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"You goddamn chauvinist pig ape!"
—Dwan, King Kong (1976)
The phenomenon in B Movies from the 1950s to early 1960s in which rampaging monsters/serial killers seem to focus their "random" attacks mostly on women. Usually young, innocent, vulnerable women. Although such films may show a man or two as victims, the real focus is on the ladies. For instance, if the movie includes a montage of attacks, expect every victim shown to be female.
This seems to be a wide-scale application of the Disposable Woman concept, sans any significant connection to The Hero; further, the deaths carry no more than the normal dramatic weight, and do not motivate the Hero to action any more than would male deaths. All other things being more or less equal, the director will simply choose to populate his movie with female victims. And then, of course, there are plots in which the killer will specifically target females.
One would assume, in this age of equal rights and feminism and all, that this would be a Discredited Trope or even a Dead Horse Trope. But no, the trope is alive and well. Apparently, the sight of women being terrorized on screen is just more... um... titillating. Or a good way to show just how evil your monster is by attacking poor defenseless girls. Also don't forget that Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies. Either that, or it's because this trope is based on reality -- real-life serial killers target women much more often than men. Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, Gary Ridgway, and even Jack the Ripper killed women exclusively, or nearly so.
As a direct result of this trope, many slasher movies have a Final Girl (and one with no form of self-defense training at that), since audiences are somehow more likely to root for a young, nubile, defenseless (white) woman on the run from a psychopath who gutted her friends like fish, as opposed to a man in a similar position.
If the women are abducted rather than killed, it's probably because Mars Needs Women. See also Distressed Damsel, Mono-Gender Monsters, Touch of the Monster. Many this trope's aversions come from the fact that Men Are the Expendable Gender.
Anime and Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Barry the Chopper attacked people regardless of gender. In the 2003 anime version, however, he is mentioned as killing only young women.
- In Ranma ½, the monstrous eight-headed Yamata-no-Orochi is an enormous pervert who likes to see women's underwear, naked women, and women in general. It also loves eating them. It even has taste buds for it. Men? They just taste bitter, they piss it off, and it kills them on sight. This is roughly based on the myth of the Yamata-no-Orochi, which demanded maiden sacrifices.
- A Justified Trope in Witchblade. The I-Weapons usually go after women... specific ones who just happen to have the Witchblade of Cloneblades that they are attracted to.
- Just about any Hentai involving Naughty Tentacles. Sometimes it's inverted; tentacle monsters will straight-up kill men, but will take their sweet time with women.
- In the first OAV of Vampire Princess Miyu, all of the Shinma of the week's victims were female, more or less young (two schoolgirls, a college student, an Office Lady and a Housewife who seemed to be in her late 20's), and those seen onscreen (one of the schoolgirls and the housewife) were VERY beautiful. Surprisingly, Himiko (who also fits in the pattern and thus was attacked by the Shinma, but Larva and Miyu rescued her) manages to deduce the monster has a plausible reason: it was "summoned" by a very creepy and sad little girl whose life was "ended" when she made the deal with it and had crossed the Despair Event Horizon before the summoning. Due to this, the monster attacked young and pretty women who still had the potential to build lives that it's Kid with the Leash couldn't aspire any longer to.
- Also, more than one Shinma from the TV series and the manga preyed more on women than on men, or only on women. See the Mad Artist Roh-Sa, to start.
- In the Fushigi Yuugi novel Yukiyasha-den, Nuriko and a girl named Byakuren have to face a snow demon who demands the sacrifices of the prettiest maidens of the village where Nuriko's uncle lives. Things turn out to be more complicated, however. . .
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, some demons prefer to feast on women because they like the taste of their flesh better. These include the Swamp Demon that Tanjiro killed in his first official mission (and who additionally liked to prey on sixteen-year-old girls) and Doma from the Twelve Kizuki.
- While men and women both die plentifully in works by Frank Miller, the fetishistic way that women are killed, often while they're partially or completely naked, has led to accusations of Author Appeal.
