The slasher movie is the bloodiest incarnation of the modern horror film, tainted by criticisms of misogyny, yet remaining - on and off - a box-office draw for thirty years. Combining in-depth analysis with over 200 film reviews, Legacy of Blood is the most comprehensive examination of the slasher movie and its conventions to date, from Halloween and the notorious I Spit On Your Grave, to Scream - the re-defining genre hit in the nineties - and beyond.
Over 250 slasher films are presented in this work. Entries provide major cast and production credits, a plot synopsis, and a short critique; interesting production notes are often provided. Some of the films covered include Alice, Sweet Alice, American Psycho, The Burning, Cherry Falls, Curtains, Deep Red, Frenzy, Hide and Go Shriek, Maniac, Prom Night, Scream, Sleepaway Camp, Slumber Party Massacre, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Filmographies are provided for slasher directors, actors, writers, and composers.
Horror and slasher films are often dismissed for their apparent lack of sophistication and dearth of redeemable values. However, despite criticism from film snobs who turn up their noses and moralists who look down upon the genre, slasher films are more than just movies filled with gory mayhem. Such films can actually serve a purpose and offer their audiences something more than split skulls and severed heads. In Life Lessons from Slasher Films, Jessica Robinson looks at representative works that have been scaring audiences for decades--from Alfred Hitchcock's seminal shocker, Psycho, to the cult classic Black Christmas and iconic thrillers like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Scream.
Scholars have consistently applied psychoanalytic models to representations of gender in early teen slasher films such as Black Christmas (1974), Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) in order to claim that these were formulaic, excessively violent exploitation films, fashioned to satisfy the misogynist fantasies of teenage boys and grind house patrons. However, by examining the commercial logic, strategies and objectives of the American and Canadian independents that produced the films and the companies that distributed them in the US, Blood Money demonstrates that filmmakers and marketers actually went to extraordinary lengths to make early teen slashers attractive to female youth...
, to minimize displays of violence, gore and suffering and to invite comparisons to a wide range of post-classical Hollywood's biggest hits; including Love Story (1970), The Exorcist (1973), Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease and Animal House (both 1978). Blood Money is a remarkable piece of scholarship that highlights the many forces that helped establish the teen slasher as a key component of the North American film industry's repertoire of youth-market product.
The release of Italian director Dario Argento's Deep Red in 1975 saw both a return to form for the director and the crystallization of tropes of the giallo genre. While the film's immense popularity in Italy spawned a wave of copy-cat formula thrillers, this enthusiastic reception was not replicated by English-speaking audiences on its theatrical release. With its loosely woven narrative and hyper-stylized violent set pieces, Deep Red was critically panned in the United States and the UK as clichéd and exploitative Euro-schlock. Tracing the film's history of censorship, re-edited releases, and its subsequent celebration by cult film audiences, this book considers how these competing discourses have helped to transform the film's cultural status and to fashion it as an exemplar of cult cinema.
A critical study of the low-budget film formula described as the "stalker" film, popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The discussion suggests reasons for its impressive popularity and demonstrates how a generic form is organized to speak a cultural text. Illustrated.
It was made like a television movie, and completed in less than three months. It killed off its star in forty minutes. There was no happy ending. And it offered the most violent scene to date in American film, punctuated by shrieking strings that seared the national consciousness. Nothing like 'Psycho' had existed before; the movie industry-even America itself-would never be the same.In 'The Moment of Psycho', film critic David Thomson situates Psycho in Alfred Hitchcock's career, recreating the mood and time when the seminal film erupted onto film screens worldwide. Thomson shows that 'Psycho' was not just a sensation in film: it altered the very nature of our desires. Sex, violence, and horror took on new life. 'Psycho', all of a sudden, represented all America wanted from a film-and, as Thomson brilliantly demonstrates, still does.
Publication Date: 2019-03-19
Wes Craven's Scream (1996) emerged at the point where the early eighties American slasher cycle had effectively morphed into the post-Fatal Attraction trend for Hollywood thrillers that incorporated key slasher movie tropes. Scream emerged as a spiritual successor to Wes Craven's unpopular but critically praised previous film New Nightmare (1994), which evolved from his frustration at having lost creative control over his most popular creation, Freddy Krueger, and rebirthed the character in a postmodern context.
