The Slasher Film Formula
April 18, 2011, 1:23 am
Filed under: Feature | Tags: ,

After countless sleepless nights devouring piles of slasher films, Horrorble has decided to give you a rundown on the most simple horror movie formula known to man:

The Slasher Formula.

The killer may change, the deaths will vary, get more gruesome, and the blood becomes more real looking – but if you look past the more trivial aspects of modern film making, the basic principles of the slasher movie are exactly the same now, as they were 30 years ago.

Obviously over time there are going to be some changes made to the complete outline of the slasher movie – but the basic premise is usually always the same when it comes to the outstanding, iconic slasher films of the 80s.

We’ve gone ahead and broken the slasher formula up into three parts: The Killer, The Victims, The Violence

Part 1 – The Killer.

The antagonist of the Slasher films is first and foremost, usually male. He is often someone who died, and has come back to life to seek revenge on the people who killed him.

Probably three of the most well-known undead Slashers in our modern-film era are:

Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) – Before he died, Krueger was a child-murderer who was killed in his boiler-room hideout by the vengeful parents of the teenagers he is now trying to kill via their dreams. Krueger is a ‘dream stalker’ and his weapon of choice are the knives on his hands which he fashioned himself all those years before he was murdered. He appears in the dreams of his victims, who always try to stay awake, but fail miserably at it.

Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)We find out in the first Friday the 13th film that Jason Voorhees drowned during his summer at Camp Crystal Lake because the camp leaders were too busy making out to notice a little Jason being bullied and subsequently drowning in the lake. Jason’s mother is the killer in the original movie, and that role is soon passed on to her son who takes the lead as the antagonist and ‘anti-hero’ of the movies. Jason is depicted as an indestructible, non-verbal, machete wielding, murderer – (indestructible because well… he’s undead…) – who is sometimes kind of shy and can seem at times… almost sympathetic towards the people he kills. It’s a wonder why anyone ever runs into him though, you’d think people would stay away from the place after hundreds of murders.

Michael Myers (not Mike Myers) (Halloween) – One of the earliest slasher movies to really push the limit on blood and gore, Halloween introduces us to Michael Myers, the most evil kid on the block. When he’s six, he murders his sister with a butcher knife, and is subsequently locked up in a mental asylum for 15 years. Of course, he escapes and finds a girl to stalk (Jamie Lee Curtis), and ends up killing her friends and goes to kill her too, but Dr Loomis from the asylum shows up just in time to shoot Michael. Does he die? Not really. He’s just undead like the rest of them.

The killer formula for slasher movies is fairly consistent. Undead, masked or deformed, out for vengeance or just has a taste for blood.

Of course there have been movies that stray from this formula, like Evil Dead and Scream for instance, but just like the others, they all have something else in common.

Part 2 – The Victims.

Blood. Guts. Knives. Teenagers. Sex. Rock and Roll.

Sound familiar? It should.

If we were lazy we’d probably leave it at that. The most simple formula for slasher films. But we’re much too excited about horror movies to just leave you hanging like that.

It’s true though – teenagers and sex play a major role in the characterisation of the slasher film victims. Get a bunch of horny teenagers together in the forest, at a farm, in a cabin, and there’s going to be sex and death.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule – Nightmare on Elm Street, for example, is set in suburbia – but there are still teenagers and sex. Just less forest, and more Freddy Krueger.

The victims in a slasher film are often young, kinda good-looking, and, more often than not, very naked. The killer doesn’t pick the his victims specifically because they do the wrong thing, but there’s sort of an unwritten moral code that comes with slasher movies that, if you do something bad (sex, drugs, etc) you’re going to die.

A lot of the time, the killers picks his victims because they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, in the case of Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees, they’re out seeking revenge.

And don’t forget there’s always the one girl that never gets killed. Our heroine. The virgin who doesn’t drink, smoke and tells everyone she’s got a bad feeling about something. Think Sidney Prescott from the Scream movies, or Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Part 3 – The violence

There is one thing that separates slasher movies from the rest of the horror genre, is the level of violence and gore that they employ to create the storyline. The entire plot development of slasher films is usually based on the amount of blood that can come out of one persons body.

The plot of a slasher film really doesn’t have to go anywhere, as long as it gives the killer the chance to kill people, even if the victims find themselves in utterly moronic and compromising positions. As long as we’ve got dead bodies.

And don’t forget, the more creative the kill, the better the movie.

The infamous bedroom 'kebab' scene from Friday the 13th Part 2

So there we have it, an extremely simple formula if there ever was one. Lets recap:

Undead villain out for revenge? Check
Teenagers? Check
A plot that revolves around killing those teenagers? Check
Blood? Check
Sex? Check

Want to make a slasher film? That’s really all you need.

For those of you who are new to the party, Horrorble has compiled a list of slasher films that you can find right here


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