The Horror Honeys: 'He Knows You’re Alone:' A Moment In Feminism?

'He Knows You’re Alone:' A Moment In Feminism?

A Slasher Honey Retro Review by Chassity

He Knows You're Alone (1980)

So thanks to Sci-Fi Honey 2.0, Katie, I decided to get in on the #ItCamefromthe80s action. Back in college, I had a goal to see all the 80s slasher movies ever made by the time I graduated. Obviously, I had no concept of time and the heavy workload that college would require and I failed at achieving this goal, to focus on more important ones. But now that I’m not a prisoner to homework and essays, I can get back to that goal, picking back up with He Knows You’re Alone

Presented in non-linear storytelling, first we see a woman stalked and then murdered while watching a slasher movie in a theater (a scene that directly influenced the opening of Scream 2). Fast forwarding to present-day, a bride is murdered on her wedding day by an ex-boyfriend she jilted in favor of the groom. Later, we find out that the woman in the movie theater was engaged and planning her wedding as well. From there, the movie is your basic slasher, except instead of your standard archetypal characters, the victims being stalked are Bride Number Three and all her friends. 

One thing I love about this movie is that it is one of those great, old school slashers that came along before the gore craze. It’s a fantastic example of how what you don’t see is sometimes scarier than what you do see. The buildup to the death scenes, and even a well-placed misdirect or false scare or two, made the film worth pushing through during its slower moments, and made what could have been hokey kills appear less-so.

I freely admit that sometimes the poor (or just different) acting in older movies can take me out of the world of the film. Additionally, so can certain elements that are relevant to the time period, but feel outdated enough to make the story irrelevant to me personally. For perhaps the first time ever in my experience watching older horror movies, this wasn’t the case. In HKYA, the time period was used almost as a character and this subtlety drew me into the decade and its world, rather than making it impossible for me to relate. There was no cheese factor, no over the top acting, and no loss of reality due to the limited technology available to make the kills look believable. 

That being the case, if you’re looking for a comfort slasher, He Knows You're Alone is definitely it. It’s not the greatest film ever, but it’s good enough to be worth a once-a-year-watch. 

However, what’s arguably more interesting about this movie is that it could be viewed through a lens of underlying feminism; especially with its use of the idea that women are property, and the accompanying phenomenon of "if I can't have her, no one can!" This mindset is encompassed in the jilted lover and his willful/vengeful murders of the brides. At a time when the idea of marriage had been presented as a top female priority, this film addresses the notion of marriage being forced upon us, and a woman’s struggle with love versus independence, through our main character Amy. 

Amy has a perfectly nice, "good-on-paper" guy who seems like a catch… except that he has very antiquated, chauvinistic (if not selfish) ideas about a woman’s role in a relationship, and the value of her career, opinions, and needs. But she seems to be questioning whether or not marriage is something she even really wants (not made easier by her less "good-on-paper" ex, who seems more fun and more embracing of who Amy is and what she wants). 

Female sexuality is also on display through the character of Amy’s friend Joyce. Joyce embraces her sexuality and is not ashamed of who she is. She’s having an affair with a married professor and expresses unconventional views on marriage and relationships. While most people would tell Amy she should be happy to find a loving man and how this should be the happiest time of her life, Joyce is happy to be unattached and would support Amy’s independence if she chose to call her wedding off. She also doesn’t die first. 

Watching this movie, I couldn’t help but think that under the guise of a generic slasher movie, there was a hidden message about the danger of the value placed on marriage, and the pressure placed on women to marry. It seems to have something to say about male and female relationships. Instead of Joyce being made to feel bad about what she is doing, or labeled a slut, she and her friends make fun of the professor and force him to feel uncomfortable about what he is doing to his wife with Joyce; this was a refreshing change in a world where women are always blamed and the men seem to get off scot free, usually portrayed as victims seduced by morally corrupt vixens. 

Fun Horror Fact: He Knows You're Alone is the ONLY traditional horror film Tom Hanks has EVER appeared in!

Slasher Honey Rating: 4 out of 5 bloody bridal gowns

He Knows You're Alone is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, VuduGoogle Play, YouTube, & DVD

What are YOUR feels on He Knows You're Alone?
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