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Yet more almost but not-quite slasher flicks

Another selection of horror movies that have a bodycount, a loon, and a barrier that stops them being classed as (by me, at least) as slasher flicks.

See the previous lists here and here.


Lucky McKee’s sort-of follow up to the film Offspring is a harrowingly brilliant tale of a feral woman captured by a sociopathic family man who tells his oppressed wife (the ever reliable Angela Bettis) and family that the plan is to civilise her. As we learn that the patriarch of the family is a twisted prick who rapes his teenage daughter and doesn’t mind the beginnings of sexually depravity in his son, The Woman, understandably unhappy with being strapped up in a root cellar, is unleashed by said teen daughter to reap a cannibalistically bloody revenge.

Why it’s not really a slasher flick There may be a ‘massacre’ of sorts (three victims), but The Woman is anything but a slasher flick. The accent being on the monsters in plain sight rather than a forest-dwelling neo-zombie. But see it regardless, it’s truly awesome.

ALIEN 1979

Somebody once posited on a message board that “Alien is a standard slasher”. And there were later reviews that dubbed it “Halloween in space”. Whichever way you cut it, Alien is an undisputed masterpiece of modern cinema. When I first saw it as a nipper in the 90s, I couldn’t believe it had been made in the 70s. Long and slow but totally worth the wait for the horror to begin but the characterisations are, like The Woman, well beyond the usual kill-fest. Although we all remember Sigourney Weaver for her pioneering role as uber-heroine Ripley, her six co-stars are equally drawn out as validated and believable people.

Why it’s not really a slasher flick Put simply, the ‘killer’ here is working on instinct, not motive. Otherwise, Jaws and every other creature feature that have a series of attacks would be classed as slasher films.


Although I only watched this movie about three weeks ago, I’ll be damned if I can remember it. Things definitely began in the usual way with a quartet of parked-up teenagers gettin’ down n’ dirty are attacked by a knife-wielding maniac. Boo-hoo, cries the town. A female detective comes along. Joe Estevez doesn’t go overboard for once. An escaped mental patient who everyone blames for everything. Big-faced Maniac Cop Robert Z’Dar loiters. And the end didn’t make sense but as I hadn’t been paying much attention I can’t really lay the blame at the film’s feet for that.

Why it’s not really a slasher flick The first ten minutes are the stuff every post-Friday the 13th movie is made of, but after that it becomes a really, really boring character study with some mystery stirred in and left to simmer. A watched pot never boils and this film never ignites.


Disenchanted but charismatic high-schooler Justin Urich (curiously also seen in Horror 101) turns in a school report that states he intends to graduate and become a serial killer. Teacher freaks. No one else cares. Except Lisa Loeb. Remember her of 90s international hit Stay (I Missed You)? She agrees to help him prep if he’ll make her his first victim. Meanwhile, a bitchy classmate of theirs is murdered FOR REALZ!!!11!!1! The duo profile the killer, solve it, save the day, fall in love, and Urich decides to be an FBI profiler instead.

Why it’s not really a slasher flick There’s only one murder as I recall and, as the title suggests, it’s committed by a serial killer rather than a loon who offs a string of teens all at once.


Bear with me, I saw this yeeeeeears ago. A trio of survivalist types and their girlfriends go into the woods for a weekend and disturb a gaggle of looney toon backwoods types. They might’ve been drug-addled. I can’t recall. Nominal heroine Kelli Maroney had Kiefer Sutherland/Lost Boys-esque hair and Nicole Rio from Sorority House Massacre is in it. The third girl had a cast on her leg, which made hobbling away from any advancing maniacs amusing.

Why it’s not really a slasher flick Of the main characters, only one of them bites it. I think a few other schmucks bought it earlier on but this was more like the dull parts of The Final Terror mixed with sub-A-Team improvised-trap bravado. See it for the hair.

More almost but not-quite slasher flicks

Another handful of horrors that hang out by the dance floor where all the slasher flicks are partying and flirt with them, trying to blend even though they don’t really fit in… See the last lot here.


“From the makers of Saw” came this seriously underrated and unsuccessful scare flick, in which young couple Ryan Kwanten (later in True Blood) and Laura Regan (from My Little Eye) receive a creepy ventriloquist’s doll in the mail that somehow kills her, sending him back to their hometown of Raven’s Faire, a town apparently cursed by the ghost of Mary Shaw, subject of an Elm Street-like nursery rhyme that states if you encounter her in your dreams, don’t scream or you’ll lose your tongue, just as Regan did.

Kwanten’s investigations, hampered by greasy detective – and ex-New Kid on the Block – Donnie Wahlberg, seem to generate a fresh wave of creepy deaths and there’s one helluva twist at the end that I was totally blind to!

