Review: The Final Girl: How Horror Movies Made Me a Better Feminist

The Final Girl: How Horror Movies Made Me a Better Feminist

Fanzine, Kris Rose, 32 pgs, Microcosm Publishing, microcosmpublishing.com, $5.95

Kris Rose paints a picture of how she got hooked on horror movies and believe me, it’s Gen Xer to a tee. We all watched these same movies. Offerings from our suburban sanctuary, the video store, were finite. No one cared that these movies were rated R and the renters were ten years old. Stranger Things tells no lies in that regard.

Her thorough analysis of the ‘Final Girl’ trope, where the most morally outstanding woman survives the bloodbath, pulled me right in. I had a different view of women in the genre: it seemed to me that the only resilient girl in any of these movies who wasn’t portrayed as a sex object was Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street. I wanted to hear Rose’s counterclaims, and she did not disappoint. Rose lays out her comprehensive investigation of this motif across several thrillers, starting with classics Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho.

For most of the entries, she sums up her dissection with a list of the lessons learned from the film, and even curates some of the snappier lines. Rose offers detailed examples to bolster her thesis like only a true fan could. The zine reads with the passion of someone who has been waiting for just this audience to present her findings.

The Final Girl is personal and even inspirational, in that it drives the reader to rewatch these movies through rose-colored lenses. I’m eager to see what the author comes up with for her forthcoming zine on the hagsploitation/psycho-biddy genre. Before meta-horror Scream hit cinemas in 1996, the world yearned for an accessible examination of scary flicks and their motifs. As far as I’m concerned, this zine was worth the wait. As Michelle Johnson from Waxwork advises, “Dig it or fuck off.”

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