A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part Six: The Final Chapter

Already missing Halloween? Me too.

Much to my dismay, this October featured only one horror movie release with Carrie. The next installment of Paranormal Activity (we’ve had one every October for the last three years) was moved to 2014, but moviegoers were able to catch a preview before screenings of Carrie, and it looks like the film features an almost entirely Latino cast–a great decision on the part of the producers, who know that the typical opening-weekend audience for a horror movie is 35 percent Latino and growing.

That got me thinking: What else would I like to see happen in the horror genre in the next few years?

1. Paranormal Activity 5 will not just be the first U.S. horror movie to feature a primarily Latino cast, it will also be one of the few possession stories in which the possessed character is not a pre-teen girl. Most of these narratives specifically equate a young woman‘s coming of age to the possibility becoming evil, and though the connections can be telling I’m tired of hearing that it’s only girls who are vulnerable to negative outside influences during adolescence.

2. Representation of minorities in horror can and should increase across the board. With horror, no one can make the argument that people won’t go see a movie about black people or Latino people or women. Horror fans will go see anything if we think it can scare us. We do not need the black dude to die first. In fact horror provides a perfect place to deal with subjects that make us uncomfortable in other contexts, like race.

3. I’m loving that zombies are popular, but they have the potential to do so much more than ask “how will people behave at the end of the world,” a la The Walking Dead. Unlike today’s zombie stories, George Romero’s classics did not assume that race and class would disappear with the apocalypse; in his movies, how people behave at the end of the world also says a lot about how our world works now. Oddly, the only pre-apocalypse social structure that remains in place in contemporary zombie stories is gender roles. I’d love to see a zombie apocalypse flick that either deals directly with class, race and gender–or does not automatically put women in charge of laundry.

4. The horror audience isn’t just more and more Latino, it’s more and more female, which is why I can’t wait for someone to write the first Latina Final Girl–the woman who makes it to the end of the movie. The weapon with which she gets the killer? A broken crucifix that falls off the wall during their last fight. Her tagline? “Only Jesus comes back from the dead, vato.”

And that, my friends, is the Final Chapter of “A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies.”

Or is it?

[Final jump scare. Credits.]



Holly L. Derr is the Head of Graduate Directing at the University of Memphis and a feminist media critic who uses the analytical tools of theater to reflect upon broader issues of culture, race and gender. Follow her @hld6oddblend.