Monday, October 15, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 15 -- 10 Favorite Slasher Flicks

Honorable mentionNightmare on Elm Street:  Personally, I don't think of the Elm Street movies as being slasher films, since the death-in-dreams concept moves it away from the more grounded aspects of the genre that appeal to me.  On the other hand, just because the deaths happen in the dream-world doesn't mean that Freddy's behavior deviates from the usual slasher formula, and it tends to show up on everyone else's slasher lists, so I sort of feel compelled to mention it just to explain why it's not in the list.

10.  Sleepaway Camp: On the whole, just your average "oh no, somebody's killing the campers!" flick. Fairly well done, but nothing super exciting. So what merits its place on this list? The ending. The big twist ending. The big "holy crap, what were they smoking when they came up with that?!?!" ending. If you want to know what the ending was, just ask my friend The Mag, who still carries the psychological scars with her to this day.

9. Child's Play:  The later films went a little too far in the "wisecracking killer" department, but the first installment in the killer doll franchise does well with the novel concept. Plus, Brad Dourif doing voodoo; can't go wrong there.

8. Scream 4: One of those rare late-in-the-franchise sequels that really manages to capture the spirit, wit, and fun of the original.  It was helped greatly by the fact that it was able to capitalize on the glut of horror remakes and apply the meta-commentary style of the first film to the latest horror trend.  

7. Black Christmas: Of the various Christmas-themed horror films I've seen, Black Christmas stands out in terms of characters, tension, creepiness, and decision to not have the killer dress like Santa.  

6.  Popcorn:  Entertaining early 90s horror flick about a group of film students who are picked off one by one while hosting a horror marathon .  Lots of nods to classic horror films, engaging characters, and a fun script make this a movie that still holds up today.

5. Jason X:  Yes, that's right; my sole Friday the 13th selection is "Jason in Space." Although I enjoy the early films in the franchise -- I've done marathons multiple times over the years -- in a lot of ways they all blend together enough that it's hard to pick one out as a favorite.  Jason X, however, manages to take a concept that initially made me roll my eyes and turn it into a fun movie that embraces the inherent silliness and pays homage to all that came before.

4. Scream: First (and, perhaps not coincidently, best) of the overly-self-aware-and-self-referential horror films. Found just the right mix of humor, thrills, and pop culture for me.  
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Considering the near-mythic status the original film has obtained, I was pretty surprised the first time I saw it; in terms of slasher films, it was really pretty tame, gore-wise. That didn't lessen my enjoyment of the film, of course. Tons of creepy characters help propel the film, especially the near-mummified Grandpa. Creeps me out every time.
2. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: A faux-documentary showing the behind-the-scenes preparations that go into being a first rate slasher.  Although filled with self-aware humor, this is most definitely a horror film, not a comedy, especially once the slasher's plans are set in motion.  I just found out that a proposed sequel has had trouble getting funding, which makes me very sad.

1. Halloween: Best of the old-school slasher films. Yes, it set the dangerous precedent of "no matter what we do, he just won't die!" which would come to haunt the genre over the years, but the idea of Michael Myers as this unstoppable force of nature made it work incredibly well in this film. I always liked the creepy score as well.

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