Slasher films were a particularly dominant film genre throughout the 1970s until 1980s. It should be noted that slasher movies are a subset of horror films, but they have their own distinctive features. What differentiates the two is that in slasher movies, the focus is on violence and gore rather than a supernatural setting.
Last year, I started watching Scream Queens on Netflix, which is a dark comedy show revolving around a sorority and a killer on a college campus who is after its students. As I watched the show, I realised there are many television shows today that are somehow modeled after the slasher movies that were popular in the late 1900s.
The serial killer in Scream Queens is called the Red Devil. In one episode, on the first day of class, the professor shows students what he considers the greatest cinematic achievement, which he specifies as the 1974 Tobe Hooper classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To me, it’s interesting to note the direct and indirect ways that the show references classic slasher films. In the same episode, they cite the same movie again as Red Devil comes out with chainsaws and attacks a group of fraternity boys.
One of my favorite slasher films is Scream (1996), which brought the slasher film genre back from the dead and has now become a cult classic. Ghostface remains one of the most well-known fictional serial killers, and is also a popular Halloween costume choice. I was very intrigued to watch the television adaptation of the film which has the same name, Scream (2015).
Scream (2015) starts out recreating the iconic Drew Barrymore scene in Scream (1996) with actress Bella Thorne, wherein just before killing his victims, the serial killer calls and asks, “Do you like scary movies?”. I think the show wanted to credit the preceding movie by starting out this way, and the producers knew that viewers would pick up on it without each detail having to be repeated.
Scream (2015) also points out that the slasher genre doesn’t work well in television. In a class discussion, Noah Foster, the serial killer-obsessed geek, says: “You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series…slasher movies burn bright and fast. TV needs to stretch things out. By the time the first body is found, it’s only a matter of time until the bloodbath commences.”
There haven’t been many slasher movies in recent years, but there have been many shows that are modeled after classics. Does this mean that Hollywood is running out of ideas and recycling old ones? I think it is. It’s time for a remarkable slasher movie to come out and revive the film genre like Scream did in the 1990s.