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Slasher-of-the-Month Movie Selections: A Year’s Worth of Frights


Blogger Stacie Ponder’s horror columns will appear every Wednesday through April.

The recently released Prom Night remake has got me to thinking. No, my thoughts haven’t turned to remakes in general (quite frankly, I think my brain has exceeded maximum capacity on that issue) or PG-13 horror (which isn’t an oxymoron, I swear) or even baby’s breath, taffeta, and tiaras. See, Prom Night has got me thinking about the rules and regulations of slasher films.

While I’m so sure that you’ve never noticed how… formulaic slasher films can be, I assure you that it’s absolutely true — while there are always exceptions to the rules, undoubtedly there’s a slasher paradigm that’s easily recognized once you’ve seen —  well, once you’ve seen more than one of them. Make a checklist, pop in the original Prom Night and see how many boxes you’ve ticked off when it’s over: Masked killer? Past traumatic event that leads to subsequent murder spree? Set in a summer camp or high school? Ineffectual authority figure, teenage kill fodder, and a Final Girl? Check, check, check, check. Is the film tied to a specific time of year (a holiday or special event)?  Ch– aww, you know the answer by now.

After spending a while ruminating on slasher rules and given all the holiday and event-themed plots, would it be possible, I wondered, to tie a flick to each month of the year? Call me crazy, but I figured I’d give it a try — if there’s one thing I’ve always said, it’s that I live life on the edge. So bust out your Blackberries or your Palm Pilots or whatever it is you kids use for a calendar (if you’re anything like me, you’re still using a datebook from 2002) and let’s fill it up with a year’s worth of horror!

January
Ah, the time of fresh starts and making resolutions that are sure to be broken. Next time around, kick off a new beginning with New Year’s Evil (1980). The killer offs a victim when each time zone hits the new year to win the love of his favorite VJ. Does it really matter whether or not the movie’s any good when it pivots around VJ’s, not to mentioned one called “Blaze”? No, it doesn’t.

February
While some might pop in Valentine
(2001) to see familiar faces (David Boreanaz! Katherine Heigl! Oh, the
stars!), horror fans with discriminating taste will check out My Bloody Valentine
(1981), a Canadian export that ranks as one of the finest films in all
of slasherdom. Come 2009 we can all check out the remake, which will
reportedly boast three whole dimensions of terror!

March
After you’ve filled up on green beer and Lucky Charms, why not have a Leprechaun marathon? Okay, maybe not a whole marathon — Leprechaun in the Hood really
didn’t match my expectations — but the first in the series (1993)
isn’t so bad, and you get the added bonus of seeing Jennifer Aniston
run from a leprechaun. The high-water mark, however, is surely Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997). C’mon, the alien chick has glitter on her forehead, that’s how you know she’s an alien!

April
Again, it’s old school vs new school: Will you watch the original April Fool’s Day
(1986) or the recent remake? Keep in mind, your answer will determine
exactly how I feel about you. Now, if that’s too much pressure and the
question is breaking your brain, you could always opt for Slaughter High
(1986), a truly bizarre and awesome slasher that takes place on April
Fool’s Day. Or maybe you’re in the mood for something more closely
related to Easter, like Peter Rottentail (2004). I’ve never seen it, but be warned: I’ve heard the experience is somewhat akin to stabbing yourself in the eye.

May
Forget flowers. There’s no better way to show your mom how much you care than by watching 1980’s Mother’s Day
with her! Alright, so maybe your mom would prefer dinner out and
flowers to Troma’s inept, grisly, and generally unpleasant rape-revenge
flick.

June
To the best of my knowledge there’s no
slasher film tied to the greatest of all holidays, June 14th (or, as
it’s more widely known, Flag Day and Stacie’s Birthday). What’s up with
that? It’s alright, though, because June usually brings about the end
of the evil known as “the school year.” As such, you could practically
fill up the entire month with horror movies related to the end of
school: Prom Night (and the rest of the films in the original series), Final Exam (1981), The Prowler (1981), and Graduation Day (1981) to name but a few. And aren’t “June brides,” like, a thing? If I’m not making that up, then I’d also suggest He Knows You’re Alone (1980), the wedding-themed slasher that’s one of my faves.

July
Having actually seen Uncle Sam (1997), I can’t recommend you do the same. Though there’s a surprising dearth of Independence Day-themed horror flicks, Uncle Sam
is a real stinker. Since that’s the case, let’s just say that July is
the month where kids are firmly ensconced in summer camp. That way we
can watch all the sleepaway camp movies and all the Friday the 13ths!  Hooray for July!

August
Let’s face it, kids: August sucks. Summer is
winding down and if you’re a kid, the school year looms. Add to all
that misery the fact that there are no official holidays and you’ll
find that it’s like I said: August sucks. But while it’s clearly bleak,
August also seems to be the month when you can do whatever you want to
do. In a big “eff you” to the notion of a holiday-less month, weirdos
everywhere have filled up August with many an “Awareness Day”; August
boasts Mustard Day, Ice Cream Sandwich Day (I can so get behind
that one), and Roller Coaster Day among approximately 451,983,476 other
“Day”s. Therefore, I’m officially claiming that August is the month to
watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the ’74 original). Also, August is hot, the actors in TCM practically croaked from the Texas heat. ‘Nuff said.

September
Like
Flag Day, Labor Day is a holiday that’s just ripe for the picking. Come
on horror filmmakers, step up! Fear not, friends — all is not lost. As
I mentioned earlier, September marks the return to school for children
everywhere… but did you know, some adults go to school as well? That means you can watch Night School (1980) with impunity!

October
Hmm…
geez, I’m having a really hard time thinking of a slasher flick that
would be appropriate to watch during October. Sure, Halloween happens
during October, but are there any movies associated with that
particular holiday? I’ve been looking forward to Trick ‘R Treat
forever, but the anthology film’s release keeps getting shuffled around
and put off. Oh yeah, and there are, like, eight movies starring that Michael Myers guy .

November
There is a horror movie with a (tenuous at best) connection to Thanksgiving: Home Sweet Home (1980). Despite the fact that it stars Body By Jake as a PCP-addled cuckoo nutso killer, Home Sweet Home stinks. My suggestion? Watch the trailer for Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, which appeared in last year’s Grindhouse .
While the film doesn’t exist, the trailer is awesome — maybe if we all
hold hands and wish hard enough, Roth will follow through with a
feature.

December
Here’s a month that’s chock-a-block full of holiday-themed scary movies ranging in quality from “meh” (1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night) to “This is the best movie ever” ( Black Christmas ’74) to “This movie is so bad it’s making me want to kill myself” (Black Christmas ’06). Give yourself the gift of horror next December!

There
you have it, folks — a year’s worth of slashers and fright flicks. Now
if you’ll excuse me, according to my datebook I have to be at work in
20 minutes… which is weird, because it feels as if I haven’t had that
job in years. Oh well, if I have it written down it must be true!

A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules.  She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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