All that blood and violence. I thought you were supposed to be the love generation.
August 16, 2011 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Give me horror films that purposefully defy or invert the traditional conservativism of horror movie conventions.

Here I'm thinking of e.g. the tendency in teen slasher films for the virgins to survive (and the sooner you have premarital sex the sooner Jason/Michael/Freddy comes to kill you), the minorities to be killed, etc. Please do not feel restricted to teen slasher films.
posted by shakespeherian to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

Evil Dead had a male final girl.
posted by cazoo at 8:29 AM on August 16, 2011


In 28 Days Later, much like most zombie movies, the crew spend their whole time trying to avoid becoming infected. However, when the protagonist has to rescue everyone else, he abandons his humanity and wilfully takes on the mannerisms and psychology of the infected in order to rescue them. The camera even uses the same visual flourishes on him as the infected in that scene. Usually, in this sort of film, it is implied that the humanity of the still-humans that helps them make it through the plague. In this case, it is the opposite.
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

Dale and tucker versus evil.
posted by TheBones at 8:35 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Night of the Living Dead had an interracial relationship. I believe the couple lived.
posted by Gilbert at 8:41 AM on August 16, 2011

The Tv Tropes horror tropes link may be useful to you. I don't remember the term that community uses when a trope is inverted, but they are often noted in the "Examples" lists on the bottom.
posted by Think_Long at 8:54 AM on August 16, 2011

@Gilbert. Night of the Living Dead did not have an interracial relationship. It had a black protagonist who met the white female protagonist, but there wasn't so much of a "relationship" there, as there was bonding during a crisis.


The real reason it was special is that there was a black protagonist at all in a movie from 1968, AND he ended up being the "leader" who survived the night while all the white people died. Of course the clean up crews sweeping for zombies end up shooting him dead anyways.
posted by utsutsu at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Cherry Falls was great-- in concept.
posted by kimota at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Wicker Man (1973, not the BEES! version)


The virgin is the only person killed, and the pagans get away with it.

posted by michaelh at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2011

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane offers perhaps the ultimate twist on the usual slasher film rules. Despite that, film's not actually very good.

[spoiler on mouseover]
posted by permafrost at 9:10 AM on August 16, 2011

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a movie which acts like a behind-the-scenes documentary portraying a slasher discussing horror tropes and the mechanics behind them and their adherence. Some tropes are inverted and some are obeyed in clever ways but to say which of the two is done with which tropes would be to give spoilers, and it's a really good movie which is worth watching.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't remember the term that community uses when a trope is inverted

Playing with a Trope gives the "official" list of variant forms of a trope, inasmuch as such a thing can be official, on a loosely controlled wiki. Inverted, subverted, and averted are probably the most relevant to this question, although averted tropes are generally not noted as examples unless the aversion is very rare within the genre. Unofficially, a lot of variant forms tend to be called "subverted" by lazy Tropers regardless of whether they match the listed description of a subverted trope.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:31 AM on August 16, 2011

Behind the Mask doesn't necessarily invert the tropes, but it certainly discusses and dissects them with a fond but critical eye. Plus, it's a pretty good movie.

On preview: what famous monster said.
posted by AmandaA at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2011

Cabin Fever is a hilarious subversion of several classic horror tropes - the antagonist is an infection, so there's no boogieman or jump cuts of things creeping up, the Survivor Girl is a guy, the die-off happens in pretty much the opposite of the traditional scale order of 'least chaste' to 'most chaste', etc etc... pretty funny.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hostel 2

This was also the thrust of the whole Scream series.
posted by mkultra at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I haven't seen the Scream films for a long time, but my memory is that they purposefully stick to horror tropes while calling them out.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:09 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is entirely about this. Some of the tropes Whedon intentionally violates are:

-Cheerleaders are Bad Girls
-Cheeleaders/girls in revealing clothing are victims
-Never go down dark alleys (alone)
-Blond Girls are dumb
posted by bonehead at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2011

You want to see the great indie Canadian Ginger Snaps films. I'm not sure if you could say it's purposefully inverting the tropes, but with two strong and complex female characters in the lead, it definitely passes the Bechdel Test.
posted by Lieber Frau at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Shakespeherian: Yeah, Scream did a lot of that. Sydney makes fun of the "large breasted girl running up the stairs when she should be running out the door", but then does exactly that in a later scene. There are other examples as well.
posted by utsutsu at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2011

The Descent

The cast is entirely made up of strong-willed independent females. No stereo typical virgin innocence required for survival. These are real people with lives outside the movie.


