Dead Girl

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I have heard of this movie multiple times before, but this is the first time I have watched it. Thinking about it, I have always been interested in it but have never actually watched it because I was hesitating to watch something this dark (based on the poster and a few blogs). And quite frankly, I was right to assume so. I love the horror genre and enjoy watching various kinds of horror movies, from gore to meta-horror, but this kind (rape-horror) is something that I truly am not comfortable with.

I feel like there are so many aspects of this movie that make me uncomfortable, but for the same reason, make it a successful horror film. The first is the fact that it puts an interesting but horrific twist on the zombie character. It deviates from the standard idea of what a zombie is, meaning that the undead in this film is not the virus-triggered decaying flesh-eating aggressive kind that we are accustomed to. On the contrary, the “dead girl” in this movie appears to be physically normal (except for the non-healing wounds), is not aggressive until provoked and is of an unknown origin.

This is disconcerting for two reasons. The first is that zombie fans would not know what to do with this kind of zombie. What I mean by this is that I am sure that I am not the only person in the entire world who has dreamt of a zombie apocalypse and believes that they will be able to handle the situation. But this belief comes from watching how characters in zombie movies adapt to survive, such as how to kill zombies or finding the cure of the disease. And, all this information is based on the typical zombie character that has been used in several popular movies. Thus, watching Dead Girl makes a zombie fan quite uneasy because of the idea of a sudden apocalypse with zombies that we are not prepared to deal with.

The second reason is that the normality in the appearance and behavior of the dead girl may sometimes confuse the viewer. To be more specific, there are times that it seems as though she is a living normal girl. There are even moments when the viewer might think that she actually comprehends what is happening to her. The frequent shift of conceptions throughout the movie makes it quite horrific. When the viewer starts considering that the girl who is tied up and constantly raped by a number of boys is an actual person and not an “abomination,” then it becomes a possible situation that can happen (or may already be happening) in real life. This idea is the one that bothers me the most because it breaks the barrier between fiction and reality that I find comfort with in horror movies.

I think that the fact that I can handle horror movies well is that I know they are separate from me, that the moment the credits show, the story ends and does not continue in my life. But the fact that I am not entirely sure about the fictionality of the story or of the dead girl herself is truly an uncomfortable and terrifying thought.

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Dead Girl

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The movie “Dead Girl” releases in 2009 shows a very western culture, one that is not as accepted here in the Philippines. The first scene depicts the 2 lead actors leaving school and finding themselves in a deserted asylum. Here, they find what seems like a dead girl in a bodybag. As they investigated, they discovered that this girl slash creature is restrained, but cannot be killed. JT, the stronger character of the two then decided to use the lady as a sex slave. While at first Rockie, his companion, strongly disagreed with this action, the movie will then show him doing the same act to the girl of his dreams, Joann.

This movie didn’t really scare me because of some cultural factors. For one, kids in the Philippines do not have the same values as the ones shown in the movie. Cutting class and going to deserted asylums (if there are any here), are not a fashion in this country. Rape is seen as a crime, and women are highly respected. This is perhaps why this movie, though very violent and straight to the point did not appeal to me. The idea that what is happening in the movie is for one, not extremely scary with loud noises and surprises, and two, far from happening in the circumstance I find myself in, or so I think. The movie does not contain the usual ghosts and scary monsters that hunt down people, but instead, talks about a moral issue that would be highly discussed here.

Rather than being scared, I was disturbed by how Rockie’s character turned out to be. He was the “good guy” at the start, and seemed to have a good stand when it comes to his values. The rather quick and unexpected change when it came to his role both surprised and disappointed me. The hero in the movie turned out to be like ever other bad guy presented. The loss of hope gave me a sad feeling after the credits rolled down.

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Dead Girl presents a Cabin in the Woods-esque question about monsters and their origins while pulling together character studies in the tradition of Triangle’s Jess’ descent into darkness, yet one of the most striking things about it lies in its function as a movie about the male gaze. Or is that all there is to it?

At the risk of over-intellectualizing the movie and shunting aside all the big, humanistic issues, I like to think of Dead Girl as more of a macrocosmic metaphor for the human condition, as opposed to an anthropological sort of observation on human behavior. As already mentioned by multiple sources, the women weren’t the only ones forced into rigid generalizations. The movie was patently unfair to men, as well.

