Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teeth (2007)



Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Starring: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais

Run Time: 1:34

Rant: This movie starts with a little boy trying to finger his 6 year old step-sister. Yep. I did some research before watching. Vagina dentata is something that actually exists in folk tales. That's when you have teeth in your vagina. I assumed some sick fuck invented that bullshit for this movie but apparently sick fucks have existed for years and years.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Seedpeople (1992)




Director: Peter Manoogian

Starring: Sam Hennings, Andrea Roth, Dane Witherspoon

Run Time: 1:21

Rant: This is an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers ripoff. I have no problem with that but it's not executed well at all. The fucking cover is cool as hell. It's what I've come to call the attack of the "Cover Trickster." Interesting on the outside but once you open it up it smells like shit.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Behind the Mask: Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)


Starring:  Angela Goethals, Kate Lang Johnson, and Ben Pace

Homicidal Maniac: Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon

Run time: 1:32:00

Quick Synopsis:  A soon to be iconic serial killer allows a trio of film students to document the tricks of his trade as he prepares for his killing spree.

Review:
This movie is a must see for any horror fan, especially fans of the slasher.  The film can be cut into two parts, a fake documentary and a slasher.  The mockumentary takes up about two thirds of the film and is filmed with so many great scenes and other clever Easter egg-like bits of information that help to deconstruct the slasher sub-genre.  The viewer learns about red herrings, ahabs, and the final girl as well as the symbolism that goes along with each.  There are fun references to other films throughout the movie including:

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Innkeepers (2011)


Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, and Kelly McGinnis

Homicidal Maniac:  Ghosts

Run time: 1:41:00

Quick Synopsis:  Two innkeepers search for paranormal activity inside their soon to be closed inn.

Review:
This is a pretty simple ghost story.  Everything is good enough but there is really nothing earth-shattering within the movie.  The actors are not asked to do much with their characters and won't really shift your overall feeling for the movie.  The movie's build-up is better than its conclusion, but I still don't think it is much of a let down.  Mostly due to

Arcade (1990)




Director: Albert Pyun

Starring: Megan Ward, Peter Billingsly, John DeLancie

Run Time: 1:21

Rant: If this site was called AwfulActionMovies we would certainly have more than a few Albert Pyun reviews under our belt. He directed countless horrible movies including the 1990 Captain America and Spitfire but what about his horror work? There are only a few and they're actually not bad at all. Dollman, one of my favorite guilty pleasures(considered horror but more Sci-Fi/Action), and Arcade are two underrated movies that deserve at least one watch from a horror movie fan.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Ouija Experiment (2011)


Starring: Justin Armstrong, Swisyzinna, and Carson Underwood

Homicidal Maniac: Ghosts

Run time: 1:32:00

Quick Synopsis:  Five friends film their experiences with a Ouija board.

Review: 
They tried.  Based off of pure expectation, it is really difficult to bash a movie like this.  I mean the budget was $1,200 and there is no one working on the project worth a damn.  At best under these circumstances the movie could pull off a 5 rating, but that would take either an amazing story or one of these "actors" giving the most unexpectedly amazing performance possible.  There are just too many things going against it.  Sure there are exceptions to every rule but they are called exceptions for a reason.  Rather than press on about the shitty acting, mediocre story and bad effects I am going to try to look on the bright side.

Puppet Master: Series Review


Creator: Charles Band
Starring: Paul Le Matt, Elizabeth Maclellan, Guy Rolfe, Gordon Currie, Chandra West, George Peck, Greg Sestero, Corey Feldman, Levi Feihler, Kip Canyon
Best Film: Puppet Master (1989)
Official Awful Rating: 7.4
Worst Film: Puppet Master: The Legacy
Official Awful Rating: 3.9
[Puppet_Master_the_Legacy_73.jpg]
Most Underrated: Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge (1991)
Official Awful Rating: 7.3
Best Kill:
Puppet Master II (1990)
Patrick (24:04) Drilled in the forehead by Tunneler.

