The idea of film is divided into many kinds of genres that stick with our personal emotions throughout that we experience. Drama show us sadness, action shows us intensity and anger, and horror films shows the emotion of fear. The idea of horror has been around for centuries, with early beginnings such as the Brothers Grimm fairy tales that showed dark tales, of pure horror. The power of horror has been through our history of mankind, showing that we wanted to be scared. Many of these horrifying tales showed violence and terrible brutality that many of the characters had to go through. Horror has many genres with in that tend to show the diversity of different kinds of horrors. Horror films such as supernatural horror, and psychological horror showed more horror in a realistic way. And with news of a new Child's Play film going into production this week, this leads to the one sub-genre of horror films that is betrayed as the rebellious genre of horror films, slasher films.
Slasher films, has had a lot of controversy for being horror films that show cheap scares, unnecessary sex, extreme drug use, and a lot of gore. The slasher film has been stapled lately as a joke in the film community. But in reality there is a reason why there are so many slasher films. In the time the genre was created the slasher film was a huge landmark in film history, starting with the 1960 film Psycho, known to be one of the greatest films of all time and starting a string of unique and great story telling, and new cinematic directions, with a very dark twist that started a revolutionary genre in film history. Films such as Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Scream, are just some of the slasher films that changed the horror genre, and are known as even some of the greatest films in general, and showing that slasher films, are a landmark in film history with quality film making skills, and not just unnecessary gore, that many viewers describe as.
Many people believe that the slasher horror films are a joke to the film society. But with that being said the one film that started this “joke” is actually known to be one of the best films ever made, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Making a new foundation for horror films, Hitchcock’s huge hit, showed audiences and critics alike the craft that horror films can have, being at the time of when horror films were more B-films, that wasn’t taken seriously. The film was known for killing off the film’s main star, Janet Leigh, only a half hour into the film, resulting in the now infamous shower scene. Shocking moments like these in slasher films show the story and creative technique that these films that are superior to films such as, The Godfather or Citizen Kane.
Shock value in horror films before and even sometime after Psycho, was very minimal largely due to the time periods of Vietnam and the civil rights acts, American audience didn’t want to deal with more horror than they have encountered in real life. But with Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre fired back with great shock in 1973. The film brought to the film industry that was critical was the idea of realism. The film was brought took the idea of the horror films and took it to a place of realism, with many audiences actually thinking they were watching actual murders. The film brought an adrenaline rush to audience which is one of the horror films, which before were more slow and eerie compared to intense and gruesome. The film was made with a low budget from a small studio with a small crew and cast. Even with those obstacles, and even many people including the cast and crew thinking that the film will be an enormous flop, the film went on to becoming one of the best horror films ever made, and forming the way horror film, and thrillers will be made in the future and producing more slasher films due to the low cost. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre used many techniques experiment with cameras, and creating one of the most iconic horror characters of all time, Leather Face. Probably the biggest success of the film, creating a villain as big as Dracula or the Wolf Man who was actually created from real life murder, Ed Gein (who was also the inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho) and creating a new Renaissance of horror movie icons.
Even though Psycho set the foundation of the slasher film, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre created a more realistic and intense performance to the genre. John Carpenter’s Halloween set and concreted the mold what the slasher film will be in 1978. Known as being one of the best horror films of all time, Halloween established the brand of Slasher Films and brought a new sense of identity to horror films of the time. The story of the film, made the setting very familiar to the audiences, making it in a suburb, and having the killer stalk and murder babysitters, which was an occupation that many people have had. Horror films before Halloween were largely supernatural with films such as The Exorcist and The Omen, so at the time horror films were more commercial and less intense. Technics used in long angled and wide shuts showed more of an atmosphere that the audiences could relate to and has you looking for the horror in the film, which infinitely makes it more horrifying compared to jump shot and being quick compared to films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Creating another horror icon, Michael Myers, the film created the idea of the boogeyman, and the story had created a sense of intense fear about this unstoppable for of horror, and was a symbol of fear itself. The film made a landmark in film history of being a film more relate able and realistic to modern American audiences compared to films like Gone with the Wind, making it a huge impact.
