HT Schuyler: Classic Slasher Comparisons

Posted: October 31, 2010 by htschuyler in Retrospectives

Well, it’s that time of the year again…Halloween. Which usually means lots of people will be out renting/buying horror movies to enjoy on the 31st. Now, horror is a complicated genre, and there are several sub-genres, one of the most popular being Slasher Movies. For some bizarre reason, people just love watching teenagers and young adults being brutally murdered by a serial killer wearing a mask, so naturally, there are several movies based on this subject matter. Now, the amount of slasher movies out there is extreme, so I’m going to compare the CLASSICS. Starting in 1960 to 1996, and I will also talk about there sequels and remakes. As usual, this is my opinion, so by all means see these movies and make up your own mind. Let’s start with the one that started it all…

PSYCHO (1960)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Janet Leigh.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock.

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said several times before? It’s incredible. Alfred Hitchcock’s outstanding direction mixed with a gripping, terrifying story and a show-stopping performance by Anthony Perkins, creates one of the greatest horror\thrillers ever made. Whether this movie is in fact a slasher is debatable, but it has enough elements of a slasher to be present in this comparison. Now, unlike most movies of this genre, this film has hardly any blood. Despite colour being available at the time, Alfred Hitchcock decided to film this in black and white, which I personally think just adds to the feel of the film. Most people know this film for it’s iconic shower scene, which is shot so well you can feel your spin tingle while it plays out. The plot of this movie is a little hard to follow, but the basic storyline is Janet Leigh’s character steals some money, is on the run, stops overnight at the Bates Hotel, something bad happens, and the rest of the movie involves her boyfriend and sister trying to figure out what happened to her, and the dark, disturbing secret behind Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and the Bates Motel is revealed. Anthony Perkins performance is outstanding. There is no mask, and little motivation, and you like his character and are terrified by him at the same time. Now, this movie does not rely on blood and gore, or jump scares, all it relies on is its story, and it’s a damn good story. This isn’t the type of movie to watch and laugh at with friends, it’s the type of movie that requires your full attention, as there is a lot of talking. The death scenes are a little laughable, but you’ll be so into the story it won’t matter. This isn’t the type of movie for gore hounds or violence fans, but if you’re a avid movie watcher, and want to see the movie that changed the way horror was made, this movie holds up 100%, check it out. A must see.

10/10

Sequels: PSYCHO has had three sequels, one of them being a prequel. Now, I have not seen any of them, but have heard that the second one wasn’t too bad, but the rest were…less than adequate. Granted, I have not seen any of them, so for all I know they’re all as good if not better than the original, though I doubt that.

Remakes: In 1998, director Gus Van Sant directed a shot for shot remake of Psycho, which, again, I have not seen. Reviews of the remake have been less than kind, but I’m not going to express my opinion on a movie I have not seen, but that fact that Vince Vaughn play’s Norman Bates is…interesting to say the least.

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)

Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, Jim Siedow, Edwin Neal and Gunnar Hansen.

Directed by: Tobe Hooper.

If someone told you that a movie made 36 years ago was one of the most disturbing and traumatizing movies they had ever seen, would you believe them? You would probably say something along the lines of: “That’s impossible, old movies can’t be scary or disturbing…cause they’re old!” Well, I have news for you, this movie is disturbing, and it is pretty damn scary. I’ve seen plenty of disturbing and violent movies, such as the SAW movies and the HOSTEL movies, but one of the differences between those movies and this one, is that with movies like SAW and HOSTEL, as disturbing as they are, you know it’s just make-up and special effects, but with this movie, because it was made in a time when effects were not as impressive as today, you really wonder how they did what they did, and whether some of the animal bones and body parts are real…also, the fact that this IS an old film makes it scary, because it has a documentary feel to it, like what your watching is found footage or something like that. Storyline is short and sweet: Five young adults driving around in Texas make a stop, find an old house, and soon enough bad things start happening. The iconic villain this movie created is Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), and I won’t say too much about him, but all you need to know is, he’s scary. The entire movies feels like an 83 minute nightmare, bizarre and horrifying. This movie is not for everyone, if your not use to extreme horror, stay away, but if you feel that you are up to it, check it out.

8.5/10

Sequels: THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE spawned three sequels, none of which I have seen, but have heard the second one is VERY different, and has a more comedic approach. All I know about the third is that is stars Viggo Mortensen. That’s right, Aragorn from LORD OF THE RINGS is in a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE movie…awesome. The forth movie sound crazy. It stars Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey (I’m not making this up), and has Leatherface as a cross-dresser…wow.

