Horror movies often feature a final woman, which is a female character that survives the ending of the movie despite the fact that most or all of the other characters don't. Stephen Graham Jones, author My Heart Is a Chainsaw is a huge fan of the final-girl trope.
Jones states that the final girl is to the slasher just as the silver bullet was to the werewolf. Jones also says that daylight is to the vampire and a headshot to the zombie. They are nature's solution to the violence cycle.
Geeks Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley believes that final girls tap into the natural human tendency to support the weaker. He says that it is more satisfying for a young woman than for an experienced soldier to defeat the bad guy. For a character such as that, it is not as difficult.
Grady Hendrix is the author of The Final Girl Support Group. He says that tenacity is the most important characteristic of final girls. He says they don't give up and never stop trying new things. Laurie Strode (in Halloween) isn't strong or fast, Ginny [in Friday the 13th Part 2] isn't particularly powerful. They keep trying and they never stop.
Although final girls are often seen in movies, the trope is less prevalent in books. Theresa DeLucci, a horror author, says that new generations of authors are exploring the concept of final girls more deeply. She says that final girl fiction is less about them as an outsider and more about how they feel and what trauma has done to their lives. This is how it makes it feel fresh again, especially in the summer.
Listen to the entire interview with Stephen Graham Jones and Grady Hendrix in Episode 482 (above). You can also see highlights of the conversation below.
Stephen Graham Jones, Scream:
I was in Florida grad school and made a deal with myself that I would only go if my writing was constant. I didn't get to socialize or go out much. In 1996, a knock at my door came during winter break. A friend called and said, "Hey, let's go to the movies." I offered him my usual excuse. I replied, Hey man, I'm writing a story. I was sorry. He kept on arguing with me until it became easier to go to the stupid movie with him rather than argue with him. So I went to Scream. I felt like my brain was rewiring itself. It was worth all the work I had done my entire life. It was the same movie six more times, and I have been there every night since, reading about it, writing about and watching it over and again.
Theresa DeLucci discusses women and horror:
My most painful experience was when Ruggero Deodato was guest of honor at a horror convention, while Goblin was performing. They showed House on the Edge of the Park and Fulci as well as Cannibal Holocaust, Fulci and Fulci. In a crowd of 100 people, I was the only woman and I walked out after the third film with the fifth rape scene. I grabbed my boyfriend's keys and was like, "I can't anymore." I couldn't. I went home, sat in darkness and felt nauseated all day. I thought, "These movies are not for my taste." We also see it in fiction, where the sexualization and murder of a female corpse is no longer a popular trend.
Grady Hendrix on death:
Death is the ultimate nameless, faceless, and masked killer who has a unique weapon a scythecoming to all of us. Death is the great equalizer. This is what I love about slasher films like Friday the 13th Part 2. Jason will kill you if you're a badass or a member of a gang. He also kills your girlfriend if you're a good girl. Jason is a master at snatching the best out of douchebags. He also teaches tough guys in gangs how to make other people fearful. Everyone is taken down a notch by death. Jason will knock your head off no matter how high your collar is or how many motorcycles or mohawks you have.
Grady Hendrix, The Final Girl Support Group
As a child, R-rated movies were not permitted. I read about them and made up stories to pretend that I had seen them. I didn't want anyone to think I was a loser because I couldn't watch R-rated films. I bought Fangoria #12 in April 1981 from 8 years old. It had Friday the 13th Part 2. Part two's big twist is that Alice Hardy (played by Adrienne King) appears to be the star of Part 2. She then gets knocked out 10 minutes later. She's just having a normal night. She is still recovering from her trauma from Part 1. Jason then icepicks her head. It was shocking to me how cruel and casual that was. Part of the reason I was so shocked was that I felt connected to her. I didn't want her dying because it was almost like I was dying. That's where the book is really born.
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