- Sin City's male villains in particular are nearly always some variation of misogynist, to the point where in A Dame to Kill For, the second major Sin City story, Ava, the titular Femme Fatale, plays on Dwight's violent protectiveness toward women by casting her perfectly innocent husband, Damien Lord, as one of these in her Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
- The story goes that the memorable attack on the "Hitchcock woman" in The Birds was a result of Alfred Hitchcock's specific issues with the woman portraying her, the actress Natalie "Tippi" Hedren.
- This Island Earth. It's on the poster, for Chrissakes.
- Aversion: None of the spotlight deaths throughout the entire Jurassic Park series are female.
- Death Car On The Freeway: a Made for TV Movie from the 1970s, in which a serial killer runs lone female motorists off the road and kills them.
- Subverted in Creature from the Black Lagoon: his victims are predominantly men (and killed with much claw-rending gusto), though he does kidnap two women.
- Partial inversion: In Planet Terror, not a single major female character dies (unless you count Fergie). Almost all of the male ones do. On the other hand, a mutating Quentin Tarantino tries to rape Rose McGowan with his melting genitals, so it's not completely off-the-hook either.
- Death Proof, the other half of Grindhouse, stars Kurt Russell as a Serial Killer who specifically targets women. And yet Death Proof is also a deeply feminist reinterpretation of the Exploitation Film, as the misogyny of the character is deeply unglamourized, and he is eventually killed by a particularly angry (and not even particularly sexualized, though quite sexy) Rosario Dawson, Tracy Thoms, and Zoe Bell, with cheers from the audience.
- Inverted in Jennifer's Body. Not only is the monster female herself, but her targets are all male. Or are they...?
- Inverted intentionally in The Evil Dead: Sam Raimi has said that he wanted a guy to be the one getting tormented and attacked by the monsters because it would creep the audience out more. If anyone could be called a Scream King, it would be Bruce Campbell. And it turns out it's quite entertaining to watch after all.
- On the other hand, it should also be noted that in the original film, the first to be taken by the monster are the women in the group. And let's not forget the scene with the tree. Sam Raimi has gone on record as saying he regrets coming up with that scene.
- Dragonslayer, being a Troperiffic dragony story, naturally has the whole Virgin Sacrifice thing. Particularly clear when the princess is torn apart and eaten by baby dragons.
- Semi-subverted in The Descent. Despite being the second and third to go, the females manage to determine its weakness, then subsequently deal the most damage. They were extreme sports nuts, while the men are standard cannon fodder explorers.
- Some might consider The Hills Have Eyes 2 to be an excuse for this...
- Parodied in One-eyed Monster. Before I say more, here's the setup. A space parasite which takes over sexual organs lands on earth. It possesses Ron Jeremy's penis. Needless to say, women get much longer sequences than men, for obvious reasons.
- Inverted in the spoof Monster in the Closet, in which the titular beast is smitten by and kidnaps the film's hero. (The monster's sex, if any, is never revealed...)
- Humanoids From The Deep takes everything the 1950s horror movie monsters hinted at when monsters kidnapped young women, and updated it for 1980s exploitation sensibilities by showing monster-on-girl rape scenes. Quite infamous for its misogyny, despite being directed by a woman (though she claims producer Roger Corman added more explicit rape footage later, which knowing Corman, is probably true).
- In the Dean Koontz novel, Shadowfires, a Mad Scientist-turned-monster stalks his ex-wife out of (at first) murderous intentions. But after slowly becoming more animalistic, and raping and killing and eating an innocent bystander, his desires towards his ex-wife turn more amorous and cannibalistic.
- Koontz does this a lot. Dark Rivers of the Heart was a particularly graphic example.
- In the Hannibal Lecter series, all non-Lecter killers (Jacob Garrett Hobbes, Frances Dolarhyde, and Jame Gumb) specifically targeted women - Dolarhyde killed whole families, but it was the mothers that interested him. This is also a case of Truth in Television, as many serial killers really do have serious issues with women. Lecter himself was far too much of a Magnificent Bastard to particularly care whom he killed, and it's implied that he had a fairly even split in terms of victims.