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a ghost story with a body count really, shades of Darkness Falls as well as Krueger-town (there was an additional murder in the deleted scenes) creep in, but not enough to swap sub-genres and they’re not likely to make a sequel…


Three northern gals holidaying in Mallorca hook up with a quartet of private school guys crewing on a luxury yacht and decide to party on the boat. Sex and drugs dominate and one of the guys decides to test a sexual urban legend – the Donkey Punch – which backfires, killing one of the girls. The boys vote to throw her overboard and say she fell and when the girls refuse to go along with it, a series of intensified confronations and misunderstandings lead to a second accidental death, then escalate to murder…

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: most of the deaths are accidents (including a neat outboard demise) and one person commits suicide. There’s a final girl of sorts but this is totally a Brit-grit situation flick.

HOUSE OF 9 2005

Another UK export; in this cut-price Battle Royale, nine strangers are abducted and wake up in a locked down house and informed that when only one remains alive, they will exit with £5million. Dennis Hopper is an Irish priest with a dodgy accent, Kelly Brook a shy dancer, Chardonnay from Footballer’s Wives a socialite, a rapper, an American detective, married couple and so on…

They argue about the situation until it leads to accidental death and murder, whittling down numbers until only one remains and exits. Cue semi-clever twist.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: as with Donkey Punch, it’s all situational, there’s no one killer offing everybody one by one.


I love this cheesecake 80s horror film about a killer genie – or Djinn – which inhabits ye olde lamp that dim-witted, dungaree-wearing heroine Alex rubs when it arrives at her father’s museum. A field trip, a dumb teen idea to spend the night there (in a fucking museum…), Djinn-possession and the teens, some staff members and a couple of meathead racists find themselves done in in a variety of proto-Final Destination ways, some of which are suitably gruesome and clever, let down only by bargain basement effects work and a Djinn that looks like a Kinder Egg toy.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a close one: there’s a lot in common with the likes of The Initiation and any number of collegiate prank slasher flicks but in the end it varies itself out of the equation.


A defence psychologist appointed to reassess a murderer, who proceeds to fill her in on his traumatic childhood and the slayings that followed. Despite warnings from the creepy institution doctor the shrink is soon sucked into his tragic tale of a nasty mother, school bullies and his one friend. All the blood on show is like black motor oil from a bunch of extras who are slashed up with a straight razor. Things go all Se7en with a downbeat twist ending, but it’s typically arty in the Australasian way.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: a serial killer flick with grisly murders peppered throughout; no busloads of dense teenangers here.

May Face-off: Almost but not-quite slasher flicks

This month, let’s take a look at those films that either pretend to be slasher films and then turn out not to be and those that tip-toe through the gardens of slasherdom and beat a hasty retreat…


BOO 2005

Setting up like another photocopy of Halloween, a group of teens go to party in an abandoned and ‘haunted’ hospital on All Hallows’ Eve where they are tormented by creepy hallucinations and turned into zombies with sloppy insides. It’s a little bit Session 9, complete with backstory revealed in segments by the inexplicably psychic heroine – something do with with a child-molesting patient and the nurse (Dee Wallace) who sacrificed herself to stop him escaping. There’s some good atmos in the first third but come the end, everything has been over-explained the way American supernatural horror films tend to do. Only a handful of eerie images – look out for that balloon clown – make a good film not.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: the one-by-one schtick is intact but the zombies and ghosts swallow too much of the plot.

deathproofDEATH PROOF 2007

During the early hype for Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino stated that his half of the feature would be “a slasher film at 200 m.p.h.” with nutjob stuntman Kurt Russell offing pretty young women. The final product has a few shots that bring back memories of Halloween and its ilk, but this turns out to be anything but a stalk n’ slasher. While it’s a fun romp once – albeit bogged down with way too much of QT’s ‘trademark’ dialogue – none of the slashers I’ve ever seen were edited this badly, had this sort of narrative or as much talking. It’s sky-high budget is visible through the cracks, making it look only pretentious, with annoying characters with oversized egos, all of whom talk like frat boys. The singular car accident is the high point and the stunts and cast are good but if anything, Death Proof shows that perhaps the director everyone has a boner for is a one-trick pony unable to create anything original, only add tiresome, irrelevant dialogue.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: opposite case to Boo here, maniac killer on site but no one-by-one opus and way too much self-indulgence.

hillshaveeyes2THE HILLS HAVE EYES II 2007

The original 1977 Hills Have Eyes wasn’t a slasher flick either, more a survivalist horror film, as was it’s pretty faithful but grisly-as-hell 2006 remake, this sequel to that remake is not a remake of the cheesefest 1983 Hills Have Eyes Part II, which is a slasher flick… Confused? You will be.

