“Just because it’s a love story doesn’t mean it can’t have a decapitation or two.”Robert Englund, Wes Cravens’ New Nightmare
Horror movies. Love them or hate them you most likely have a hardline opinion on them. Few have apathy for the genre. Some love gore, some love to be scared and some find those things to be damning to the soul and would much rather see these movies never be made again. Can we find a universal redeeming quality for one of my favorite genres? Maybe and that is what we’re going to look at. I believe Horror movies are really romances at heart, from the male point of view.
Obviously, what we’re seeing onscreen is “real” in terms of the world these characters are living in, So we’re dealing with this from the point of subtext and not a literal interpretation.
The typical killer in these movies are normally male and pretty masculine. They’re representative of the id and all the primitive instincts that make it up. Sexuality, Aggression and instincts. There is no ego or super ego to keep them in check, they couldn’t care less. Their driving force is satiety.
The typical survivor girl is almost always female, hence the term, and more akin of the ego and superego. They’re the ones struggling to keep control against the ID. This is why they’re often virtuous and innocent in the beginning.
Now that we set the tone for what I’m arguing, we can start to examine the micro aspects of the genre, like the weapon almost always being subtext for a phallus. Normally it is a blade of some sort, be it a sword, knife or machete. Why? Because at some point the survivor girl is going to be penetrated by the knife or cut somehow and this is subtext for sexual penetration. Masculinity and femininity combined as one, occasionally resulting in the monster themselves being impaled later on by their own weapon, in role reversal. I’ll elude more to this below.
The friends or other victims are almost always shallow and that’s because the ID isn’t friendly to what it wants. I know a lot of us critics will point out that these characters need development and while I stand by that, the killer’s perspective couldn’t care less. When they’re men, they represent competition for what the ID wants and need to be dispatched and when they’re woman, they’re just “sexual” fodder, due to not satiating the unbridled carnality.
The endings usually see the survival girl “kill” off the monster, which is subtext for the lust being quenched by the object of desire and as stated above, the monster being penetrated, normally in the heart area, as subtext of falling in love, which juxtaposes with the females often being stabbed in the uterus area, as if being impregnated.
So why monsters as analogy, vs aggressive men? Men are often vilified for their desires and what they would do to achieve those ends. This is the enteral plight of the individuals fight with the ego, albeit not exhibited onscreen, but rather in how the villain is perceiving themselves and showing us who they feel as if they are.
Horror and romances even have similar plot points within the story structure. Meetcutes for instance, when the future couple meets for the first time. Halloween where Michael is standing behind the bush is an example of this.
While not exhaustive, when you examine these main points, all of this makes the horror-slasher genre really a love story from the point of the male libido.