A hallmark of classic Slasher movie franchises is the unstoppable, unkillable monster. He stalks after his victims, moving at an almost leisurely pace, is eventually stabbed or shot or decapitated or blowed up, but always he returns for more.
Most of us are absolutely fine with this. Oh, Jason can survive having his head cleaved in half? Sure, okay. Michael can be shot full of holes and rise to stalk again? No problem. Freddy can have his bones set on fire or whatever and he’ll still be haunting dreams in a year or two? Gotcha.
But, eventually, some writer or producer or exec decides that—y’know what?—maybe we should explain exactly why these killers can come back again and again. And, invariably, the explanation finds its roots in some mystical bullshit. And, invariably, the whole thing is an absolute mess.
Here are three Slasher franchises that have been “explained”—and ruined—via such mystical dumbassery.
Halloween – According to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Michael is the tool of some cult . . . or something . . . also clones
For many, the release of the original Halloween marked the birth of modern Slasher film (personally, I would say the original Black Christmas begat the subgenre, but that’s me), and one of its defining aspects was not just the unstoppable killing machine, but the unstoppable killing machine with, apparently, no motive. We had no idea why Michael was killing people and that made him all the more terrifying.
Later, we would learn that Michael was inexplicably bent on killing his siblings or family member or anyone related to him or whatever. Later still, in his execrable remakes, Rob Zombie would tell us that Michael Myers kills because he grew up poor and abused and maladjusted and . . . okay, I almost nodded off with boredom and annoyance just writing that.
However, as far as ridiculous explanations for Michael Myers’ homicidal behavior go, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers takes the stupid, stupid cake.
In TCMM (aka Halloween 6, aka The One with Paul Rudd), we learn that Michael is controlled by a druidic cult called Thorn. Basically, they use Michael to conduct blood sacrifices when some constellation lines up with some other garbage. And they’re trying to clone pure evil because why not.
It’s terrible and retains a solid 6% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Friday the 13th – According to Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason is possessed by vomit demons because his mom was a witch
I have a friend who genuinely enjoys this movie, which makes me question whether or not I should trust his opinion on . . . absolutely anything (Hi, Steve!!!).
Now, anyone who’s watched beyond Friday the 13th 2 must admit that the franchise never made any sense. In the original, we learn that Jason, a horribly disfigured kid with weak swimming skills, drowned at a camp while the councilors were getting high or drunk or screwing or a combination of all three activities. Blaming absolutely all camp councilors ever for her son’s death, Jason’s mom kills every teen at the camp who dares to do anything teen-like.
Simple. Straight forward.
In Friday 2, we learn that, somehow, Jason actually survived his drowning all those years ago, and, instead of letting his mom know he was alive, lived in the woods as a recluse. I think. Anyway, point is, he ends up killing councilors too because they killed his mom.
All’s fine, until Jason gets his head split open by Corey Feldman and, later, is revived via electricity. Whatever, worked for Mary Shelley, so who’re we to complain?
Well, electricity wasn’t a good enough explanation for some people, so we get Jason Goes to Hell.
In JGH (aka Friday the 13th 9, aka The One with the Vomit Demons), we are told that Jason isn’t just some Frankenstein’s monster-type killing machine, oh no, he’s way more complicated than that. One could even say he is a shit-for-brains level of complicated.
See, it seems that, in addition to having an overdeveloped sense of revenge and a staggering inability to cope with grief, Jason’s mom had used the Necronomicon to give her son supernatural powers. We also learn that Jason can only be killed by a relative, in a weird Halloween reversal. Oh, and it takes a special dagger to kill Jason.
The movie begins with the FBI detonating Jason and then we get exactly what every Friday the 13th fan wants: no Jason for the rest of the goddamn movie. Nope. No Jason. Instead, we get the “essence” of Jason as he possesses a buncha random people, hopping from body to body via vomit demon.
If you think that sounds ridiculous and bad. You’re wrong. It’s ridiculous and awful.
The movie’s only redeeming quality is that it seems not to take itself too seriously by inserting various horror Easter Eggs, like a crate from Creepshow and the aforementioned Evil Dead-related tome (and, yes, that is the original prop from The Evil Dead, created by Tom Sullivan). Otherwise, it’s hot garbage water.
A Nightmare on Elm Street – According to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Freddy made a deal with a trio of sperm demons
Hey, notice a few similarities between this one and the last one? Yup, they both include demons—so, y’know, already a bad sign. But, like Jason Goes to Hell, Freddy’s Dead also purports to be the last—or final—installment in the series. It’s as though, in both cases, the creators said, “Aw, screw it,” and didn’t just end the franchise but murdered it, set the corpse on fire, then ate the charred remains. And puked up the charred remains. And showed us what they puked up. And said, “You don’t want any more of this, right? Right. We’re done here.”
Anyway, A Nightmare on Elm Street is about a child murderer who is killed off by townspeople, and, for some reason, retains the power to enter dreams and murder the teen offspring of his executioners. Does it make sense? Not really. Does it have to? Not at all.
But, with Freddy’s Dead, the filmmakers decided that it was high time that they at least tried to make sense of it. And when you want to make sense of the nonsensical, where do you go? Demons. Always demons. Especially sperm demons.
So, in Freddy’s Dead, a film labeled a horror comedy, we learn that Freddy the child murderer made a pact with demons and that these demons, which look a hell of a lot like puppy-sized sperm but less cute, enter Freddy’s body as though he were a man-shaped ovum.
It’s not scary. It’s not funny. But it is super stupid.
The movie also features Freddy wielding a Nintendo Power Glove (remember those?) and playing one of the absolute shittiest-looking video games in the history of thank-god-it-doesn’t-exist video games.
Oh, also, the movie was partially presented in 3D and the “heroine” defeats Freddy by donning 3D glasses, the cheap cardboard ones with the red and blue lenses, and entering his mind.
Man, I hate this movie so much.
It’s an odd thing, really, when I was a kid, staring at the covers of movies I wasn’t allowed to rent or watch, I often wondered how the sequels all came together, what kind of wonderful, fascinating mythology they formed. I actually wondered, when I was ten, how Michael or Jason or Freddy came to be who they are and do what they do. But, when I eventually got answers to my questions, I realized that these were the wrong questions, that the stories are much better for their mystery, that there is no need to know exactly how a killing machine was put together, powered and set loose.
Ours is not to ask how. Ours is not to ask why. Ours is to enjoy the kills. And shut the hell up.