When looking for a phrase to summarize the spirit of slasher films, I’ve always been partial to “death on a cracker” (from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2). I even tried to convince Corey to name this blog after Chop Top’s immortal lines. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think Corey’s instincts are probably correct. “Evil on two legs” is a one-liner that perfectly summarizes all of the characteristics that embody the iconic knife-wielding villain. They are abstractly human, absurdly evil, and darkly funny. Fans of the genre know that this is an irresistible mixture. One of the subtexts for this project will be the exploration of the not-so-simple question: What makes slasher films such a guilty pleasure?
Another reason for this blog is that right now is an especially exciting time for slasher films. Of course, slasher films have been a constant presence in American cinema since its inception with films such as Hitchcock’s Psycho. But the genre, I would argue, suffered in the 90s, as chronicled by the deterioration of the Halloween films series, which Corey mentioned. And then there were the countless high-school melodramas masquerading as slasher films. You can drop a masked maniac in the middle of Dawson’s Creek and call it Scream, but you’ll still have all the post-pubescent schmaltz of Dawson’s Creek. Whether or not you enjoyed films such as Saw, Wolf Creek, Hostel, or The Devil’s Rejects, it is clear that the genre is reinventing itself. So an even more not-so-simple question is: What makes slasher films culturally relevant, now more than ever? I’m not sure exactly how, or even IF, we can begin to answer that. But at the very least this blog will be a testament to the fact that it’s an interesting time to be a fan.