HAVE YOU SEEN Me Author Alexandrea Weis shares her favorite slashers
Editor’s Note: Continuing our Halloweek fare, author Alexandrea Weis joins us in recounting favorite slashers. These are the classics for a reason. Enjoy.
You are in a dark theater surrounded by the drumbeat of the rain. Your heart races as you watch a distraught teenager walk into an abandoned house. Then the flash of a knife blade flickers, a perilous cry shakes the disturbing silence and buckets of blood spray the victim’s clothes. An adrenaline rush and tingling rush overwhelms you, straining your muscles as you wait for the body count to increase.
Any good slasher unleashes a rush of fear and disgust, but also fascination. This is why these films are addicting and when done right they become classics that can captivate audiences of all generations.
Halloween is the mother of the modern day slasher. Not only did the 1978 film define the whole genre, but the franchise is still going strong with box office success. Halloween (2018) and Halloween kills (October 2021). John Carpenter set the bar high by not relying on action to increase the creep factor, but instead scared his audience away with the killer’s creepy, silent POV. Tension builds as the film climaxes, where Myers confronts Laurie Strode in this memorable closet scene. The public had never been so frightened by so little. Carpenter’s small cast, minimal special effects, and few stunts make his making even more memorable. Halloween hit home because it rubbed shoulders with the everyday reality of moviegoers dangerously, making it the most impactful of all slasher movies.
The original film that put all the spectators in suspense, Psychosis, by the masterful Alfred Hitchcock, arguably gave birth to the slasher subgenre. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) was the best killer. From her mum fixation to her crossdressing rocket, many filmmakers have tried to emulate the low-key horror Perkins created with his character of Bates. Despite its age, this movie can still be scary with its iconic shower scene. It’s become the standard by which every scary bathroom murder is measured. Since its release, multitudes of slasher films have attempted to recapture the shock and awe created by Hitchcock and Perkins, but only a handful have come close.
In a decade when Forest Gump, Jurassic Park, and pulp Fiction dominated the box office, no one expected a little satirical film the horror genre to have much impact. Boy, were they wrong. Scream choose well-known TV actors and place them in the middle of a series of Ghostface killings. Comedic elements combined with some of the most brutal knife scenes ever filmed triggered a series of copies and sequelae. The new approach to tropes such as Look behind you, Useless cops, Final girl, End of twist, and Masked killer have been beautifully woven into an entertaining storyline. Corn ScreamThe most enduring legacy of is to resurrect an entire genre. This movie not only put such scary, bloody, and macabre films back in the limelight, but it raised expectations, forcing filmmakers to embrace new ways of scaring informed audiences.
I know what you did last summer (1997)
While Scream created a bigger fanbase for the genre, i know what you did last summer by Kevin Williamson (who also wrote Scream), nodded to an urban legend with a detective touch. Featuring a hook-wielding killer that terrorizes a fresh-faced cast in a fishing village, it’s sleek and spellbinding. The body count isn’t as high as that of other slashers, but that doesn’t take away from the fear factor. The intense characters give this movie a colder, darker feel, and their intricate backgrounds help the movie stand out. We get more from them than other convicted victims who look nothing more than the color of their hair or the size of their bra. It’s a newer version of a genre usually filled with damsels in distress. Here, empowered women take the reins. What Scream started with the Sydney response, I know what you did last summer continues with fiery female roles with fiery personalities.
Urban legend (1998)
A film which owes its success, at least in part, to the phenomenon of Scream, is Urban legend, which has a storyline based on the oral tradition of spooky tales. We all grew up listening to them, and seeing such campfire legends come to life has thrilled even the most ardent of disbelievers. The deaths, from Pop Rocks with Drano to an ax murderer in the backseat of a car, were not original. Addressed before in different films, they had never been put together to form the premise of a film. It played on the most entrenched fears of the public. The use of red herrings kept fans glued to every scene, hoping to find out about the killer before the end. Entertaining and with plenty of cameos, it was an apt homage to the genre and used twists and the familiar college setting to put a smile on any slasher fan.
There are so many other great movies that do the slasher genre justice, and while they didn’t make this list, they’re still worthy of your time. So tonight pop that corn, snuggle up with your spooky movie buddy, and celebrate some of your favorite slasher movies. Oh, and make sure you leave the lights on!
Did you see me? is now out of Vesuvius. Weis transports you to the preparation for Waverly, where a girl has gone missing and the body count rises. Get your copy here.