Singled Out is a feature focusing on the stories behind a song, as told by the artists behind their creation. In this edition, Aaron Longoria of Iowa City‘s Early Girl discusses the inspiration behind the band’s track “Evil Head.” In their explanation, Longoria recalls how an off-the-hand comment made in an argument grew to take on a new form when filtered through the lens of the horror genre’s final girl trope. Putting their own spin on it, the song’s lyrics lend the track a quality of empowerment, subverting the historically clichéd use of female characters in the genre as mere plot devices used in service of a male lead’s storyline.
I wrote “Evil Head” late this spring after we released our debut EP, Lovers Out to Pasture in April. Following that release, we were left wondering what was next. I had been writing almost constantly but nothing presented itself as a fully formed song, let alone a memorable one. It was at that point I came across a note on my phone, “I would rather summon a demon than get high with your friends.” This snarky quip was a remnant of an argument my boyfriend and I had over a proposed weekend trip that eerily mirrored Sam Raimi’s horror classic, The Evil Dead.
Though frustrated at the time, I actually paused the conversation to laugh and write it down. The remark was comedic and striking because it was not only blasé and referential but extremely provocative. The premise of summoning a demon to get out of plans with a partner’s friends was powerful and made me think about how in The Evil Dead, and subsequent films of the franchise, the Evil tends to take the lead’s love interest as their first host. I thought, rather than being a victim of this all-powerful force, what if Linda allowed herself to be possessed in order to get out of her weekend plans and ultimately her relationship with her canonically-boorish boyfriend, Ash?
In comes “Evil Head.”
Writing from the perspective of Linda and other brutalized girlfriends in horror, I began to detail a relationship where I was pissed off about how I was led to feel safe and loved to only suffer due to the shortcomings of the stubborn male lead. In other films my demise would be the catalyst for my lover to overcome his own weaknesses and further his plot, but in the words of Scream’s final girl Sidney Prescott, “not in my movie.” The song soon became a feminist rock anthem as the defiant lyrics poured out of me.
Being a film school grad, I had to sprinkle in some subversions of the violent and misogynistic tropes we see in media. In the bridge our heroine chants:
try and keep me in the freezer,
try and keep me in the shed,
try and keep me in the cellar,
you can never kill the dead!
This freezer is a nod to Gail Simone’s website created in 1999, Women in Refrigerators, which was a response to the overwhelming presence of killing, maiming, and de-powering of women in comics for the sake of male character arcs, colloquially referred to as “fridging.” That image is extended to the shed and cellar that are prominently featured in The Evil Dead where women experience the same fate.
“Evil Head” avenges these women and reclaims power over their narratives that were once sacrificed for the development of others. Though a fan of Raimi’s seminal film, I felt it necessary to pay homage in a way that recognized its shortcomings and that centered the women who make these stories truly iconic.