Rule of thumb around these parts is that if the reply is blog post length, it really should be a blog post. In this case, Commenter Eric (aka my brother Eric) post a comment that I felt deserved to have a length reply. Thus this sequel to my previous essay.
I am going to respond to this piecemeal style. However, the interested can read Eric’s full comment here. I warn concerned readers that there are mild spoilers for the movie Urban Legend (1998) both in his comment and in this essay.
With all that nattering done, shall we begin?
The Absence of Female Slasher Examples
Alright… This is an excellent overview of the sub-genre. That said, you missed a couple things here.
First of all, you specify that the killer is almost always male – which is true – but you provide no example where the contrary is true. I would point to (***SPOILER ALERT***) Urban Legend, since it’s an excellent relatively modern example (the sequels are purely for the masochistic horror movie fan, but the original is almost as much fun for genre fans as Scream).
One of the problems with giving examples is that in doing so I’m spoiling a semi-legitimate portion of the suspense. Granted your average slasher movie isn’t very subtle about who its killer is. Were this discussing the movie itself, I’d have fewer qualms doing so. As I intended the essay to be a generic covering of the sub-genre, I avoided doing so, despite knowing several.
I suppose I could make a case for Thirteen Women (1932) being an example of the female killer but honestly the more I look at that film, the more I wonder if it belongs here. I saw it in the Wikipedia article and latched on to it because of the sorority aspect, having just watched The House on Sorority Row (1983).
But even if I was going to do so, Urban Legend wouldn’t be the one I picked. I don’t care for the movie in the least. In fact, when and if I review it for this site, expect a lengthy rant on the subject. Saying it pushes the Rage Button in my head wouldn’t be stretching things in the slightest.
The Absence of Psycho
Second, I find it abominable whenever people discuss the Slasher genre without mentioning Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). How can you talk about proto-slashers like The Bat without mentioning the consummate Slasher movie of all time? Psycho fills the social contract implicit in the Slasher Movie, does it with more style than any other movie ever made, and yet it gets left out of literally every Slasher discussion ever.
Why? Because, unlike other slasher movies, Psycho is ART. It’s one of the pinnacles of film making. Like Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972), it’s so good that it can’t be in the slasher genre. While Black Christmas and Halloween are brilliant, they’re in the genre, but Psycho and Frenzy are left out. This isn’t because of the lack of the supernatural (The House on Sorority Row and Scream are both definitely slasher films, but neither exhibits any supernatural vibe) – it’s because both films are too good.
This makes me crazy, because it implies that Slasher films cannot exceed a certain level of quality. That’s crap. Slasher films can be awesome.
It probably was a mistake not to mention Psycho, considering how influential it is. How many Horror flicks riff off it in one fashion or another? Can you say countless, to this day?
And I agree with most of what you’ve said. While you focus on Slasher Movies specifically, Horror gets consigned to the dark basement of films more often than not. Horror Flicks can be an art, and, by extension, so to with Slasher movies.
However, were I to have mentioned Psycho, it would have been in passing, like with M (1931). Because, like M, Psycho isn’t a Slasher Movie. To use the parlance of this site, it’s a Stalking Killer movie.