Wes Craven penned this with his son and, considering how much flack the ’83 film took, he’s managed to create something far worse here… An Aliens vibe pervades, with a group of National Guard trainees (all male, bar two) investigating some missing scientists in the desert. Dipping its toes in the torture-porn sub-genre with a brutal rape scene needlessly included (as in the ’06 film) and ample gore. Dialogue consists only of ‘fuck this’, ‘fuck that’, ‘fuck you’ and we don’t give a fuck about any of them anyway… The dog-flashback alone in Craven’s version outdoes this entire film.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a siege-fest with no real pattern emerging for the sequence of deaths, though interestingly both the female characters survive…

hostelHOSTEL 2005

The granddaddy of the torture-porn (or gorno) movement, it’s not the done thing to say you like it, but Hostel is a genuinely good film, sometimes included in lists of slasher flicks. Tarantino protege Eli Roth directed the less interesting Cabin Fever and waxes lyrical about putting T&A back into horror blah blah blah…

Interestingly, the main victims here are a trio of boys who fall foul of a Slovakian operation that allows rich psychopaths to torture and kill captured youngsters for their own sadistic pleasure. Lead character Paxton is an unpleasant fellow to say the least and would be killed with prejudice in any other film. This turn-around on the standard gender politics of horror attempts to blot out any accusations of misogyny, although it’s littered with naked girls and it’s even grislier sequel traded out boys for girls and so took this as permission to show sexualised violence and get away with it.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: there’s no single killer and more emphasis on Paxton’s escape and revenge.

tamara TAMARA 2005

Geeky wiccan Tamara is the victim of a cruel prank by a group of popular kids that ends in her death – or does it? Back at school, after burying her, the guilty party are surprised to find that Tamara’s back as a sexy siren with psychic powers at her disposal – and she’ll do anything for the love of her sympathetic English teacher.

After this I Know What You Did Last Summer-lite beginning, we expect the new foxy Tamara to start offing the other teens. However, Tamara doesn’t kill all of those who ‘killed’ her, she makes them insane, suicidal or homicidal puppets who do her bidding for her and finally corners the object of her desire and nice girl Chloe, who manage to defeat her.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: hardly anybody is murdered, which is a waste when you’re dealing with asshole jocks and nasty cheerleaders…

Victor: Hostel is the best non-slasher film here. See it if you can deal with all manner of torture devices being used and an eyeball being cut loose.


It’s not just review, review, review ’round here, y’know… Articles & “Insights” Are Slasher Films Misogynistic? – well, are they? Stock Background Characters 101 – appreciating those bit-parters who usually just die Twists of Fury – examining the most unbelievable revelations Repreciation – ranking the remakes Bad Brits – the evil British of the horror realm When pranks go wrong

Read more

5 things I wish they’d stop doing in horror films

Let’s enjoy a good old moan, shall we?

Asshole Characters

The most crucial problem in low-end horror films (and indeed some high-end ones) is the total inability of scribes to write people we actually give a damn about, save for maybe the ones who’re going to survive (but not always – read on).

Thinking back to the happy-go-lucky teens of the 80s set, there was usually a bitchy girl and a macho dickhead but, for the most part, they were fairly innocent, likeable kids who we feared for and were sometimes even sad when they were slashed to ribbons.

But now? Oh God, it’s just a parade of obnoxious, self-absorbed, hateful characters and the audience virtually cheers on the killer when they die. Is this how people are now? Surely, I can’t be the only one who sees the problem in that?

No Survivors

Sometimes it’s necessary to off everyone in a film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning for example, but more frequently, and the Final Destination franchise is to blame, as if Asshole Characters aren’t enough, even the survivors aren’t valuable enough to save.

What initially appealed to me about slasher films was the notion of one person escaping to tell the tale. Every now and then there was a last second twist where the killer would leap out from somewhere and grab the final girl and it’d be left to the audience to decide whether or not she got away but seeing the last survivor brutally offed is an overstep into cruelty, i.e. the plain mean end of the super-shitty Splatter University.

Token Lesbianism

It’d be progressive if gay characters were ushered into the genre every now and then but what’s happened instead is that ‘gay characters’ has been translated exclusively to “hot girls making out”, as homosexuality can seemingly only be represented in a way that titillates the presumed low-IQ straight male demographic and any gay male characters are camp, weak and unquestionably doomed and would never be allowed to kiss a guy on camera.

In the last few years, there’s been girl-on-girl action in ever increasing numbers. With the exception of French flick Deep in the Woods, gay girls are always killed off, as if it’s the only logical alternative to them being ‘cured’ with a good hard shag.

No Opening Credits

This is more of a complaint about film in general: Why do 50% of new films completely bypass the opening credits? I like to see who’s gonna be in it ‘cos sometimes there’ll be a recognisable face you weren’t aware was going to be there or a cool cameo. But now…well you’re lucky if you even get the title! Wes Craven’s New Nightmare I’m looking at you.

Torture Porn-Lite

Hostel was a good film; great idea for a horrible tale of grue and in spite of what it proposes is going to happen or has happened, it’s not that gross. The downside of Hostel (besides the fact it had Eli Roth attached to it) is that it caused all manner of slasher films to ramp up the grue.

Gone were the thrifty throat-slashings and quick, sharp skewerings, enter long drawn out sequences of people suffering for extensive periods of time. The ambiguous enjoyment of the kills in a slasher flick moves the audience into questioning if they want to continue watching as the likes of Seed, Carver and Turistas delight in dragging out the demises of (usually female) victims.


OK, so I’ve seen too many, I’m getting old and cranky, but for fucks sake will the people who write and produce these films at least try to avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors? Who am I kidding, genre comes from generic. May as well just shut up and learn to live with it.