- Dracula, in many incarnations, only seems to prey on young, nubile women. Sometimes made out to be a form of Virgin Sacrifice. In the original book, he picks off an entire (male) ship's crew between the pages, but the only new vampires he creates are women.
- Sometimes explained as a fascination with beauty and innocence or a pining need to replace his lost love on the Count's part, but Van Helsing in the novel gave a much colder explanation - Dracula vamps young beauties because he knows they make efficient predators. Faced with a beautiful vampire and the necessity to brutally dismember her, her loved ones will hesitate to strike...but she won't. Dracula = Magnificent Bastard.
- Inverted in the short story Boobs: the protagonist is the first girl in her class to grow breasts and is horribly teased (because, you know, adolescent boys utterly loathe breasts). However, now that puberty has hit she turns out to be a werewolf and lures out the male ringleader bully to horribly murder and eat him (shape changing makes you peckish). The teasing stops.
- Played straight with the Hunter in the Coldfire Trilogy, but justified- he's made a study of human behavior and decided that targeting women is the most effective way to terrorize a society, and since he feeds on fear ...
Live Action TV
- Several monster/murder films seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000, to the point where the guys would often wonder if the directors might have had "issues with women":
- The Crawling Hand features attacks on men as well as women, but the only such victim to actually die is a pill-popping, gun-happy, boozehound woman.
- The Sinister Urge, which is about a killer who purposely targets young female porn-star wannabes.
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures (whew!). The killer murders two couples during the course of the movie. However, in each case, his target was specifically the woman; the men were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Horror of Party Beach includes two male victims alongside its twenty-four girl deaths. And that figure doesn't take into account the film's Female Victim Montage. Adding to the misogyny count, many of those victims were holding a slumber party at the time. Cue "panty raid" jokes.
Mike: Do you think most guys who make movies have issues with women?
- Horrors of Spider Island, in which the entire victim pool is female. Except for one lecherous guy near the end. As the commentary said: "I wonder how this movie really feels about women."
- On the one hand, this is somewhat justified as the plot is a Closed Circle (a troupe of dancers survived a plane crash and ended up on a desert island; their manager, the only man around, got turned into the monster). On the other, it also spends a lot of time focusing on scantily-clad and/or (supposedly) naked women doing things like swimming, dancing, and fighting one another. And supposedly the original German version was more explicit.
- The Creeping Terror, in which the monster swallows women whole on-screen, head first to allow the camera to focus on their legs. Mike & the bots even quip "you know, I think this is a weird little turn-on for the director."
- Horrors of Spider Island, in which the entire victim pool is female. Except for one lecherous guy near the end. As the commentary said: "I wonder how this movie really feels about women."
- While they did attack all kinds of people, the monsters and other things in Kolchak: The Night Stalker seemed to have a predilection for attractive young women who walk the streets alone at night.
- To hear Joss Whedon tell it, Buffy was designed as a deliberate subversion of this tendency, with the typical female victim rounding upon the pursuing monster and kicking its ass.
- In the Star Trek episode in which Jack the Ripper turns out to be an evil alien entity, Spock says it focuses its attacks on women because "women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species." Though the dialogue doesn't have this caveat (and hence lacks this implication), that actually makes sense in the context of Victorian England, where women were supposed to be delicate and helpless and this attitude was encouraged in them.
- On The League of Gentlemen, the demonic blackface minstrel Papa Lazarou goes after women to make into his "wives". In a bit of a twist, though, all of the women are over 50, and he's just as dangerous towards men if they come across his path. Also, due to the format of the show, almost all the women are played by men in drag.
- Because he targets serial killers, Dexter is a heterosexual serial killer whose targets are mostly males.
- True, but he really is an equal opportunity killer. At the very least four of his victims were women, including his very first one. Also, interesting to note that, as a result of targeting serial killers, the victims of HIS victims tend to be female.