Rant: Puppet Master was released in 1989 as the first Full Moon production. It's nowhere near as famous of a movie as some other iconic horror films but it's cult fanbase has led it to 11 fucking sequels. That's more than Child's Play, Hellraiser, A Nightmare on Elm Street and even Halloween.
By far the highlight of the entire series for me is David Allen's incredible stop motion effects. There is a reason the first five movies really outshine the final six. The elaborate fight scenes between the puppets and the Totems are very impressive and it's a shame Allen died in 1999. He could have probably made some of later films watchable.
I'm very glad Puppet Master: Axis of Evil and Puppet Master X: Axis Rising are solid awful horror movies. They're by no means perfect but from 1999 to 2004 the Puppet Master movies were fucking rotten. Sure, there is fun stuff in there but at the end of the day we need to get back to basics.
When you look at the insanity that takes place in these movies like living puppets, psychics, nazis, zombies, demons, sorcerers, mummies and going to places like Germany, Egypt and France... it's fucking out of control. I can't think of another horror series that's so diverse in tone and story. I only wish they slayed vampires or went to space. Puppet Master will always be a cult favorite and will hopefully always have sequels as long as Full Moon Features is still around.

Blade
Kills: 6
Appearances: 11
Puppet Master
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: The Legacy
Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Pinhead
Kills: 5
Appearances: 11
Puppet Master
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: The Legacy
Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Jester
Kills: 1
Appearances: 11
Puppet Master
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: The Legacy
Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Tunneler
Kills: 8
Appearances: 10
Puppet Master
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: The Legacy
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Leech Woman
Kills: 7
Appearances: 7
Puppet Master
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Torch
Kills: 2
Appearances: 2
Puppet Master II
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter


Six Shooter
Kills: 4
Appearances: 8
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master
Puppet Master: The Legacy
Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising


Decapitron
Kills: 0
Appearances: 2

Puppet Master 4
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter


Tank
Kills: 1
Appearances: 1
Curse of the Puppet Master


Dr. Death
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master


Drill Sergeant
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master


Cyclops
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master


Retro Blade
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master


Retro Pinhead
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master


Retro Six-Shooter
Kills: 0
Appearances: 1
Retro Puppet Master



Ninja
Kills: 1
Appearances: 1
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
The Reviews

Curse of the Puppet Master

Retro Puppet Master

Puppet Master: The Legacy

Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys

Puppet Master: Axis of Evil

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Cat in the Brain (1990)




Director: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Lucio Fulci, David L. Thompson, Malisa Longo

Run Time: 1:33

Rant: This fucking movie is strange as shit. Lucio Fulci directed Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and plenty of other wacky, violent movies. A Cat in the Brain, also known as Nightmare Concert is mainly one ridiculous storyline mixed with gory ass clips of Fulci's previous films. There's a reason they call him the Italian Godfather of Gore.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

At the Devil's Door (2014)


Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Naya Rivera, and Ashley Rickards

Homicidal Maniac: The Devil, I guess.

Run time: 1:33:00

Quick Synopsis: A real estate agent and her sister find themselves in danger after she inspects a house with a evil past. 

Review:
It is never good when the most interesting characters in a film appear within the first 15 minutes and never show up again.  Unfortunately, that is what happens during At the Devil's Door.  Once the movie shifts to the films actual plot it really lost a lot of its luster.  I do not think writer/director Nicholas McCarthy knew exactly where he was going with the story.  It felt as though he had a couple ideas for similar films and just decided to combine them into one.  Part of this feeling was most likely brought on by the weird shift in the main character of the film.  Similar to the concept of the film, I like the idea of

Steps of the Teen Slasher: The Reboot


This takes us to our final step in the process, the remake or reboot.  After the Scream trilogy helped to revitalize the teen slasher, it seemed like remaking successful franchises of the past was an obvious path to go down.  It only seems fitting to go back to the Scream franchise to introduce the new rules that these reboots would have to follow to reach success.  Sadly, Randy was not able to look over a decade into the future to make a list of rules for this situation.  Instead these rules were developed by the cinema club in Scream 4 (2011).  “The unexpected is the new cliché. You have to have an opening sequence that blows the doors off…and the kills have to be way more extreme.  Modern audience become savvy to the rules of the originals.  In fact, the reversal becomes the standard.”  The reboot is often used as a strategy to make more money.  There is less risk with the known than then unknown. 
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
The IFTA International Schedule of Definitions, define a remake as, “a new Motion Picture derived from an existing Motion Picture or its Underlying Material in which substantially the same characters and events as shown in the existing Motion Picture are depicted.”   An example of this is Halloween (2007).  While the film does make changes to Michael’s childhood, most of the character and the story are the same as the original film.  The kills are also much more extreme, as was suggested by the “rules” given in Scream 4.  The reboot can be defined as “a remake of an existing work that is substantially different from previous incarnations and when applied to franchises.”  Friday the Thirteenth (2009) is a perfect example of a reboot.  As discussed earlier both the remake and reboot hold the same purpose.  That is to take the risk out of the filmmaking business.  There is an understanding that the fan of franchises are more like to go see these films than an original film.  
Halloween (2007)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Steps of the Teen Slasher: The Rejuvination

