(WARNING: SPOILERS FOR HOSTEL, RED STATE AND THE WICKER MAN)
High five, bro! Can we point to a male virgin lead character in horror that doesn't die?
I've just been reading about Carol J. Clover's academic book Men, Women and Chainsaws. Her ideas about horror and Final Girls are interesting. For example, where I once sort of saw a reinforcement of social conservative mores in slasher films, she sees a scenario set up to connect emotionally with a specific type of male fan:
The Final Girl is boyish, in a word. Just as the killer is not fully masculine, she is not fully feminine - not, in any case, feminine in the way of her friends. Her smartness, gravity, competence in mechanical and other practical matters, and sexual reluctance set her apart from the other girls and ally her, ironically, with the very boys she fears or rejects, not to speak of the killer himself. Lest we miss the point, it is spelled out in her name: Stevie, Marti, Terry, Laurie, Stretch, Will, Joey, Max. . . (p. 39)
For lack of time, I also have to quickly paraphrase some ideas that male identification with the Final Girl may or may not involve a geek's love of a virtuous but beautiful woman who doesn't give the popular jocks what they want, who is as different as the fan himself is, and therefore a romantic ideal. An idea similar to nerd rage when the Star Trek remake allowed Mr. Spock to get it on with a hot woman.
So what then, of the Final Boy?
To my limited short-term memory, it's rare for modern standard horror to focus on a Final Boy or a group of primarily male characters. But when it's there, it's notable. And when I say Final Boy, it of course doesn't mean that male non-virgins don't die. Those that do aren't The Final Boy.
Let's take Hostel, the notorious and maligned King of torture porn. This film puts the boys (setting poor Japanese tourist Kana aside for the moment) through an ordeal spawned of their unabashed, unapologetic All-American and All-Finnish hormones. When strident, leggy Eastern European sexbombs becon you to join them in a co-ed sauna, well, you're fucked. In the good way, and the very very bad way.
In Hostel, our Final Boy wasn't the halting sweet virgin kid (Derek Richardson's Josh). He dies. Punished for being a lame, fanny pack fussing, non-whoring wet blanket on what's supposed to be a European party? No, the Final Boy was Jay Hernandez's Paxton. Paxton was going wild wthout hesitation or "conscience" in preparation for a life of law school.
He made it out alive and a hero. Oli the Finnish libertine didn't make it out alive. Read American exceptionalism into that if you'd like, for Hostel is also about the American abroad and I do love it for that.
Red State (a film that is many films in one, and thus can't serve as a pure example) also has its monstrous villains using male teen hormones.
These kids are so in the grips of their sexual prime their siren was:
Melissa Leo's harsh looking trailer harridan, secretly a Fred Phelpsian minister's wife. I am not disparaging Ms. Huffman, who is an attractive woman. She's playing a role here and looking the part. And you may recoil a bit when you see that mug, but so powerful are male teen hormones that they just go for it! And go for it straight to their doom.
The Final Boys of both Hostel and Red State have a grandfather, and he is Sgt. Howie of my beloved, most name checked in my blog film: The Wicker Man.
Sgt. Howie was the OG Final Boy, and a Final Boy punished precisely for his specific Presbyterian mores. A tumble in the hay with Willow the landlord's daughter (Swedish Bond girl Britt Ekland) would have had him back on the mainland with a guilty conscience, and his life.
An aside: Randy from the Scream series. Not a Final Boy, yet a character in which we were emotionally invested. Died a virgin in Scream 2. Retconned out of his virginity in Scream 3, a chance tryst with "the fat girl at the video store."
What's happening here? Thoughts, theories, objections, exceptions? What do we want out of a Final Boy?