After the 80's passed it seemed that - for the most part - the slasher craze had finally come to a rest. Successful franchises like HALLOWEEN, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FRIDAY THE 13TH had been phoned beyond emptiness and any intrigue the sub-genre once offered appeared dead and buried. Then 1996 rolled around and Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson and Neve Campbell reminded us that good directing, storytelling, and acting is alive and well with the surprise hit SCREAM.
The next couple of years provided a masve batch of 'fresh' copycats and a handful of SCREAM sequels. Very few of any are remotely near noteworthy (quick nod to I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER in order to avoid the onslaught of negative commentary from the obsessed Sarah Michelle Gellar fans out there), though SCREAM 2 remains a memorable franchise installment based solely on the unexpected axing of series favorite Randy (Jamie Kennedy) Meeks. There just wasn't much floating about with any originality or substance after the first SCREAM flick, and much like the mid 80's, the late 90's left slasher fans bored and frustrated by the sub-genres lack of depth. Bored and frustrated that is, until about 2003 when a pair of nasty slashers (WRONG TURN and HAUTE TENON) caught viewers by surprise.
While those of us not in France would have to wait a few years for HAUTE TENON to arrive (officially, in 2005), the surprise backwoods slasher WRONG TURN definitely turned (and severed) heads statede. The low budget campy tale focuses on a group of cannibalistic mutants and their 20-something victims who find themselves traveling the wrong rural route. Solid acting from Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington back up some great gore effects from the Stan Winston Studio, making for one of the better slashers in some time.
Fortunately for all those sub-genre psychos out there, WRONG TURN and HAUTE TENON really helped reinstate some pason for the slasher; nce 2003 a crop of quality work has emerged. To further illustrate my point, I give you 10 examples of a pulse in the modern slasher'
HAUTE TENON: Two traveling buddies collide with a sadistic serial killer who's set dedicated tes on the two young ladies. An enjoyable but truly trippy flick, HAUTE TENON brings plenty of gravy to accompany the meat, and boasts a finale you'll (likely) either absolutely love or hate with a pason. En route to the films climax we're treated to a nice display of gory fatalities, a touch of nudity and a pair of young ladies with the acting skills to carry a picture in it's entirety. HAUTE TENON is a fun feature that's immediately become quite the fan favorite. I'll openly admit to being a huge fan nce my first viewing.
Welcome back slasher.
WRONG TURN: Obviously I've already touched down on this one here a bit. Great gore, adequate acting, a rapid fire pace and fairly smooth direction make this one of the more entertaining slasher offerings as of late. And in truth, you could label it the official return to quality slasher fare nce Craven's clever 96 spin.
LAID TO REST: This twisted gem of a film is as flawed as it is beautiful, but fuckin’ A do I dig it!. Chromeskull is a sadistic bastard with the coolest veneer to hit shelves in ages. Factor in his strange dere to keep young ladies captive in coffins, as well as his love for home video footage and you’ve got yourself a pretty creative concept. Unfortunately the story itself is a bit murky, but what the hell, that’s what they make great special effects for: to save shitty storylines. Watch it for the blood, watch it for the guts, watch it for some of the finer gore the genre boasts.
HATCHET: An assorted group of vacationers take the wrong swamp tour and run into local legend Victor Crowley, who's been known to rip anyone who nears his territory to shreds. Adam Green's campy 80's throwback is an absolute blast. The film is one masve nod to the gruesome hack and slash flicks that the 1980's have become synonymous (to us horror weirdos at least) with. Wicked gore, effective comedy and quality performances from Joel David Moore (Ben), Deon Richmond (Marcus) and longtime genre favorite Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley) make this one a can't miss for slasher fans.
BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON: A small group of journalists follow a self-proclaimed serial killer known as Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) as he prepares (in great depth) to slaughter unsuspecting high schoolers. But things aren't always what they seem, especially when dealing with a highly intelligent madman extremely proficient in the ways of murder. The dark humor, excellent acting (Nathan Baesel is terrific) and extremely well thought out script make BEHIND THE MASK not only the ultimate tribute film, but the best slasher made nce SCREAM.
MIDNIGHT MOVIE: A group of midnight movie goers find themselves checking out the wrong late nighter, and falling victim to a masked serial killer with the power to manipulate reality as we know it. This supernatural slasher is actually quite entertaining. There are some excellent ideas put on display as well as some fantastic cinematography. Had the acting not been quite so stiff, this would rank quite high in my all-time slasher list. As it stands, a few quality performances can be found amongst the muck, and a damn creepy mask sported by our redent madman is quite chilling (rivaling Leslie Vernon's unique facial accessory).
THE HILLS RUN RED: (I know, I know, I just talked about this one!) On a quest to find the most horrifying film ever made, a small troupe of amateur filmmakers find themselves not shooing, but starring in the mysterious picture, as one by one they are disposed of - in violent fashion - by a hulking masked madman; all the while the cameras role. The awkward plot twists that begin to unfold in the latter portions of the film are clever, and for the sub-genre, quite satisfying. William Sadler is terrific donning villainous shoes, and Sophie Monk more than holds her own alongde the seasoned veteran. It's not a flawless picture, but it's a fun picture with a few twists and turns that may catch you off guard.http://youtu.be/R3z4avzVKJU
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009): (In case you've been asleep) A group of partying youngsters head to a remote location right around Camp Crystal Lake where they are murdered in savage fashion by the ever-intimidating Jason Voorhees. A compilation of events from the first four original films - I've got to admit - FRIDAY THE 13TH surprised the hell out of me. The cast does a more than sufficient job, Marcus Nispel's direction is clear and precise (especially for a franchise that's been plagued by murky scripts and awkward directorial tactics) and the phycally enhanced Voorhees is a blast! I personally found the slow sluggish Voorhees to be remarkably unfrightening; it was wise to pick up the pace and toss some speed and agility in the mix.
http://youtu.be/7MiJzZ7FQX0REEKER: A group of would-be ravers head into the desert for a long evening of partying, but they never reach their destination as a strange creature begins chopping them up at an abandoned diner after car problems leave them stranded. REEKER is a run-of-the-mill outline kind of script, but it's pretty damn complex in the delivery department; which becomes apparent in the second half of the feature. A truly entertaining supernatural twist wins big points in my book, and some surpring efforts from the cast (Scott Whyte is quite enjoyable as the shady stoner Trip, Devon Gummersall is excellent as the blind male lead Jack and Tina Illman is fantastic as the film's heroine Gretchen) left my expectations surpassed. It's flown far under the radar for nearly half decade, but it's a gem of a slasher!
COLD PREY: An injury leaves a small squad of free bird skiers stranded in what appears to be an abandoned hotel; abandoned it's not, and the malicious madman with an assortment of brutal tools in his belt is about to remind them that trespasng is not a good thing! Jannicke, played by Ingrid Bolso Berdal, emerges as the most effective and charming heroine nce Jamie Lee Curtis's portrayal of Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's original HALLOWEEN. A handful of excellent supporting casts, rich moments of suspense and awe inspiring scenery make this an ealy embraceable film. I'll admit, it's as predictable as the average Cincinnati Bengals season, but there's a whole lot of mystique behind the obvious plot twist.
I've brought to light these films in specific because I find them to be stand out installments of the slasher sub-genre. They're fun, they're (usually) quite gory, and most importantly they're good enough films to be remembered years from now. And while I highlight these films excluvely let me make a quick nod to some other high quality slasher work to hit the market nce 2000: MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, MALEVOLENCE, SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER, SEVERANCE, and COLD PREY 2, are a few others that bring something to the table that's definitely nice and edible.
Oh, and for the record, I'm ready for the flaming that's headed my way!