- Played straight in the first season though. The Ice Truck Killer targets only women, in particular, prostitutes. Again, this is similar to real serial killers, who (being primarily men) will target prostitutes under either some misguided "morals" that they have, or simply because they feel they won't really be missed.
- Inversion: Zoo Tycoon 2 has a dinosaur expansion, and the dinosaurs are the only animals that will attack guests. The only guests they'll harm, however, are adult males.
- That's true of all the Zoo Tycoon games. I liked to deliberately sabotage my zoos by stocking them disproportionately with large families of feline carnivores and then knocking down their pens (or just leaving them to rot) so that all the lions, tigers, leopards, etc. would get loose and cause a mass panic. You hear both male and female screams, but the cats will only pounce on males! I even tried putting some women in the cages so I could see them get attacked, but they just "magically" unlock the bars and get out!
- The monsters in the Torna Canal section of Final Fantasy V only target females. If you pay attention, their attacks hint at The Reveal of Faris' gender in the next chapter.
- Pyramid Head. He is, among other things, a representation of the main character's masculinity issues, and is only seen to harm a single creature (excluding the protagonist) that isn't obviously female.
- Amped to 11 thousand in The Suffering. The Creeper in the second game is the incarnation of a pimp who abused, murdered, raped, and did all sorts of unspeakable things to his hoes. One line cut from the game was his: "Blood makes the best lubricant."
- HORRIBLY justified in Dragon Age; the darkspawn reproduce by abducting humanoid women, gang-raping them and force-feeding them darkspawn flesh and their own relatives, and gradually transforming them into Broodmothers - towering, multi-breasted, betentacled horrors with nightmare faces who give birth to thousands more darkspawn.
- New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Korekiyo Shinguji's goal is to kill 100 women to appease his dead sister and his sexual relationship with her.
- Following the Real Life examples below, Wrecking Paul from Everyday Heroes is a serial killer who targets women. Including, if no one else is available, his own partners.
- In spite of whether or not you like Ctrl+Alt+Del Tim Buckley has some serious issues when it comes to women. If the main character in his comic ever does anything wrong in either the comic or the terrible animated series expect his girlfriend (who inexplicably loves him) to bail him out every time...and cook for him...and apologise for having realistically human reactions.
- Shredded Moose was particularly horrible about this - Brew, the "hero", killed or abused women as a matter of fact; we were supposed to laugh at and approve his acts.
- Neopets once had something called the "Terror Mountain Ski Lodge", where members of the staff were picked off by the Ski Lodge Killer. The first victim was a male, but then the killer killed 8 female staff members in a row. Eventually the killer went back to male victims (as there were only two women left).
- The SCP Foundation has SCP-847. Usually a normal seeming (if damaged) female mannequin, it comes to life if a woman approaches within 100 meters of it, with a single minded determination to murder the woman and [DATA EXPUNGED].
- A partial aversion - Serial Killers in the real world are usually attracted to a very specific category of victims; a common theme is that heterosexual killers will often prey almost exclusively on females and homosexual killers on males (assuming a male killer), although each has their own warped preferences. One British murderer, when asked why he chose a particular victim, claimed it was 'because she had red shoes'.
- On a similar note, religious extremists overwhelmingly target women that "break the rules" as well, and the punishment is generally much more severe. This can leak into serial killer territory (of the "visionary" variety) if one becomes certain that women's 'whoring' is the cause of the current town/state/country's moral decay.
- There is a specific type of serial killer that averts this: an "omnivore" will kill anyone, making them hard to catch.
- Despite the name, animals that become maneaters often go preferentially for women and children. This does make sense; women and children are generally smaller than men and therefore (from the animal's point of view) easier targets.
- Female sex workers are often the targets of violence and murder, with the killers using the rationale that these types of victims are less likely to be missed by society, therefore the investigations of their murders would be less enthusiastic (and they're often right). Averted in that homeless people of either gender are also frequent targets for the same reason.
- Jack the Ripper killed female prostitutes.