Author: Carol J. Clover
Original publication date: 1992
Consider the risk that film studies professor Carol J. Clover took when she started work on her seminal Men, Women, and Chainsaws. At the time, slasher movies, exploitation flicks, and hard-R-rated horror movies were almost universally charged with being misogynistic exhibitions of females getting stalked, objectified, and ultimately slaughtered in tasteless ways.
Cover sought to look past the surface-level carnage to probe the deeper layers of films like Halloween and I Spit on Your Grave. As she sees them, horror's darkest pictures offer challenging, if subtle, interrogations of female empowerment and male identification with femininity.
That might sound like difficult to imagine for those who despise the horror genre, but, if you fall into that category, give Men, Women, and Chainsaws a chance and see if Clover isn't able to convince you otherwise. At the very least, you'll hold in your hand the book that first introduced the term "final girl" to describe every slasher flick's virginal, well-meaning heroine who lives longer than her more promiscuous friends. —MB