Horror, Halloween, and Hegemony: A Psychoanalytical Profile and Empirical Gender Study of the “Final Girls” in the Halloween Franchise

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Florida Southern College
The purpose of this study is to determine how the perceptions of femininity have changed throughout time. This can be made possible through a psychoanalysis of the main character of Halloween, Laurie Strode, and other female characters from the original Halloween film released in 1978 to the more recent sequel announced in 2018. Previous research has shown that horror films from the slasher genre in the 1970s and 1980s have historically depicted men and women as displaying behaviors that are largely indicative of their gender stereotypes (Clover, 1997; Connelly, 2007). Men are typically the antagonists of these films, and display perceptible aggression, authority, and physical strength; on the contrary, women generally play the victims, and are usually portrayed as weaker, more subordinate, and often in a role that perpetuates the classic stereotypes of women as more submissive to males and as being more emotionally stricken during perceived traumatic events (Clover, 1997; Lizardi, 2010; Rieser, 2001; Williams, 1991). Research has also shown that the “Final Girl” in horror films—the last girl left alive at the end of the movie—has been depicted as conventionally less feminine compared to other female characters featured in these films (De Muzio, 2006; Lizardi, 2010). This study found that Laurie Strode in 1978 was more highly rated on a gender role scale for feminine characteristics, while Laurie Strode in 2018 was found to have had significantly higher rating for masculine word descriptors than feminine. The results show that examining femininity throughout generations of women in this classic slasher film franchise can therefore help determine how gender stereotypes have changed within the forty-year time span between the 1978 and 2018 Halloween films as a function of time and age.
Honors Thesis Spring 2021
Halloween, Horror films, Femininity in motion pictures, Stereotypes (Social psychology), Women's studies