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

By the mid to late 1980s the teen slasher subgenre had appeared to run its course.  It is popularity began to die in similar fashion to the victims of the films.  The films that came out during this time period started to show elements of post-modernism.  The films began to blend humor and horror in addition to giving self-reflexive winks at the audience.  There are many others ways that the films attempted add a little more juice to their potentially dying franchise.  The first step is always the killer’s reincarnation, you cannot have a new film if your killer is dead.  There will also be a transformation of both the setting and the main characters of the films, including the "final girl", while sometimes ignoring the original framework of the franchises story. 

Unlike the steps that preceded it, the rejuvenation is much more detailed and sometimes even introduced before the “final chapter”.  The first and most important aspect is the reincarnation of the blade-wielding psychopath.  Across the board this reincarnation occurs within the teen slasher franchises discussed within this paper.  Firstly, and most simply explained (if you are able to suspend your disbelief, we are talking about the horror genre) is the Halloween franchise.  Halloween H20 ends with the apparent decapitation of Michael Myers.  Well, guess what, we were all bamboozled.  Michael Myers decides that he wants to switch his mask with a random EMT as is depicted in Halloween: Resurrection.  Unfortunately, as often times is the case with the rejuvenation of a franchise there are many holes within this film.  The first occurs in the beginning as Michael Myers appears to complete his cycle and finally take the life of Laurie Strode.  At this point, given everything we understand from the franchise, Michael would have completed what he had sought after.  However, this is not the case as a new set of victims completely unrelated to the original film concept finds themselves as the prey of Michael Myers.  By the end of the film we are presented with a foreign idea about the intentions of the character.  Michael Myers is described as an unstoppable killing machine with no other true purpose.  This contradicted his perceived purpose within the framework of the original film.
Halloween Resurrection 

The Friday the Thirteenth franchise took several different approaches to reincarnating Voorhees.  In the first film after the “final chapter,” (ironically made only a year after the supposed ending of the series) Friday the Thirteenth: A New Beginning (1985) appears to completely ignore the ending of the previous film.  However, this is explained by the end of the movie.  Similar to the reincarnation in Halloween: Resurrection, there is not an actual reincarnation.  The blade-wielding psychopath is revealed as a copycat.  Fortunately for Jason fans we do not have to wait too long for the actual return of the true killer.  The next film, Friday the Thirteenth Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), begins with Tommy Jarvis, returning for his third film, having the urge to know for sure that Jason Voorhees is dead.  After digging up his grave and finding his corpse, Tommy loses control and begins to stab the dead body with a metal fence rod.  Unfortunately for Tommy (and fortunately for teen slasher fans everywhere) the rod is struck by lightning and Jason returns from the grave.  Over the next few films unlikely rebirths of Jason become crazier and crazier culminating with a hypnotized coroner becoming possessed by Jason’s spirit after eating his heart in the 1993 sequel Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (once again not true) and Jason being re-animated in space during Jason X (2002)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Wes Craven was able to create a much more interesting and created reincarnation through Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).  The film is set in a universe where all the other films exist as movies.  Actors who played characters within those films all play themselves in New Nightmare.  There are appearances by Wes Craven, Robert Englund (Krueger) and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson) stars in the film as herself.  Within this universe, Krueger leaves the confines of the films and has come into the real world.  An argument could be made that this film played a major role in the creation of the Scream franchise.  Both films take the post-modernism of to another level.  The self-reflexivity is no longer just “winks” to the audience, they play a major role within the films.
Changes in scenery has been a ploy used by teen slasher franchises many times over the years.  A key component of both the Nightmare series and the Friday the Thirteenth series were the location.  Elm Street is within the title of the Nightmare series and Camp Crystal Lake is as well-known and referenced almost as often as Jason himself.  However, this did not stop the filmmakers from taking these villains away from there comfort zones.  Jason somehow finds his way Manhattan.  If that confused the audience his trip to space would further complicate what they thought they were to expect from the franchise.  During Freddy’s Dead Freddy is questioned about starting to kill outside of Springwood, the town the first five films are set in.  He answers, “Every town has an Elm Street.”  While this could easily be thrown away as the usual Freddy Krueger one-liner, it speaks to thought process of the filmmakers take when looking at the setting of the teen slasher.  While the audience has become comfortable with the usual setting, the filmmakers can move it and the audience will be force to follow. 
Jason Takes Manhattan 
There were many transformations of the final girl throughout the three franchises discussed throughout this paper.  One popular trend was shifting the “final girl” into a final child.  The Friday franchise begins this trend with the introduction of Tommy Jarvis and later Halloween introduces Jamie.  Both of these children played major roles in the demise of their respective killers over several films.  Coincidentally, the audience get to see these children grow into adults in later films, still scarred by their past encounters. 
Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers
From the beginning, all of psychopaths had supernatural elements to their character that help add to the horror the press onto the victims.  As these franchised evolved so did the victims.  A supernatural element was given to individuals fighting the killers in all three franchises.  In Halloween, the previously discussed Jamie saw visions that helped to locate Michael Myers.  In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) the audience is introduced to a set of characters who have special skillsets that help them fight Freddy Krueger.  The final girl uses her powers to destroy Freddy at the end of the film.  In Friday the Thirteenth Part VII: The New Blood (1988) the final girl, Tina, has telekinetic powers that help her in her fight against Voorhees.

