Every woman knows the magic of a perfect pair of shoes. Slip them on and you transform from the average housewife or soccer mom into a slin...

These Shoes were Made for Killing: The Red Shoes and the Power of Female Sexuality

Every woman knows the magic of a perfect pair of shoes. Slip them on and you transform from the average housewife or soccer mom into a slinky sex goddess, powerful and confident in your six inch stilettos. A woman will do anything for a premier pair of pumps. Cinderella’s stepsisters were willing to hack off heel and toe to make those glass slippers fit and Dorothy went head to head with the Wicked Witch of the West for her sparkly ruby footwear.

The unbreakable bond between a woman and her shoes is at the heart of the Korean horror film, The Red Shoes. Viewers might be confused by the title of the film because the cursed shoes that appear in the film are actually pink. This color change (as far as I can remember) was the result of a copyright dispute involving another pair of prominent red slippers in cinema. Ahem.

A woman named Sun-jae finds herself on the business end of horrible curse when she picks up a pair of seemingly abandoned shoes on the subway. But these shoes aren’t your run of the mill Louboutins, and they carry some considerable spiritual baggage. They once belonged to a talented ballet dancer who had the bad luck of falling in love with her male partner. He cheats on her with the ballet company’s second best star, who’s violently jealous of the prima ballerina’s talent.

When runner up realizes she can never best her rival, she beats her to death with a heavy stage prop, ignorant that the poor woman is pregnant. Serving as an accomplice after the fact, the lover helps get rid of body and watches helplessly as second best cuts off the dancer’s feet with a shovel for her precious red shoes.
Put simply the formula is: Infidelity+murder=vengeful ghost which manifests itself in the red shoes. The revenge for anyone who takes them is swift and terrible. The not-so-happy couple responsible for the dancer’s death is hanged in the middle of a dance production and many a girl ends up losing her feet to the ferocious specter.

Imbued with the vengeful spirit of their previous owner, the red shoes represent the power of female sexuality. Think about how you feel when a drop dead gorgeous woman walks into a crowded room at a party. Your eyes are on her, lingering on her perfectly coiffed hair, the way her barely there dress hugs every cruve, your gaze drifting lazily down to her fire engine red Jimmy Choos. If you’re a man you want her, and if you’re a woman you want to be her.

This same principle is at work in The Red Shoes. The very sight of these cursed footwear causes women to become insanely jealous and drives them to violently claim them as their own. Sun-jae has to fight off her daughter for the shoes and Sun-jae’s co-worker steals them from daughter Tae-su while her mother’s distracted and runs off with them.

Shoes are the source of a woman’s sexual prowess in The Red Shoes. When Sun-jae comes home to find her husband making love to a another woman, she is wearing her shoes—a slap in the face made worse by the husband’s comment that his mistresss looks better in them than his wife.

The shoes also find a parallel with menstruation, which is depicted as a powerful and frightening feminine force. In the middle of a dream, Sun-jae watches in horror as torrents of thick blood flow down from a crack in the ceiling, dousing her in gore. In a vaguely incestuous scene, Sun-jae walks in on Tae-su wearing the shoes and dancing for her father. The father leaves silently and Tae –su begins violently hemorrhaging blood from between her legs. The innocent game of a girl playing dress up takes a terrible turn. The shoes may make you a woman, but at a terrible price.
I won’t ruin the ending, but suffice it to say that all the men in the film end up dead at the hands of the shoes' new owner. The Red Shoes takes the idea of female sexual power and transforms it into a chilling metaphor,one that’s sure to make you pause before you snag that pair of must have Minolos.


  1. Man, that looks like an f'ed up movie. Wouldn't mind checking that one out. I don't get to see a whole lot of "J" horror beyond the big hits from the start of the last decade. This looks mighty creepy.

  2. i agree, this movie scares me just looking at the poster... are they just the wrong size? lol