The Horror Honeys: Go Home 80s Sexual Politics, You're Drunk.

Go Home 80s Sexual Politics, You're Drunk.

A Revenge Honey Classic Revenge Film Review by Linnie

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Art by Glen Vause
I've always had a special affinity for Medusa. I think as far as negative portrayals of women go, Medusa got about the rawest deal in the whole of written history. Most people just think of her as the crazy Greek bitch with the snakes for hair who could turn men to stone with a glance. But how many people know her TRUE story? For example, did you know she used to be gorgeous? Did you know that Poseidon, god of the seas, raped Medusa in Athena's (his wife) temple? Or did you know that rather than be pissed off at her husband who attacked and violated Medusa, Athen took her rage out on Medusa, and cursed her for all eternity? Yup. Medusa got epically shit on, and her reward was having her head cut off by Perseus and ending up a plot line in Clash of the Titans. So why do I bring her up now?

Because I believe the real Medusa story has had bearing on so many of the films and books we read today, specifically where a woman is blamed entirely for behaviors that have nothing to do with her, simply by nature of being a woman. Which brings us to this week's Classic Revenge Review Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction.

The Story (if you actually don't already know it): One weekend while his lovely wife and daughter are out of town, lawyer Dan Gallagher decides to have a weekend-stand with a woman he met at a party. Alex Forrest is beautiful (suck it if you don't think Glenn Close was beautiful), energetic, and interesting in a way draws Dan in like a horny moth to a sexy flame. The only problem is, when Dan tries to dump Alex after their weekend fling, she won't be ignored, and rather crazily inserts herself into his life.

Fatal Attraction has been a pop culture mainstay since its release, mostly because in 1987, it was viewed as the perfect cautionary tale for married men. "Don't cheat on your wife there Mr. Upper Middle Class American, because you just might get your bunny boiled." Men saw this as the ultimate horror film, showing them the consequences that would befall them if they cheated on their women. But there is just one problem with that analysis of the movie...

It's totally wrong.

I maintain, they styled her like Medusa.
I have watched Fatal Attraction more times than I can remember and my view of the film has never changed. The only people who truly suffer the consequences of Dan's decisions in Fatal Attraction are the women in his life: Alex, his wife Beth, and their daughter Ellen. In the end, Dan isn't even injured by Alex in the final showdown; he just walks away scot free with his family back in tack and his stalker dead. Beth has been injured repeatedly, Ellen is traumatized, and Alex is dead. But Dan? Dan is just fine. We are never actually shown any long term consequences of Dan's behavior, other than he and Beth walking off camera arm in arm.

Oh yeah, father of the year right there!
I fully believe that the reason Fatal Attraction made a huge dent in the public conscious was the era in which it was released. In 1987, Ronald Reagan was president and the phrase "family values" became an even bigger part of the lexicon. What most people were reading as some brilliantly subversive film about an affair gone wrong was actually the biggest spokes-film for the traditional family since Ozzie & Harriet. The woman who threatened to upset the balance of Dan's family is destroyed, violently, at the end of the film. And everything in Dan's life goes back to normal. Because in 1987, not only was the "traditional family" glorified, but the independent and sexual woman was demonized by a distrubingly conservative society.

Dan Gallagher, you are now relieved of the consequences of your
actions. Have a wonderful life!
And that's why we have Alex: a woman who if, we removed all of her psychosis, would actually be the true injured party here. She was seduced, and used, by a man who didn't actually want her. He used her because he saw her as a cheap and easy good time, a way to escape from his mundane existence and responsibilities, and then tossed her aside. If she hadn't been off balance mentally and emotionally, who would be the REAL villain of this movie? Alex, or Dan, who cheated on his wonderful wife for absolutely no justifiable reason and then tried to act like he'd done nothing wrong? Alex is the constant memory of the horrible things he'd done, and in the end, he can't even deal with it himself. His wife has to save the day while Dan lays helpless on the floor.

"This isn't a cry for help! It's a damn inconvenience, is what is."
Fatal Attraction may be an excellent film, but it is not a terribly enlightened one. Glenn Close gives a spectacular performance, but the character of Alex is written as a one-note villain. We never know why she behaves as she does, only that she's "cuhraaaazy." A woman willing to slit her wrists over a one-night stand would likely have a very troubled past, but the viewers aren't supposed to identify with Alex. They're not supposed to sympathize with her. They are only supposed to cheer when she dies. What kind of message does that REALLY send to men? That cheating is bad, or cheating is only bad if you can't eliminate the evidence from existence?

It's all fun & games until someone makes your take responsibility
for your douchecanoe behavior.
Adrian Lyne's film may be useful as an artifact and it may be really well acted, but it is the ultimate paean to the very 80s concept of "traditional family." A father, a mother, a child, and a yellow lab, living in the perfect country house, and when trouble rears its head, trouble is promptly shot in the chest and discarded like it never happened. Trouble is a sexually confident, independent, gainfully employed single woman who has to be a crazy bitch, because only a crazy bitch would interfere with the "traditional family."

I'm not saying Fatal Attraction is a bad movie, because it's a fantastic movie. I'm not even telling you not to watch it. What I am saying is, Poseidon has had enough time in the spotlight. Let's give Medusa her due.

 Revenge Honey Rating: 4 Sneaky Bastards out of 5

Fatal Attraction is available via Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD

How do YOU feel about Fatal Attraction?
Tell me on Twitter: @linnieloowho