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In her essay The Stalker Film, 1978-81, Vera Dika "examines the role of point-of-view and the 'masculine' controlling vision" (4) within the Stalk and Slash genre. By applying some of Dika's considerations to Jaws, we can begin to understand the implications of the shark attacking Chrissie Watkins.
In a Stalker film the killer's presence is indicated primarily by the musical score and a series of distinctive shots. The most famous of these shots is the moving camera point-of-view shot, which stealthily approaches an unsuspecting victim…Through repeated usage within each film and across the films of the cycle, these shots have become conventionalised and have established a set of expectations that involve the viewing audience in a guessing game: "Where is the killer?" "When will he strike? … Since the spectator shares the [shark's] point-of-view…so often during the course of the film, it might be assumed that [the viewer] is made to identify with the killer. This…is only partially true. The structure of identification [within the] film allows the viewer to identify [only] with the [shark's gaze], but not with [its violent attacks]" (5)
Within the Stalk and Slash genre "the characters presented by the point-of-view shot are the objects of sexual investigation and/or the intended victims of the killer." (6)
These young victims are "portrayed by attractive, energetic actors who radiate good health and normality, they engage in activities that facilitate the spectator's voyeuristic enjoyment. The soon-to-be victims may bathe, frolic, make love … but they never perform narratively significant actions. Their activities are transitional, and, in terms of the narrative development, static. It is primarily the killer…who [has] the means to drive the narrative forward." (7)
Quotes1) Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc, 'Horror Films' Pocket Essentials (2001) (2) Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc, 'Horror Films' Pocket Essentials (2001) (3) Martin Rubin, 'Thrillers' Cambridge University Press (1999) (4) Vera Dika, 'The Stalker Film, 1978 - 81' taken from 'American Horrors' Gregory A. Waller (ed.) University of Illinois Press (1988) (5) Vera Dika, 'The Stalker Film, 1978 - 81' taken from 'American Horrors' Gregory A. Waller (ed.) University of Illinois Press (1988) (6) Vera Dika, 'The Stalker Film, 1978 - 81' taken from 'American Horrors' Gregory A. Waller (ed.) University of Illinois Press (1988) (7) Vera Dika, 'The Stalker Film, 1978 - 81' taken from 'American Horrors' Gregory A. Waller (ed.) University of Illinois Press (1988) (8) Dan Rubey, 'Jaws in the Mirror' taken from 'Jump Cut' Issue 10/11 (1976)
--James Rose for http://www.un-reel.co.uk/jaws.htm
- Recycled Culture in Contemporary Art and Film : The Uses of Nostalgia - Vera Dika[Amazon US]
The reuse of images, plots and genres from film history has become prominent in contemporary culture. In this study, Vera Dika explores this phenomenon from a broad range of critical perspectives, examining works of art and film that resist the pull of the past. Dika provides an in-depth analysis of works in several media, including performance, photography, Punk film, and examples from mainstream American and European cinema. Proclaiming the renewed importance of the image and of genre, she investigates works as diverse as Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, Amos Poe's The Foreigner, Terence Malick's Badlands, and Francis Ford Coppola's One from the Heart. Her study positions avant-garde art work within the context of contemporary mainstream film practice, as well as in relationship to their historical moment.
- American Horrors: Essays on the Modern American Horror Film (1987) - Gregory A. Waller (Editor) [Amazon US]
The Stalker Film, 1978-1981. (Vera Dika) The elements that define the stalker film as a specific sub-genre of modern horror: recurring character types, cinematic techniques and plot fuctions as well as its organisation of themes and values into a series of binary oppositions. Halloween, Friday 13th, Prom Night, The Burning and Hell Night are considered.
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