The month-long October celebration continues! After listing my Top Five 2013 Movie-Inspired Costumes, Classic Picks for Kids, and Halloween Scenes from Non-Halloween Movies, I present my Top Five Slasher Films.
5. My Bloody Valentine (2009)
This is the least serious film on the list which is one of the reasons I chose it. I love scary movies and I really love good, well thought out scary stories but every once in a while it’s nice to sit back and enjoy a solid popcorn slasher flick. My Bloody Valentine is a remake and, while I haven’t seen the original, I appreciate its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and over-the-top 3D special effects. I think horror films are a perfect place to utilize 3D because the genre lends itself to wonderful opportunities for limbs and other things to pop out of the screen at the audience and this film takes full advantage (see clip below). The story may not be original but the filmmakers do a nice job of reinforcing the staples of a slasher film while providing fun entertainment for an hour and a half.
4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
I just saw this a week ago but it has been on the list for a month. I knew even before I saw it that it needed to be on here. It’s such an iconic horror film and I knew the story long before I viewed it. It has been mentioned in numerous conversations about the genre and now that I’ve seen it I can confidently say that it lives up to its reputation. It’s interesting to me that the film is less gory and exploitative than I’ve heard many people claim. What’s so disturbing about it isn’t the actual violence but the thought behind it. The idea that there are people out there hunting down victims and torturing them is so common nowadays but in 1974, that was innovative and incredibly morbid. Perhaps I’m so used to the violence in today’s films that the level Chain Saw reaches pales in comparison but I still think that the idea is more troubling than the bloodshed.
3. Halloween (1978)
How do you have a slasher flick list and not mention this film? You don’t. Otherwise the list is invalid. Michael Myers has become a major symbol of the horror/slasher genre and even Jamie Lee Curtis has reached idol-status, becoming the ideal of what a horror heroine should aim to be. This movie has set the standard on so many aspects of the genre, from the idea of a faceless killer (which admittedly Chain Saw popularized but Halloween perfected), to his “everyday weapon,” and even to the characters he goes after. Hunting down those who have “sinned” and allowing the “pure” female to survive is a horror genre trope that Halloween firmly established. I haven’t seen any of the subsequent films, nor do I have any desire to, but there are seven sequels, one remake, and one sequel to the remake. That’s a testament to how influential and successful the original is.
2. Scream (1996)
I know, I know. Scream higher than Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Well, it’s my list and while I recognize the cultural influence (and pure awesomeness) of the previous two films, Scream was such a huge influence on my appreciation of the horror/slasher genre that I place it at number two. I was too young to have seen any of the first three films in theaters and I don’t remember exactly when I did end up seeing the original. All I remember is that after my first viewing, I was enchanted (yes, enchanted). I had never seen such a clever commentary on a genre done in such a complementary way. Of course it makes sense because it was made by horror mastermind Wes Craven, who does understand and respect the genre. I think the three sequels do an incredible job of examining each of their respective topics (sequels, trilogies, remakes) and I love them but as it almost always is, the original is best.
1. Psycho (1960)
What else could be number one? This is the film that launched the slasher genre and was directed by the greatest thriller/horror director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was brilliant and this film is often credited as his masterpiece (understandably so). Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is the perfect innocuous hotel clerk who is just strange enough to give an uneasy feeling. Something doesn’t quite seem right about his relationship with his mother but then again, his innocent face instills confidence in his humble situation. Everything about the film has become so ingrained into pop culture that it’s a miracle I saw the film so late in my life (I think I was in my teens) without knowing the twists. I have my father to thank for that, who went so far as to hide Psycho toys from my sister and I in movie memorabilia stores we visited to ensure we would have an untainted experience when we finally saw the film. In a world with the internet it’s hard to see a movie without any preconceived notions floating through your mind. I’m lucky that I got to experience this classic in an almost ideal way, not knowing what was to happen. It made it extremely thrilling to watch.
SPOILER ALERT (DON’T WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM)