Slasher film is a sub-genre of the horror film genre typically involving a psychopathic killer stalking and killing a sequence of victims in a graphically violent manner, often with a cutting tool such as a chainsaw. Although the term "slasher" may be used as a generic term for any horror movie involving graphic acts of murder, the slasher as a genre has its own set of characteristics.
They can generally be split into two distinct sub-types: one type in which the killer's identity is known from the outset and he is shown overtly (even through sometimes in a mask), and one in which the killer's identity is not known and which employ a whodunnit angle, often with a twist at the end.
Slasher films loosely follow this formula below.
1. The young community is guilty of a wrongful action.
2. The killer sees an injury, fault or death.
3. The killer experiences a loss.
4. The killer kills the guilty members of the young community
1. An event commemorates the past action.
2. The killer's destructive force is reactivated.
3. The killer reidentifies the guilty parties.
4. A member of the old community trys to warn the young community (optional).
5. The young community takes no heed.
6. The killer stalks members of the young community.
7. A member of some type of force like a detective etc, attempts to hunt down the killer.
8. The killer kills members of the young community.
9. The hero/heroine sees the extent of the murders.
10. The hero/heroine sees the killer.
11. The hero/heroine does battle with the killer.
12. The hero/heroine kills or subdues the killer.
13. The hero/heroine survives.
14. But the hero/heroine is not free.
It is thought that slasher movies appeal to its audinece because:
Catharsis—Through a release of fears about bodily injury or from political or social tensions of the day.
• Recreation—An intense, thrill seeking, physical experience akin to a roller coaster ride.
• Displacement—Audiences sexual desires are displaced onto the characters in the film.
Other common characteristics include:
The Killer—With notable exceptions, the killer in the slasher film is usually male. His identity is often, but not always, unknown and/or concealed either by a mask or by creative lighting and camera work. He is often mute and seemingly unstoppable, able to withstand stabbings, falls and shootings by his victims. His background sometimes includes a childhood trauma that explains his choice of victim, weapon and location (the killer can be made out to be pitiable or understood). Slasher villains tend to prefer hand held weapons such as knives, axes, hatchetes, and chainsaws as opposed to bombs or guns. As the sub-genre developed, some argue that the real star of a slasher is the killer, not the victims or Final Girl. Throughout most of the franchises, the killer is constant.
The Victims— tend to be young, attractive, high school-aged adolescents. Some claim that the young people are punished for indulging in vices such as pre-marital sex or illegal drugs. Others claim that is simply a matter of the activities making the victims unaware of their surroundings, making them easy prey for the killer.
The Location— set in isolated locations such as on islands, deep in forests, small towns, abandoned buildings and farms. The killer may have a connection to their chosen location, such as from a tragic event or just live/frequently visit. The locations are genuinely low populated, sometimes with very few to no inhabitants and are far away from civilization, which can present a problem for the police and other emergency services to arrive quickly if requested by the victims. However mobile phone reception may be too weak to make a phone call, and the killer can isolate his victims further by cutting the phone or electrical lines, disabling communication devices (short wave radio) and destroying their means of escape such as their vehicles which makes escape near impossible. By doing this it allows the killer to freely kill his victims without the need to worry about interference from the outside world.
Final Girl— the only survivor. The girl is often a peer of the victim. She frequently does not indulge in the unlawful activities of her friends. The heroine is also known as the final girl because by the end of the movie, all of her friends are dead, and she's left alone to deal with the killer. Certain movies do deviate from this in favour of having a final boy who tends to be morally suspect.
The Violence— Is the main thing that separates slashers from thrillers and murder mysteries. Slashers de-emphasize plot and character development in favor of violence and terror. Plots are constructed around giving the killer a reason to kill. The deaths are often violent and graphic, and the more original they are the more the audience enjoys it.
Teenage Wasteland: the slasher movie uncut – J.A. Kerswell
- Violent horror thrillers from Europe have played a huge part in shaping the sub-genre around the world.
- The use of a seemingly helpless but sympathetic young woman, who then goes on to become the heroine, more commonly known as the Final Girl in modern day slasher.
- Originally false scares were an effective way to engage the audience however it is now thought that they have become so overused that they have become clichés.
- Many slasher films take element of real-life cases and spin fiction out of them, but few are straight adaptations of actual murders.
- The use of a jazz soundtrack accompanying the action, e.g. in Jack the Ripper (1959), (soundtrack by Stanley Black) creates a ‘hysterical crescendo’ during the murder sequences.
American Nightmare Documentary
Director Wes Craven
- Went to university in Baltimore
- Came into the motion pictures industries
- On the a-list of Hollywood directors
- His father past away when he was 4 years old and his family then became religious but the church didn’t believe in movies, only Disney ones which were deemed as safe, and they believed that Hollywood was the work of the devil
- Because of the church he grew up on novels which came to inspire him in later life
- A film club was made and he joined, and they made a movie which sold quite well for teenagers
- Went broke during his career, no one would fund Nightmare on elm street
- Deadly blessing (made Sharon Stone famous, her first role)
- Scream 1 2 3 4
- The serpent and the rainbow
- Swamp thing (badly funded and was an action/adventure)
- Nightmare on elm street
- The new twilight zone
- Wes Craven’s new nightmare