The Gospel According to Demon Theory

The best place to hide from an axe-weilding maniac is with your back pressed up against a wooden door you’re pretty sure is both solid and impenetrable. This is because that maniac who’s after you, his first strike with the axe will nearly always be from two to six inches from the left side of your face, thus allowing you both to know exactly where she or he is, and thus escape into the next room, and getting the maniac’s axe caught in the door long enough for you to make that escape. As for why these maniacs strike the door to the left of your head instead of your right, there’s at least two theories:

  • The first is that these maniacs—‘slashers,’ if you will—being singularly unimaginative enough to use the same weapon for murder after murder, must of course be left-brained: especially prone to the type of repetitive behavoir that both sequels and franchises are built upon. And left-brained people (or, yes, zombies, or other assorted-but-driven shufflers), are of course right-handed. The immediate objection to this, of course, is that, even if we accept this, still—the maniac’s hitting the left side of the door, not the right, right? Correct. Except, as this illustration demonstrates, proper axe-swinging form is to lead with the left side of the body, thus giving the axe a greater range of travel—more momentum, deeper impact. What this suggests is that, yes, a right-handed axe-maniac, if he or she is using proper form (and their proficiency with said weapon would suggest they are), will tend to strike the left side of the door more often than not, simply because she or he will be swinging the axe not in a perfect, vertical arc, as if chopping stovewood, but one angled to his or her right a few degrees, to allow for the low ceilings of most homes. So of course the terminus of that arc, that swing, it’ll be a few inches off-center, to the left. As for why the axe doesn’t appear angled when it penetrates the door, this of course is an acceptable continuity error, as it allows for stronger shot composition: were the head of the axe tilted away from your face—your back is still pressed up against the door, remember—then, when you looked to the side as the director’s already told you to, it would be unclear if you’re to look at the ‘top,’ nearer portion of the blade, or the ‘bottom,’ lower portion, which has actually penetrated farther through the wood. To say nothing of how vertical lines accent the human face, as Madonna established in 1990, with her “Vogueâ€? music video. And, yes, there are those who use this ‘reaction’ shot (often excerpted for the trailers, as it suggests the ‘money’ shot without actually giving it away already) to formulate a reverse-engineered sort of explanation for the axe appearing on the left instead of the right, but, as that explanation is dependent upon the audience having been conditioned by the Bangles’ 1986 “Walk Like an Egyptianâ€? video, wherein Susannah Hoff famously (‘alluringly’) looks first left, then right, suggesting the ‘sinister possibilites’ the night still holds for whoever she’s looking away from, this argument is of course, as-yet, still just that. As to whether human victims are genetically programmed to look left in fear rather than right, then, yes, as these victims are of course just as right-brained and unimaginative as their slashers, any approach which suggests that the right brain is essentially ‘looking’ to the left for help out of this dire situation might be credible, though it would depend on the director or his staff cueing into this tendency, either consciously or subconsciously. Which might prove hard to establish, as the director would probably become overly aware of his own eye-movements at that time, and perhaps find a way of ending the interview.
  • The second theory as to why axe-weilding maniacs tend to strike the door to the left of center—and of course this is where you stand: the center (see ‘shot composition,’ above)—is more pedestrain, but perhaps more difficult to object to as well: as stuntpeople (from John Wayne to Lee Major’s character in The Fall Guy to Kade Hodder) are, in spite of what you may have suspected, simply a subset of ‘humans,’ and humans are of course predominately right-handed, and stuntpeople need to, as best they can, exhibit the same body language as the character they’re portraying, who, also being a subset of ‘human,’ is probably right-handed him or herself, then of course, just for the safety of the stuntperson (and this has to be paramount), who’s in all likelihood not ambidexterous, a right-handed swing of the axe just makes sense. At which point, simply refer again to the illustration above.
  • A distant third theory—possibility, really—as to why axes tend to show up to the left of your head instead of the right is that these maniacs, being maniacs, and only ‘aware’ in the dimmest of ways, probably retain at least enough understanding of rudimentary concepts like ‘doors’ to still make an association between doorknobs and getting through a door, an association which would of course, were it verifiable, probably cause them to hit closer to the knob rather than farther from it. Just because their ultimate goal is to get through that door, and hack to pieces whoever’s obviously hiding directly behind it. However, this ‘dim awareness,’ it’s a slippery slope at best. While it may apply to certain incarnations, say, of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, on the other hand, has been able, at times, to drive a car. To say nothing of the ingenuity these slashers often display in the final reel—the knots and various apparatuses necessary to cantilever bloodied victims suddenly up against whomever’s currently discovering them is very sophisticated. Granted, haunted house technicians can achieve this once a year, but that’s with months of planning, and many hands, possibly even diagrams, to say nothing of no distractions. Slashers, on the other hand, they express this mastery of mechanics, this ‘inbuilt ability,’ in the most casual manner possible, as if doing that with victims, it’s instinct rather than intelligence, the same way a spider, perhaps, just ‘knows’ how to caccoon its victims in web. Which, if the slashers have this much instinct, then chances are they also understand the ‘mysteries’ of the doorknob, but are just too proud to do something so obvious as to use it. Perhaps this is the statement their latest representative (in The Hills Have Eyes remake) was trying to make, Dog Soldier style, when, evidently insulted by the whole concept of ‘door,’ he simply crashed through the far thinner wall. Which, of course, was to the character’s left . . .

And of course please note that none of this counts if your maniac’s weapon of choice is a knife, machete, or, especially, speargun, though scythes and slingblades tend to require a similar if not identical swing, and, thus, the same general placements.