Monday, August 25, 2008

The Best Slasher Film.


This past weekend, I did more than just point out the money to be spent on Same Ol' Obama's party this week could likely provide health care for many many people. I also came up with an insanely great idea, and an insanely stupid idea. Let me recount them for you, and we can then wait in breathless anticipation to see which one will become reality first. (Hint: It will be the stupid one.)

Here's the good idea: Personal electric cars. Have you seen those "Smart Cars," little two-seater deals that get a mocha-zillion miles to the gallon? My idea for Personal Electric Cars (which I will resist naming Personal Electric Recreational Vehicles, for acronymically-based reasons) goes them one better: Why not make cars that can hold one person, run on electricity, and have a small trunk compartment, which people could then use to get to and from local destinations without burning up a ton of fossil fuels.

It's a genius idea. I myself drive mostly by myself. Sweetie doesn't work, the kids go to school after I have to leave for "work," nobody in my office lives near me, really and we "work" different hours. So it's hard for me to carpool. It's also hard to take the bus, on account of the bus runs only one time per day to our part of the city, and that time is not the same one each day but more of a random stop, which is the way most buses work in my experience; when I was in law school and took the bus everyday, I had to catch the 8:20 bus. To do that, I had to be outside at 7:55, because the bus was sometimes nearly a 1/2 hour early and sometimes up to a 1/2 hour late. In three years, I don't recall the 8:20 bus ever coming at 8:20.

Where I live now, there's not any kind of set schedule, and on some days, there's no bus at all. Apparently, there are a great many holidays celebrated by our local bus. So the bus is out, and I have to take a car to "work," and that car holds five people and has trunk space, all of which is largely unnecessary for me to get me and my iPod and my lunch to "work."

I would get a scooter of some sort, except (a) I'm a 6'1", 230-pound (yes, through the miracle of The Baby Workout I've lost weight!) grown man, so riding a scooter is kind of silly, and (b) I live in Wisconsin, where 9 months of the year the temperature is below freezing and where we got over 100 inches of snow last year. In some places, the snow still hasn't melted, I bet. I can't ride a scooter to "work" in the middle of January when the wind chill is stuck somewhere between "-14 degrees" and "- are you kidding me? Why in God's name would grandpa settle here when he emigrated? Was Florida closed?"

So that's where Personal Electric Cars come in: I'm thinking along these lines: Take a Ford Festiva (one of the greatest cars ever built) and cut it in half; using the driver's half, put four wheels on there instead of two, seal 'er up and get rid of the trunk. Now, you've got a four-wheeled car (stable) that takes up very little room and has a little seat space for running errands and such, but which would be small enough to run off very little power, provided you're not looking to go 55 miles an hour or anything?

Why isn't this a reality yet? I know there have been other ideas for electric cars, but they all suffered from various flaws, flaws like "using too much power" or "being too expensive" or "being lame and weird looking" to "not being invented by me."

So I challenge you, America: Invent the Personal Electric Car, and give one to me as a bonus for having thought it up. I guarantee you it will be a big seller, especially if you have the people who do those adds for Apple do the adds for PECs, too, because that music can sell anything. You'll sell so much you can easily afford to give one to me.

My other idea, the bad one that will be a reality long before I'm ever cruising around in my Personal Electric Car given to me by the inventor for free, is this:

A trilogy based on the movie "Prom Night."


We watched the new "Prom Night," this weekend, Sweetie and I, on DVD. We were watching "Prom Night" because Sweetie likes slasher films, and we were watching it because more or less all Hollywood can do these days is remake old movies.

This Prom Night is not quite a remake of the old "Prom Night", starring Jamie Lee Curtis. (Jamie Lee Curtis must have been more or less the biggest star in the history of the early 1980s, judging by how often she was thrown into a movie.) I know that because Sweetie told me it was true; I never saw the first Prom Night.

In this Prom Night [SPOILER ALERT! BUT, REALLY, IS THERE A PART OF THE PLOT OF THIS MOVIE THAT YOU CANNOT GATHER FROM THE FACT THAT IT'S A SLASHER FILM CALLED 'PROM NIGHT'? THAT SORT OF GIVES IT AWAY, DOESN'T IT? STILL, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DIDN'T FIGURE IT ALL OUT YET, SPOILER ALERT] a girl's family is killed in the first few minutes by a deranged guy, and she sees it all. Then the movie jumps forward three years, to when that girl is now getting ready for her...

wait for it...

Prom Night...

...and she's all better and all over the horrifying deaths of her family except for some dreams in which she imagines the killer, who was a teacher at her school and who was obsesssed with her, has escaped and come back to get her. Her psychiatrist laughs at her and tells her instead to focus on how great prom night will be, and so she does that.

Turns out the psychiatrist was wrong. But you knew that, right?

So here's what I began thinking. First, Hollywood totally missed it. The first part of the movie takes about 2 minutes, but would in and of itself be a great movie, and I've even got a name for it: Teacher's Pet. So they should have made a movie called that, first, and released it, because that could have been marginally good (as this Prom Night was, actually) and then they could have capitalized on that by releasing this movie as "Teacher's Pet 2: Prom Night." (Catchy, right?) Then, after that, they could have another movie in two years or so in which one of the kids from Prom Night goes crazy and kills some more people, and called that one "Teacher's Pet Three: Reunion".)

