What is cinema's first slasher film?

by LoveUniHateExams 7 Replies latest social entertainment

  • LoveUniHateExams

    I've heard this topic discussed before.

    Last night, Psycho (1960) was the first slasher film, according to the guy I was listening to.

    I think Psycho was kinda the first 'modern' horror film, in that it was set in 20th century America - there were no vampires, castles and cobwebs. The monster could live next door. That's what people found really terrifying, I think.

    The two kills in Psycho definitely involve slashing but to me the film is mainly about tension, psychological horror, not slashing. Also, not all of the slasher tropes are present - e.g. there's no final girl. I'd call Psycho a proto-slasher - it's what slasher films evolved from.

    Halloween (1978) is an early slasher film. The killer uses a slashing weapon, the promiscuous teens get picked off, and the goody-goody Laurie Strode survives as the final girl.

    John Carpenter also paid homage to Psycho in his film - Dr Sam Loomis was named after Marion Crane's boyfriend. They thought about casting Jamie Lee Curtis because she's the daughter of Janet Leigh.

    IMO, I think that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) could possibly be considered the first slasher film, with discernable slasher tropes. Leatherface kills people and/or dismembers people with a chainsaw (a slashing weapon), and the blonde-haired Sally Hardesty is the final girl.

    I've heard Peeping Tom (1960) mentioned but I haven't seen this film.

    Black Christmas (1974) is sometimes mentioned. I own a dvd of this film. It's good but the killer doesn't use a slashing weapon, from what I can remember.

    What do you think?

  • redpilltwice

    What about "The Ten Commandments" (1956)?

    I mean, slashing first born sons Exodus style and so...

  • _Morpheus

    Im not sure there is a definitive “first” as so much in cinema builds on what came before in a sort of evolution, so that a specific origin is often obscured... but i might suggest the 1931 classic “frankenstien”. It had a lot of horror for its day and included what was, at the time, a graphic killing of a little girl. It set the stage for what followed.

  • TD

    ...Psycho (1960) was the first slasher film, according to the guy I was listening to.

    I would disagree. The violence in Psycho was depicted entirely through the power of suggestion. (i.e. At no point do you actually see the knife touch flesh)

    It's an important part of the story, but not the focal point as it is in a "slasher" film.

  • LoveUniHateExams

    @Morpheus - are you referring to the scene where the monster picks up the little girl and throws her into the lake?

    Yes, that moment must've been shocking back in the 30s.

    @TD - yeah, I disagree, too.

    The focal point of Psycho is tension and psychological horror.

    Psycho certainly paved the way for slasher films but I don't think it was one.

  • littlerockguy

    Before Halloween there was The Last House On The Left (1972) that involved some slashing.

  • LoveUniHateExams

    @LRG - it does indeed.

    It also involves a rape scene. It's not sexually explicit but it's still shocking because it's well shot and acted, and your mind fills in the blanks.

    I bought a second hand dvd of Last House from e-bay.

    I'm glad I did because it's pretty good considering it was Wes Craven's first film.

    Roger Ebert raved about it, gave it three and a half stars. I don't think it's great but I still think it's good overall.

    It's usually classified as 'exploitation' because in addition to slashing/murder, it involves degradation, humiliation and suffering.

  • steve2

    The first film to show self-slashing was "Martin" from the 1970s. Unforgettably off-putting.

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