Legacies of the 90s: Mental Motives

While 90s slasher films attempted to intellectualize the dead teenager opus, there’s only so much you can with such generic material. One area where things shifted dramatically was the Why is this happening? element of the plot. Essentially, nothing had really changed from the pictures of yore: I Know What You Did Last Summer featured the same basic set up as Prom Night.

In the horror realm, there are limited reasons why killers go ape and slay a string of teenagers but after Scream‘s extended, smartified attempt at making the killer’s motive seem more than it was, the ensuing studio slasher films did their best to follow suit.

Without giving away the farm (yeah, sorry about the screenshots), here are some of the best 90s horror motives, simplified. Can you guess which films they belong to?

  • You ran me over and tossed me in the sea. Even though I wasn’t dead, this upset me somewhat.
  • Your parent is a person of loose morals who had sex with my parent, causing them to leave. Never mind my parent being of loose morals also, this is all about YOUR parent. Thus, I’m killing people.
  • I’m passing off this product as my own and so must kill everyone associated with it.
  • I am a force of nature and therefore cannot have a motive so to speak, I just am. Zen, huh?
  • You killed my offspring in self-defence. Nevertheless, this is my motive for wanting to kill you and several bystanders.
  • You ate the last biscuit at a business meeting four years ago and I wanted it!
  • I’m made of celluloid therefore cannot be responsible for my homicidal actions.
  • I am jealous of you and your life even though I’ve never actually met you.
  • You were in the car that caused an accident which killed someone I love. You weren’t driving but it’s still your fault and I’ve gone massively out of my way to set up all these elaborate murders to freak you out and frame someone else.

  • You said you wouldn’t dance with me in junior high then some boys kicked the shit out of me. Never mind that though, being told ‘no’ to a dance is far worse and therefore I’m killing you and not the boys.
  • I loved your mum but she didn’t love me, so I killed her and blamed someone else. Now you’re here, I will start killing again and blame someone else. Again.
  • I loved your mum but she didn’t love me, so I killed her and blamed… Hey, I’m totally ripping off the motive from another naff rip-off!
  • I am still pissed that you ran me over and got away with it, foiling my attempt to kill you in the process. Therefore I will try and kill you again.
  • I am a possessed doll who kills people – deal with it.
  • I like killing people.

…OK, I made the biscuit one up but you get the point.


  • I think I know about three of the movies listed here. I love how absurd and ridiculous some of these are. Any chance you’ll post the answers in another post? I’ve linked to your blog in a post about 5 Lamb blogs my readers should check out…hope you don’t mind (if you do, let me know and I’ll delete it immediately). Keep up the great work (dire-logue is a new favorite of mine).

  • I’ll put the ‘answers’ up at some point in the next few weeks. Though it may well expose my utter misinterpretation / miscommunication of the motives…

    Thanks a lot for the link and your comments at your blog. Very much appreciated.

    – Hud

  • Was there ever an explanation and we missed it?

    I’ll hazard a few guesses, regardless:

    **potential spoilers**

    1.) I Know What You Did Last Summer
    2.) Scream
    3.) Urban Legends 2: Final Cut
    4.) Final Destination
    5.) Scream 2
    6.) Math Camp Massacre 2^2: Greater Than or Equal to Murder
    7.) This one gave me the most trouble, and the only thing I’ve been able to come up with is The Ripper from Last Action Hero, but that can’t possibly be what you were thinking. Right?
    8.) Scream 3
    9.) I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
    10.) Valentine
    11/12.) Not Scream 3… although the synopses almost fit.
    13.) I’ll Never Forget the Summer of Love?
    14.) Child’s Play
    15.) [any].

    Do I get a Marvel no-prize?

    **Here endeth potential spoilers**

  • B+

    7 was Cut
    9 was Urban Legend
    11 was The Clown at Midnight
    12 was Lovers Lane
    13 was I Still Know

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