[CW: discussions of violence and sexual assault]
There are a fair amount of spoilers in this post; if that’s a concern, click on the provided link to see what films I’ll be talking about.
This weekend I attended [most of] the 10th annual Music Box of Horrors, a 24-hour marathon of horror films from across the world and history of film. It’s only my second time attending, and it’s been great fun both times. Instead of doing a separate post for each movie– which would take a long time and I am so very, very tired– I’m opting to give a brief rundown of fat representation in this year’s lineup, to document my experience as a fat audience member. For extra fun, I’ll include my favorite moments of misandry, as I was pleased to note that a good number of the movies in this year’s lineup had interesting and kickass female characters.
The Phantom Carriage (1921, dir. Victor Sjöström): no fat characters.
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939, dir. Nick Grinde): we skipped all but the last 15 minutes in the interest of getting lunch, but no fat people in the part I did see.
Cat People (1942, dir. Jacques Tourneur) no fat characters.
Misandry Moment: slimy psychiatrist refuses to stay friendzoned by his patient (ick), she turns into a panther and mauls the crap out of him.
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961, dir. Terence Fischer) Leon, the main character, has a fat best friend. Jose is his cheerful, hedonistic coworker; he suggests that the two of them spend their wages at a brothel. Unfortunately, Leon turns into a werewolf and mauls the crap out of him.
The Borrower (1991, dir. John McNaughton) in a group of potentially victimizable young people: a heavy metal (I guess) band is shown filming a music video of a song about how they want to kill their parents. The fat lead singer is an egomaniacal bully; when they hear the neighbor’s dog barking, he goes out to the backyard and sprays it down with the garden hose, laughing all the while. However, the neighbor’s dog is actually the titular serial killer alien, who kills the fat lead singer. (This was a weird one.) His bandmates survive unharmed, while…
Misandry Moment: …the young person who has their shit together enough to load a gun and blast a hole in the baddie is the band’s camerawoman. Also at least three scenes of a female cop shooting and beating up a rapist.
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979, dir. Werner Herzog) no fat people.
Misandry Moment: this film follows the classic Dracula story, except that Lucy is the one who is solely responsible for killing the vampire, while Dr. Van Helsing is a skeptical milquetoast.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014, dir. Tommy Wirkola) no fat people.
Misandry Moment: a professional zombie killing team that is two-thirds women, raising the film’s undead Nazi body count with shovels, shears, and homemade fertilizer bombs.
I went home for a few hours’s sleep, but stalwart Patrick stayed the whole night. His not-entirely-awake testimony is as follows:
Nightmare, aka Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1981, dir. Romano Scavolini) no fat people.
Shakma (1990, dir. Tom Logan) no fat people.
Don’t Look in the Basement (1973, dir. S.F. Brownrigg) Takes place in a psychiatric hospital; some of the patients are fat.
The marathon also plays shorter pieces in between the features; a short at one point overnight there was a screening of “Space Werewolf”, which features a fat protagonist.
I returned for the last two features:
Just Before Dawn (1981, dir. Jeff Lieberman) My cup runneth over. The bad guys are fat psycho hillbilly twins, terrorizing and murdering a group of sexy young campers. The sexy young campers are given harbingers in the form of a large-bodied park ranger (George Kennedy) who eventually comes to their rescue, and a hillbilly family comprised of a friendly but shy waif daughter, a hostile old dad, and a fat mom in an ill-fitting dress who isn’t given much to do except remind the audience that hillbillies are grotesque, I guess? The first killer twin to die is shot by Ranger Kennedy and falls on top of the Final Girl who he is attacking, leading some of the audience to vocalize disgust. It’s pretty gross to have a bloody corpse fall on you, but I feel like the disgust factor was heightened by the fact that the corpse in question is a fat man who looks like he hasn’t bathed in a while.
Misandry Moment: the Final Girl rams her fist down the second killer twin’s throat and chokes him to death while her traumatized boyfriend cowers in the background. One of the campers is murdered after he mansplains a rope bridge in the forest to the girl who lives in the forest and has presumably had her entire life to figure out the rope bridge.
Audition (1999, dir. Takashi Miike) no fat people.
Misandry Moment: it’s Audition.
There weren’t any surprises as far as representation of fat people goes. While nothing was grossly fatphobic, most of the films didn’t incorporate fat characters, and the fat characters that did appear were pretty typical, and in small supporting roles. Hopefully I’ll end up seeing a horror film with a meatier (ha) role for a fat person that I can write about before Halloween; if I have to resort to writing about Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, one of my favorite horror films, so be it.