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.