Nice Girls Don’t Snap Their Teeth

Ginger Snaps (2000)
Dir. John Fawcett
Starring Emily Perkins (Brigitte), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger)

“Ginger Snaps” is a fun piece of Canadian cinema that manages to somehow feel Canadian without being obviously Canadian-made. But that’s not the focus of this post, just an aside. The real focus of this post is something else entirely: horror films (featuring female protagonists), the subject of which is teenage sexual anxiety. “Ginger Snaps” is one such film.

In a nutshell, “Ginger Snaps” is about two teenage sisters – Brigitte and Ginger. Morbid loners, they amuse themselves by staging death scenes and photographing them, and generally stay on the outskirts of their high school’s social scene (the archetypical deliquents, mentioned in previous posts). One night, Ginger is bitten by something (what we later find out was a dying werewolf). As the film progresses, Ginger slowly transforms into a lustful, savage creature, finally mutating completely into a monstrous wolf.

Out by sixteen, or dead on the scene.

Out by sixteen, or dead on the scene.

As I mentioned above, “Ginger Snaps” is really about sexual anxietes. Ginger’s transformation into a sex-crazed beast is most certainly a metaphor for puberty and the hormonal changes that accompany it. It’s a neat take on a common fear among teens: that sex is a transformative thing, and could potentially change you into someone different or even, dare I say it, a monster! See also: my post on Buffy, wherein I elaborate a bit more upon the concept of sex changing formerly civil people into bloodthirsty monsters. But again, it’s not the anxiety that I’m interested in, it’s the movies themselves. Did any of you readers see “Teeth”?

Warning: Sex changes everything

Warning: Sex changes everything

It came out a couple of years ago and is about, well, a girl who, after being raped, discovers that she has teeth inside her vagina that will bite off the penis of any man who dares to stick his in there. And yes, the film contains many severred willies. Besides the obvious shock value inherent to such a premise, the film focuses primarily on the same themes as “Ginger Snaps”, being teenage anxieties about their changing bodies and raging hormones. The caption under the poster above is actually what is written on the girl’s t-shirt in the poster: “Warning: Sex changes everything”

Here’s another great example of this kind of film:

Every time she kisses a boy, it starts a fire...

Every time she kisses a boy, it starts a fire...

Yep, you read that right: “Nice Girls Don’t Explode”. Made in 1987, this movie is about pyrokinesis as a result of sexual stimulation. In other words, every time she kisses a boy, it starts a fire. While “Nice Girls Don’t Explode” is listed as being a comedy, its premise could easily be translated into the horror genre. After all, a girl who causes things to explode when she becomes aroused is no more ridiculous a concept than a girl with a fanged vagina. Incidentally, I have never seen “Nice Girls Don’t Explode”. Have any of you readers had the pleasure?

I’d just like to wrap things up by commenting on the fact that, as a horror buff, I have always been interested in how the horror genre reflects the anxieties of the time and culture in which it was made. In the 1950s, for example, everyone was scared of the Red Menace and the threat of atomic war, and if you look at the horror films from that time period you’ll see that most of them are concerned with giant, radioactive mutants, the “inescapable result of nuclear holocaust!”. But whereas the atomic mutant pictures of the 1950s or, more recently, the xenophobic torture porn of the 2000s, are part of trends in the cycle of the horror genre, the teen-angst-over-sex picture has never seen it’s own horror trend. Instead, it always seems that one of these movies will pop up once every few years and, in a way, reiterate a certain truth: sex has always, and will always, make teens at least a little nervous.

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~ by sosayeththewatcher on June 28, 2009.

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