The monsters don't appear until more than halfway through the film and it's a damn scary/suspenseful "(wo)Man vs. Nature" film up until that point, anyway.

Much like in 28 Days Later referenced above (another of my absolute favorites in any genre) the protagonist's humanity is not what saves her, it's when she gets pushed too far and snaps/taps into the monster inside her that she is able to defeat the monsters.

She doesn't actually win. Everybody dies.*

*If you can, get the cut with the original European ending. It's darker, better and makes more sense in the world set up in the movie.
posted by wmeredith at 10:58 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whichever of the Friday the 13th movies involves Jason going into space includes a joke at the expense of these tropes (though I believe the rest of the movie leans heavily on them) - in order to distract him there's a holographic scene of teenagers saying stuff like, "I know! Let's have premarital sex!" and he duly runs over and starts trying to kill them.
posted by nickmark at 11:19 AM on August 16, 2011

Oh, here's a spoiler for Doom of all things but:

The big, badass soldier played by Dwayne Johnson/The Rock, and around whom the movie (and advertisements) center, turns into the Final Boss characater.
posted by griphus at 11:21 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: SPOILERS

It's been twenty years since I've seen it, but Cast A Deadly Spell featured a Lovecraftian creature who turned on its summoner when it sensed the sacrifice had just lost her virginity.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2011

Isn't the original Friday the 13th an example of this?


They spend the whole moving setting up the boogieman legend of Jason, and in the end its his crazy mother that did the killing.
posted by mannequito at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2011

One more - the second Hills Have Eyes movie (the original from the 80s, not that smelly Hollywood bowel movement of a few years ago) has a blind girl as the heroine, although that she will be the survivor is pretty much spelled out from the get-go.
posted by mannequito at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2011

Response by poster: I think maybe I should clarify my question-- I'm interested in the oft-remarked-upon conservative worldview enforced by horror films, as in like many horror films are the detailed punishments of people who have premarital sex (Warning! TVTropes!), and I'm looking for examples of movies that purposefully run counter to this sort of embedded conservativism.

Simply altering conventional horror movie tropes isn't really what I'm looking for.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:21 PM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: In that case, part of the plot of The Faculty revolves around one of the characters cooking up and selling his own drugs (amphetamines?), which are used to reveal which people have been taken over by aliens. He survives and doesn't get punished for tweaking.
posted by permafrost at 12:31 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry, a bit light on specifics - I'm not sure you mean it has to be a slasher film that follows genre conventions closely but veers very deliberately away from it by, as you say, switching the stereotypes around or whether you mean any horror film that deals with those things in a more complex way or less dogmatic way. (Unconventional vs aconventional or something like that?)

I haven't watched it for a while but you might find something along those lines in Deathproof. The female protagonists are pretty unconventional but I can't remember the specifics as to whether it really deliberately goes against the tropes or is more like a rape-revenge movie a la Last House on The Left.

I would maybe look at Cronenberg's films - I don't know whether you could describe Videodrome as conservative but it revolves around people getting a hallucinogenic cancer from watching pornographic films that in turn makes them violent and murderous. Shivers is definitely related to this kind of subject but again I'm not entirely sure how it comes across morally. His earlier films seem closer to critique from within the genre whereas the later ones seem less bound by that kind of structure.

And you can make what you want about the politics of Lars von Trier's Antichrist. (I think it's about a kind of dark, insipid, implied misogyny.)
posted by pmcp at 2:04 PM on August 16, 2011

Cthulhu, was the story of a gay man coming home to his small home town, and dealing with his fathers religious bigotry.

The bigotry of terrible monster fish worshipers.

I believe he had some promiscuous gay sex, and still survived the fish monsters.
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:33 PM on August 16, 2011

posted by iviken at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2011

Teeth reaffirms then subverts tropes, with fascinating results. (Two words: vagina dentata.)
posted by Lieber Frau at 4:07 PM on August 16, 2011

Hard Candy
posted by mkultra at 4:53 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The main characters in Pitch Black are: a convicted criminal, a butch woman, a muslim (?) and a androgynous young girl.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 5:53 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Ginger Snaps. Werewolf films have long been associated with masculinity, in particular male puberty (e.g. I Was A Teenage Werewolf and Teen Wolf). Ginger Snaps is about female puberty, and ties the onset of menstruation and emergence of the secondary sexual characteristics with transformation into a female beast. It's awesome.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:20 PM on August 16, 2011

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