Remakes: In 2003, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was remade, and despite it being very different from the original, it’s not that bad. Acting is good enough, effects are good, and scares are nicely done. The best part of the remake though, is the Sheriff, played by R. Lee Ermey. Despite his character being repulsive and evil, he’s hilarious, in a dark, disturbed sort of way. In 2006, there was a PREQUEL to the remake, just to make it even more confusing. The prequel isn’t too bad either. But it’s very, very violent and pretty disturbing. It’s a difficult one to watch, due to it’s sheer brutality. But, if your a fan of that kind of stuff, give them a watch.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003): 6.5/10

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING (2006): 6.5/10

HALLOWEEN (1978)

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes and P.J. Soles.

Directed by: John Carpenter.

When someone says the word “Slasher”, for most people, the movie that comes to mind is HALLOWEEN. This is one of those movies that everyone loves, and is on every horror fans list of the greatest horror movies ever made. Plot is simple: Young boy named Michael Myers (Will Sandin), murders his older sister on Halloween night. 15 years later he escapes from the mental institution in which he was being held, returns to his old town and starts stalking and killing teenagers. Oh, and his doctor (Donal Pleasence), try’s to find him before it’s to late. That pretty much sums up the plot. It’s simple, but effective. The protagonist of the movie is Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a smart, well-behaved school girl who simply wants to babysit some kids when Michael Myers shows up to ruin her evening. Now, besides Jamie Lee Curtis and Donal Pleasence, the acting is awful. So bad, that you really don’t care about any of the characters, so when they get killed off, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Unlike PSYCHO this movies does not focus on plot, because the storyline is mainly just a set up for set pieces of Michael Myers stalking people…some of which he does in broad daylight, which really makes you wonder how people don’t see him. But, the stalking scenes are the best part of the movies, because believe it or not, this movies is pretty damn scary. Something about Michael Myers mask maybe? (FUN FACT: Michael Myers mask is a William Shatner STAR TREK mask painted white). Every scene in which he sneaks up behind someone and kills them is nerve-racking. Similar to PSYCHO though, this movies has little blood. The movie is still violent, but blood is either not needed or not shown. This is a very well made, scary slasher, but I do have some problems with it. Most of them being minor plot hole, bad acting and stupid characters, but overall, HALLOWEEN is a great slasher to watch on Halloween.

8/10

Sequels: HALLOWEEN had seven sequels that followed. I have see the first two sequels, and for what it’s worth, the second is not bad at all. It’s the same idea of the first, except in a Hospital. It picks up literally the second the first one ends, so it could be seen as a continuation. The first two could be just one long movies. The kills in the second movie are actually pretty impressive, one of the best involving a bathtub full of scalding hot water. Now, the third movie is a complicated subject. It goes by the title of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Now, I’ll start of by saying, Michael Myers is nowhere to be found in this movie, so why is it called HALLOWEEN III? Well, the makers of the first two were done with Michael Myers, and wanted to make a completely different movie based on Halloween. To be honest, I’m fine with that. As long as the movie is well made and scary, I couldn’t care less if Michael Myers isn’t in it. Yes it makes no sense to call it HALLOWEEN III, but whatever. Now, is this movie well made and scary?……..not really, no. BUT, it’s not without it’s charm. For one, the plot is interesting. A little dumb (an evil mastermind makes Halloween masks for kids to wear, that will kill them on Halloween, so the holiday will be brought back to its original sacrificial roots), but interesting. Acting is nothing special, but the main character, played by Tom Atkins, is more comical then serious. Scares aren’t that great, but the effects are pretty good. This movie would almost fall into the category of So-Bad-It’s-Good, because the dialog is cheesy, characters silly, acting campy and scares laughable. But that’s what makes it good, because you just laugh at all the dumb stuff, and enjoy the good stuff. Yes it’s a different direction then the other HALLOWEEN films, but it’s really underrated. As for the other sequels…HALLOWEEN H2O: 20 YEARS LATER? HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION? You get the point.

