King of slashers

Halloween slasher films compete for top spot


Graphic by Victoria Van

Story by Grey Johnson, culture editor

Horror movies have many different subgenres. Out of these subgenres, the slasher stands out amongst the others in numerous ways, whether it be the horror tropes or the typical horror archetypes. The main way in which slasher films stand out is the variety of crazed killers in the subgenre. Even people who have not seen a single horror movie know the significance of a hockey mask, all because of a couple of slasher movies. However, it is hard to judge which franchise is the king of the slasher subgenre. There are many slasher movies and characters to consider, all with their own justification for being the best.

“Child’s Play” is an interesting slasher movie in that the villain, Chucky, shouldn’t be as intimidating as he is. A doll with a knife does not sound that bad, so the fact that this franchise can make you do a double take on a child’s toy is something to be noted. Despite his small stature, his confidence and crazed look give him a feel that can leave the viewer quite unnerved.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” has one of the most creative psychopaths with Freddy Krueger. Freddy is a sadistic man who is known to crack jokes more than any other slasher. This antagonist does not normally exist in the real world, so he shows up in his victims’ dreams to haunt them. This gives the franchise a much more horrific feel, as although you can avoid scary mansions and dark forests, you cannot avoid sleeping.

Although it is a parody of other slasher movies, “Scream” has earned the right to dwell amongst the other legends of the group. Contrary to having the same look in every movie, the killer, Ghostface, has many different true identities. Behind the mask hides a psychopath that would otherwise seem normal in the day to day life outside of the costume. The fact that anyone in the town could be Ghostface adds to the mystery and gives the movies a realistic feel.

Despite these entries, none of them are as iconic as the two main franchises that dominate this category: “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th.” These movies helped to define what a slasher movie is and they won a lot of interest. They are seen as the best the slasher subgenre has to offer. But which one lays claim to the top position?

There had been slasher movies before it, but “Halloween” is generally considered the starting place for the golden age of slasher horror films.

— Grey Johnson

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” really laid the foundations for many movies to come. There had been slasher movies before it, but Halloween is generally considered the starting place for the golden age of slasher horror films.

The antagonist, Michael Myers, started off as a young boy in the first movie. Something came over him and caused him to kill his sister on Halloween night. Michael Myers was then sent to a sanitarium and Doctor Loomis was assigned to be Michael’s psychiatrist. Claiming that he is pure evil, Loomis is sort of a protagonist as he tries to stop Michael after he escapes the ward to kill off his other sister. The series of films follows Michael in his pursuit to hunt down his other family members.

The “Halloween” movies have an interesting setting, most of them occurring around local areas on Oct. 31, Halloween. One of the main elements of the movies is Michael’s ability to seemingly hide in plain sight. During the first half of the first movie, he stalks his remaining sister, Laurie Strode, from a distance, often being in plain sight, like when he drove around the neighborhood in a stolen car or the many times when he half-heartedly hid behind a hedge or some other obstruction in the environment.

He especially blends in with the many teenagers who are wearing Halloween costumes. This obstacle is even tackled in the movie, as many of the characters wrongly pursue an innocent person who happened to look like Michael. His talent to stalk the area, unknown, leaves the viewer in constant suspense.

“Friday the 13th” takes a different approach. Jason Voorhees is a massive, distorted figure. He doesn’t wear disguises and is hardly ever mistaken as someone else. He prefers to hide in the shadows and attack when his target least expects it. When this fails or his cover is blown, he resorts to using his supernatural strength to carry the day.

Jason’s origin is much more simple than Michael’s origin. As a camper at Camp Crystal Lake, he drowned while the camp counselors were away doing other things. His mother, Pamela Voorhees, took revenge on some counselors but was killed by the final one. Jason saw his mother’s death from the bottom of the lake and emerged to start his own killing spree.

The “Friday the 13th” movies do not have a solid overarching plot. It mainly relies on Jason’s anger on random people to make a good movie. On the other hand, Halloween is clear on Michael’s goal to kill the rest of his family. This gives the Halloween franchise more direction throughout the movies.

Halloween also has a better musical composition than its opposition. Its score is simple and repetitive, but haunting. The music is iconic and can be recognized by many people who don’t watch the movies. Friday’s music isn’t as memorable, but it does aid the suspense leading up to a jump scare and it built atmosphere, like with the famed ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma.

When it comes to how iconic the two are, Friday definitely takes the cake. Ever since Jason’s first time donning a hockey mask in “Friday the 13th Part III,” the hockey mask has become a horror icon. The same can’t be said about Michael’s overalls or his William Shatner mask. Although the mask is synonymous with Michael Myers, it hasn’t reached beyond that.

Both franchises are notable, but one has to be better than the other. Although “Friday the 13th” has an unforgettable villain and iconic content, “Halloween” is a better made franchise that had a huge impact on the subgenre as a whole. To this day, the “Halloween” franchise is still a marvel with its 2018 release as it will continue to be an influence until horror movies cease to exist.