On Jan. 6, 2013, Box Office MoJo reported that “Texas Chainsaw 3D” has taken the top spot for movies over the weekend, pulling in more than $23 million. Released by Lionsgate Films, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” picks up where the 74 slasher film left off. While a new generation floods movie theaters to see the grisly slayings in 3D, the question must be asked whether horror films, and particularly slasher films, promote violence.
After the deadly Sandy Hook elementary shootings, great attention was placed on the influence violent movies and video games have on society. Though fictional, the 74 classic horror story of the gruesome Sawyer family and their murderous, cannibalistic rampage on unsuspecting youth has become a staple in the movie genre. Leatherface is one of Hollywood’s most notable, fictitious serial killers whose behavior bears a close resemblance to real-life serial killer Ed Gein.
Slasher films are designed to promote fear, dread and psychological terror in those who view them, and a successful movie is one that creates an atmosphere of sheer fright. But are these films simply fantasy? Is there any harm to watching slasher films? Many slasher films mix in sex with violence. What do experts say about the depiction of women being brutally murdered on the silver screen?
One point that must be emphasized, is that the way Hollywood filmmakers depict women victims in slasher movies, varies greatly from the macabre reality of real life crime scenes. Many slasher films portray a psychotic, deranged, evil or even deformed male killer who hunts for beautiful women to sadistically torture and murder.
Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”
Hitchcock also said, “In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director.”
There is no question that female victims in slasher films also serve as sex objects. Yet, Hollywood directors ensure that these beauties never fail to lose their sex appeal, even at the point of death.
When in real life, murdered victims are horrifically mutilated and disfigured, slasher films ensure that their victims retain their beauty. Studies show that male viewers who watch this conglomeration of erotic sex, violence and gore become desensitized to the trauma experienced by female victims as well as violence against women in general.
In the research report “Comfortably Numb: Desensitizing Effects of Violent Media on Helping Others” the study showed that those who engaged in violent video games or watched violent movies had delayed response times when it came to helping those in need. The study consisted of two test groups. One group played violent video games for 20 minutes. After the game’s end and the subjects completed a questionnaire, there was a large fight. The test group took longer to respond to the fight than those who had played non-violent games.
In the second study, participants watched a violent movie. The group that watched the violent movie took longer to help an injured woman who struggled to retrieve her crutches. The study showed that media violence desensitized subjects and delayed their reaction to help in real life situations.
In another study, “Desensitization to media violence over a short period of time,” test subjects watched nine, violent film scenes followed by nine, comedy scenes. The study showed that those who viewed the violent film scenes were desensitized to media violence and enjoyed them more than the comedic scenes. The study also showed that the test subjects became less sympathetic to the victims who suffered on screen violence.
Of great concern, is the way children’s brains respond to media violence. While films like “Texas Chainsaw 3D” are rated R, the truth is there are children who are exposed to these films through their home cable systems, DVDs, or even watching with parents and childcare givers who are oblivious to the harmful effects.
While adults may feel they are immune from negative and harmful effects of violent media, studies show that isn’t the case.
What do you think about horror and slasher films such as “Texas Chainsaw 3D”? Do you feel they are harmless or do you agree with studies that show they decrease sensitivity to violence, promote a distorted view of sex and violence against women, and cause a decrease in compassion and sympathy?
Do you allow your children to view slasher films? If so, why?
Feel free to leave your comments, concerns and opinions in the comment section below.
“Texas Chainsaw 3D” cast
Alexandra Daddario (Heather Miller)
Dan Yeager (Leatherface)
Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson (Ryan)
Scott Eastwood (Carl)
Tania Raymonde (Nikki)
Shaun Sipos (Darryl)
Keram Malicki-Sanchez (Kenny)
James MacDonald (Officer Marvin)
Thom Barry (Sheriff Hooper)
Paul Rae (Burt Hartman)
Richard Riehle (Farnsworth)
Bill Moseley (Drayton Sawyer)
Gunnar Hansen (Boss Sawyer)
Check out the video to find horror movies top ten list of most frightful villains.