HALLOWEEN II: 7/10

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH: 6/10

Remakes: In 2007, director Rob Zombie directed a remake of HALLOWEEN, and I’m just going to say it: I LIKE THIS MOVIE. I know it’s really different than the other HALLOWEEN movies, and it has a lot of back story, but honestly, I don’t care. To me, this movie is the definition of a fun Halloween night rental with friends. It has: Jumps, gore, extreme violence, nudity, and story. Unfortunately I have yet to see Rob Zombie’s other films, back I understand and respect he has his own style, and I give him credit for trying to interpret a classic slasher with his personals style. The story is the same, except it focuses on Michael Myers, and gives the character more depth. The kills are very intense and creative, and the story is actually pretty good. This movie bashes heads with a lot of fans of the series because they don’t like that Michael Myers was given a back story. I think it just adds to the characters and makes you feel some emotion. This isn’t a quickly made shot-for-shot remake, it was Rob Zombie’s extreme version of a classic. It was made with care, and is different than the original, so it’s defiantly worth watching both. In 2009, Rob Zombie directed a remake/sequel to HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN II. It wasn’t as much a remake of the original sequel as it was a sequel of the remake. It focused on the mental state of Michael Myers, and explains his actions. Visually, it was great. Dark imagery and Halloween themed nightmares made it very effective and creepy. Storyline was alright, mainly just Laurie trying to live her life after the traumatizing events of the first HALLOWEEN. Now, this movie does one thing I can’t stand in horror movies: Dream sequences that the audience thinks are real. Just when you start feeling concerned and scared for the characters, it turns out it was a dream. It feels like it’s cheating the audience, but it didn’t bother me too much. In conclusion, the HALLOWEEN II 2009 isn’t as good as the first movie, but is still enjoyable.

HALLOWEEN (2007): 7.5/10

HALLOWEEN II (2009): 6.5/10

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan and Kevin Bacon.

Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham.

Would you believe that the movie that started an eleven movie franchise glorifying the character of Jason Voorhees, does not even have him present in the first film? Well, not in the form we all know him in at least. The film that started it all. The original. The best…or is it? No, not really. Plot: Camp counselors are setting up a camp (Camp Crystal Lake to be exact), and they start doing stupid stuff and get killed off. I kid you not that’s the plot. Oh, and some kid named Jason drowned in the lake a couple years prior and the camp was closed down, so they’re reopening it for the first time in years. There’s really not much more I can say. The kills are done fairly well, lots of blood and such, acting is mediocre at best, scares are…few and far between. The set-up shots are really nice, they give you the creeping camp feeling. This movie is definitely a landmark film, as it conceived many of the clichés that are now present in almost every horror film. For example: Going off alone when there’s a killer on the loose, having sex and doing drugs when there is  a killer on the loose, not believing people when they warn you there is a killer on the loose, and so on. Another I really liked about this movie is the ending, it came out of nowhere and was very disturbing and shocking. It doesn’t really leave on a cliff-hanger, so it’s not like the ten sequels are continuing one storyline. One of the flaws of this movie, for me at least, is that it just doesn’t hold up as well as some of the other “classics”. It can feel old, as some of the effects are lame and it can sometimes just feel like an old movie, whereas something like PSYCHO, it really doesn’t make a difference. This movie isn’t anything great, and I’ve seen better, but then again, I’ve seen much, much worse too.

6/10

Sequels: As I mentioned earlier, this movie has ten sequels. That’s eleven movies in total…wow, and people say seven SAW movies is too much. I’m not proud of it, but I haven’t seen any of the sequels. Jason starts being the villain in the second one, and he gets his mask in the third (which was in 3D). So the Jason that everyone knows isn’t even around until the third movie. I’m not going to judge these movies because I haven’t seen them, but they sound interesting. Jason goes to Manhattan, he dies a couple times, he goes to space, he even goes to Hell at one point. He even fights Freddy Krueger from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I’m sure the sequels become less and less realistic as they go one, but for what I’ve heard of them, they sound awesome.

Remakes: In 2009, FRIDAY THE 13TH was remade…or rebooted, however you want to call it. When I first saw the remake, I liked it a lot. It had everything an 18A rater slasher needed. Stereotypes, creative kills, jump scares, fast paced storyline, gratuitous sex scenes, and Jason being the ultimate bad ass. Despite this movie being a lot of fun, it’s not without it’s flaws. Some of the stereotypes become offensive at points, kills can be a little too disturbing, and acting (with the exception of Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker and Aaron Yoo) is pretty bad, and for some reason Jason has the unexplained ability to teleport…but as I said, this movie is a lot of fun, and Jason is portrayed really well in this, so it makes a good late night watch, as long as you can suspend your disbelief.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009): 6.5/10

MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight and Alf Humphreys.