There are many ways of looking at Dead Girl: as a very basic pseudo-study on human behavior (boys will be boys?), as a question of sexism/feminism and how society forms and perceives women (“it’s just like in a magazine”, “like a porno”), or even as a commentary on the differences and effects of socioeconomic norms on the consequent actions of a generation born into dead-end level strife. There is enough evidence in the movie for any of these theories to hold water. For example: while both literally and figuratively hidden away in the margins of polite society, J.T. defends his actions by asserting that the three main boys “[didn’t] have far to fall.” But the film doesn’t argue that only the lowest common denominator can be monstrous or horrifying: one need only to have a very small lack (say, a blowjob) to feel that there is a hole that needs filling gross pun intended nor does the movie try to delude us that only women suffer from the effects of sexual objectification. These considerations have helped me conclude that there’s more to the movie than each of these individual messages. Sexism, human behavior, morality, and even social strife; these all serve as brushstrokes helping paint the picture of the greatest uncertainty in the film, which is also incidentally the most basic one: the question of enslavement and what is, exactly, human.

As a woman, I can’t leave the obvious points untouched. By turning the Dead Girl into a creature that is less-than-human, into a simple sexual object, she is enslaved not only by the chains binding her to the bed but also by the mismanaged perceptions of the boys who put themselves in charge of her fate. Even Joann couldn’t escape this, either in the way Rickie thought of her, in her actually being turned into a zombie, or even in how she was presented as a character. Or were we never supposed to think of Dead Girl as human, considering that she is technically “just” a corpse? How then does that translate to Joann, who couldn’t escape the ties that bound her to the movie’s title character?

The men share in this treatment, though not as obviously at the start. The Dead Girl struck me as a metaphor for female sexuality, at least in the way most societies today still perceive it as dangerous. In J.T.’s attempts to control her, he ends up enslaved by it, guarding it as the main driving principle in his life even as it inevitably leads to his death. In fact, the women in Dead Girl are all hazardous creatures: craving the love and attention of the idealized standard (Joann) leads to beatings in the schoolyard. Trying to force a “real” living woman to submit to their whims earns the boys humiliation and pain. Only the model-like dead girl is controllable, though ultimately the deadliest thing of all.

When speaking of identifying the familiar in horror, it’s galling to realize that the actions of J.T. and Co. reflect various psychological studies and, worse, true stories that pop up in the news once in a while. While I have no intention of generalizing the male gender, the movie does make its argument based on several observations about teenagers, specifically boys in this case; the importance of sex in their development, questions of practicality vs. morality, and peer-pressure. These things only add to the sense of discomfort that characterizes the movie.

I’m not going to say if I think it’s a good film or not, or even if I enjoyed it in any particularly sordid sort of way (for the record, I didn’t), but I will say that Dead Girl was very interesting and that it’s the sort of movie I would love to sit down and discuss in greater detail someday.

Dead Girl?

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Dead girl offers a dark view into the male psyche and how sex in the minds of human masculinity can often be perverted and twisted. The boys in the film take sexual gratification to the extreme. In the past, zombies have always been used as an allegory and a metaphor to the dehumanization of man. George Romero’s Land of the Dead offers a critique against capitalism and the undead as mindless masses. In this case, however, the director made effective use of the idea of the zombie to critique another issue prevalent in society today, which is rape and sexual violence against women. Dead girl herself is a zombie, a mindless creature who was once human. As such, in the act of rape, one could do the reading that zombie girl herself represents the dehumanized and objectified woman as the object of the said act. It is not the monster or “dead girl” who feasts on the characters, but rather for the major part of the story, it is the humans who feast on the “dead girl” (in a sexual way).  Because of this, most people found this movie unbearable to watch and deeply traumatizing, accusing it of having a pro-rape agenda and whatnot for containing so many scenes of such terrible acts. Yet in this sense, and through the reactions of most, I believe the film ultimately succeeds its goal, especially when it is geared mostly to a male audience. It is not to celebrate rape and sexual violence but rather to criticize it and depict the horror in which some men can objectify women. I myself and my male classmates are repulsed by some scenes, which is I think is a positive reaction since it is a testament to how we ourselves are horrified by the act. Rape destroys both parties, trapping the does into further into hopelessness.

Another critique this film poses is the social dynamics that most teenagers face. Teenage repression, not only sexual repression, happens throughout the story. There are themes of bullying, rebellion, of anger and hopelessness. J.T., Ricky and Wheeler are young high school students who are not really popular in school. This was the equilibrium or the status quo they are in that is established at the beginning of the film. All they could do is to stare at girls and exchange juvenile jokes. Ricky in particular, is attracted to a girl who is a former classmate with whom he had a romantic fling in the past. This is unrequited as the girl has seemingly forgotten him and already has a popular jock boyfriend. Thinking there are no other means of breaking out from their situation, they vent out their anger through destruction and vandalism. This destructive mindset transgresses into rape as J.T. and Ricky find the dead girl.  J.T. justifies their act. “There is nothing better we can get!” giving of a sense of hopelessness. Through having power over this “secret” of having a chained sex toy, for once they’ve felt in control.

