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Stacie Ponder – Secondary Schmecondary: Give Minor Characters Their Due!

I’m only pointing out the obvious when I say that one of the most important hallmarks of the slasher movie is the iconic killer. I mean, duh. With their scary masks, signature weapons, and snazzy jumpsuits and sweaters, guys like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger are what keep the fans coming back film after film. It seems clear that these guys get enough time in the spotlight so I ask unto thee: what of the other characters in slasher films? Sure, they’re there simply to raise the bodycount, but can’t we give them their moment in the sun? I say yes we can! Let’s spend some time with a few of the more memorable second (and third and fourth) bananas.

Shelly ( Friday the 13th Part 3 )
Shelly (Larry Zerner) is one of the earliest examples of the stock slasher character I’ve come to refer to as The Guy Who Thinks He’s Funny But He’s Really Just Irritating Oh Why Won’t He Die Already. Actually I don’t usually say all that. I just sigh loudly whenever he appears onscreen. I have to admit, though, I’ve got a soft spot for our little afro-ed Shelly. Someone has to! No one likes the guy. Vera’s not interested in getting jiggy with him, and his “jokes” fall flat every single time. Savvy fans know, however, that without Shelly, Jason Voorhees may have remained a potato-sack killer forever, for it was he who brought the hockey mask to Camp Crystal Lake.

Franklin ( The Texas Chain Saw Massacre )
Is there anyone on the planet who didn’t salivate at the thought of something terrible happening to Franklin (Paul Partain)? I’m not, you know, some wackadoo filled with bloodlust, but come on. Whiny old Franklin is a shoo-in for the Annoying Characters Hall of Fame: He’s less likable than a cannibal who wears a mask crafted from the flesh of his victims. That’s…pretty unlikable. Perhaps the fact that he’s in a wheelchair gives you a moment of pause when you find yourself thinking, “Man, this guy’s unbearable!” After all, who makes the cripple the biggest jerk in a movie? Then you realize that no one in the movie likes him either and you feel all right when you cheer as Leatherface’s mighty saw goes to town.

Annie ( Halloween )
I remember the day my 5th Grade Social Studies teacher told me that no one thinks that sarcasm is funny. The scolding wasn’t a propos of nothing; I’m sure I’d just made some smart-ass remark. Had the case of The Smart Mouth Student gone to trial, I would have provided one piece of evidence: a highlight reel of any of Annie Brackett’s lines in Halloween, which I absolutely found uproarious…and I still do. Laurie Strode may be the film’s Final Girl and Lynda may provide the titillation, but it’s Annie (Nancy Loomis) who steals the show with her deadpan delivery of lines like “Oh terrific, I’ve got three choices: Watch the kid sleep, listen to Lynda screw around, or talk to you!”

Judy (Sleepaway Camp)
Judy (Karen Fields) wears a T-shirt upon which is written JUDY. For this alone I adore her, but there’s so much more to Judy than her eponymous tee. There’s her side-ponytail, bursting forth with pure ’80s glory. Then there’s her bad attitude and when I say “bad”, I mean…well, I mean bad. I know I’m supposed to hate Judy, but I just can’t. She’s smarmy and awful and incessantly cruel to the incessantly shy Angela (Felissa Rose), but Judy is so over-the-top that I can’t help but love her. And really, haven’t we all known at least one obnoxious person who, when criticized, can only respond with a ridiculous “You’re just jealous!” We have..and in Sleepaway Camp, we get to see that person made super dead by a killer brandishing a curling iron.

The Dream Warriors ( A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 )
The “last of the Elm Street children” are a bunch of sad, suicidal teenagers eking out a lousy existence in a mental hospital. Freddy Krueger haunts their nightmares until they fight back in dreamland, banding together as The Dream Warriors! And in their dreams they totally shoot green laser bolts out of their hands and stuff. In the end, Freddy brings the whoop-ass to the table, but those Dream Warriors sure gave him good show. The ’80s-metal theme song (courtesy of Dokken) sings their praises and I do, too. They’re embarrassingly corny and cheesy as hell, but they sure do have a lot of spunk.

The more memorable slasher characters get me all riled up in good ways and in bad. Which second bananas float your boat? Whether they’re good guys or jerks, it doesn’t matter- the important thing is that they take away some of the attention from guys like Jason, Michael, and Freddy. They think they’re so tough!

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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