List of must-see films for the Teen Slasher section of my taxonomy of horror sub-genres.
Halloween (1978). Dir. John Carpenter. US.
Carpenter’s classic slasher staring Jamie Lee Curtis as the quintessential Final Girl has been critiqued, theorized, and written about more times than I care to count. A few areas that are less popular points of discussion for the film to think on, then, are how it operates in terms of binaristic moral judgement, how the use of flashback impacts the audience’s perception of time in the film, and the Freudian significance of obscuring the killer’s eyes in relation to sexualized violence.
Friday the 13th (1980). Dir. Sean S. Cunningham. US.
Friday the 13th is ostensibly a film about self-righteousness and the dangers of promiscuity. That said, the film’s “surprise” (spoiler: Pamela Voorhees, Jason Voorhees’ mother, is the killer) ending lays the groundwork for later female killers in the slasher genre, as well as opening the film up to a reading along the lines of Barbara Creed’s work on the monstrous-feminine.
Sleepaway Camp (1983). Dir. Robert Hiltzik. US.
This film is…difficult to parse out, to put it lightly. At the time of its release, the film’s twist ending (that Angela Baker is “actually” Peter Baker, and Angela is the killer responsible for the recent rash of murders at Camp Arawak) was considered one of the most shocking in the horror genre to date. While the film’s use (and conflation of) gender, sex, and sexuality is problematic, it does give a relatively early example of a horror film in which gender can be read as per Judith Butler (that is, as a performative construct dictated both by internal and external logics and pressures).
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Dir. Wes Craven. US.
So…Freud, and dream theory, and repetition compulsion, need I say more? If your answer to that is yes there here’s a link to my post from a few months back all about historical placement, sexuality, and anxiety in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Scream (1996). Dir. Wes Craven. US.
Wes Craven’s 1996 meta-horror masterpiece spawned a franchise that is (still alive, and) near and dear to my heart. Not only does Scream openly acknowledge the slasher film formula, in places it improves upon that formula and/or challenges it in ways that innovate and improve horror film in general. All gushing aside, Scream is particularly interesting to an analysis of the fan/filmmaker relationship in horror cinema, the historiography of horror, and the self-reflexivity endemic to the genre.
For more on the franchise, see my podcast on the Scream MTV series here.
Author: Geneveive Newman