Undying

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When our professor told us that we are going to watch “Dead Girl”, I simply sighed for I had watched it before and had been disgusted with it. I knew how the movie turned out. For me, it was a bad film. Sure that it was a different kind of horror film one usually sees.

It started out with two high school students in a small town who were bored of their lives and decided to skip school one time. They wandered of and found an abandoned hospital. They decided to drink booze and break things to have fun and to let their feelings out for a bit. They were not familiar with the place so they searched for something that interests them. One of the boys, JT, the more adventurous guy dared, Ricky that they should go to the basement where he thought scary. Ricky agreed and suddenly JT disappeared. Ricky believed that it was a prank because he knew that they were the only ones in the building. Yes indeed, JT was just trying to scare the hell out of Ricky. But suddenly, a huge black dog came out of nowhere so they ran and went through a small passage and ended up with a room barricaded with shelves and was locked. That was the only room at the hospital where no one seemed to want people to get in. Of course if there’s a door with locks on it and was like all the furniture were put in front so no one can enter, there was something hidden. It was a mystery to the two boys so their curiosity struck in. They wanted to know what’s inside. I guess they believed that they got nothing to lose to know and besides, they were there anyway. It’s better to know what’s inside than to keep on thinking about it until you can’t sleep. Once they were inside, they saw this naked girl, with arms and legs chained at the bed. They saw her and she was alive. Ricky was scared and asked JT that they should leave her. JT could not help himself to touch the girl because for him, it was an opportunity. It was not everyday that they could see a naked girl that they can touch and play around with everyday. Because at their town, they had a small role and they were just ordinary high school students. Ricky left JT with the girl. Few days passed, Ricky can’t help to think what’s going on with JT because he was absent in school so he went back finding out that JT stayed at the abandoned hospital for days. JT showed Rickie how the girl seemed undying. No matter what he do, strangle the girl to death, shoot her at the chest, the girl was fine. So JT had an idea that they should seize the moment and have sex with the girl. Ricky, being a nice guy, turned down JTs idea but JT pushed through. It for me was kind of inhumane thing to do, since they know that the girl was like “dead”. They sure want to keep it to themselves but JT wanted a companion. So he told the secret to their schoolmate Wheeler. Ricky stayed away from them and even tried to free the girl but there’s always someone or something that kept him away to free it. Until then, JT and Wheeler found out that when bitten by the girl, being undying was contagious so they decided to look for someone prettier than the girl to have a nicer “toy”. It ended up with them capturing Ricky’s childhood sweetheart. Ricky tried to save the girl but she got bitten. JT and wheeler died and the dead girl got out of the hospital. Ricky’s childhood sweetheart in turn replaced the dead girl. Ricky even chained her to the bed and dressed her with nice clothes and put into a better-lit room at the hospital.

For me, the horror of the film was not from the dead girl but with JT. JT in the film got out of his head and he did all he can to keep the girl even it was wrong. The idea that he thought of the idea of having sex with a corpse and replacing the dead girl with a better or more beautiful one made him a maniac. And at the end, for all we know Ricky was a good guy but it turned to be he was just like JT becoming a maniac. The film showed how crazy people sometimes do immoral things just to get what they want.

 

Horror Film 3: Dead Girl of Doom

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If the dead refused to stay dead what goodness can that bring? If people that have passed stayed behind how would that affect our lives? The living dead theme is something that boggled the minds of people and would spur different emotions. Seeing a dead person acting “alive” would surely shock somebody down to the very core.

The film, Dead Girl, focuses on such a concept. From the title itself, I was watching out how a Dead Girl would pose to be frightening. I initially thought it would be a supernatural ghost type of horror since that’s where dead girls frighten us the most. But seeing it to be an American film, I looked at other ideas. The film begins with normal highschool students minding their own business. The scenes soon pan to our great hero and his best friend who then decides to play hooky. They then go to an abandoned hospital and thrashes the place while drinking some alcohol. After talking about scary stuff while consuming their last few cans, they decide to go to the tunnels of the hospital which was really spooky. In the tunnel, they get chased around by a guard dog who seemed out of place. They soon try to find a way out without meeting the dog again. This is where they chance upon the plot device of the film. It came panning out in front of the screen lying harmlessly on a bed, restrained and all. A dead girl. On a bed. Naked. How horrifying can a chained plus immobile being be? The movie progresses and we learn that the naked chick is a zombie. That’s kinda scary if you think about it. But for the bestfriend of our great hero, this girl’s going to be a hole to bust through day and night. I thought to myself, what an imbecile. Dead people should be respected while Zombies should be decapitated. The movie revolves around the existence of this zombie chick getting banged while our characters(mostly the hero), cause trouble to the humble solitude of this chick. Things get a little crazy everytime a person tries to free the chick or someone new finds out about the chick. The grand highlight of the film is when they learn how the zombification works and they try to make more zombie chicks. Things go crazy as our sexy beast gets loose and wrecks the joint. In the end the dead girl runs wild and free into the lands of America while our hero suddenly indulges in the sick practices of his majestic bestfriend, all because his the girl he likes got turned into the new dead girl.

