Slasher Summer: How to Make a Slasher Flick - Page 2
STEP THREE: SURVIVOR
|Best final girl ever, without question|
As for your hero, it doesn't necessarily have to be a "final girl" (though it usually is). As mentioned earlier, if you have a kid in the movie, that's your survivor, but if you're going a more traditional route, you need a good looking young woman--preferably with a chest and rear that are fun for teenage boys to look at--but not too good looking. It's a delicate tightrope, but for some reason, audiences have a hard time connecting with actresses who look like supermodels. Maybe splurge for a little extra talent here, especially if your psychopath is being played by a nobody. Sprinkling in a bit of legitimate acting is a nice change of pace, but definitely don't go overboard with it.
One trope you can safely ignore, though, is the one that says your final girl has to be the most innocent person in the movie. The idea that all final girls in slashers must be prudish virgins has had more exceptions this summer than examples. Halloween has Laurie Strode and A Nightmare on Elm Street has Nancy Thompson, but Friday the 13th's Alice Hardy and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Sally Hardesty are most definitely not innocent, virginal damsels. As for Child's Play, while young Andy is undoubtably a virgin, he's a boy and he's not the only main character to survive till the end. All of these films' sequels and remakes are even less conducive to the trope, with many innocent virgins ripped apart and many sexually active girls surviving, not to mention all the males who survive from time to time. This trope exists as a way to force a simplistic overtone to an entire genre, but the reality of these films is that they're not the sexually conservative morality plays they're made out to be by critics. If you're making a slasher film, the last thing you need to worry yourself with is morality.
STEP FOUR: KNOW YOUR PLACE
|Angry rednecks aren't required, but they don't hurt|
With your killer and his/her/their victims decided on, all you need now is a setting. All but the Child's Play series opt for relatively remote locations--the woods, small-town suburbia, the middle of rural Texas--and that makes it a lot easier to write around authorities coming in and solving the problem for you. If you have a villain good at hiding himself and being disbelievable (like Freddy and Chucky), you can get away with more populous areas, but for killers who stalk their prey, you can't be in a place where state and federal law enforcement can quarantine the area and take out your baddy. When they do, it's always silly and doesn't mesh well with what you're trying to accomplish (see the opening of Jason Goes to Hell for a perfect example).
While the woods or the middle of nowhere are the easiest places to write--because the outside world is easily kept at bay--small town suburbia has its perks, too. Local police can get involved, but they can be hapless or they can be killed off just when it looks like they might save the day. Audiences love that stuff, but do not, under any circumstances, give your cops a goofy soundtrack like they did in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. You do that, and even I won't go see your movie.
Additionally, don't feel tied to modern times. Smart phones make separating your teenagers from society trickier than it used to be, and with eighties nostalgia at an all-time high, it's totally cool to set your film in the early eighties. Coincidentally, that is "the Golden Age of Slasher films," so an eighties setting makes it even easier for you to copy the most beloved slashers. You could also go the other direction and set it in the future, but come on, that never actually works unless your slasher villain is a xenomorph.
STEP FIVE: GET BUSY
|It might not go the way you expect, but that's okay|
At this point, all the hard work is really behind you. You have a psychopath (or multiple psychopaths), a pool of victims, a survivor, and a setting. All you have to do is set things in motion and the script basically writes itself. Don't get too hung up on the details, and don't pretend you're writing Shakespeare here. While there are a couple of slasher flicks that manage to have thematic depth and grandiose ideas, that's not what we're here to do. If you can pull that off, bully for you, but that's not what is going to put butts in those fancy new recliners they've got in the theaters these days. People will come for the promise of skin, death, dismemberment, and the catharsis of knowing it's not real. Give them a good, bloody time, and you've done your job.
If you follow these simple steps to create your script, the rest will be easy. Just drive it out to Hollywood, show it to the first bigwig you see (you'd be amazed how many of them cluster around Jersey Mike's), and they'll literally throw money at you. It's that easy. I'd wish you good luck, but you won't need it. Oh, and if you could maybe toss a few bucks my way, I'd appreciate it. I'd do it myself, but I've got Netflix to binge.
So there you have it. Slasher Summer may be at an end, but that doesn't mean we have to say goodbye, even if you follow my five-step guide to fame and fortune. Depite how much work and effort I put into this lengthy exercise, I'm not averse to doing it again. If you haven't seen my other big projects, know that I've reviewed all the Godzilla movies, all the James Bond films, and a mess of Star Trek stuff. I'm open to suggestions for the next series I should cover, and there's a part of me that is tempted to do a Slasher Summer 2018, where we can get into Psycho, Scream, smaller slasher franchises, and even a bunch of stand-alone flicks. Please let me know what you think in the comments below (or you can always send me a tweet at @e_magill, if that's your jam). Should I do more slashers, or should I focus my energies somewhere else?
No really, please leave comments. Without comments, I will shrivel up and die.
-e. magill 8/17/2017
|THE UNAPOLOGETIC GEEK'S|