Slasher films, released previously were essentially bloodless films. The techniques of the 1970’s of the slasher films used techniques of fear, and more widespread camera work of the 1970’s. Friday the 13th on the other hand shaped more of the idea that slasher genre was more of a joke. In actuality the symbol of the Friday the 13th is a good idea. The idea of killing you from sex was a scary thought and the film used that to an advantage, and on top of using the location that most people have been to (camp) and a revenge plot of a mother killing counselors to avenge her son’s death. Notably the film had also used the point of view shot that many people try to use in the future, creating and perfecting, and new camera shot for the community.
From the release of Friday the 13th, slasher films were being ridicule for its basic premise of a masked man running around with a knife killing dumb teenagers. The films were becoming stale due to the fact that many other studios were constantly releasing slasher films and copying the premises of other successful films. Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, was the answer to that problem. The film actually went backwards of the idea of horror films being realistic. It had the premise of a serial killer who kills you in your dreams, and when you die in your dreams, you die in real life. The film also created the figure of Freddy Krueger that compared to the other icons had personality. The film used the elements of surprise and illusions to keep the story going, which at the time no one used. It also showed extreme fear with the thought that to live you can’t sleep which is impossible for someone to do. The slasher genre was shown a new set of fear from this film and making the slasher genre still relevant and being it newly fresh for the film community. The film was a big success, and creating an atmosphere of horror due to the directions, and tricking the audience in between the dreams, and the real world.
After the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the slasher film genre was slowly dying. The typical ideas of the previous slasher films were being used over and over again, and even the original ideas such as from A Nightmare on Elm Street was getting old due to the fact that sequels were continuing to be released.
Also slasher films were getting a lot of hate due to the fact that many people were shocked by the violence and subject matter, saying the films were evil causing the genre to lay low for a while.
That is until the film Scream came out. Scream played on the idea that the slasher film genre was a joke. It showed the stories of teenagers that use horror movies to survive, and the killer who uses horror movies to kill his victims.
Out of all the slasher films that I am writing back, its debatable Scream was the film that broke real ground. The story of Scream is genius because in a way it is making fun of the slasher films, but also makes it scary and creates a new slasher film at the same time. It broke the genre of horror, making the characters very savvy. Also, its sequels did the same thing such as the sequels using the theme of sequels, and so on and also creating ghost face. Single handedly this film shows on how much there is strong the love between the audience and the film and filmmaker really is. No other genre of films have, which is a reason why the slasher film is a landmark in film history.
The main point these slasher films are characters, and the stories. And that’s the true landmarks of all of these films that left a mark in the film society. These stories of settings that we continue to visit, and ideas of killer nightmares, and using films as weapons are very original films. And that’s why we love these slasher films, and why it is a landmark. These stories original ideas that we never seen before, and that’s why the original films in the franchises are always the best compared to the sequels that instead use the main ideas instead of the direction and writing that made the originals great. The characters that we route for are actually the villains. Norman Bates, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Ghostface are horror icons created by these films, and play a huge part in why slasher films, are large landmark, and not only they are great villains, but some of the creates villains of all times, and their backstories and designs keeps us wanting more. People dress up as the characters for Halloween, and have the same impact that Star Wars and Indiana Jones have. The stories are sometimes basic and even dumb, but the seriousness of the direction, and the writing, and actions of these characters makes these films true classic.
Even though that some of these films aren’t really good, they deliver the deaths which is why people love these film. Slasher films are also one of the few genres that has a large fan base. People in the world love these films more than films like Star Wars. Again mainly largely due to the story and the identifiable characters, that also older fairy tales resulted in the same way of growing up as a kid. These films are also getting remade showing a demand for these films and that will be watched until the end of time possibly and expressing audiences will never get bored of the slasher film. These films that show excessive gore is nothing compared to what the real world is made of. Starting from the obvious monsters of the German Nazis to the real-life murders that actually inspired these stories and characters.
Also, slasher films fuel the blood lust of mankind. Since the dawn of time humans enjoyed entertainment of watching men hurt each other, such as the gladiator games, and even to a point aggressive sports like boxing. Humans have a blood lust, to let out there angers and frustrations, and instead of going out and actually killing people, slasher films help them create a way getting out that urge without anybody getting hurt in reality, making the slasher film, a genre that is therapeutic making it different than any genre in film history therefore creating a huge landmark in the horror genre and film in general.