In my upcoming novel Slasher, a serial killer is on the loose in Hollywood, and it’s up to the LAPD to find out who it is and stop the killings.
The above image is the notorious Ted Bundy. Would you have known he was a killer if you had met him? Could you have seen the warning signs? Probably not, but here are a few key traits to look out for in serial killers. You know, just in case.
1. They tend to be very intelligent, well spoken, charming and often extremely polite.
2. They often have a strong dislike for their own parents, sometimes due to psychological or physical abuse when young, and may have had no father figure growing up.
3. They can be extremely manipulative. It might be hard to recognise if you are being manipulated, but you can still often pick up on this trait instinctively.
4. Psychopaths in particular can often show a lack of emotion, with little or no conscience, and see the world in terms of cause-and-effect.
5. They can be extremely voyeuristic, and show signs of obsession aimed at individuals.
6. It is thought that a love of starting fires or burning things can indicate someone with psychopathic tendencies.
7. Lastly, they are often single or divorced white men in their thirties.
This is of course just a simple and by no means exhaustive list, and there are of course exceptions to each rule. There are for example some very well known female serial killers. Gives you something to think about though. Have a look around you. Does anyone you know happen to fit the bill?
- 1 month ago
In recent months, there have been some big announcements from some big franchises that fans didn’t see coming. That’s right, Scream and Friday the 13th are coming to television! So in honour of these legendary slashers coming to the small screen and with my novel Slasher coming out soon, I thought I’d look into the history of television slashers.
When I think of the perfect tv slasher show, my mind automatically goes to Harper’s Island (2009).
I LOVED this show, and it was a one off that I will always remember. The premise was simple. A group of family and friends were clustered on an island for a wedding, but someone was out for revenge, and each episode a character was killed off in true slasher style. It looked great, played out well, had a great cast and truly lived up to its premise. However, it’s pretty much a standalone in the genre.
There was the Friday the 13th series in 1987, which managed to run for three years, and is still quite popular as a cult hit (and perhaps gives good reason for the franchise to return to tv’s) but it didn’t centre around Jason Vorhees. And what else is there? I did some research and came up empty handed.
Of course, there are countless murder mystery and crime shows, and these naturally sometimes share elements with the slasher genre. The Following has managed to embrace both genres, and for the most part works well (it’s a good show, worth a watch). It’s probably the closest thing we have to a tv slasher right now. But really, Harper’s Island was the only programme to really go for it, embracing the genre fully. It was a great success, and now is the perfect time for more!
Nobody knows what to expect from either the new Friday the 13th series or the Scream series (at MTV), but horror is big business on television right now. With American Horror Story, Salem, The Walking Dead, Hannibal, The Following and Hemlock Grove to name a few, viewers are really tuning into this new small screen wave of horror, so here’s hoping that the slasher genre is about to get a clever and well made series too. Keep your fingers crossed!
And tell me, will you watch Scream and Friday the 13th on tv when they arrive?
Slasher movies have always been pretty big business. In fact the Scream films combined have grossed almost $400,000 million, and that’s just domestically, totally ignoring international box offices, plus dvd’s merchandise and all. However, in recent years, there has been an almost total lack of what could be traditionally defined as a slasher movie. Only the big franchises have tried new instalments, and while they’ve been fairly successful, they have not recreated the wave of slasher movies found in the 80’s and 90’s. Scream and Friday the 13th are said to be trying their luck with television next, but how is anyone’s guess. I reckon it’s time they made a comeback, but is Hollywood, and more importantly the paying audience, ready for a revival? I’d say so!
After the sensation that was Scream, film studios stood up and took note quickly, and for a while we were inundated with entries into the genre, some good, some bad. We had I know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, the clever variation on the format that is Final Destination, and many more, but as the quality started to dip and familiarity set in, audiences began to seek something new, the genre was abandoned, and the now infamous torture porn era came in with a gruesome bang.
