Sex and the Final Girl: Surviving the Slasher

  • Sue Short


The slasher film’s punitive response to sex is so familiar it has assumed the status of cliché. When horror buff. Randy Meeks Qamie Kennedy), spells out to his fellow high-school friends in Scream (1996) that staying alive means staying virgins he confirms the idea, culled from avid viewing of his favourite genre, that sex and death are closely equated. Moreover, although young men are often targeted as much as young women, it is the woman’s death the camera tends to linger over. By extension, it is female sexuality that tends to be viewed as the principal concern of such narratives. Adam Rockoff summarises the usual detraction as follows:

Those who find the morality of slasher films distasteful generally hold as evidence what they take to be these films’ prevailing mantra: good girls don’t die, but loose ones do. To simplify it further, the girls who refrain from having sex survive, the ones who indulge in their passions die.1


Young Woman Fairy Tale Sexual Mores Free Spirit Female Audience 
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  1. 1.
    Adam Rockoff, Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978–1986 (North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2002), p. 14.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Reynold Humphries, The American Horror Film: An Introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), p. 140.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Kim Newman, Nightmare Movies: A Critical Guide to Contemporary Horror Films (New York: Harmony Books, 1988), p. 157.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Tony Williams attempts to infer that Michael is the victim of childhood abuse but offers no evidence for this claim. Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film (New Jersey: Associated University Press, 1996), p. 220.Google Scholar
  5. 30.
    Jeremy Sconce, ‘Spectacles of Death: Identification, Reflexivity, and Contemporary Horror’, Film Theory Goes to the Movies, eds Jim Collins, Hilary Radner and Ava Preacher Collins (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 113.Google Scholar

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© Sue Short 2007

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  • Sue Short

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