I mean, pretty much there’s two kinds of slashers, yes? Not talking “Excellent” and “Trying to Cash In” here, but “Straightforward” and . . . “Playing with the Genre,” I guess you could say? Which, of course Scream didn’t start, as in, it wasn’t first-first—the Golden Age was more self-aware than we give it credit for—but it was the first to go wide with it, really. To kind of seed it into everything that followed, for better or for worse.
So, without falling into some mini-essay on the slasher and how parody burns excess of the genre and tinkering with the mechanism actually makes the machine leaner and meaner, all that—seriously, this is the rabbit hole I live in—I’ll just throw some covers up right quick, of all that I think have, in some fundamental and important way, flipped the slasher onto its back, shown us its underside, done something a ‘Straightforward’ slasher doesn’t, or hasn’t.
Not meaning to talk parody either (Club Dread, The Killage, Scary Movie, on and on, each more fun than the last), but just those ones that, say . . . made the slasher immaterial (as opposed to corporeal), or made the final girl the killer, or came at it from the POV of some side character not usually given the spotlight, or jacked with time, or sequence. Fun post-Scream stuff, I mean, that you can only possibly do if you A) love love love the slasher, and B) know the slasher dynamic so, so intimately—intimately enough to jack with the build, to leave it both familiar and, yep, off-kilter. For me, all these do just that, which is why I’ll never stop watching them:
If you got some more for this, I’ll stuff the poster in. I mean, if I’ve seen it, and I agree it, you knows, goes with these. Can’t imagine I’m not forgetting something . If I am? It’s just because it’s so close to my heart that I can’t see it.
Anyway, this is by far my favorite slasher shelf (Fruedian slip: just untypo’d that from ‘slasher self‘). I mean, I dig the straightforward ones too, don’t get me wrong. But I also like to have fun. And these are that. Too, straightforward ones, man, they’re rarer and rarer, aren’t they? Last completely straightforward and good slasher I can remember is years ago already: Madison County. But surely that’s just me displaying some poor recall, yes? Oh, oh: Hellfest, yes. Under the radar, sure, but not playing any games, just stalking and carving, and pretty effectively. The Cold Preys too, I suppose. Hard to do it better than that, really. Okay, and now I’m thinking harder, Fender Bender.
However, I don’t consider Halloween 2018 straightforward, quite—it’s very aware of the footsteps its carefully placing its own feet in—and even The Strangers: Prey at Night is engaging a fair amount of nostalgia, which isn’t really a key ingredient of ‘straightforward,’ I don’t think. But surely there’s something besides Hellfest and Madison County and the Cold Preys and Fender Bender—something that’s gone wide, gotten the love—that keeps it simple and direct these last few years, yes? Can’t imagine there’s not, and can’t imagine I haven’t posted about it somewhere in here. Whenever I remember it, or find it, I’ll come back, re-do this ending. Till then, I’m watching a slasher, probably. You maybe should be too.
➔ Too, I considered All Cheerleaders Die, but, finally, I just don’t remember that one well enough to say yes or no on it. Thought I’d done a write-up on it somewhere, somewhy, but I can’t seem to locate it now.
➔ And, believe me, I’m exhibiting massive control by not slipping You’re Next into the list up there, just because it’s asking the question “What if the final girl had no arc, but was bad-ass from the get-go, ready to rumble from minute one on?” Which is a great question, and an important one. However, if I’m being honest, then You’re Next is, before it’s displaying its slasher roots, being built on a home-invasion model. Doesn’t diminish it at all—it’s still one of my all-time favorites, and most days I’m thrilled to call it a slasher—but, right now anyway, I’m trying to be fair, so, not placing it here.