"I'm convinced that these films are a primordial response to the women's movement."
- Gene Siskel on Slasher Films
Whatever the underlying reason was (we'll leave that to the armchair sociologists); the fact remains that the surest way to get killed in a slasher film is to take your clothes off. If you plan on taking a shower or a skinny dip in a slasher movie, go ahead and expect an untimely death at the hands of the boogeyman.
Heck, even removing your pants and chillaxing in your underwear is grounds for swift and immediate execution. Even worse, appear just a teensy bit slutty or horny..... aaaaand you're dead. Slasher bad-guys may spare the "pure" one, but the "tainted" guys and gals gotsta go.
In this post, we'll focus on the ladies. After all, they're killed way more often and creatively than the horny guys. The "dude deaths" are often just an annoyance to get through before the slasher kicks it up a notch. Or it serves the purpose of setting a mood of impending doom; making the girl's death more anticipated and chilling. For instance, in Halloween II, the deaths of the security guard and horny hot tub dude aren't particularly memorable.... however, they certainly amp up the tension and fear.
So, let's focus where it counts - those dirty dames that must be punished. Enjoy.
Friday the 13th
Marci (Jeannine Taylor) makes the terrible, terrible mistake of having sex with Kevin Bacon. And for that she must pay with her life. Jason's mom, Pamela, makes her pay for her sins via an ax to the forehead.
Friday the 13th Part 2
Terri (Kirsten Baker) decides to skinny dip by herself. Never a good idea in a slasher film. She soon discovers she's got a pervy Peeping Tom who steals her clothes. The Peeping Tom is summarily killed and subsequently so is Terri. Bad, bad, Terri.
Friday the 13th Part 2
Sandra (Marta Kober) has a critical lapse in judgement when she has sex with Jeff. Not just because it'll get you killed in a slasher film, but because Jeff is an idiot. Sandra is killed when Jason drives the spear through Jeff, her body, the bed and into the floor. Was it worth it, Sandra?
Friday the 13th Part 2
Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor) commits the grave error of convincing fellow counselor, Mark, to have sex. Unfortunately, Vickie and Ted never have a chance to consecrate the bedroom - Jason puts the kaibosh on that plan lickety-split via a slash to the stomach.
Friday the 13th Part 3
Debbie (Tracie Savage) commits a double whammy when she not only beds down with Andy, but then takes a shower! This chick must have had a death wish; a wish granted by Jason via a kitchen knife.
In the scene above, Andy is competing in a ridiculously lame juggling contest. Debbie tells him: "There are better things he could be doing with his hands." At that point, I knew her days were numbered. I'm not certain Jason heard this dirty talk, but he could sense it.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Sara (Barbara Howard) not only has sex - which we've established is a no-no, but she does so in the shower - and we all know how homicidal maniacs feel about showers. In a slasher film, this is like jumping into a shark tank wearing a suit of Vienna sausages.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Tina (Debi Sue Voorhees) reluctantly agrees to sex in the woods with her boyfriend Eddie. A terrible mistake. She should've stayed put at the Pinehurst Youth Development Center and read a good book. But she didn't, and subsequently had her eyes gauged by a pair of garden shears.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Lana (Rebecca Wood) would've been just a sad innocent case - a seemingly senseless murder in the back of a diner. But no - she had to agree to sex with her boyfriend Billy. And thus, the die has been cast. Although she never actually has a chance to have sex with him, the intent is there. Indeed, Lana's excitement when she freshens up in the restroom (exposing her breasts to herself in the mirror) all but guarantees a swift punishment from the resident serial killer.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Pat Hemingway gets randy in the mineshaft - for that she must pay dearly. A pick-ax through the back will teach her a lesson.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Denise (Linnea Quigley) is supposed to be babysitting. Instead, she's fooling around in the basement. Not only is she slutty, she's irresponsible as well! For this, Santa puts her on the "naughty list" via impalement on a pair of deer antlers.
The Boogeyman (1980)
I don't know Jane's sexual proclivities. However, I do know that she strips down to her undergarments in preparation for a shower. And we all know that shower spells "dead" in a slasher film. Sometimes it's a false scare (i.e. the fake-out intro shower scene in Funhouse); however, this time it's the real deal, and poor Jane must kill herself with a pair of scissors. At least Jason did the dirty work himself.
The Burning (1981)
Karen (Carolyn Houlihan) makes the all too common mistake of skinny dipping at camp. There's nothing these campside slashers hate worse than a pretty dame shedding her clothes to take a swim. Karen does so (in an uncomfortably prolonged scene) and is punished with a pair of gardening shears. Cropsy don't play.
Is there a better example out there of the "naughty girls must be punished" trope than Lynda (PJ Soles)? She's the textbook slutty friend who has forbidden sexual relations and thereby must die at the hands of "The Shape" as John Carpenter called it. It's a rather deep concept when you think about it.
Halloween II (1981)
Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) wants to arrive late for work, neglect her hospital duties, and fool around in the medical hot tub with her boyfriend. This behavior is bound to infuriate Michael Myers, who values a good work ethic. Subsequently, the only sensible thing to do is dunk her in the superheated water till she dies.
Cheerleader Camp (1988)
When all the girls are sunbathing on the rocks and only one was topless, I knew immediately who would be the first to bite the dust. And when this girl, Suzy (Krista Pflanzer), gives a Peeping Tom the middle finger, I knew this display of confidence and rebellion would not be tolerated by the slasher film industry. As expected, Suzy is found with her wrists slashed. A suicide? I think not.
Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Kimberly (Debra Deliso - in the blue top on left) not only shows some skin in the locker room, but also inadvertently gives a couple of pervy guys a peep show at the house. This is purely innocent behavior, but a rule's a rule. No onscreen nudity must go unpunished.
Subsequently, poor Kim, after barricading the door, has the killer emerge from the window and stabs her to death. That'll teach these kids to undress in locker rooms and the privacy of their own home!
Terror Train (1980)
Want to get randy on the railways? Fine. Quite obviously, the characters are oblivious to the Cosmic Justice being plaid out. Cabin Fever, a movie which everyone on the planet enjoyed but me, took this trope to its most absurd and extreme level. In Terror Train, Pet (Joy Boushel) sheds her clothes for her costumed partner, wholly ignorant to the fact that this has just sealed her fate.
"There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie! For instance, Number One: You can never have sex. Sex equals death, OK?"
— Randy, Scream
Death Spa (1988)
Vicky wants to have a little fun in the sauna. No problem.... until her boyfriend's face explodes. And it's downhill from there.
"I am the Scourge of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you." — Genghis Khan (attributed)
The House on Sorority Row (1983)
Vicki (Eileen Davidson) may be the finest example of them all. She's a meaner, sluttier version of the PJ Soles character in Halloween. She's cruel to old people, a nymphomaniac, and has a dangerously macabre sense of humor. If, for whatever reason, Vicki survived The House on Sorority Row it would have upset the balance of the universe, causing a cosmic rift, sending all life into the unending void.