What, you might wonder, is the point of a slasher movie? Merely to gross-out and unsettle? Merely to ruin that one first date my mum went on where the guy took her to see The Hills Have Eyes and she refused to watch another horror film as long as she lived? Perhaps. I, a humble film blogger carving out my trade here on this stone-floored, thatched-roof site, could not deign to answer a question as large as that.
But I can deign to say that I can sometimes really blood enjoy a good slasher film. Horror has plenty to offer, but there’s a really specific place for a movie with a high body count, an iconic villain, and at least one moment that makes you forget about dinner for the day. So, much like my foray into found footage a few weeks ago, I want to share with you my favourite lesser-known slasher movies for your nasty viewing pleasure.
- The Loved Ones
I’ve talked about Sean Byrne’s brilliant second movie, The Devil’s Candy, on No But Listen before, but I would be remiss not to bring up his fantastic and totally twisted debut, The Loved Ones.
Following a teenage boy (a brilliant Xander Harris) grappling with guilt after he causes a car accident that kills his father, The Loved One already weights itself with some real-world grief and weight. But it’s not afraid to go swinging off the rails with some batshit insanity, as Harris is snatched up by the doting father of a hopeless teenage girl romantic/violent serial murderer (Robin McLeavy). A star-making turn from the terrifying McLeavy, a dry sense of humour to skewer the horny horror teenager genre, and an unabashedly twisted escalation marks The Loved Ones as just one of the most compelling takes on the genre I’ve seen in years.
2. Murder Party
As a shameless cinema snob myself, I love nothing more than films that laugh in my face for that very reason. And Murder Party is just that; a micro-budget horror-comedy-slasher (the first film of Jeremy Saulnier, of Green Room fame) that comes for everything about the art world in a gory, blood-soaked eighty minutes of chaos.
When Chris attends a Halloween party that he found an invite for in the street, the last thing he expects is to get stuck with a bunch of murderous, pretentious, murderously pretentious art students. A gleefully inventive and totally propulsive hour of chaos follows, anchored by an Eeyore-turned-Rambo performance by Chris Sharp, and honestly, I don’t want to say anything more because everything about Murder Party is best enjoyed fresh.
Look, I know that I’m the resident Rob Zombie apologist for this blog, this city, and indeed, perhaps this Earth. And I tried to think of something else to put on this list so that I could pretend for another moment that I don’t just really love his strange, awful, brilliant movies. But here we are again: I like Rob Zombie, and I think this particular film is one of his best.
31 is honestly just a ridiculous film; Malcolm McDowell swanning around in Renaissance garb, watching over a bunch of carnies as they get terrorized by their resident evil clown posse. But what pulls it together, and what so many modern slasher films lack, is a truly great villain: Richard Brake anchors the movie with his absurdly brilliant performance as Doom-Head, the killer clown to end them all. Unhinged, unstoppable, and totally watchable, he’s one of the most iconic slasher villains out there. Freddie, Jason, Michael, take a back seat: there’s only one person I want a franchise built around now.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Slant Magazine)