Directed by: George Mihalka.

Maybe not as well known as some of the others on this list, MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a Canadian horror film where the main location is underground in a mine. I think one of the goals of the movie was to add claustrophobia, as well as the looming threat of a masked killed named Harry Warden (a psychopath wearing a minors outfit who kills people with a pick-axe). The plot of the movie is a little stupid. A couple years after a Valentines day massacre, the residents of a small mining town decide to throw a big Valentines Day party, despite being warned not to. Then people start dying, and the Sheriff decides to cancel the party. (He is sent a chocolate heart box with a human heart in it and a note demanding him to cancel the party). But that doesn’t stop the dumbasses at the party. Instead of partying in the town hall, they decide to have the party underground in the mine shaft…without equipment or supervision. So guess what? They start getting killed off. When this movie was first released in 1981, most of the violence was cut out, so the movie was fairly tame. But when the remake came out in 2009, they re-released the original, with all the violence put back in, so it’s a fairly bloody movie. Despite this movies plot and characters being dumb, the movie is very enjoyable. The acting is campy, effects a little lame and scares cheap, but that’s what makes it so good. It’s just a fun movie. When they actually go down to the mine, it’s pretty creepy. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fun horror flick that will keep you entertained, as long as you are prepared to watch this movie with an open mind, and not take it too seriously.

7/10

Sequels: Despite the first movie leaving on a cliffhanger, and a sequel being talked about for years, there is no sequel to MY BLOODY VALENTINE.

Remakes: In 2009, there was a 3D remake the MY BLOODY VALENTINE. It wasn’t that spectacular, but, like the original, it’s a fun horror film. Besides Jensen Ackles, the acting isn’t that impressive, the scares are predictable and it’s really funny watching the movie in 2D, and seeing all the moments that were meant for 3D, because they make no sense when watching it in 2D. One of the things this movie did really well were the kills. This movie features one of the most hilariously brutal kills I’ve ever seen. So, effects and 3D are good (when viewed in 3D of course), acting not that good, and atmosphere great. The shots of the mine and forest surrounding the town are really well done, and give it a creepy, supernatural almost feel to them. It’s different from the original story-wise, so it’s definitely worst seeing both.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009): 7/10

CHILD’S PLAY (1988)

Starring: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif.

Directed by: Tom Holland.

A young boy gets a doll for his birthday that is actually the reincarnation of a serial killer, so soon the doll starts going around killing everyone. The acting is bad, effects lame, story crazy, scare…well, there’s like one scary scene. Granted, this movie does have some original ideas. The effects on Chucky are good, and Brad Dourif”s voice acting is hilarious and evil. But the movie is just a little lazy. First off, the evil villain is a doll, a small, plastic, easily destroyable doll. Yet the characters in the film are overpowered by this doll on several occasions. He’s no larger than a child, how can he be stronger than you? Especially when the male lead is attacked by Chucky in his car, and for some reason can’t muster up the strength to get the doll off of him. Dumb moments like that are when this movie lost me, but this movie isn’t horrible, it has some good creepy moments, especially the quote: “Hi I’m Chucky! Wanna play?” And the extremely bad ass quote from the little boy Andy: “This is the end, friend!”  But most of the time it’s just boring dialog and laughable death scenes. I think one of my main problems with this movie is that it can’t decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a horror, and just comes off as confusing, and you can’t decide if your amused or scared at what’s happening. This film is not as memorable as some of the others, but it’s entertaining enough.

6/10

Sequels: Child’s Play had four sequels, none of which I have seen, but they seen to get more comedy based as they progress, which bizarrely enough I think may be for the better, because at least the films will be self-aware. But then again, they may just get stupider as they go, but, as I said, I have not seen them, so I can’t be sure.

Remakes: A remake for Child’s Play is in production set for release in 2011.

SCREAM (1996)

Starring: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard.

Directed by: Wes Craven.

Self-proclaimed “master of horror” Wes Craven, mainly known for creating Slasher icon Freddy Krueger, decides to make a film exploiting all the lame clichés and dumb moments in horror films, and makes fun of them. Plot: One year after the murder of her mother, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is stalked by a masked killer who is killing off her friends. This movie is both horror and comedy, and it knows when to be both. Every scary scene is backed up with a couple jokes to ease the tension. In this movie, the character are aware that they are in a Slasher film, and even guess what is going to happen next. The best character in my opinion is Randy the film geek (played by Jamie Kennedy), who knows everything about horror movies and even lays out “rules” that one must follow in order to survive a horror film. His character is more or less the comic relief. The only flaws I can think of in this film are some of the character are stupid annoying, but there so much going for this film: Kills are plentiful and gruesome, acting good, laughs big and the character do the one thing most victims in Slasher films rarely do: Fight back. The masked killer isn’t a supernatural force, it’s a guy wearing a mask, so he can be defeated, and this movie uses that to it’s advantage. Great cast, great scars, great kills, great laughs, great movie.

