OPINION: How the Slasher Genre Will Resurge
The Slasher sub-genre is one of the most famous ones of not only horror but in general, and the more ambiguous the film, the more people like it. And it’s easy to assume that Hollywood loves it too. They don’t have to put too much cash into it, and usually end up winning more than double you invested. If it weren’t true, than how come we have countless sequels, remakes, reboots of every franchise like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more? Either love it or hate it, from the cheesy ones, the actual scary ones, or the downright copycats, you have to admit there’s some level of entertainment. But before talking about how they have and will again reassemble, we have to give a history lesson.
Tracing the history of slashers, they’ve been around since the 60’s with movies like Psycho (1960) and Peeping Tom (1960). People where more used to fictional threats like monsters and aliens, but these films explored a much more real menace, Humans. By the 70’s there was a following for exploitation films, in which there’s a more maximized image in violence, gore and sex, with movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) surfaced, still being vital in slashers. That’s when holiday themed horror films were brought to light, Home for the Holidays (1972) and Silent Night, Bloody Night (1973), Black Christmas (1974). As they are great and obviously inspired many tropes and cliches still done, they’re not what started the craze, it was Halloween (1978) with masterful director John Carpenter.
Now the reason Halloween kicked up what is known as the Golden Age, was simply what I said at first, the budget was $300,000 - $350,000 and won $70 million. So obviously with that kind of money, many companies wanted their own slashers, so came the string of copycats with one-and-dones while others built upon franchises. Credit is where credit is due, Friday The 13th being the most successful copycat also gave a blueprint to future carbon copies. But Halloween set the stage for the tropes like the Final Girl, the name taken from a yearly holiday, teens sinning before they die with premarital sex and drug use, even the awesome long takes with no cuts were incorporated in many of these movies. Then came the unnecessary sequels and copies, that some have developed a following for being good, although others brought nothing to the table but the same thing. Here came Prom Night (1980), My Bloody Valentine (1981), Final Exam (1981), and so on. But through that came a re-imagining while not straying too much from what made these movies great in the first place. Then came Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), a film much needed for the sub-genre that introduced a supernatural twist to it. This helped movies like Child's Play (1988) to have more of a following. But after this, audiences were getting plagued by these movies with too many sequels and copies. They began to flop by late 80’s and early 90’s while horror was getting another love from the psychological sub-genre with movies like Silence of The Lambs (1991).
The subgenre seemed unprofitable, until Wes Craven released another comeback with Scream (1996), a much need satirical self-reevaluation of the famous sub-genre, incorporating self-aware jokes while still being scary by showing it’s appreciation for it. After this, many slasher franchises returned, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) with Jaime coming back, and new ones came like I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) with the writer from Scream. It was a blessing, for all, a new franchise building and sequels to their beloved franchises; the only reason Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street fell behind was because of their cross-over being delayed. But alas the sub-genre shot itself in the foot, delivering some weird and otherwise silly entries to each franchise with Bride of Chucky (1998), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002) (Halloween following the footsteps of weird titles), and now the first Scream copy Urban Legend (1998). Freddy vs. Jason (2003) kept it alive, it was pretty bad but still a having the roots of what kept it special.
By the 2000’s they changed, slashers were being revamped, remade, rebooted, etc. But the first one to do it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), it was weird because it was good. And most importantly for companies it won a lot of money, $107.1 Million. Then a prequel happened, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) and it won half the money from the original, still good but not as profitable. As the Texas Chainsaw franchise was again first in the game, then came more remakes and reboots of, practically everything. From Black Christmas (2006), to Halloween (2007), for better or worse it was repeating the same genre cliches but with more gritty reality and better production value than it’s predecessors. Most of them lacked passion and all around originality by just doing the remake for a quick cash grab. But it even came remakes of lesser known ones that weren’t even famous like April Fool's Day (2008) and Mother's Day (2010), if it was a slasher, it was remade. 2009 was the peak with not only slasher remakes but horror remakes in general, My Bloody Valentine, Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, The Stepfather, Sorority Row and Halloween II. The biggest box office numbers were with Friday the 13th, but does it really matter? After that the same company who remade Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, also remade A Nightmare on Elm Street, Michael Bay’s company Platinum Dunes. It was an overwhelming era that no one asked for, many fans were okay with what they had and just to start over and bring nothing fresh or new, it was despicable. They even rebooted TCM again with Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) being a sequel to the first one while ignoring all the others (Kind of like Halloween).
The sub-genre was put on hold and a well needed one, but it was a forced hold since Friday the 13th had legal issues, Halloween after Rob Zombie’s remakes didn’t know what to do since they originally were gonna do a follow-up without Zombie then cancelled it, then another “Halloween Returns” emerged but also cancelled after losing the rights. And Nightmare on Elm Street already planning another remake for such a long time that it feels like it’s never gonna see the light of day and if it does, it won’t be the same and won’t work like last time. At least it was kept alive through shows like Scream Queens and MTV’s Scream, also films in which they’re inspired by like the astonishing It Follows (2014) and Don’t Breathe (2016) a much needed refreshing take and standing on it’s own. But a new day has come to old slasher fans, Halloween (2018) put the classic sub-genre back on the map with a great take on the franchise acting as a direct sequel to the Carpenter classic. It commits to it’s tropes but most importantly tells a much needed original story. The film turned out really good, it’s still a classic slasher while at the same time showing that it can stand on it’s own.
Halloween (2018) is the first step of the comeback of this horror classic sub-genre, and it has started out well with great critical and commercial reception alike. You can notice the pattern throughout the years, and it’s always with money, sadly but true. Now with Halloween (2018), we might get to see a new type of slasher hybrid. Hopefully there will be no more cash grab reboots… just original ideas for sequels like Halloween, or reboots but with an original idea in mind for the franchise. Friday The 13th has been confirmed to be in consideration for a reboot produced by LeBron James, and like I said earlier, A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot has been on the works for a long time.
Hopefully these movies take note from Halloween, in not retreading the same territory and telling the identical story just for a quick buck, but have actual passion behind it. The writers of the 2018 one are fans of the Carpenter classic, but they acknowledged some sequels and the good things they did, like the take with no cuts that’s in the trailer like Halloween II (1981), some kids wearing the Halloween masks from Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) and many more. Now there’s confirmation of a Halloween sequel already in development, with the same people behind it. The resurgence is bound to happen, and I hope it doesn’t follow the same footsteps it has for decades, but chooses the different route of Halloween (2018), by bringing in fans of the franchise with new fresh ideas, and not just start over again and again until they make the right money for sequels. It’s a classic sub-genre which has been through a lot over the years, if fans were given more input we might get it back on track.