So instead of one throwaway slasher film, you've got yourself a franchise here, one that could rival Scream or Friday The 13th Ad Infinitum for slasher-dom immortality, and one which avoids the big problem of all slasher films, which is this:

The killers in slasher films are totally unrealistic.

That's why I can't stand slasher films, as a general rule (although, as I said, this one was okay.) The killers in slasher films get drowned and burned and run over and dropped off of skyscrapers and burned some more and go to Hell and into space and get attacked by Freddy Krueger and they walk really slowly but still make it to Colorado where Jamie Lee Curtis now lives, and through it all they just keep on living and they don't even bleed.

Slasher films, though, are supposed to be chilling because they have an ordinary guy go bat-crap crazy and start killing people. When that guy stops being ordinary and starts being able to survive mine collapses and nuclear explosions and Predator, the slasher film stops being a slasher film and starts being a horror movie -- but a really crummy horror movie with a killer whose only supernatural power is the ability to loom menacingly and take a bullet to the chest.

Let me add that this Prom Night didn't have that; the killer in this one didn't get run into by a dirigible and survive or anything.

That, together with a couple of other good points and the lack of any very preposterous points, made this Prom Night a pretty good slasher film, but not the Best one or anything. For The Best Slasher Film, we have to go back, way back, even before olden times (2002), all the way to that glorious time known as the 80s, a time when slasher films were only just beginning to be overrun by glorified Herman Munster clones who tromped around and survived but were not very scary, before the time when slasher films had to be made with a wink and a smile and a cameo by a Hollywood starlet.

In that time, 1986, slasher films had not yet devolved to the depths that they ultimately would. Jason, for example, had not been to the Moon yet (although in 1986, he would be brought back to life by a lightning bolt striking an iron fence), but the path was clearly marked out for them; it wouldn't be long before serial killers in slasher films needed to be disintegrated by Fermilab's particle accelerator just to slow them down--

-- That never actually happened in a slasher movie, but it would make a great slasher film -- a serial killer stalks young, attractive particle physicists at a college, angry because they rejected his attempts at presenting a Unifield Theory of Everything to them, and laughed at him, and one by one he kills off his competition, until at the end, the second-hottest female physicist (Elizabeth Banks) and the nerdy male physicist student she's realized she loves (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) trap him in the particle accelerator and turn it on, blasting him into subatomic particles, and seemingly ending the threat forever...

... until they realize that what they've just done is create an infinite number of killers in an infinite number of realities, setting the stage for innumerable sequels.

I'll call it "Quantum Murder." Don't steal my idea!

In 1986, then, while slasher films were getting ready to make the jump from barely-realistic to ... well, Jason battling Freddy on the moon, a little movie came out by the name of "April Fool's Day." April Fool's Day -- The Best Slasher Film -- had a simple idea: [SPOILER ALERT! INVOLVING, YET AGAIN, A PLOT TWIST THAT IS REALLY BROADCAST BY THE FILM'S TITLE.] a bunch of friends would go away for a weekend to have sex and drink, and then get killed one by one, only to realize in the end that it was all a big April Fool's Day Joke.

By the way, shouldn't "April Fool's Day" be "April Fools' Day?" There's more than one fool, right?

"April Fool's Day" is The Best Slasher Movie for a couple of simple reasons: first, it both uses and makes fun of the ordinary conventions of slasher movies -- it's got all the typical couples and high school studs and hot chicks and trashy chicks and bookworms that are supposed to be the killer, and the remote setting and all, but it was in on the joke already; the characters were not just stereotypes, they were archetypes.

Second, nobody actually died. That's awesome: a slasher movie in which nobody was slashed. How ironic!

Third, it did all this about twenty years before "Scream" supposedly turned the genre on its head by [SPOILER ALERT THAT IS NOT GIVEN AWAY BY THE TITLE THIS TIME] having characters who know about how horror movies work, and having two killers. "Scream" was revolutionary only to those people who hadn't seen April Fool's Day; it wasn't that big of a deal to those of us who saw both and who thought, of Scream: "oh, here's a second movie that tries to turn slasher film conventions on themselves to keep the audience guessing. Clever, I guess. I'm gonna' get some popcorn."

(That's an actual quote, by the way.)

Most slasher movies start out with a pretty good idea (Look at this regular guy who started killing people. Scary, huh?) and make them insanely stupid (This guy now actually has over 722 bullets in him, is missing an arm, and is dependent upon constant electroduction to stay alive... but is still about to get Jamie Lee Curtis!).

April Fool's Day
actually did the opposite: it started with a terrible idea, and made it into a good film. It's earned a little recognition as The Best Slasher Movie (a title it will hold until Quantum Murder premieres.)






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1 comment:

Rogue Mutt said...

I see on Netflix there's also a 2008 version. I wonder if that's a remake? Or a reboot? Prequel? Hurm.