8/10

Sequels: This movie has two sequels, and a forth movie is in the works. The second film is a major let down after the first film. There is too much stupid stuff happening, ridiculous plot twists and character being killed off who really shouldn’t have. In fact, my biggest problem with the film is that they kill off one of the best characters. This movie is also way to long, and has a lot of pointless filler in it. The third is an improvement, it’s not as good as the first, and still has incredibly random scenes that make no sense (i.e, a cameo form Jay and Silent Bob), but it’s not as long as the second and has a better plot. A forth film is set to be released on the 15th of April, 2011.

SCREAM 2: 5/10

SCREAM 3: 6.5/10

Remake: There is no remake of SCREAM…well, not yet at least.

Honorable Mentions (AKA are not on this list because I haven’t seen them): A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, BLACK CHRISTMAS and HATCHET.

So there you have it. Keep in mine that was solely my opinion, and I’m not saying you need to run out and see these films, but keep them in mind next time your in the horror section in your video store. I hope you enjoyed my comparison, and Happy Halloween from HT Schuyler and PG Cooper.

Comments
  1. pgcooper1939 says:

    Rotten Tomatoes recently listed Psycho as the greatest horror film of all time.

  2. Ki says:

    Good job you really did take your time on this reveiw and it shines through. I am surprised that you did not like Halloween the third or Childs play since you gave them a low reveiw. no duh your going to bring in the fact that you have seen all the SAWs like everyone reading your reviews don’t already know that. speaking of saw i don’t see your review on that up yet?? whats taking so long i thought watching that movie would have been the best day of your life????
    i be waiting for it…… or maybe not
    Ki

  3. I know I’ve stumble upon an old post, but this was a great read, and I thought I’d give a nod to it.

    All things considered, I agree with your assessments on most of the films with the exception of Friday the 13th. I think there are a couple of factors when looking back at an old film – you mention already “how well a movie holds up”, but I think you also have to look at how big a thing it was at the time. Cause I’ll tell you, this movie was a phenomenon. And getting a new Frdiay the 13th movie every other month? (LOL, hey, thats what it felt like) was AWESOME.

    I also think it holds up a little better than you give it credit for due to the “Villain”. Bat-shit crazy is the term I would use. LOL :D

    Nice to see Psycho catching a 10 (as it should) and Texas Chainsaw being termed “disturbing”. Oh. It IS. Very disturbing.

    Nice piece.

    • htschuyler says:

      Thanks for the feedback, I agree that Friday the 13th was a phenomenon and created one of the most badass villains out there, but I’ve only seen the first one (though I am very interested in the sequels), so with all things considered, (though I do enjoy the movie) I don’t think the first one was that great of a film, but I’m sure the sequels improve, because it is a really great premise.

      As for Psycho…what can I say? The more I watch that movie the more I love it, it’s one of the all time greats. And The Texas Chain Saw Massacre…well, you know.
      Thanks for the comments.

  4. “I’m sure the sequels improve, because it is a really great premise.”

    Ooof. Uhm. Not uh, no, not really. Not that that’s not a logical assumption, but… On its best day this series is about a dude that walks the forests killing people. That’s really it. The first is as close to an authenticly good film as it gets.

    The recent remake – 2010 – was probably the second best movie in the series in my opinion.

    • htschuyler says:

      Haha yeah that is a pretty misleading quote. A dude that walks around a camp killing teens IS the premise, I just think that it could have been done better (i.e. creative kills, gratuitous sex, stupid teenagers, etc) than it was in the first film, because it took itself too seriously. From what I’m aware of, the sequels are pretty tongue in cheek, and are for entertainment purposes only, which honestly is all I would want from a premise like that. Then again I could be wrong as I haven’t seen them. If anything, I’d expect the sequels to be as entertaining as the remake.

      I’m not expecting Oscar worthy film making from this series haha, I just want some good, old-fashioned slasher entertainment.
      Plus, having Jason in full form is definitely appreciated.

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