Saturday, February 28, 2009

Titans of Slash

The 'slasher' genre has many different psycho killers that have left an impression on us. Psycho, for example, practically started the whole shebang. But although quite a few people have heard of Psycho, not that many know anything about it other than it's a horror film. I want to quickly touch on those titans that everyone has heard of and almost everyone has some idea of what they are.

Particularly because of recent and upcoming remakes, we should get to know these unstoppable freaky crazies. They rose to power during the late 70s and early 80s, and they are Michael Myers (of the Halloween series), Jason Voorhees (of Friday the 13th), and Freddy Krueger (of A Nightmare on Elm Street).

Let's start our horra history lesson!

Now, the guy who really got Slasher movies going was Michael Myers (not to be mistaken with Mike Myers; don't worry, it happens). Big scary dude, wears an gray expressionless mask, matching overalls, and can't seem to be killed by anything. He goes around killing people, particularly those around any of his surviving relatives (P.S. He's trying to kill his entire family). The series had 8 movies with a plot becoming more and more complex as it went along (though Halloween III was a bit of a sidewinder and had nothing to do with the rest). The first was extremely popular, and the second was not far behind. 'Three' was okay, but everyone wanted Michael Myers, not some other crap. Fans still liked 4, 5 and 6, but favour (and flavour) was on the decline. By Halloween H20 (number 7) , people were getting tired of it all. They watched it, but they weren't satisfied by it.

Up until this point, my opinion was pretty parallel to the opinion of the 'they' I keep talking about. Everyone else; the fan base. But then came Halloween Resurrection (craaazy eights!). This was another that many fans thought of as 'not satisfying'. I thought of it as pure garbage. The series plot ends at the beginning of the movie, then the rest is a bunch of sad acting from a bunch teens just waiting to be killed. Most of the time I was wondering "where did these clowns come from?" and couldn't care for their fates like I could for the characters in every single other movie in the set. Basically it was a movie saying "oh lookee! we can have Psyko Miko kill more teens," but it had no good reason to exist.

Later, the series was graced with Rob Zombie's remake of the original, which I personally thought did credit to the whole. Well developed characters along with a more human look at Michael Myers and his insanity was a very interesting change.

As much as people know the name and theme music of Michael Myers, they easily recognize the mask of Jason Voorhees (which actually didn't show up until the third movie). Again, this killer seems indestructible and kills people mostly because they stray into his 'territory'; he has less direction than Myers. He (well, the series) is also distinguished by the creepy "ki... ki... ki... ma... ma... ma..." sound that often signals his presence. Inspired by the Halloween series, Friday the 13th was supposed to be faster-paced and more violent. This series, however, managed to pull off 11 movies and one remake. In this case, the first three were the most popular, tailed by a decent fourth (which supposedly ended the series). The next five movies were not as good, though followed by the loyal fans. They were basically a constant repeat of the past with Jason being resurrected over and over, somehow, to kill again. Once more, things supposedly came to an end with Jason dying and this time going to Hell.

No such luck.

Jason X, the tenth installment, was a joke. Jason goes to the future! He gets frozen, picked up by a spaceship, rebuilt and future-a-fied by some nanobots or something, and gets to killing the passengers (I said the acting in Halloween Resurrection was bad; this was worse). I mean, they try to distract him with a hologram of two naked chicks. It was utterly ridiculous and might have done better if it was actually trying to be a comedy, but it wasn't. It was just a messy attempt to bring a new twist to the series.
(Rawr! It's Jason Trek! The Jasonator!... or something...)

Freddy vs. Jason, the eleventh movie in this series, joined Jason's story with that of Freddy Krueger (making it also the eighth movie in the Freddy series). This was another that fans would generally enjoy but still wish it could have been better. It apparently takes place some time before Jason X since he's not all futury and stuff. And last but not least, a few weeks ago the Friday the 13th remake was released... and I'm not saying anything about it! Haha, no I'll be doing a full (albeit late) review on that some time tomorrow night.

And we arrive at Freddy, who sliced up teens in a whole new way: in their dreams. Also known as "that guy with the claws on his hand" by those who are unfamiliar with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger is known for wearing a snazzy hat, striped shirt, and being completely covered in horrible burns. He's particularly nasty because he kills people in their dreams, causing them to die in real life. His series of nightmarish drug-trips had eight movies (including Freddy vs Jason) and some spin-offs. As usual, the first was the most popular, but the rest actually well recieved (by fans; 5 and 6 didn't go over too well with the critics). I know it looks like I'm hurrying through this one, but I haven't seen much of it yet. I need to get on that soon! Oh, and we can expect a remake for this series as well (all the cool kids are doing it), sometime around 2010. That's how they've got it scheduled anyhow.

A quick mention for one of the newer guys around the block who made a big impression on the Slasher world. The Scream trilogy, featuring a murderer with a ghost mask killing teens, has been extremely popular. It's known for showing signs of being a 'typical slasher', then turning them on their heads while still being a respectible bunch of horror films. After a long wait, they're planning to make a part 4 which is also scheduled for 2010.

I hope that helps put some of the big boys in context. We need everyone to be aware of them because they're important influences on horror, particularly slasher! Halloween gave the genre the boost into popularity, Friday the 13th kept it up, Nightmare on Elm Street made it more supernatural, and after a slow spell Scream started a new wave. Then we got to the gore-slasher movies (popularized by Saw) and now we're on to a crudload of remakes (which really got going with the Texas Chansaw Massacre remake). I won't go into details about this stuff, not today, because they're off subject! Besides, this is getting longer than I'd hoped.

See you next time with Friday the 13th!

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