it (712). The film legitimizes the male fear of castration, while also re sexing the bleeding wound as male The penis becomes representative of vulnerability. The injured. Their nudity emphasized their maleness as well as their helplessness. Teeth makes it clear that the men are pla ced in the victim role because of their sex and

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100 sexuality, both their anatomy and their desire. It inverts the formula that victimizes women in first and second wave horror. Men are made subordinate against their will ; their assumed privilege over women is what takes them from tormentor to tormented. Inversely, vaginal symbolism is overly present in the story, starting with the a gift, a gift that should be given to her extreme close representation. Metaphorically speaking, his inse rtion into the wrong ring band is responsible for his demise. The womb like cave in which he attacks Dawn, also centric symbolism. Tobey, as man, is intruder in the female coded space. When he tries to dominate the space, he is d isarmed and left to feebly flee. Images, such as the monster on the television, become monstrous versions of vaginal allusion. The creature dominates meta space of the television screen and is able to incapacitate the helpless man caught in its clutches. T he symbol occurs while Dawn is still terrified and perplexed about her own body, and though the image is horrific, the representation is still powerful. The lack of phallic symbols allow for female images to dominate the narrative. On a strictly visual and representational level, women shape the film and men are the marginally depicted. Each motif and theme that is presented, initially appears to conform to patriarchal convention, but as the narrative progress es convention deteriorates.

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101 on as various historical ideals of the passive female break down. Gothic motifs attempt to ensnare her but she evades becoming the diminished pretense of factual evidence and d efinitive authority, is exposed for its fraudulence. Conventional symbolism is taken and transposed to create a female positive representation. Teeth marks a change in the genre because of its keen awareness of history. Following this awareness comes the systematic deconstruction of these conventions of roles, symbols, and social norms. Hard Candy demonstrates the havoc Teeth that rewrites the roles and places men as the clueless and helpless sex in an environment headed by an adolescent girl.

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102 CHAPTER 5 SOCIAL RELEVANCE -No Doubt Just a Girl After analyzing Hard Candy and Teeth the emergence of a third wave of horror is apparent. However, the consequences of the third wave are best understood by examining the social conditions in which these films originated. The world in which girls grow up is far different than the world of m edia representation and to properly place the significance of the two films examined in this study, it is imperative to consider how young women currently perceive their bodies and their sexual identity. By questioning the current state of female self perc eption, we can answer the necessity for change, and how the media, especially a traditionally oppressive form, can instigate progress. The issue of male privilege and female passivity are instilled in children at a young age and are cont inually reinforced into adulthood. Social expectations of gender begin to be noticeable within the classroom as Becky Francis comments in :

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103 tention to the ways in which girls were marginalised in the education system, and systematically belittled and undermined in the mixed sex school classroom and playground. Education policy, curriculum, interaction with boys, and teacher expectations were s how to impact negatively on girls self esteem and schooling experiences. Contemporary research is often more attuned to nuances, contradictions and differences according to race and social class than was the case in the 1980s, but in general findings co ntinue to support, rather than refute, the trends in gendered behaviour that was identified in former studies. (9) Francis illustrates how the topic of gender has not been addressed in the school system despite a growing cultural awareness of feminism and goals of gender equality. Boys are encouraged to adopt a different set of social behaviors which support a dominant and public lifestyle later in life. Francis states, Spender (1982) and Stanworth (1981) found that boys frequently interrupted and talked o ver girls, and ridiculed their contributions (10). An accepted loudness and socially aggressive females are silently being taught that to be feminine is the exact opposite. Th is assumption, thus, pushes women to a marginalized position in which they are not expected to dominate an environment or contribute to discussion. Francis continues,

