Sunday, January 2, 2011

The three ages of the Slasher film or Slasher film Musings

I was doing some movie research, as I often do in my spare time, and the topic of this particular research session was Slasher Films. Now I have not watched many slasher films save the originals of the classics A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Scream etc. During my research I came across the conclusion (and this might be fairly obvious and some of you might go "it took you this long to figure it out?" but I am writing down my thoughts anyway) that there are 3 ages to the Slasher Film Genre.

#1 The Psycho Age 1960-1978. This age as the title of it suggests was started by the Hitchcock classic Psycho. It is widely regarded as the father of all Slasher films by many film historians including myself. I won't bother you with details about the film itself, but I feel that it set the entire genre in motion. You have the Killer, you have the young girls (sort of. that part wasn't really big until the Second Age).  and violent murders. Perfect archetype for a slasher film yes? Moving through this age were such films as the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis such as Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs. Now, this is mostly a sub-genre called gore films, but I still count it. Also you have the work of Dario Argento and Mario Bava who made films such as Blood and Black Lace and Twitch of the Death Nerve. Later in this age, you have the Pre-second age slasher films such as Last House on the Left and Black Christmas. Also in this age is a sort of precursor to the Second Age: Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Leatherfacce wasn't quite in the same category as the other horror icons, that is, he wasn't an unstoppable invincible killer. Several smaller Slasher Films came in the pre-Second Era, such as The Toolbox Murders, but eventually The Slasher films moved into the Second Age.

#2 The Halloween Age 1978-1996. This age focused primarily on two things: The Unstoppable Killer Movies, and the Holiday Slashers (seemingly all of them starring Jamie Lee Curtis). The Unstoppable Killer is the more famous of the two areas and this is the area that I'm sure you are all familiar with. I'm going to list off a list of names here and if you've never heard of them, you probably don't even know what a movie is: Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Chucky, and of course, the father of them all, Michael Meyers. Halloween, which had Michael Meyers as its focal point, is the film that kicked off all of this and it is where the age gets its name. We all know, that no matter how many times you shoot, stab, cut up, impale, or blow up the aforementioned characters, they will not die. They might be temporarily stunned until the next sequel but frankly they are unstoppable. The films featuring the unstoppable killers, were the obvious highlight of this age. The second area is the Holiday Slashers. These are more B-grade horror films and many I'm sure you've never heard of. Films such as My Bloody Valentine, April Fools Day, Happy Birthday to Me, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Christmas Evil. these films were not as widespread as the Unstoppable Killer Slashers. Rightfully so as most of them are of poor quality (also, many of them such as My Bloody Valentine and April Fools Day were Canadian films). As this age wore on, people lost interest in slasher films. Directors wanting to try their hand at this genre, were forced to do Direct-to-DVD films such as Leprechaun or a sequel to an Unstoppable Killer film such as maybe A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th. But, eventually the genre moved into the Third Age

#3 The Scream Age 1996-present. As I mentioned before, by this time people had begun to lose interest in the Slasher Genre. Why not? it was more or less of the same thing over and over again. However, one film restarted the genre: Scream. People loved the satirical nature and the fresh ideas that Scream brought to the screen and so the slasher genre had restored interest in it. In fact, to add more credit to the film, it was followed with a sequel that many people consider just as good if not better than the first one (Scream 2 has a 94% approval rating with the RT Top Critics. It would have 100% but one critic didn't like it and decided not to leave a review on top of that). Plus, as another added bonus, Scream added its killer, Ghostface, to the list of major horror icons. Thanks to the restored interest in the genre, new slasher films were coming out such as Cherry Falls and Urban Legend. This age rapidly deteriorated into nothing more than a cash in. Tons of the classics were being shamelessly remade or they had another sequel added to them. Films such as a remake of Psycho, The Seed of Chucky, and Jason X. They also dabbled in crossovers with the film Freddy Vs Jason. Remakes of Childs Play and Hellraiser are also on their way. Also, this age brought about the Splat Pack or Torture Porn. Films such as Hostel, Saw and Wrong Turn. Most of these films, with the exception of Saw, being directed by Eli Roth AKA The Bear Jew. Foreign Slashers have also emerged during this age with films such as Them and Haute Tension.

Overall, there is a pattern here that I detect and I'm sure you have too, There is a film that kickstarts interest in the genre and then people begin to lose interest in the genre thanks to its predictability and repetitiveness. then a fresh new take on the film emerges and interest is renewed for another 10 or so years maybe more. then it happens again. If I had to guess, some brilliant new Slasher Film will come out and generate interest in the genre again. I for one doubt it will be Scream 4 but you never know. So yeah, that's my take on the Slasher Genre.

As an added little tidbit, I noticed that the the next age of the slasher film comes 18 years after the previous age started, so, If my math is right, we will not see another good original slasher film until 2014. crap.

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