42nd Street Cinema

A Decade of Dash & Slash

A retrospect of the best and worst slasher films during the decade between 1974 and 1984. Within these years we saw the birth & development of horror franchises and anti-heroes turned pop culture icons.

Black Christmas (1974)
Director: Bob Clark
The proto Seasonal slasher and along with Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is believed to be the most influential, with initiating the formulaic conventions for modern slasher films, an unknown killer with a history of abuse and more often than not a group of teenagers meeting their untimely demise in variously gruesome fashions.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Director: Tobe Hooper
A grand staple in the sub-genre once again reinforcing the faceless killer, also an early example of a weapon becoming synonymous with a killer. Hooper's effort is a realistic exploration in to the grimy underworld of a Texan family and their horrific exploits.

Halloween (1978)
Director: John Carpenter
Considered an unofficial sequel to Black Christmas with the similarities between the two stories; a psychotic returning home with no real background to their story. This is the film that really kick-started the boom and emphasizes the styles and techniques previously established by Clark. Adding to the success of Halloween was undoubtably Carpenter's simplistic yet moody musical score. As recognizable as Oldfield's Tubular Bells is with The Exorcist (1973).

The Toolbox Murders (1978)
Director: Dennis Donnelly
A trashy little picture that earned a place on the infamous Video Nasty list. A ski-masked killer à la Ted Bundy, who terrorizes people living in an apartment block with an assortment of tools. Features brutal murders but comes apart with terribly boring dialogue.

The Driller Killer (1979)
Director: Abel Ferrara
Yet another title that landed a spot on the Video Nasty list. Ferrara's seedy and downright grubby environment gives this film a unique atmosphere. Similar to Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) in the respect that, we the audience, watch the slow degradation of a mind. Grisly blood vessel-bursting deaths and grubby atmosphere make this a must.

Prom Night (1980)
Director: Paul Lynch
I struggle talking about this because, boring as it can be I really enjoy watching this film. Following a prank resulting in the death of a child, the other children swear to never tell anyone what happened. Years later they're in high school and someone has begun picking them off. An average, yet somehow underrated entry in to the sub-genre.

Terror Train (1980)
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Another underrated input from Canada, starring Jamie Lee Curtis probably down to her roles in both Halloween and Prom Night prior to this. A plot consisting of a humiliating prank, landing the victim in a psychiatric hospital. 3 Years later, the members of the fraternity are holding a costume party on a train. I personally thought the idea of the killer changing their costume throughout the film was interesting, including a terrifying Groucho Marx mask. Terror Train is one definitely worth checking out.

Friday the 13th (1980)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
A simple plot concerning a group of teenagers who reopen a Summer camp that was previously abandoned after a young boy drowned in the camp's lake circa 1957. Soon after, one by one the teens are picked off by a mysterious killer. Friday the 13th was a major player the in the success of the sub-genre and one of the most profitable slasher flicks in cinema history. Starring a young Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest on-screen performances and special effects by Tom Savini.

Don't Go in the Woods (1981)
Director: James Bryan
Don't be fooled by the awesome poster art, the film is pitiful effort. Four young campers go back-packing in the mountains for a weekend away, to which they're stalked by a ridiculous looking killer who carriers a spear and picks off unwitting tourists. With the lack of suspense and dire acting, this one should have stayed banned.

Unhinged (1982)
Director: Don Gronquist
3 Girls get stranded at a creepy mansion, none of them can act, the script is awful and the direction is inexcusably worse. Somehow this managed to get banned too and just like Don't Go in the Woods, should have stayed that way. You can do without seeing this abysmal picture.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

My friend told me that Unhinged was the worst movie ever made and made me watch it. The characters were so stupid and the acting was atrocious but I was hooked to the film and was very anxious to find out the ending, which I actually thought wasn't bad.

forestofthedead said...

Great list, examination of slasher films. Looking forward to the next installment!

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