So I watched My Bloody Valentine (1981) last night. Very interesting slasher film. Rather than unleashing a killer on suburban kids, this film goes after a blue-collar town whose inhabitants can't figure out if they're Irish or Canadian. There aren't nearly enough women in the film and there is not one shot of bare breasts, which I think is essential to any slasher movie. The reveal at the end of the movie is rather lame, copying F13's last-minute reveal, which sucked in that movie as well. However, the film was enjoyable regardless for a few reasons. First of all, it had the necessary early 1980s synthesizer soundtrack. Contrary to a lot of the early slasher films, it was not shot with soft-key lighting (the same lighting one finds, much to the delight of psychoanalytic critics, in 1970s and early 80s porno movies), which I believe contributes to the film's reputation as being, like The Prowler, "meaner" than most of the slashers of its time (I'm not sure when a movie about young people being butchered by a madman becomes any meaner than its basic premise already suggests...) The battle at the end is exciting enough and the filmmakers switched up the formula just a bit and allowed for a Final Girl and her boyfriend to survive. The Final Girl in My Bloody Valentine shoots the feminist critics all to hell, having a decidedly feminine name, being decidedly feminine, and demonstrating a strength that only a lunatic (!) would not consider a positive depiction of a woman understanding how to think and act in a crisis situation. Last but not least, the killer in My Bloody Valentine has a most badass costume, which I think is another large part of the film's continued appeal. I think, as far as wardrobe goes, I like the killer in this film and The Prowler the best. These look like guys you want to stay far the hell away from at any cost. It looks like I've found my costume for next Halloween...
I wasn't tired after watching My Bloody Valentine, so I decided to catch a slasher from the era that has generally received bad reviews from enthusiasts of the genre-- Graduation Day. This one does have the soft-key lighting and a bizarre prophesy of things to come with respect to its pre-MTV MTV editing. It was a pretty awful movie. When righteous morality-thumpers and Polite Police want to come down on the genre, this is a perfect exhibit of how terrible a slasher could be. Even the special effects stank.
Tonight, another slasher film produced in Canada, Terror Train--
This one was released in 1980, the same year as Prom Night and Carpenter's follow-up to Halloween, The Fog; all of these films featured everyone's favorite suspected hermaphrodite, Jamie Lee Curtis (absolutely not one shred of truth to the rumor, by the way) which is how she quickly became known as the "Scream Queen" (I don't have the research to back it up, but I believe the phrase was coined specifically for her). One thing the presence of all these other slasher films in 1980 proves is that the producers of Friday the 13th were not necessarily the first producers attempting to cash in on the success of Halloween.