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104 pupils: Stanworth (1981) found that teachers could better remember the names and characters of boys in their classes than those of girls, and tended to see boys as having greater potential (10 1). This assessment connect s with argument that men are viewed as the doers of society while women hold a passive, domestic role defined by reproduction. A teacher s expectation of boys to continue on in life and achieve success, deprives girls of the expectation for ambition. The educa tion systems that teach these social values later create further lessons of gender inequality. Looking at various studies, Francis points out that girls will take on an assistive role, by mediating arguments or helping with homework, in attempt to gain a p ositive reaction from figures of authority. She states: that girls simply ended up clearing up after boys; and Walden and Walkerdine ehaviours were actually despised by the teachers who girls sought to please. Crucially, in mixed sex interaction, more demanding boys (Francis 1998). This, in turn, enabled such boys to dominate and exclude the very girls who had deferred their powerful positions to these boys (Francis 1998). (14 5) The willingness to give up power and ascribe to a subordinate role lays the groundwork for the social prevale nce of female victimizat ion. E ducation guides

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105 social development of children to accept norms that support dominating masculinity and submissive femininity. With this social foundation set in place, so begins the gradual disassembly of the female self. The body and sexual identi ty become a source of shame and insecurity rather than pride. If school teaches messages about gender inequality, a s and exp ectation s In Exploring the Colleen McLaughlin states : The body is used as the expression and object of distress. Kehily (2002) argues that the body is an important site for the exercise of power (p. 129) . T distress. The body becomes the expression of distress and of the contradictions and paradoxes girls experience around their bodies and sexualities (55) Girls beg an to see their bod ies d ifferently and beg a n to use them as a means to express personal anxiety and dissatisfaction. In Young Women and the Body Liz Frost addres ses the issue of self perception. She states : body, is the change that girls undertake which has inherent difficulties . As Martin . becoming sexually female entails inner fragmentation of the self. A woman must become only a physical body in order to be sexual: . [and]

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106 beyond this th p.21) (Frost 71) The real issue of striving to escape oppressive gender roles becomes lost in self doubt and the fragmentation of the individual. The goal of deconstructing patriarchal belief systems is convoluted by women trying to wage a war between self and body. While men may have similar expectations of achieving ideal representations of masculinity, women are faced with greater social pressure to acquire a specific body image to fit the feminine ideal. McLaughlin quotes Dennison and Coleman, As part of the pursuit of femininity, concerns about body image and body weight are strong . The desire to fit within cultural norms of physical attraction can be a strong drive . Feeling about t he body are central to level of self worth in young women during adolescence. Dissatisfaction with weight or physical appearance can cause much emotional pain (59). Society not only consciously teaches women to be passive and accept a subordinate status, it also promotes a sense of expected body hatred. Frost makes the claim, be seen via a variety of different belief systems as weak, passive, messy, restricting, unhealthy (48). The labels that society hangs upon its construction of traditional femininity are largely negative and illustrate how drastic the portrayal of gender is in a social arena. Frost addresses the root of this bias by stating: The history of man as the generator of knowledge, the interpreter and declaimer of religious and secular ideas, the scientist, the doctor, the poet and

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107 writer, will and has, feminists argue, privileged their own likeness in the scientific and philosophical men exist within these patriarchal versions of who is the pattern and who the deviant. What a woman really is and what a man really is are stories created within a one sided telling. (51 2) Again, men are conne cted to the mind and the creation of ideas while women are chained to the body and biological creation. The question of why social institutions are androc entric male superiority is present th destructive during the age of puberty in which a girl begins to develop a clear sexual identity. Since a dolescence is the age in which the self must be redefined due to sudden physical changes it marks a point of particular vulnerability. Frost comments, It will be argued that the prevalent ambivalent and misogynist attitudes to come specific sexuality, offer girls contradictory and often negative messages about their bodies, which have a detrimental effect on their ability to establish a positive and confident subjectivity (61). Thus, it is not necessarily the female body that is treated negatively but rather the emergence of sexuality. Frost continues, The notion that children may be considered sexually neutral or androgynous, and it is at puberty that girls take on this baggage of gendered sexuality, will be explored as factors in the production of

