The slasher film has its roots in movies of the 60s and 70s. It really came into its own, however, in the 80s. That was the time that everyone and their dog was running around the woods making movies in which a masked, often speechless maniac pursued the unwise, the non-virginal, the drug-takers, and pretty much anyone else who behaved in any way other than ultra-conservative. Since then the slasher picture, considered by many critics to be perhaps one of the most imaginatively bereft of subtypes in a genre that has the potential to push at boundaries, seems to have received rejuvenating shots in every decade since then. This includes Wes Craven’s Scream in the 90s, and innumerable, mostly unsuccessful, and often reviled, remakes of what are now recognised as classics in the 00s.
The discerning horror fan has, in recent years, been well served by documentaries covering the ‘halcyon days’ of the slasher film. Probably the best of these is Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006) which deals with its subject matter thoroughly, and features interviews with many of the major (and quite a few of the minor) filmmakers involved. For obsessive fans of particular movie franchises, there is the excellent and exhaustive His Name Was Jason for fans of all twelve Friday the 13th movies (ten original plus Freddy Vs Jason plus remake). Also, there is the even more exhaustive Never Sleep Again, which devotes nearly four hours to the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and manages to secure interviews with everyone except Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette.
Now High Rising Productions, creators of many of the fine extras to be found on Arrow DVD releases, has entered the slasher docu-arena with Slice & Dice: The Slasher Film Forever. As with some of the movies above, Slice & Dice manages to get through its running time without any kind of host, instead relying on the numerous talking heads interviewed to illustrate the history, themes and relevance of the slasher film. The problem is that not many of those interviewed could be referred to as experts on the genre. Instead, top-billed in the interview list is Corey Feldman. Mr Feldman appeared in decidedly secondary roles in Friday the 13 Part IV and Part V and is shown wearing an outfit one hopes was a requirement for his latest film role. While he’s happy to talk at length and makes some valid points, it does leave one wishing someone who had more actual involvement with the making of these movies had been granted as much screen time. Other interviewees include Tobe Hooper, Mick Garris, Tom Holland (who comes across as charming and funny as he admits he finds the idea of Chucky from his own Child’s Play quite ridiculous), Final Destination writer Jeffrey Reddick (who wishes there were more final boys), Hatchet director Adam Green, the man behind the My Bloody Valentine 3D remake, Patrick Lussier, and everyone’s favourite ‘lovely Brit horror film director’ director, Norman J Warren. There is a wealth of film clips, but sometimes these seem to have been culled from trailers rather than the actual movies, and in quite a few cases stills are used, presumably because rights were an issue.
Despite all these shortcomings, Slice & Dice is a lot of fun, put together by people who obviously love the genre. The attempt at a history of the sub-genre quickly degenerates into an anything goes grab-bag of slasher film clips, some of which have probably been heard of by no-one ever except the people who made them, but the whole thing is still a pretty good time. Highly recommended for those who lived through the slasher era heyday of the 80s. Even though Slice & Dice runs at just under eighty minutes, if you watch this with someone who loves this stuff as much as you, you’ll find it takes about three hours to get to the end because you’ll be pausing the film all the time to reminisce and agree with/shout at the interviewees.
Extras on disc one of this two disc set include bonus interview footage, a music video, and a Q&A at the Glasgow Film Theatre with Norman J Warren and James Moran.
The second disc includes an extra thirty minute documentary Don’t Go in the Backwoods, which covers everyone’s favourite hillbilly horrors including Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes and Jeff Lieberman’s Just Before Dawn, and features the same talking heads as disc one. Everything is rounded off in the most glorious manner possible with a trailer reel for over twenty slasher movies from 1960 to 1988 that will have even the most seasoned slasher fanatic scratching their heads before the title reveal of some of them.
Very much a party disc (or rather, double disc) for slasher fans, rather than a serious academic study, Slice & Dice: The Slasher Film Forever just needs beer, pizza, and a group of like-minded horror fan friends to give you a very a memorable night in.
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
Director: Calum Waddell
Starring: Corey Feldman, Tobe Hooper, Mick Garris, Tom Holland
Running time: 80 minutes
Release date: 13 May 2013
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