Slasher Horror: The Genre That Refuses To Die

A ‘Slasher’ film for those of you who don’t know is a type of horror film usually focusing on a group of people, in most cases teens, who are hunted down one by and one and killed. Sometimes this can be done with the standard escaped lunatic trope, Halloween the original, or sometimes the killer can have more of a supernatural bend, like Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

The Slasher sub-genre has been around in one form or another for decades, stretching all the way back to the 1960 release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The film’s villain, Norman Bates, is the first example we see of what would become the horror staple slasher. Following on from this we had the release of Black Christmas, which is getting a 2019 remake, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, both released in 1974; this kicked the sub-genre off, and proved that these sort of films was where the horror was heading.

The film that would go on to solidify the identity of what a Slasher film can and can’t be, as well as bring about the trope of the ‘Final Girl’, was John Carpenters Halloween; this is seen as the first of the modern slashers and would become the template for what other horror movies and franchises would do down the line.

The 80s were the prime time for Slasher horror, with the release of Friday the 13th at the end of the 70s going into the 80s as well as more from the Halloween franchise, and a little film called Nightmare on Elm Street. All of these films put their spin on the slasher formula, with the 1980s release of Child’s Play being the most novel making the evil slasher a doll. However, franchise fatigue was beginning to set in.

Over the 1980s the market had become saturated with Slasher horror and audiences were starting to get sick of it. The big franchises had become more and more silly, as a way to try and keep the concept new and exciting; here’s looking at you Friday the 13th. As such, when the 1990s rolled around, a film was released which exposed as well as poked fun at all of the sub-genres rules and tropes; this film was Wes Craven’s Scream.

Scream was released to massive applause and praise, with it almost being a parody, but still remaining scary, and most importantly innovative. The release of Scream helped to breath new life into the Slasher genre, but this was only short-lived. With more schlocky slasher films like Wrong Turn and Hatchet being made in this brief window, but all of this was not enough to save the genre; as we reached the end of the 90s, the Slasher horror was on its way out. Another contributing factor in this decline was the late 90s release of The Blair Witch Project, which pushed horror cinema in a completely different direction, found footage.

Throughout the 2000s the big Slasher franchises continued to release films, whether reboots or, sequels no one asked for and a lot of them came out to minimal fanfare and even fewer ticket sales. All hope for Slasher movies coming back to the forefront of horror cinema seemed lost. Then the news was announced that Danny McBride, know for his comedy roles, wanted to write a new entry for the Halloween series, this film would ignore all the terrible sequels that followed the original; when the movie came out it was met with praise at every turn and made a large amount of money for the studio; naturally two sequels to this film were announced thereafter. Now at the time of writing there is talk of a new Friday the 13th film as well as a Nightmare on Elm Street film, and though there still are terrible Slasher movie sequels being released, 2019’s Child’s Play and the Leatherface origin story, the Slasher genre still has one last gasp in its lungs and, one last scare to give.

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