One final attempt to rejuvenate the teen slasher was the possibility of a crossover film.  There idea of the crossover film was first introduced to audience in 1993.  At the end of Jason Goes to Hell Freddy Krueger’s arm is seen pulling Jason’s masked down into the ground.  A decade later, after many failed attempts to create a film, Freddy vs Jason (2003) was released.  The film was a major success and brought in many new younger fans to two franchises that became afterthoughts before some of them were born. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cool Air (2006)



Director: Albert Pyun

Starring: Morgan Weisser, Crystal Laws Green, Jenny Dare Paulin

Run Time: 1:18

Rant: This movie is an hour and fucking eighteen minutes long. The credits at the beginning take up about six minutes and the credits at the end take up about six minutes so we're looking at a movie that's basically an hour. Filmed in 2006 and shown in Portugal, this movie wasn't released in the U.S. until 2013. The video quality looks like something off of Youtube and there's only about five actors so we're looking at a really low budget production.


Steps of the Teen Slasher: "The Final Chapter"


Once again our friend Randy, even from the grave, was available to give details on the final chapter of a teen slasher film during Scream 3.  While a lot of what Randy spoke of revolved around the idea of trilogy, there were still aspects that helped in general with the final and concluding chapter.  Randy explains,  One, you have a killer that will be super human, stabbing him won’t work, shooting him won’t work, basically in the third one you have to cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him or blow him up.  Number two, anyone including the main character can die…I’m sorry, it’s the final chapter, it could be f****** Reservoir Dogs by the time thing is through.  Number 3, the past will come back to bite you in the a**, whatever you think you know about the past, forget it…”

So let’s take Randy’s advice one step at a time.  Before we go into detail on each franchise that we have discussed so far, it is import to discuss what we consider at the “Final Chapter.”  For both Friday the Thirteenth and A Nightmare on Elm Street this is a pretty simple exercise.  I am considering Friday the Thirteenth: The Final Chapter (1984) and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) as the two films to end the initial film franchise sequences.  The Halloween franchise is a little more difficult to distinguish a “Final Chapter” but for the sake of this paper we will use Halloween: H2O.  

Now back to Randy’s first rule, in Freddy’s Dead, Freddy gives arguably his best monologue.  He explains:

 “Sticks and stones may break my bones but nothing will ever kill me.  Well let’s see now. First, they tried burning me. [slices off his thumb] Then they tried burying me. [slices off his index finger] But this…this is my favorite.  They even tried holy water! [slices off his middle finger, moments later he shows that his fingers have become reattached to his hand]  But I just keep on ticking because they promised me that.  The dream people.  The ones that gave me this job.  In dreams…I am forever! Too bad you are not.”



I am pretty sure that fits under Randy’s criteria of super human.  Krueger is later killed after being blown up into thousands of pieces.  In Friday the Thirteenth: The Final Chapter Jason Voorhees has his scalp is opened to finally kill him.  Halloween H2O resolves with Laurie Strode finally decapitating Michael Myers, ending the years of madness he had reigned over Haddonfield.  All of these ending felt as though they were the end of successful teen slasher franchises.  We now know that this was not the case. 