It took a few years, and annual Saw releases, for people to get sick of torturous horror, and with the runaway success of found footage flick Paranormal Activity, in came the supernatural. The Conjuring, Insidious, The Haunting in Connecticut, The Devil Inside and many, many more stormed the box office and the dvd shelves. Ghosts and hauntings and spirits and devils became the staple. But guess what? People are bored of that now too, and even more tired of found footage. We’ve also had an awful lot of home invasion flicks, but other than You’re Next and The Purge, audiences have quit caring.
So what’s next? We could go cannibal, currently being kickstarted by The Green Inferno. We could creature feature, with a lot of focus on werewolves, big foot and such in the slightly more indie circuit. Or, we could have a glorious return to slashers for a while.
Think about it, a few movies aside, a huge proportion of the cinema going public is young enough to have never really experienced this genre at their local multiplex. They’ve probably watched some dvd’s, seen a few sequels, but this is a genre that, to the younger generation at least, is actually pretty fresh, and to the older generation? Well there are many simply gagging for a return to the style of movies they grew up with, maybe with a new take, maybe exactly as they remember.
Yes, slasher movies are fairly predictable, and yes, they have not been scary in a while, but that could be said of pretty much every genre. No one was scared any more by haunted houses, then along came James Wan and the whole world screamed and took note. Old, seemingly tired genres can be completely invigorated in the right hands, and what better genre to bring back than the slasher, ignored for so long now? We just need a maverick director with some real skill and who knows, we could be watching teenagers being chased by brutal killers before you know it.
My new book is based in the world of slasher movies, so you know I’m a fan, but the question remains, are you ready for the return of the slasher?
While it may not have started with Psycho, the legendary film seemingly put the humble kitchen knife on the map as a go to weapon for villains in slasher movies.
In my new book Slasher the killer too uses a kitchen knife, playing with the notion of the classic weapon of choice deliberately, so I wanted to delve deeper into why this icon of horror is so popular.
Looking over just a few famous slasher franchises, knives pop up again and again. In Halloween, in Child’s Play, in Scream, itself possibly playing with the cliche. But why?
Well I believe the answer lies in psychology. Taking someone’s life is an intimate action, and using a knife requires the killer to get up close and personal with their victim. It’s not the same experience as using a gun, or even an axe or machete. The very action of stabbing someone brings the killer right up to their victim. Just watch a few death scenes from films such as those I have mentioned and you will see what I mean. Hell, watch a few episodes of Dexter. There’s always that element of closeness. It makes it scarier, the killer having such proximity. It’s visceral and brutal and causes a horribly intimate moment between killer and victim. Does the killer know the victim? Sometimes, sometimes not, but that element of intimacy cannot be ignored.
There’s also the fact that this closeness tends to go along with a killer that really enjoys this factor when killing. You can see them enjoying what they’re doing, which only adds to the impact.
I also believe that the familiarity we as humans have with knives adds to the scare level. It’s SUCH a familiar object. Pretty much every household has one, and in fact many victims in horror movies will reach for the block of kitchen knives to ready their defence against an imminent attack. Notice that the element of closeness is here again. What’s scarier than an everyday object turned against you to such nasty effect? It puts the horror right into your house, rather than being removed. It helps to put you in the shoes of the onscreen victim, even subconsciously, because it’s more relatable than say, one of the traps from Saw. Sure, those are nasty too, but they work in a different way.
So, go and watch a few slasher movies where the killer favours a knife, and see if you agree. Don’t you find the closeness that comes from a villain using a knife really adds to it’s impact?
Tell me though, if you were a villain, would you choose the humble kitchen knife too?
- 3 months ago
So, are one of those peeps who is a newbie when it comes to slasher movies? Or maybe you just want to read about some of the iconic slasher films? Maybe see which ones you’ve missed?
Well thanks to Hitsville Uk, here is a great ‘Beginner’s Guide’!
The slasher is a highly popular and important sub-genre in horror, which many believe began properly in the ’70s, with the classic Black Christmas in 1974 often as one of the first best examples. It demonstrates a number of characteristics which would soon start to define the genre we know today, including a mysterious killer, a group of young adults/teens as the victims, secluded locations and of course, plenty of blood and guts. It can be argued that there are earlier examples of slashers (perhaps Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 truly invented the genre), and such arguments could be forever debated among hardcore fans of the genre, but keeping these main characteristics in mind, put together here is the beginner’s guide to some of the most essential and important slashers ever made, plus a few notes on some other fun flicks and ones to avoid.
