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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Super slashers for Friday the 13th

Published: April 13, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Today marks yet another one of those fabled Friday the 13ths– a day that has long been considered unlucky and also one which conjures images of the masked killer of the numerous Friday the 13th slasher films, Jason Voorhees. Undoubtedly, Friday the 13th is as good a day as any to view films that will scare you, as Friday the 13th is always offered on television every time the date comes up, along with other such horror staples like the Halloween series and Wes Cravens Nightmare on Elm Street series. For those of you who have already seen all of the aforementioned big three slasher films (along with their respective sequels that are generally far inferior to the original), here are some other classic, lesser known slashers that are just as mysterious, heart wrenching, and shocking that are definitely worth checking out.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
For those of you who enjoy truly cheap, suspenseful independent films, this is one of the best places to start. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was so horrifying to some that they walked out of the previews for the film. The emblematic serial killer, Leatherface, makes his first appearance here, in a film noted not for its pure bloodiness, but for its dramatic pace and continued suspense in deserted Texas. The film often has the overall feel of a documentary, and is a far cry from much of the manufactured, big budget Hollywood thrillers made today.

Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas was just recently remade this past holiday season, but the remake does the original little justice. The original Black Christmas was one of the early slasher films to really set the tone for the rest of the genre. The Canadian film features a deranged killer within a sorority house, and is known for its strange, unfathomable ending, and its usage of strange camera angles full of darkly lit settings. Black Christmas also features many of the motifs found in the other more well known films to follow, such as seeing through the eyes of the killer, and the Scream standard, a killer making calls to his victims within the same house.

Prom Night (1980)
Prom Night was another Canadian film that attempted to capitalize on the success of Friday the 13th, and for all of the cliches it has, is still a noteworthy slasher film worth seeing. The film features Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis in a similar role, along with Leslie Nielsen in one of his more serious parts. As the title indicates, all of the events occur on the night of the prom in a small town. However, the identity of the killer is never cut and dry, and the film does a good job in keeping the audience guessing. This film like the two above, is going to be remade, with a release date of February 1, 2008.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Proving to be an inspiration for the influential Irish-British rock group of the same name, My Bloody Valentine had very much in common with Prom Night, as it was released shortly after it and was also Canadian. This time, the killing is done on Valentines Day in a small mining town. Chaos ensues in the common way it would in a good slasher film, as the town refuses to heed the warnings of the killer not to throw a party on Valentines day. Certain versions of the film are so gory and gruesome that the MPAA ordered a full 9 minutes cut. The film will elicit chuckles, disgust, and surprise throughout its 90 minutes.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp certainly lives up to its name in being quite the campy film, and has got to have one of the most strange conclusions in the history of all horror films. Here the variation is that the murders are done at a summer camp (much like Friday the 13th), with many of the victims being much younger than the typical screaming teenagers found in most slasher films. The film starts off incredibly cheesy, and has many scenes that appear quite pointless, but once the action starts, viewers will surely be making bets with their friends as to who is the most likely killer. Sleepaway Camp also has a series of bizarre, strangely creative and simple death scenes. For those who enjoy Hitchcocks Psycho and other strangely twisted psychological thrillers, Sleepaway Camp is top notch.