Looking at both Randy’s second and third rules is not as simple as his first rule.  In most cases these rules pop up throughout the film franchise rather than any individual film.  In the Nightmare series the heroine of the first film meets her demise in the third film of the series.  Laurie Strode is finally dies in the film following Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection (2002).  She is killed at the beginning of the film as she attempts to take out Michael one last time.  In terms of the third rule, there are a view scenarios that were similar between the Halloween franchise and the Nightmare franchise.  I have already introduced the dream people that have given Krueger his powers in the Nightmare franchise.  The Halloween franchise introduces a mystical symbol known as the “Curse of Thorn” in the fifth film, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989).  The film that follows, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), goes into further detail introducing a cult-like group and explaining how Michael’s power were given to him.  Both of these storylines were completely absent from the framework of the original films.  There are many other “blasts from the past” sprinkled throughout these franchises.  In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) the final girl, Maggie, is revealed to be the daughter of Krueger.  In Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) it appears as though a young girl, Jamie Lloyd, is being stalked by Michael Myers without an apparent motivation.  However, the film later reveals that Jamie is Michael Myers niece and the daughter of Laurie Strode.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Steps of the Teen Slasher: The Sequel


The Scream franchise helped to revitalize the teen slasher more than can described with words.  This is with the knowledge that the franchise revitalized a dormant subgenre.   There is no way to value transferring something from apparent death to prosperity.  Anyway the most important character within the original Scream trilogy was Randy Meeks.  Obviously Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette had more importance to the actual trilogy, but Randy, as the film geek, was the most important character to any discussions on the subgenre.  As most understand the scream trilogy had a self-reflexivity and a heightened degree of intertextual referencing incomparable to any film that may have preceded it.  Randy was the epitome of these aspects of the franchise.  Before he is brutally murdered in the back of a news van in the Scream 2, Randy begins to describe the rules of sequels to horror films.  He states, “…number 1: The body count is always bigger.  Number 2: The death scenes are much more elaborate, more blood, more gore, carnage candy, your core audience just expects it.  And number 3: If you want your sequel to become a franchise, never ever…” boom Dewey cuts him off.  This paper would have been so much easier if that didn’t happen.  However, since we will never know, let’s look at his first two rules.  Is this the case of the average sequel to a teen slasher?

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street has 4 deaths.  The sequel has 6 deaths.  Every kill in the original film has a connection to the main story.  The sequel has random deaths that would suggest that Randy’s rules have some serious merit.  The next two Nightmare films also have more kills than the original.   Similarly the sequel to Halloween also has a higher kill count, in addition to the fact that blood is shown for the first time in the series.  The sequel to Friday the Thirteenth has a similar kill count to the original, but it seems necessary to explain that the franchise shifts after the first film; the killer is no longer Mrs. Voorhees, and is now her son Jason Voorhees.  When speaking to the brutality of the kills, Tom Savini, the special effects guy for the original film did not work on the sequel due to his involvement with a similar film, The Burning.  It is fairer to compare the second Friday the Thirteenth with its sequels, which were much more brutal than its predecessors.

It is also important to suggest that the deeper themes of the films were now secondary.  Sure there were final girls in both Halloween II and Friday the Thirteenth II and III, but at this point this seemed formulaic rather than hitting on the deeper meanings the subgenre was supposed to represent.  To further express this idea, the “hero” of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was a male.   As these films would continue with further sequels the “hero” of the films would also change.  In the fourth and fifth installments of the Halloween series the series was a child similar to the third and fourth films of Friday the Thirteenth.  The sexual inhibitions of the “final girl” were no longer important.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Steps of the Teen Slasher: The Original


While I have already discussed the overall conventions of teen slasher subgenre, this appears to be the perfect time to go into further detail.  In order to do so, I will use examples from two of the most successful teen slasher franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth.  Just like its predecessor Halloween, these films focus on teens who find themselves in danger in many situations that have often been seen as safe zones: homes, schools, and camps. There is great amount of writing detailing the serious, often times graphic violence towards women that can be juxtaposed with explicit sexual imagery.  Most of this violence is perceived as eroticized violence against the female characters.  While acknowledging the existence of these aspects of the subgenre, I feel it will be beneficial to the reader to receive information dealing with many of the other themes of the subgenre that may be sometimes overlooked. 