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108 body hatred (61). Instead of being a time that encourages understanding and acceptance of the sexualized self, as is common with males, girls are instructed to repress and conceal their sexuality. Frost states, . young women are principally defined by their sexual ity, but at the same time denied any pleasure in this . At school, with boys and at home, girls must police their sexual behaviour and attitudes, and must simultaneously resist and comply with the projections of a highly sexualised society (109). To be display of their sexuality. to reduce wom en to confined objects of sex without a sense of autonomy. Girls are suddenly thrust into the role that requires that they dissociate from their sexuality. Constricting the illusion that women are to be appreciated as a form to be looked upon is perpetuated. There opens the divide of the external and inner woman; the outer is expected to adhere to social definitions of beauty, while the inner is expected to be concealed a nd controlled. Frost adds, . stated that their first menstrual blood made them feel dirty and unclean, ashamed and fearful . self and w orth, establishing female bodies as bad and corrupting, (Lee, 1994, p. 85) (73). Thus it creates the cycle of not only the patriarchal society promoting a negative

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109 image of women, but women perpetuating this belief as well. Films like Carrie place the top ic of menstruation within popular culture as a negative identifier of the self. It is here that we arrive at the thematic prevalence of women as victims. Frost states, to a large extent young women still are. Biology, sexuality, sexual reproduction, and appearance, in other words the body in its workings and its presentation, are the areas to which young female subjectivity can be usefully traced (71). Having examined how s ociety constructs unequal definitions of gender, the importance of dismantling these cultural dispositions are necessary for social progress. This unraveling of accepted sexist norms can begin in a number of ways, including the re appropriation of the role of women on screen. The depiction of women as victim has become commonplace, but by challenging the role of passivity, a new image of women can emerge, and herein lies the significance of films like Hard Candy and Teeth Youthful Rebellion Hollywood has seen the commercial and critical success of violent heroines in films such as Alien Terminator 2 Thelma & Louise Silence of the Lambs Kill Bill and many more. As discussed in Chapter Three Hard Candy illustrates the difference between vi olent women and violent girls. The purpose of this study, however, is not to look at the violent woman but the significance of the violent adolescent girl. Looking at social factors that shape the female experience from school life to

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110 perception of the sel f, we can begin to hypothesize on what purpose the aggressive youth archetype may serve. Given that female aggression in society is viewed as a problem the violent girl image in cinema runs the risk of being interpreted as a negative social influence. In the article, Growing up Mean, Lyn Mikel Brown and Meda Chesney Lind explain, provocative because they relay something both disturbing and familiar. This . is why this caricatur e is so dangerous. It is familiar because it conforms to all the old stereotypes we have of girls and women as deceitful, manipulative, complaining and (76). Instead of creating a progressive represent ation, the image of the assertive woman can become counter productive if the media skews the meaning to reinforce sexist generalization. However, the inclusion of violence and aggression into the equation compounds the problem. Jane Brown discusses this in the article : perpetrated by girls is popularly depicted as a new and escalating problem, demanding prompt intervention (Batch elor et al. 2001; Tisdall 2002). Media speculation regarding risk behaviours in girls has contributed to the idea that civil society (Thompson 1998). (63)

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111 If patriarchy views the i mage of the violent girl as threatening to andro centric social order, it is only natural that the system in control would attempt to repress this image and attempt to turn its meaning into something harmful. By studying the real problem girls of society, the negative rationale the media constructs begins to break down. Brown points out that part of the assumed increase in violence in girls is actually in part due to the ir increased public visibility. Public space s that w ere once dominate d by men are now being shared with women (67). To label visible and active girls as problematic suggests the deterioration of patriarchal domination. The male control over public space no longer is definite and women are able to escape norms of expected in visibility and domesticity. As a result, problem girls begin to challenge other gender roles that imply an inherent weakness. Brown state s, [g] irls consistently maintained that if the offensive and etaliate, they would be exposed to further assault and victimisation. As a result, signs of weakness, such as backing down and crying were regarded as unacceptable (72). These real world representations illustrate a separation from the tradition of women as victim, and directly attack the image of passive and fragile femininity. The shift in gender roles has been increasing assimilating into society, and while still deemed deviant behavior, the image of the violent girl is becoming more visible and accepta ble A key point that has not been examined in the analysis of Hard Candy and Teeth is the fact that both are directed by men. While the focus of this study is not about

