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90 second expert: Slasher flicks

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Quick Summary

  • Hitchcock terrorises Janet Leigh in the shower in Psycho
  • Halloween stalks Leigh’s daughter Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Friday The 13th adds more gore.
  • The ‘Video Nasties’ panic has censors reaching for their scissors
  • But the ’80s boom gives way to ’90s pastiche in Scream et al
  • Until remake fever rewinds the clock.

Key titles

Psycho (1960)

Stabbing violins, a crossdressing psycho and Janet Leigh’s iconic shower scene: Hitchcock’s masterpiece only had two murders but laid the groundwork for future
slashers. Knife + psycho = pure horror.

Blood and Black Lace (1964)

This proto-slasher from Mario Bava is set in the fashion world where models are slaughtered by a killer in a trench coat, trilby and face mask. Stylishly nasty.

Black Christmas (1974)

Although overshadowed by Halloween, this Canadian ho-ho-horror movie was the first to employ a seasonal title, POV sequences and a psycho who torments a sorority house of Christmas crackers.

Halloween (1978)

Originally titled The Babysitter Murders, this B-movie was supposed to be fast ‘n’ forgettable. But Carpenter’s suspense went beyond the bargain basement remit. No tricks; a real treat.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Unlike its increasingly crappy sequels, the original Friday wasn’t a total bad omen. With more boobs, more gore and two psycho villains, it’s a greasy Big Mac to Halloween’s rare steak.

Scream (1996)

Wes Craven’s self referential, severed tongue-in-cheek postmodern pastiche winks at us as it runs through slasher conventions. It’s smart, bloody and bloody funny.