Scream (dir. Wes Craven, 1996)
In the ’90s, the slasher genre seemed to be dying off, with a host of other horror genres taking the lead. But in ‘96, with Scream, Wes Craven created a film that would redefine the genre as we knew it, by taking elements from classic slashers and turning them on their head. The scares are there, yes. There’s a mysterious murderer, there’s a host of sex-crazed, alcohol-fuelled adolescents, but the film is smarter than most slashers that came before it. It knows exactly what it is, and it has a lot of fun with that fact, allowing it to be very meta, using a self-referential style of humour that is so ahead of it’s time, especially for the horror genre. Helped by the wonderful trio of Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox, the film was a roaring success in every sense, and is absolutely the most perfect introduction to the genre for newbies.
Then move onto:
Halloween (dir. John Carpenter, 1978)
Once you’ve had a taste of what the genre has to offer, it’s time to do your homework on the true classics. In 1978, John Carpenter created a genuine horror masterpiece with Halloween; a low-budget slasher that proves how far you can go with a little money and a lot of talent. With this film, Carpenter gave the world probably the first true slasher icon in the form of Michael Myers. A character we know little-to-nothing about, who lurks about on Halloween, wearing a William Shatner mask painted white and killing teens. Knowing so little about the character makes him that much scarier and the jum scares are executed to perfection. Jamie Lee Curtis also made a name for herself as Laurie Strode, giving us the first iconic slasher heroine, or Last Girl. Timeless stuff.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. Wes Craven, 1984)
Wes again here, in the decade where the slasher phenomenon was at the height of it’s popularity, and in ‘84, the world’s most prolific horror character was born. With Freddy Krueger, something truly original was created; a horribly scarred man who can kill you in your sleep. The idea is nothing short of genius, and without Craven, the premise could’ve been totally squandered into something much cheesier. But what we get here in the original is a clever and scary slasher with a supernatural twist. Whereas Freddy eventually became more known for his tongue-in-cheek one-liners and general goofiness later on the series, he demonstrates a much more memorable and powerful trait in this flick; pure fear. If there’s any movie character that can keep you up at night, it’s him. Nightmare is 100% essential.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (dir. Tobe Hooper, 1974)
Again, proving how much can truly be achieved in horror with such a small budget, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a flick that is destined to be talked about until the end of time. What sets it apart from a lot of the films on this list is the sense of realism it displays. What we have here is a Texas family out on a farm in the middle of nowhere, completely deranged and seemingly without any sense of conscience. The best known villain from the film is of course Leatherface; a massive tank of a creature with a mask made of human skin, who is never caught without his giant chainsaw in hand. He never really speaks, only screams, and only slices and dices. He is a terrifying creation, and it’s even more frightening knowing that his some of his character is based on real-life serial killer Ed Gein. For me, it is the family behind Leatherface, pulling his strings that scares me the most. They give a whole new meaning to the term “dysfunctional family”, and knowing that there are people in the world who are like this hits home pretty hard. The film is suitably gritty and sweaty, and it feels so adult that you hardly even notice the amazing lack of actual gore and profanity. You’ll need to shower for days after this one.
Friday The 13th (dir. Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)
With the success of Halloween in 1978, it was clear that the genre had the potential to be a major cash cow, and so the numerous “copycat” franchises spawned in their dozens. One of the first and most noteworthy slashers of the ’80s was Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday The 13th. A flick that clearly took influences from Carpenter; as we have a mysterious killer, use of POV camerawork, unsuspecting teens and plenty of slashing. The gore is definitely upped compared to the likes of Halloween, and perhaps that’s what eventually went on to define the Friday films; the sheer level of blood and guts; and the ingenuity behind each murder. It is hockey-masked Jason who is the face of the franchise, but it’s really his mother, Mrs. Voorhees who steals the show in the first film.