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112 directorial analysis, it is important to note that the re appropriation of female rep resentation in film is a point also being recognized and addressed by men. In films of the past, the male cinematic construction of women, even when trying to present a progressive portrayal as seen in The Stepford Wives often failed to justifiably remove women from a position of subordination and victimhood or, instead, the heroine is coded female only in body while being gendered male. A common concern feminist critics express is that: M ost feminists oppose violence, define it as patriarchal and oppressi ve, yet often enjoy scenes in which female characters defend themselves, save the day, seek revenge, and get away with it in the end. Many feminists insist that we can and should do better than patriarchs; hence, they celebrate images that eroic power in female terms giving birth, forming community, and remaining nonviolent even in the face of violence. (McCaughey and King 2) Hard Candy and Teeth reflect the progression towards strong, sexually independent female representation. While Hayl ey from Hard Candy displays some overlapping there is a clear separation from the Final Girl formula. Yet director David Slade can still be viewed as creating an aggres sively violent character guilty of the masculinization of the f emale body that McCaughey and King point out. Also, if the film seeks to subvert the genre by transforming sadistic men into the victims, the

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113 unremorseful punishment of the antagonist. Even though Slade does not completely disregard convention, Hard Candy demonstrates a progression towards understanding and undermining the woman as victim tradition of the horror genre. Teeth proves to be an even stronger example of the growing awareness of feminist representation. Director/writer Mitchell Lichtenstein, as an openly gay man, creates a character outside of the hetero nor mative male perspective. A review of the film on After Elton a website dedicated to gay and bi sexual men in the media, explains, [t]he parallel to the treatment of gay sexuality in genre films is obvious: much like female sexual power, gay male sexualit y has long been viewed as a something that needs vanquishing . Teeth feels like a response to films that view decidedly queer (Ayers). The manner in which the film address the protagonist s rise heroine is not violent or masculine by nature but rather exhibits a reactionary empowerment stemming from her disenfranchisement. Since both films were independent features, they can be credited for pioneering the image of the violent adolescent girl that has begun to seep into mainstream high profile productions such as Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011), Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010) and The Girl wi th the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev, 2009). At a glance, the films can appear to be capitalizing on a minuscule revision of

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114 the violent wom a n motif, but if we accept that these films are a response to a cinematic tradition of female victimization, age becomes a paramount factor considering the significance of depicting strong females at an age when women may feel most vulnerable and victimized. The violent girl becomes an emblem of rebellion and defiance towards oppressive social norms. She breaks the character established for the purpose of male spectatorship ; G irl who sacrifices sexual identity for strength. She is proof that when it comes to women, sexuality and power are not two opposing forces. She may come from a background of victimization but it is not what defines her. Her ability to overcome and separate from her past to become a dominant and dangerous figure is what defines her. The fact that the narrative focuses on her during the age of change, the age of budding sexuality and the transition from asexual innocence into maturity, makes the message all the clearer. These girls are not the product of a system that poisons the minds of young girls with messages of inadequac y, helplessness, and hopelessness. The violent girl acts against the tradition of female objectification and punishment of first and second wave horror films. Simply put, the New Woman is really just a girl.