Scream appropriates many of the concepts, conceits, and in-jokes inherent in New Nightmare, albeit in a much more commercial context that did not alienate teenage audiences who were not around to see the movies that were being referenced. This Devil's Advocate offers a full exploration of Scream, including its structure, its many reference points (such as the prominent use of Halloween as a kind of sacred text), its marketing ("the new thriller from Wes Craven" – not a horror film), and legacy for horror cinema in the new millennium.
Horror films come in a wide variety of styles and subject matter. Three of the most intimate explorations of terror are examined in this study. Intimate in terms of settings (small towns and an isolated motel) and in the emotional links between the characters and the terrors they face. In Psycho, Norman Bates is a darker reflection of his victim Marion Crane and her lover Sam Loomis. They share frustrations, fears and compulsions, albeit at different levels of intensity.
In The Birds, Melanie Daniels and her new acquaintances in Bodega Bay share emotional problems which can impel them to act in destructive ways that are echoed, and then overwhelmed by violence from the natural world. Halloween features a monster, Michael Myers, who has more in common with one of his victims, heroine Laurie Strode, than is evident at first glance. Beyond the link between normality and the violently aberrant, all three films give glimpses of emotional intimacy that is threatened and sometimes tragically destroyed by horror.
[...]the moment always mentioned in descriptions of the film, Theresa Delgado's demise suggested with chilling economy by simply showing her blood trickle in underneath the door, is not the filmmakers' at all. [...]psychoanalysis was everywhere in Hollywood movies by 1943, so much so that the absence of a clinical voice has to have been a conscious decision on the part of the Lewton team7. [...]by offering fate as an explanation for the events of the film, including the psyche of the killer, the film avoids addressing the social psychology of violent crime and sexual predators. [...]safety was best achieved if women remained at home, supervised the kids, and accepted their domestic role rather than continue their disruptive breach of the public sphere.
Publication Date: 2015-02-17
The 1970s represented an unusually productive and innovative period for the horror film, and John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is the film that capped that golden age – and some say ruined it, by ushering in the era of the slasher film. Considered a paradigm of low-budget ingenuity, its story of a seemingly unremarkable middle-American town becoming the site of violence on October 31 struck a chord within audiences. The film became a surprise hit that gave rise to a lucrative franchise, and it remains a perennial favourite.
Much of its success stems from the simple but strong constructions of its three central characters: brainy, introverted teenager Laurie Strode, a late bloomer compared to her more outgoing friends, Dr. Loomis, the driven, obsessive psychiatrist, and Michael Myers, the inexplicable, ghostlike masked killer. Film scholar Murray Leeder offers a bold and provocative study of Carpenter's film, which hopes to expose qualities that are sometime effaced by its sequels and remakes. It explores Halloween as an unexpected ghost film, and examines such subjects as its construction of the teenager, and the relationship of Halloween the film to Halloween the holiday, and Michael Myers's brand of "pure evil." It is a fascinating read for scholars and fans alike.
Constantineau states that, contrary to popular belief, John Carpenter's "Halloween" (1978) was not the first modern-day slasher film. That honour belongs to the small Canadian production "Black Christmas" (1974), directed by Bob Clark. This film is an example of how the formulaic nature of genre cinema does not necessarily restrict a filmmaker's means of political and national expression, because it reflects a Canadian sensibility that doesn't exist in its Hollywood counterparts.
That an influential cinematic genre originated with a Canadian film challenges the assumption that genre cinema opposes national cinema, and the constant exchange between cultural texts means that Canadian cinema can impact an institution as dominant as Hollywood. Constantineau notes that while "Halloween" did not necessarily copy "Black Christmas," it gets the credit for starting the slasher tropes found in the earlier film. However, the films did not have the same ideology. "Halloween" arguably punished female sexuality, while "Black Christmas" had a prominent feminist subtext.