Friday, January 24, 2020
Archetypal Characters Within the Slasher Film Sub-Genre Essay -- Film
Archetypal Characters Within the "Slasher" Film Sub-Genre One of the most telling traits of a society is how it entertains itself. Although Americans of the late twentieth century have many choices for distraction, one medium has had a particularly significant impact upon the fabric of American culture: film. Through pandering to the ideas and beliefs of the audience, filmmakers parallel those ideas and beliefs in their creations. This correlation was demonstrated in the glut of so-called "slasher" films during the period 1974-1984. Although the films were diverse in form and execution, the basic plot of these movies involved some sort of deranged psychopath gleefully stalking and killing a number of unfortunate teenage victims. Within this sub-genre there can be found a number of basic character styles, or archetypes. These archetypes not only serve to bind certain movies into the slasher category, but also to provide a window into the culture that they cater to. In order to present a specific example of each archetype, I have chosen four films that are exemplary of the overall sub-genre. Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) tells the story of a van full of traveling teenagers and their run-in with a family of backwoods cannibals. John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) has killer Michael Myers strangling baby-sitters on the night of said movie title. Sean Cunningham's Friday the 13th (1980) looses a hockey-masked psychopath upon a host of unsuspecting camp counselors. Finally, Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse (1981) finds four teens trapped in a carnival with a murderous sideshow freak. The most evident archetype within the slasher sub-genre is the Virgin. Usually the Virgin is the protagonist of the film, a female tee... ... of the sub-genre that began with the Wes Craven's Scream (1994). These films are not only helping to carry the archetypes of Halloween and Friday the 13th to a new generation of moviegoers, but also updating them as the culture has updated itself. Despite the changes some form of these archetypes will continue to exist, no matter how much American society alters. As long as a teenager yearns for the adrenaline rush from a masked murderer, slasher films and their archetypes will endure. Works Cited Halloween. Dir. John Carpenter, with Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis. Falcon Productions, 1978. Friday the 13th. Dir. Sean Cunningham. Paramount, 1980. The Funhouse. Dir Tobe Hooper. Universal, 1981. McCarthy, Ken. The Splatter Film Guide. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dir Tobe Hooper. Rosebud Communications, 1974.