Date(s) - 10/28/2021
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Marc Olivier, Professor of French & Italian, will present for the Humanities Center’s weekly colloquium on Thursday, October 28th. The presentation will be held at 3:00 PM in room 4010 JFSB.
Title: “Tools of the Trade: A Statistical Analysis of Slasher Hardware”
I have conducted the first empirical study of slasher weapons, based on a corpus of 119 U.S.- or Canadian- produced (or co-produced) slashers from 1974–2019. Rather than focus solely on mainstream box-office hits, I have created a corpus that represents popular franchises, cult classics, and low-budget films that only a die-hard horror fan could love. I have included fourteen films from the 1970s, beginning with Black Christmas (1974) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), followed by forty-two films to represent the prolific golden era of the 1980s, twenty from the 1990s, twenty-three from the 2000s, and twenty from the 2010s. In total, I have recorded 1,177 deaths. I tracked tools used by the aggressor (the villain) and the attacked (the victim) for each kill, and for the fighting sequences leading to each kill. Among other details, I recorded kill locations and the gender, age range, social class, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation of the aggressor and the attacked. In adopting a data-driven approach, I aim to demystify the received slasher “rules” and to question ideas that have been overdetermined by confirmation bias. Other statistical studies of slashers have had a corpus of anywhere from ten to seventy-four films, and all but one have focused on testing Clover’s characterization of the “Final Girl.” My study is therefore unique in scope and in its object-centered analysis.
Marc Olivier is Professor of French Studies at Brigham Young University. He is author of Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects (Indiana University Press, 2020) and series editor for the forthcoming Icons of Horror series with Indiana University Press.