How have women’s roles changed in postmodern horror films?
A woman’s role in horror films has changed, the power women had in their roles and the importance of their roles in the old horror films such as ‘Dracula’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The shining’ has now changed to the sort of power they now have in postmodern films such as ‘Silent hill’, ‘Cabin in the woods’ and ‘The descent’. They are the beauty that seduces and captivates the creature. This is best summed up by the character of Carl Denham in King Kong when he said “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast”.
In many of the old horror films in the early 1900’s such as; ‘Dracula’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Phantom of the opera’, the female role is played by a young woman and is usually seen upon as the object of the creature’s desire. In ‘Dracula’ the women is held captive by Count Dracula and is saved by male protagonist. The film Psycho, released in the early 1960’s, was considered very controversial as it showed an unmarried couple in bed together, which at the time was unheard of. This then led to a trend in women nudity in horror films and making it acceptable for unmarried women and men to be having sex. Psycho also had the famous shower scene in which Lila Crane (Vera Miles) is stabbed to death in the shower by her killer. This scene also demonstrates this particular woman’s vulnerability and by doing so it then exposes all women’s helplessness in these types of old films.
In postmodern horror films females tend to play a stronger role. This includes playing the role of the main protagonist, main antagonist and playing the majority of the characters. For example, in ‘The descent’, It is an all-female cast with the exception of one male character who dies at the start of the film. In films such as ‘Resident evil’ and ‘Silent hill’ the main protagonist is a strong female role which is a contrast to the old horrors with the weak female role with lack of control. Here it is interesting to look into how the roles contrast from the old horrors to the postmodern horrors. In ‘The cabin In the woods’ there are two female main roles which both contrast each other, one being the stereotypical ditsy blonde who ends up being killed and then the smart, virgin girl (to be seen as pure) who makes it through to the end. Here the comparison between the modern characters can be drawn. The modern women roles can still show some behaviours that also follow old stereotypes such as the damsel in distress.