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Entertainment Weekly: Women and Horror

420px-LauriestrodeblueA recent copy of my wife's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY magazine for July 31, 2009 includes an article with information that I found surprising. The piece is titled "Horror Films...and the Women Who Love Them!" by Christine Spines.

I was not surprised to find an increasing presence of the feminine in horror, and that this has reshaped certain expressions of the genre. In a previous post I discussed how gender has shaped the vampire icon, but what I did find surprising was Spines' claim that women are now the major viewers of horror films, which in turn is changing not only the way women are depicted in the genre, but also the types of horror films being produced. An excerpt from the article discusses this:

"I don't think there was anyone who expected that women would gravitate toward a movie called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," says Chainsaw producer Brad Fuller of the 2003 remake, which became a female-driven $81 million hit. "For us, the issue now is that it's harder for us to get young men into the theater than women who are, like, 35 years old at horror movies and they're like, 'Oh, our husbands are with the kids and we all came out together,'" says Clint Culpepper, the president of Screen Gems, which is releasing a remake of the 1987 slasher film The Stepfather in October. "Men stop seeing horror at a certain age, but women continue to go on."

Far be it from me to question these filmmakers since they conduct careful market research in order to determine the demographics of their audience, their viewing preferences, and how films can be tailored to meet audience desires. But in my experience most women don't care for horror, and at present it tends to be teenage fare across gender lines, and a form that also appeals to men beyond "a certain age." This article calls this into question and adds another cultural element into the mix for the evolution of horror films.

Personally I don't care which gender produces and consumes horror so long as it is quality material that is offered. If the increasing involvement of women in horror results in silver screen scares like The Descent then I'm fine with it. It it shifts us increasingly toward the Twilight end of the spectrum then I hope the trend is short lived.

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