American Mary

Director:

J. Soska and S. Soska

Producer:

E. Tylor and J. Curtis

Year:

2012

Distributor:

IndustryWorks Pictures

Country:

Canada

Running time:

102 min

Genre:

Horror

Format:

Colour

Availability:

DVD

Keywords:

Medical school, surgery, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, Revenge, professor, misogyny, Stereotype
Summary:
Mary Mason is a medical student who hopes to become a surgeon. She is struggling financially, unable to pay bills and tuition fees, and resorts to working in a shady strip club to make ends meet. One evening she is asked by the club's owner, Billy Barker, to perform life-saving surgery on one of his criminal colleagues who has been tortured and disfigured by a rival gang. She reluctantly agrees, since the club owner will pay her thousands of dollars in cash. When word gets out about Mary's surgical skills, she is approached by various denizens of the strip club who want her to perform various body modifications on them; their willingness to pay solves Mary's financial problems. She becomes renowned as a skilled "underground" surgeon, who will perform any body modification surgery her clients desire — no matter how bizarre — including face and genital transplants, amputations, and implanting horns in foreheads.

Meanwhile, Mary is invited to a party hosted by two professors, one of whom is Dr. Grant, Mary's surgery professor. They slip a drug into Mary's drink, and Grant carries an almost comatose Mary into a back room where he brutally assaults and rapes her. Mary decides to quit medical school, and instead of reporting the rape, asks Billy to send a couple of his guys to kidnap Dr. Grant and bring him to her, whereupon she displays her considerable surgical skills to — and on — her former professor. Whether he will ever be able to return to the classroom is the least of Dr. Grant's worries.
Teaching Notes:
Portrayal of professors:
Here we have another reinforcement of the cultural stereotype of the nasty, lecherous professor, as well as the more recent media images of college campuses rife with sexual assault.

The film is a combination horror film and revenge fantasy. Medical schools have been Hollywood's favourite choice for horror films involving outlandish medical experiments ever since the first film version of Frankenstein. After all, you have to learn these skills somewhere; Hollywood's penchant for dichotomous figural stereotypes — the ploughman and the professor — leaves no room for the gifted amateur or the gentleman adventurer. Similarly, the setting also provides the rationale for how Mary obtained her surgical skills, allowing her to turn the operating tables on her rapist prof. Mary's plight provides a motive for her actions; both her physical attractiveness and her victimhood — being raped by her professor; someone in a position of trust — allow the audience to see Mary in a more sympathetic light, rather than your run-of-the-mill campus psycho-killer.