Murdering men
: recontextualising and redefining the killers, victims, and survivors of the slasher subgenre

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The slasher subgenre is one of the most maligned and misunderstood cultural phenomenon of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. A psychoanalytical approach applied selectively to key sequences of a small selection of texts led to the formation of early slasher theory and created the basis of our academic understanding of this subgenre. This has resulted in the contexts and subtexts of the slasher film being overlooked or omitted in favour of the application of abstract theories to either reinforce or critique this understanding provided by a few key theorists. Further research into the cultural, historical, and political contexts and subtexts of the slasher film alongside the many methodologies that applied after the early slasher theory period is required to find an alternate approach to base subsequent studies on.

To achieve this, a new theoretical framework must be established that treats the slasher film as a cultural artefact rather than as a psychosexual ritual or a social aberration. This new framework will be created through close readings of the slasher franchises that are most representative of the subgenre, examinations of the culture that generated these texts, and by contrasting them against less maligned cultural artefacts. By distancing ourselves from moral judgements, essentialist readings of gender, and assumptions about a non-existent homogenous audience, we can reconnect the slasher film to its cultural, historical, and political contexts. Alongside this, the slasher film’s major components, the killer, the victim, and the survivor, need to be redefined and its meaning and structure need to be recontextualised. This will allow us to re-examine the slasher subgenre from a new perspective that will position the slasher film as an important element of North American culture that reflects the horrors of modernity.
Date of AwardJun 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMurat Akser (Supervisor) & Victoria Mc Collum (Supervisor)


  • Horror
  • Masculinities
  • Masculinity
  • Cultural analysis

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