Favorite Slasher Films
Between reading about the Friday the 13th lawsuit yesterday and checking the release date for the new Halloween, was thinking about slasher movies so---
10.) Sleepaway Camp
Probably most famous for it's twist ending and the fact that Bruce Springsteen's sister plays the killer in the two follow-up films. It's honestly kind of a weird film, but there's also a kind of an interesting subtext about how painful and awkward growing up is.
9.) My Bloody Valentine
Worth mentioning for the setting and the avoidance of teen focus/characters.
8.) Prom Night
The thing I like about Prom Night is it's a cross between Halloween and Carrie with a disco soundtrack.
7.) Black Christmas
There's two things I especially like about Black Christmas. Time is spent getting to know the characters so their deaths are more meaningful. And Bob Clark shoots the film in a very claustrophobic manner -- you always feel boxed in.
6.) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
At it's best Texas Chainsaw Massacre thematically confronts American disillusionment in the early 70's. At it's worst, it's an extremely gross and grubby little film that probably should have never spawned sequels. But it's impact on horror and cinema and the popular consciousness is immense.
5.) Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare proves that with the right script you can create something worthwhile with even the most played out of genres. The script is scary and witty. Craven manages a lot on very little budget, producing a film that’s one part exploitation, one part surrealist. Nightmare is a well-done examination of the traumas we accrue in adolescence, especially as we struggle to make sense of sexuality, and discover that the adults in our lives aren’t as helpful as we want or need them to be.
4.) Friday The 13th
Friday The 13th is a prime example of the creative filtered through a profit motive. The first film is a gory whodunit produced for no other reason than to capitalize on the success of Halloween. The rest of the franchise never intends to be anything other than that experience (jump scares, gore, and boobs) distilled and duplicated over and over for money. All that being said though, it’s hard to deny the culture impact of the big unstoppable killer – especially considering the film that spawned the Jason franchise would create a franchise of its own that basically forgot the source material and copied the copy.
The cold open timed to last the length of time it takes to make popcorn is still a pretty solid bit of suspense and terror. The thing, however, that I’ve found interesting about the film on later, repeat viewings is the film’s confrontational tone with the audience (this starts right from the beginning when Ghostface taunts Drew Barrymore's character)– you know what happens next and you’re still watching and you’re still going to jump even as we remind you of what happens next.
I don’t know if most people consider Psycho a slasher film, but I’d argue that it’s kind of the granddady of the subgenre. It was really the first horror film about a person and not about some supernatural or science-created monster. So much about the film would be borrowed for later slasher flicks. And if you think about it, the script would require very little tweaking to make it a straight flasher film.
I really can’t say enough about the first Halloween. It’s such a well-done script. Brilliantly shot – all those scenes of Michael Myers in the open or moving around in the background. It makes wonderful use of sound. There’s tons of suspense and actually not a lot of gore. Women fare better in the first film than pretty much any other slasher flick to come. It succeeds by playing on real fears and not just jump scares and gore. It’s so good that all the films to follow are pretty much kind of a disappointment.