Sunday, October 23, 2011

The New Classics

Like most of the Halloween traditions I’ve reviewed thus far, horror movies don’t actually have anything to do with traditional Halloween as passed down from ancient times.  Regardless, it’s pretty common to find folks scheduling “scar-a-thons” wherein they sit down with way too much candy and enjoy a marathon of horror flicks as part of the holiday celebrations.

There are several different genres that one may choose in order to celebrate the scariest holiday.  There are ghost movies which, in my opinion, are getting better as years go by.  There are genre movies focusing on zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies and other assorted creatures.  There are serial killer movies in which a psycho killer thrills and chills the audience while some smart person tries to prevent their next kill.  And then there are the classics: Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street are all famous series involving guys who aren’t quite serial killers cause they’re already dead (well, Michael starts out alive but becomes very Jason-esque in the later movies in that he’s dead but still manages to kill horny teens) but aren’t traditional monsters, either.  No, they get their own category.  They’re slasher flicks.
Now, other movies have been placed in the slasher category because they involve the same basic principles.  Horny teenagers get killed by the dozens in the goriest ways possible.  That’s the basic premise.  The classics I mentioned above, however, take it a step further.  The Friday the 13th series is, at it’s heart, a revenge story.  Jason started off as an innocent little boy who drowned because the stupid horny teenagers were too busy getting laid to watch him.  The original killer was his mom, simply seeking revenge for her dead son.  It was until the 2nd installment that we were introduced to Jason as the undead monster he is.  The Nightmare on Elm Street series is certainly a slasher franchise, and yet involves the psychological intricacies of some thrillers.  The idea of dreams and how real they are is constantly questions by the teens trying to outsmart Freddie.  And Michael Myers, in the beginning, was just another normal serial killer- disturbed family environment, insanity, and homicidal ideation.  Like Jason, he later on became this undead killing machine.  But in the beginning he was just another movie incarnation of Ed Gein.
They’re also, let’s face it, campy.  So they’re fun to watch.  Plus there are so many hysterical kills you can’t help but high five your movie-going companion when someone dies in a spectacularly gory way.  And they’re not above the cheap thrills, either.  You still get random things jumping out at you and making you jump before the final kill.  And, because the world will never run out of horny teenagers, we’ll seemingly never run out of these movies.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse and the series were finally done, they revived them.  Michael got a new twist thanks to the twisted mind of Rob Zombie.  Freddy got a new flavor when Rorschach revived him as an evil pedophile.  And Jason got a whole new crew including writer, director and everybody else and started fresh with a new batch of kids at camp.  And why redo all these seemingly dead franchises?  Because they’re classics.

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