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115 WORKS CITED Ayers, Dennis. Review of Mitche After Elton Logo, 22 Jan. 2008. Web. 01 Mar 2012. Badley, Linda. Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Brown, Jane. Girls: Understanding and Supporting Troubled and Troublesome Girls and Young Women Ed. Gwynedd Lloyd. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005. 63 75. Print. Brown, Lyn Mikel and Meda Chesney Lind. Growing Up Mean: Covert Aggression and the Policing of Girlhood. Supporting Troubled and Troublesome Girls and Young Women Ed. Gwynedd Lloyd. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005. 76 88. Print. Caminero Santangelo, Marta. The Madwoman Can't Speak, Or, Why Insanity Is Not Subversive Rea ding Women Writing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. Print. Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Print Cott, Nancy F. Passionlessness: An Interpretation of Victorian Sexual Ideology, 1790 1850. Signs 4.2 (1978): 219 36. Print. Dika, Vera. Games of Terror: Halloween, Friday the 13th, and the Films of the Stalker Cycle Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990. Print. --. The Stalker Film, 1978 81. Ed. Gregory A. Waller. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987. 86 101. Print. Dixon, Wheeler Winston. A History of Horror New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2010. Print. Fischer, Lucy. s Cinema Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. Print

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116 Francis, Becky. Girls: Understanding and Supporting Troubled and Troublesome Girls and Young Women Ed. Gwynedd Lloyd. New Yo rk: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005. 9 22. Print. Frost, Liz. Young Women and the Body: A Feminist Sociology New York: Palgrave, 2001. Print. Haggerty, George E. Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989. Print. Hard Candy Dir. David Slade. Perf. Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson. Lions Gate Films, 2005. DVD. King, Neal and Martha McCaughey. Movie like This? Reel Knockouts: Violent Women in the Movies Eds. Martha McCaughey and Neal King. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001. 1 24. Print. Levine Clark, Marjorie. Feminist Histories of Medicine. Health and Humanities Reader New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Forthcomin g. Michelle A. In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism, and the Gothic Reading women writing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992. Print. McLaughlin, Colleen. Embodiment, Relationship a nd Agency. Supporting Troubled and Troublesome Girls and Young Women Ed. Gwynedd Lloyd. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005. 51 62. Print. Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Film Theory & Criticism Ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 711 22. Print. Neroni, Hilary. The Violent Woman: Femininity, Narrative, and Violence in Contemporary American Cinema Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005. Prin t. No Doubt. Just a Girl. Tragic Kingdom Interscope, 1995. CD.

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117 Ortner, Sherry. Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? Woman, Culture, and Society Eds. Michelle Z Rosaldo, and Louise Lamphere. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1974. 67 87. Print. Rosemary's Baby Dir. Roman Polanski. Perf. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon. Paramount, 2000. DVD. Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Educating Women to Serve the Family and to Please Men. Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents Eds. Susan G. Bell and Karen M. Offen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983. 42 9. Print. Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1983 1980 New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. 145 64. Print. Sklar, Robert. Movie Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print. Smith Rosenberg, Carroll. The Hysterical Woman: Sex Roles and Role Conflict in Nineteenth Century America. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victoria America New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. 197 215. Print. The Stepford Wives Dir. Bryan Forbes. Perf. Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Peter Masterson. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004. DVD. Sterritt, David. The Films of Alfred Hitchcock New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Print. Teeth Dir. Mitchell Lichenstein. Perf. Jess Weixler, John Hensley. Dimension Extreme, 2007. DVD. Thomson, Desson. Hard Candy. The Washington Post The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 20 Jul. 2011. Wexman, Virginia Wright. Baby Ed. Gregory A. Waller. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987. 30 43. Print.

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118 Williams, Linda. Film Bodies: Ge nder, Genre and Excess. Film Theory & Criticism Ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 602 16. Print. --. Learning to Scream. Horror, the Film Reader Ed. Mark Jancovich. New York: Routledge, 2002. 163 9. Web. Wollstonecraft, Mary. Excerpts from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents Eds. Susan G. Bell and Karen M. Offen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983. 50 64. Print. Wood, Robin. Returni ng the Look: Eyes of a Stranger Ed. Gregory A. Waller. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987. 79 85. Print.