“There are Certain Rules that One Must Abide by”: Predictors of Mortality in Slasher Films

  • A. Dana Ménard
  • Angela Weaver
  • Christine Cabrera
Original Paper


Slasher films, a popular and lucrative sub-genre of horror movie, are often thought to be characterized by violence, gratuitous sexual content and specific, repetitive tropes; however, although these tropes have been widely discussed and even parodied, there is scant research examining their validity. Thirty top-grossing slasher films (10 each for the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) were subjected to content analysis at the level of the individual character to examine the factors associated with character deaths or survival. Characters who were shown nude on screen, who dressed in a revealing fashion, who did not engage in fight behaviors against the antagonist and who engaged in fewer types of pro-social behaviors were more likely to be killed. Several common tropes of slasher films (e.g., virgins survive, ethnic minority characters die) were not supported. The implications of these messages of which characters are depicted as “deserving” of survival are discussed in terms of gender, sexual scripts, and agency.


Media Content analysis Slasher film Sex Gender role Just world 



We would like to thank Angela Taylor for her assistance in data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

A. Dana Ménard, Angela Weaver and Christine Cabrera declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Dana Ménard
    • 1
  • Angela Weaver
    • 2
  • Christine Cabrera
    • 3
  1. 1.Student Counselling CentreUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Guelph-HumberGuelphCanada

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