|Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger|
While it's not exactly what one could call perfect holiday fare, this week we're looking at that sick, sick, sub-genre, the mad slasher, or stalk-and-slash film. One could hardly say that any of these movies are in good taste, but horror in general has never been the most tasteful genre. Although Halloween is generally considered the first modern-day slasher film after Psycho, I think Friday the 13th, which came out two years later, was much more influential. Before you knew it there was movie after movie in which young people -- high schoolers, college kids, camp counselors, teens or twenty-somethings, people at the very start of life -- are sliced and diced in often horrendous ways by some anti-social maniac. The most famous of these is Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th franchise, although Freddy Krueger was the more imaginative and diabolical sociopath -- Jason was mostly just a killing machine. Some of the maniacs in these films had motives, however specious or outlandish, generally focusing on revenge for a misdeed in the past, or romantic/sexual obsession, or just a jealous hatred of one's peers. Some murderers were serial killers; others' identities were never revealed even at the film's conclusion. So this week we've got a whole slew of slasher movies, including one Nightmare, one Friday the 13th, and several others of varying quality, not to mention a whole book on slasher films. Don't eat on a full stomach! NOTE: Although there have certainly been a few very effective slasher films, the only real "slasher" masterpiece is Psycho, and likely to remain so.
William Schoell is the author of Stay Out of the Shower: 25 Years of Shocker Films Beginning with "Psycho" and The Nightmare Never Ends: Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Films (with James Spencer).