The movie presents a great example of the impact of horror situation in a film. Film genres usually occur with a sequence of normal-notnormal-normal. The sequence shows the hero in a normal situation followed by something unexpected or amazing that changes everything in his life and when the conflict is over it goes back to how things were. But for the horror genre this sequence would prove to be quite improbable. As horror movies tend to destroy the people’s life and try to mend back its broken bits afterwards for a peaceful closure. For Dead Girl, we get that exact formula. We have normal high schoolers passing their days in the confines of the school and frolicking in the fields afterwards. Then they encounter the dead girl, get jiggy with it. Incredible stuff happen like disappearing nards, exploding butts, wrestling with strippers and ultimately dead people. The movie then ends off with the hero reliving the happiness and serenity of the first scenes sharing fun times with his girl. The movie ends with the feel good scenario of the beginning of the film. But then again, a lot has changed and everything is not really back to normal. He has two of his friends dead, as well as two jocks. He’s got a dead chick to play around with. And America’s got a zombie chick running around its vast lands.

In totality, it wasn’t really a bad film but its contents were truly despicable. It has its charms too, like Noah Sagan’s amazing acting. But in the end the movie got me real bad and I found it totally unlikeable. I also tried looking up the actress who played the dead girl and she is gorgeous and all but everytime I look at her pictures I remember the dead girl biting at the screen.

 

Nights with the Living Dead Girl

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Before the film started, it was said that Dead Girl won’t be a very likeable movie, and looking back, it really does its best to make you not like it. Discussing with a friend before the start of the movie I said, “I bet it’s something about necrophilia!” I guess i should be thankful that it’s technically not, but it still deals with some very gruesome topics of discussion. No matter how weird you and your friends are, these sort of things naturally won’t pop up in conversation. “Ok, what ifffff.. you find a zombie girl that’s handcuffed in an abandoned hospital, naked, what would you do?” That’s really the first time I’ve ever typed that sentence in my life, and still faced with this issue throughout the movie, you wonder, how could these boys do these things?

As most people have mentioned, I believe the horror isn’t just in the fact that there’s a zombie that can infect other people by biting them but when someone engages in sexual intercourse with it it’s all fine and dandy, the horror lies in the reality that there is a possibility that somewhere something as crazy as this, something as gruesome as this is happening. Man, with all his achievements and with all the opportunities around him still isn’t content, there are still those few who are tempted to doing these gruesome things. You see pointless killings, cases of rape, robbery, and you wonder how these people can do these things? In Dead Girl, you have these desperate guys, mesmerized by this creature that they discovered. Being a man, I understand that they do have needs, some urges, after all they are human, and I guess the repression couldn’t be contained anymore by JT and Wheeler, with Rickie doing his best not to let his other friends see what is boiling inside of him as well. I’m not really sure what the movie is trying to be, if it’s trying to have this deep social context in it, or is it really just a crazy horror film, and it’s just the viewer that finds the movie, somewhat so real, which makes it that much more horrifying.

What gets me everytime I watch a horror movie is some missing plot points, and I know from experience that I shouldn’t expect much, but still, not being a regular horror movie viewer, I get caught up in looking at the plot points that weren’t explained fully, like the girl in the gas station, it seemed so random that she would out power two guys, and the disappearance of the infected, but thankfully clarified again in class, horror film is not really the best place to evaluate plot. What was said about not explaining key points in horror films, I thought that it worked well in Dead Girl, yup there’s this zombie, we don’t need to know where she came from, she’s just there. I think looking back, in The Cabin in the Woods, it is a bit corny when the whole thing was explained, sacrificing to please the old Gods, but if you look at it as a tongue-in-cheek horror nudge than a serious plot point then it’s not so bad.
In the end, Dead Girl was a pretty bitter pill to swallow, but still, a pill that, with all the rape, blood, intestines, and cliche high school students, does bring in a scary thought for the viewer. It’s not the monster that we should be afraid of, it’s the capacity of the human being to do evil. One of the parting shots of the movie was the dead girl running away in the fields; I thought that it was such a telling symbolism of how the monster, yes she did eat up those who abused her, but still, running away from what happened, far from those that did horrible things to her, comparing it to how the guys treated her, it’s as if she was more afraid of them than they were of her.