Slasher movies were what introduced me to horror. The idea of some huge (yet oddly quiet) man, skulking around in some cryptic mask, looking to viciously murder anyone who crosses his path. Sometimes, the slasher would have motive for doing what he did, so that added another layer of fun to the sub genre. The idea that the bad guy may have been a victim at one point. In that sense, slasher movies are more like revenge movies. They begin with the tragedy befalling a character. Said tragedy changes his appearance and demeanor. Often then, we flash forward as some masked maniac has begun killing everyone. The formula is easy enough to follow, but I have noticed over the years slasher fans always seem to talk about the same movies. The movies that set the tone. The Friday the 13ths and the Halloweens. But what about the hundreds of other slasher movies through the ages? How come they get no love? Well, my sick friends. They are about to.
Man, I love me some Cropsey! Yes, The Burning may have been very similar to Friday the 13th, but why is that a bad thing? The Burning was about Cropsey, the caretaker at a summer camp (for apparently really cruel children). One night some of the campers decided they want to scare the guy, but in the process of trying to scare him, they kind of burn him alive. You know, we have all been there? You try to prank someone and mistakenly maim them. Man, I hate when that happens.
Anyway, Cropsey does not actually die. He just spends five years at a hospital getting skin grafts and shit. They release him and he pretty much makes his way to a camp and starts murdering kids. I know murdering kids at a camp is nothing new, but man, that canoe scene is one of my faves of the 80’s. Fisher Stevens seems genuinely shocked he gets his fingers cut off. That never fails to make me laugh. Makeup master Tom Savini at his early best.
Oh, and let it be known. A young Jason Alexander (with hair) is in this movie. It is worth seeing just for that. Well, that, and when Cropsey busts out a blow torch in the final stretch of the film. Yeah, that’s pretty badass, too.
Long before “Dexter” was showing us how to kill people on Showtime, Leslie Vernon was showing us how to kill people in this brilliant mockumentary. A movie that follows the exploits of a man named Leslie Vernon (sort of a real life Jason Vorhees with charisma) as he goes about, doing his thing. The Vernon character is so charming, you tend to forget the fact that he is a murdering monster pretty quick. Then he reminds you again.
The film is satire of the slasher genre, while also being a love letter to the genre. We follow Leslie as he addresses such things as picking victims, ways to kill, and how to get away with it. The movie bounces back and forth from satire, and it hits you during the last half hour that it was all an elaborate set up for the finale of the film.
I will not tell you more than that, as I do not want to spoil this gem of a film for you.
Peeping Tom is on the list for one simple reason. It was WAY ahead of its time. We are talking about a film from 1960. On top of that, the way the kills go down in this movie are still incredibly chilling. Why? Well, that is the whole point of the film. The Peeping Tom in mention is a man who has a camera mounted and running at all times. He essentially films all his murders, and we see them from the perspective of the camera. Think the modern remake of Maniac and you have a good idea.
Mark, the main character in this movie, has an Anthony Perkins in Psycho levels of creepy to him. He is an odd and quiet man, and the more we find out about his past, the more what he does seems to make sense. Granted, it dos not justify his actions, but at least validates why he does them.
Again, I am being cryptic and vague on purpose. See this movie. Also, someone needs to remake it, stat. The voyeurism themes would lend themselves well to our technological age.
Okay, I am gonna be honest with you about this one. StageFright is on the list because of that fucking owl head. I know Lord of Tears is coming soon, so this feels really topical to bring up. Something about a human that looks like an owl is very disturbing. StageFright is about a group of actors who start getting offed, one by one. They hear of a legend of a murder known as The Night Owl, and once they bring him up, it is like they summoned him.
But this is a slasher, so you know the owl is just one of the people in the cast. But who? Well, that is not important. What is important is that the owl head is creepy a fuck (even though you know field of vision would be all but non existent with it on) and the final half hour has some cool twists and turns.
But mainly, that owl head.
So wait, you have a killer cop roaming the streets of New York city, and Bruce Campbell is in this movie? Two stronger selling points, I have never heard. While every other aspect of it may just seem generic, sometimes all you needed for a good slasher was to change the setting, and change the antagonist.
I will be honest with you. Another reason this is on the list is because the idea of a cop being a murderous fiend is pretty scary. Why? Because your mind set it to do whatever a cop tells you. We have all been conditioned to respect them as authority. So the very idea that a cop would be the murderous monster sends a chill down your spine.
Granted, other than that, this is typical slasher fare, but the cop thing sets it above most other slasher clones and gets some points for originality.
I will admit, this one (much like StageFright) is on the list for the killer’s ensemble. In this case, the killer wears an old hag mask that, for some reason, fucking freaks me out. The actual movie is sort of by-the-numbers, but man, that hag mask? That thing is terrifying. Oh, and extra points for the ice skate scene.
Rarely do we get to see ice ballet and slasher films meet up so gloriously. Okay, so what slasher films do you think are underrated? Take to the comments and let us know. Then go toss a like over here, and then go read about< a href="http://remycarreiro.com/soul-stealing-cinema-seasoning-house/" target="blank">the one film from this year that really fucked with my head.
AROUND THE WEB
this week in horror
More in Editorials
In case the recent coverage hasn’t clued you in, today marks 20 years since...
As both a woman and a longtime horror fan, I can’t help but notice...
Paramount Pictures announced yet another shift in release for the next installment of perhaps...
In 1989, just three short years after Tobe Hooper drove the serrated end of...