Brief Guide to Sequels and Remakes
Whereas most horror sequels truly do suck at the highest level, the Scream franchise as a whole is pretty strong. It is in no small debt to Wes Craven helming all three follow ups to the original, as well as writer Kevin Williamson and the trio of stars all returning too. Scream 2 is excellent fun, and pretty much essential viewing but 3 and 4 are for fans of the franchise only.
The first follow up to the original, Halloween II, is worth a watch for sure, but had too much to live up to to ever have a chance at being something special. III is where things get a little mixed up, and they bring in witches instead of Michael Myers, much to the dissatisfaction of the fans. There’s plenty more Myers-filled sequels that follow, but I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten around to seeing most of them.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) is a decent stab at reinterpreting John Carpenter’s masterpiece, and has an added first act which shows us a young, troubled Michael Myers. It’s a good, gorey, flick that, like all Rob Zombie films definitely shows some flair and passion for the genre, but it’s definitely scarier the less we know about Myers, and so the original will always trump it.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Plenty of fun sequels followed up to the original, but none could really match the horror of the first. 2 is widely considered as the weakest, but I have a soft spot for it because it’s the first Nightmare film I saw. 3 aka Dream Warriors is a surprisingly excellent entry to the series in it’s own right. It is completely different from the original, particularly in tone, and that’s why it works so well. Watch with tongue planted firmly in cheek and you’ll have a ball. Freddy became more of a joke from here on out in the series, but at least he’s genuinely funny and creative in this venture.
Numbers 4, 5 and 6 are for hardcore fans only, and even then, will probably disappoint.
Wes Craven returned in 1998 to make New Nightmare, a film quite close to what he created with Scream. It’s a very clever effort where the original cast play themselves and throws something new after too many tired sequels. Definitely worth the watch.
Samuel Bayer made a stab at doing a remake in 2010, with one major chance; Robert, who played Freddy in every single other film (and even the short-lived TV series) was replaced by Watchmen's Jackie Earl Haley. He does his best with the source material that desperately tries to set a dark tone like the original, but fails miserably. Totally uninspired. Do not watch.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is considered to be something of a cult classic in the genre, and it definitely is a bit of fun. The highlight being Bill Moseley’s “Chop Top”, a fan favourite indeed. Tobe Hooper takes the helm again, but sets a completely different tone, and it’s more of a dark comedy than anything. Worth a watch, but don’t expect it to be anything like the original.
Numbers 3 and 4, subtitled Leatherface and The New Generation respectively, are both terrible, but it’s fun to see a young Matthew McConaughey pop up in one of his weirdest roles ever in TNG.
Marcus Nispel’s remake in 2003 was surprisngly good stuff, despite not straying much from the original’s plot. A strong cast makes it definitely watchable. All films that followed this one are complete tripe. Skip ‘em.
Friday the 13th
There’s an absolute heap of 13th sequels, mostly tackled by different directors, and they are very much a mismatch batch of flicks. The good ones are few and far between, most of them being borderline ridiculous, with a special mention to Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, taking the crown. II, III and VI are all quite good, with the latter adding more supernatural elements than ever giving it a new spin. Jason X is of course widely renowned as a bit of a cult classic, putting our masked killer in space and letting him rip. It’s utterly stupid, but it’s still fun.
Nispel tackled another remake of a classic in 2009 - a Friday The 13th reboot - and although it does nothing particularly new, it’s worth a watch for the sheer amounts of blood and a fun opening 30 minutes or so.
Some Other Noteworthy Slashers:
- Freddy Vs. Jason: Title says it all. Watch it.
- Hatchet: An instant cult classic. Feels retro and new and the same time.
- You’re Next: Clever, and Scream-esque.
- Child’s Play: Chucky!
- Sleepaway Camp: The perfect so-bad-it’s-good slasher.
- Final Destination: Original is brilliant fun.
Obviously there’s tonnes of stuff I left out on this. Believe me, I’ve seen my fair share, and there’s plenty still on my watch list, but I reckon this is a pretty good guide to get newbies acquainted with the slashing!