The first theme that at want to discuss is teen slashers work to remove the audience from the cruel realities of everyday life. The idea is very much evident within A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Freddy Krueger, the villain of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, allows us to forget about the real and sometimes unknown evils of the real world.  Going to the movie theater, to watch a movie gives an opportunity to forget the outside world.  Talking about how bad and evil Freddy Krueger is takes away some of the pain of the everyday evils of life.  These ideas originate from Mark Edmunson and his ideas of gothic despair.  There are very few critics that agree with his point of view, but I believe his thought process has merit.

Another sometimes overlooked aspect revolves around the idea of family within the teen slasher.  One reason it may be overlooked is the apparent absence of parents within the teen slasher.  In these films, parents are either “too busy or involved in their own problems” to help their children.   Even the parents who attempted to care for their children, were hapless or did not see what problems were facing their children.  A scene such as when Nancy Thompson’s mother in A Nightmare on Elm Street forced her child to take a sleeping pill that completely counteracted Nancy’s attempts to stay awake and avoid Freddy is a great example of this issues.  Digging deeper into the film, the cause of Nancy’s current situations was the actions of her parents years earlier when they killed the then human Freddy Krueger, an apparent child killer.  Her parents indirectly caused the current, grim situation that faced Nancy and her friends.  These familial issues to not just exist within A Nightmare on Elm Street.  The original Friday the Thirteenth revolves around the vengeance of a mother who could not save her child.  While her actions were obviously the effects of a psychotic breakdown, the cause was her inability to save her child from the neglectful camp counselors. 

The final aspect of the familial concept that is shown within these films is the “final girl.”  Through these films the final girl has been faced with many adversities, most obvious the death of her friends and the attempts at her life from the psychotic killer.  This loss and these fears have transformed this teen to an adult who must overcome her fears on her own.  While I had discussed avoiding the common discussion of eroticized violence and sexual imagery, it is nearly impossible to not bring up when discussing the “final girl” and her usual sexual reluctance throughout these films.  In addition, throughout the teen slasher films, the final girl is able to shows characteristics of both femininity and masculinity.  These films end with this final girl facing off against the repressed killer.  It is now her responsibility to destroy this monster without the help of her parents.  In most original films of a teen slasher franchise, the final girl is able to achieve this goal.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Steps of the Teen Slasher: The Origins


Before diving right in, I feel it is important to give a little background information on the teen slasher.  There are three films that definitively helped to develop the teen slasher film. Psycho (1960) is widely considered the beginning of the slasher film.  While many other previous films may have presented many of the conventions of the slasher, they are not given the praise that Psycho receives. The films well-known shower scene introduced the audience to the basic elements of the slasher, a knife-wielding male killer and a helpless female victim.  

The next film to help shape the teen slasher was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).  Many do not consider this film a slasher, however, it does help to introduce the idea of young characters as the victims of psychopaths.   

Finally, in 1978, these two ideas were combine to help create the first true teen slasher, John Carpenter’s Halloween. The film introduced the conventions of the teen slasher discussed in the introduction and will always be considered a classic to horror fans. 

Steps of the Teen Slasher: Introduction


There is no sub-genre that fits the same structure as often as the teen slasher.  The conventions were established early on and are followed with very few modifications. The audience expects a young, often teens, group of sexually-attractive characters stalked and killed by a knife-wielding psychopath, usually in a brutal and shocking manner.  These killers usually appear to be immortal and unstoppable.  This is the expectation and will always be successful layout for the fans of the teen slasher.  The only way to fail as a filmmaker is to attempt to change these conventions.  The ideas presented above are nothing new.  Every movie fan understands that the teen slasher follows the same conventions.  A more fascinating comparison is the consistent approach that is taken to make a successful film franchise.  Just like the successful teen slasher film follows the same structure as all others within the subgenre, the most successful teen slasher franchises appear to do the exact same.  After the success of the original film it is obvious to everyone the need to make a few sequels.  Once the sequels run their course, a “final chapter” is made; however, this “final chapter” never ends the series.  After a few years pass, there is an attempted franchise rejuvenation.  And finally over the past decade, most teen slasher franchises have completed their cycles with reboots that combine the franchise’s initial concepts and the current expectations, or sometimes perceived expectations, of slasher movie fan.  Over the next week I plan on detailing these steps.