Did you enjoy? Be sure to follow me on Twitter @wdejackson and on Facebook.com/wdjackson for more horror/slasher fun!
And tell me, which is your favourite slasher?Source: hitsvilleuk
It is estimated that at any one time there are around 100 practicing serial killers in America, and it seems Los Angeles is a city that has had its share.
My new book Slasher is a crime thriller set in LA, with a brutal serial killer mimicking Hollywood slasher movies on the loose, so I thought I’d share with you some serial killer trivia from the city.
The Grim Sleeper is possibly the most prominently known LA serial killer currently. Lonnie Franklin, a 61 year old married father of two, was arrested in 2010 for the murders of numerous women in the city, and his case is so fascinating because though he seemingly operated over 23 years, there was a 13 year gap where apparently he did not murder anyone. This strange break in his habits is what earned him the moniker of the Grim Sleeper, his lust for murder ‘sleeping.’ As of March 2014 Franklin had still not come to trial, but thanks to the relentless news reporting of Christine Pelisek that resulted in Franklin being arrested, his case has become infamous and even been turned into a TV movie. Over the four years Pelisek reported on the story, many women would contact her with fears that they were living with the Grim Sleeper, but she believes that because the women were black and from poor backgrounds, that her investigation wasn’t treated seriously.
Historically there are other prominent Southern California killers. In the 70’s Angelo Buono was convicted of torturing and strangling ten women. In 2007 Chester Turner was sentenced to death for murdering ten women in the Los Angeles area. William Bonin was put to death in 1996 for the rape and murder of fourteen teenage boys, and it’s suspected that there are more victims of Bonin that were never identified or discovered.
In April this year reports came in of another suspected serial killer in the Los Angeles area, when the LAPD released a statement that two victims found nine months apart were killed by the same person, forensic evidence linking the murders. In fact, there have been other reports of bodies found discarded in a similar manner on the Eastside of LA and around Los Angeles County, but so far none have been connected to these two victims.
So, that’s just a taste of the recent history of serial killers in Los Angeles, but rest assured, the one I wrote about is in good company!
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Slasher is coming this Halloween, from Assent Publishing
- 4 months ago
You know the scene well. A girl is running for a life, charging across a field, or through the woods, a crazed killer chasing her, and at the worst possible moment she falls down! You scream at the screen, mocking her for her clumsiness. So why is it that slasher movie victims continue to fall down?
In order for slasher movies to work, the genre tends to take liberties. Killers are omnipresent and the victims are useless. We’re supposed to root for the killer, particularly with modern horror, where the kill scenes are often what people root for, but still, people should not fall down as much. In Texas Chainsaw 3D, lead character Heather is constantly tumbling over herself, laughably so, and with audiences so aware to this cliche, why does it still exist.
My answer? Because without it, the slasher movie wouldn’t work as well. Imagine it - all the supposed victims are athletic and capable. The killer would never catch them, and that would be boring! In addition, we’re supposed to feel the sheer terror the person being chased feels. They are supposed to be at least a little vulnerable. How can there be tension if the supposed victim is clear of the killer within seconds every time? Answer? Make them fall down!
Films like Scream, and more recently, You’re Next and Cabin In The Woods, have played with the cliches, and turned things on their heads, but at the end of the day, people watch slasher movies to see teens getting slayed in ever more creative ways.
So next time you see a girl fall over, only to be caught by the killer and butchered, rejoice instead of frowning. You’re in for a much more fun ride!
- 4 months ago
I’m a huge slasher movie/horror fan, and have been asked numerous times to pick my favourite horror bad guy, but what about the poor old final girl?
She’s been attacked, probably stabbed, will have fallen over at least one, and almost everyone she knows has been brutally killed, yet she has still lived to see another day (most of the time). It’s time to give the final girl some love!
Everyone has their favourite, or even a few, and the list is probably bigger than you think. Here are a possible top 25 to choose from. Who would you give the top slot to? (You might not agree with the buzzfeed choice, but they do make a good case)