• B-Horror Dates To Dismember
by Magister Matt G. Paradise

The Golden Age
by Jason Quinn

Rosemary Revisited: A Satanic Look at One
of the Scariest Movies of All Time

by Magister Matt G. Paradise

Satan On Celluloid: The Dark Force In Film
by Magister Matt G. Paradise

B-Horror Dates To Dismember
by Magister Matt G. Paradise

(originally printed in Not Like Most #5)

The last twenty years have procured some of the best (and, admittedly, the campiest) slasher films to date, both establishing the man behind the hockey mask's bogeyman icon and magnifying the very real depravity behind the eyes of our Ted Bundys and Jeffrey Dahmers. They say a lot about us as a culture and a species of life; perhaps, more than most upstanding or politically-correct citizens would want to admit. These movies are the progeny of our collective psyche, our secret desire/repulsion capacity, and serve as a pathway to our occasionally repressed need for eustress.

But, while few remember the date that Charming Ted was executed, millions recall the day Jason presides over, or the night Michael Meyers knifed his big sister and adopted the anniversary as his eve of destruction on one small town. The decline of SAT scores in the previous two decades and America's love affair with the Macarena may be telling at this point.

Perhaps, a distinction lies in the safety net of the screen itself; it keeps the demons on the other side of the wall, while only mildly hinting to the real-life, largely less colorful, and comparably less visible serial murderers of our time. If catharsis is the true religion of the masses, then it is unquestionably the blood and body which many take and ingest. From a polite distance, of course.

Hollywood knows this consumerist fact all too well (especially in the early-Eighties). The gore merchants of Tinseltown want you to have a memorable experience. Why not attach a date or holiday to the two-dimensional carnage to secure this impression? Holidays are relatable, practically unavoidable, and contain various expectations and memories; all vulnerable to reinterpretation. Like words reused and put into a modern context, the redefining of special occasions is the stuff that gives a horror director a persistent bulge in the nether-region, figuratively speaking.

So, when you break in that new calendar next year, think of these happy, good-natured partygoers (who just happen to be carrying bloody chainsaws around with them) and all of their hard work.

Starting off the sanguine-soaked year is a chunk of celluloid entitled NEW YEAR'S EVIL (1981), a not-so-memorable auld lang syne centered around a DJ and a killer; one bit of cinema that makes an eggnog hangover seem more enjoyable (or scarier).

As February rolls in, our black hearts long for love... or the sound of power tools against flesh and bone. The Canadian-made, MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981) introduces us to the blood-crazed coalminer character (fortunately, NOT a precedent setter) who terrorizes the girls and boys of Valentine Bluffs. Someone should tell this psycho that gas masks, though scary, kill peripheral vision.

But, alas, the winter thaw makes way for the Technicolor splendor of spring, but showers aren't the only thing that April brings. APRIL FOOL'S DAY (1986), with quite a bit more reservedness, somewhat succeeds at the horror-as-humor premise that STUDENT BODIES hacked to pieces five years earlier. A college coed invites her collegiate pals to her family's island mansion to pull an elaborate practical joke on them: each one is sequentially "killed" off, until the end when the audience discovers that no one died! It's a joke. Get it? Do you care?

As spring flutters to a close and school prepares to let out for the summer, adolescents around the nation are preparing for the biggest night of their high school lives: Senior Prom. PROM NIGHT (1980) resurrects Jamie Lee Curtis to the horror world (TERROR TRAIN, another Curtis flick, also hit theatres in this same year) in a tale of teen revenge murder sparked in response to the unintended death of a little girl years earlier by a group of cruel children (now teenagers... can you smell the plot yet?). This film would spawn three incredibly formulaic bomb sequels, which never come close to comparing to the original (a common horror movie story).

Even dear, old Mom is dragged into the fray with MOTHER'S DAY (1980), a cross between I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (though, not of the same level of fun-fear as the aforementioned). Two misogynist hillbillies torture and kill coeds for Mama. Isn't that sweet? (On a related note, the vignette, "Father's Day" from the movie CREEPSHOW is a fabulously ghoulish sketch of an old man coming back from the dead to deal out his revenge on his murderous daughter and the random estate occupant who gets in his way.)

And, just when you thought it was safe to be a summer camp counselor comes FRIDAY THE 13th (1980), a box office smash and the grand-daddy of psychokiller films, spawning a neverending number of imitators as well as EIGHT sequels, largely directed by a different director every film (the exception, being that Parts II and III were directed by Steve Miner). With Jason Vorhees as a household name, even television couldn't resist (judging by the short-lived TV series based on the movies). Horror creeps still argue exhaustively over whether Jason is cooler than Freddy, the child-molester/killer from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series of films... and neither chain of movies has been made recently. That's devotion!

With the rise of the harvest moon (and the corporate world's need to sell candy and plastic costumes) comes HALLOWEEN (1978) and the all-too-understated killer character of Michael Meyers. This movie gave birth to five sequels, all of declining quality and massive formulaic pap. Still, the original serves as one of the most classic horror movies in Hollywood's history (and spurs Jamie Lee Curtis into a series of hack and slash motion pictures following. See: PROM NIGHT).

Wrapping up the year in fleshy ribbons and organ bows comes a cup of Christmas fear known as SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984). This screen opus focuses on the acted-out predilections of an axe murderer dressed in a Santa suit, and made way for four sequels. (This movie was also picketed nationwide.) But, the holiday fun doesn't stop there. SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1973) is a delightful low-budget romp through the eyes of an insane asylum escapee/ murderer's slashathon through a small New England town. And, if THAT'S not enough, put out milk and cookies for BLACK CHRISTMAS (1975; also called SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT, and STRANGER IN THE HOUSE). This last effort chronicles a killer's Christmas Eve murder spree through a sorority house. Interesting to note that the season of the most suicides also provokes an abundance of horror movies related to the holiday (and there are others on the yuletide theme, rest assured). The Grinch should be envious.

And, if you've desperately doubted that nothing is sacred, not even the anniversary of one's birth is spared. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981) is a sad attempt at horror filmmaking with a rather ambiguous ending. Canada has served up better slasher films.

Seeing as most of these and similar films were made in the 1980s, perhaps we've seen the end of the holiday-themed horror film. Quite the letdown for those eagerly awaiting an ARBOR DAY MASSACRE, or the promisingly quixotic, TERROR ON FLAG DAY. Optimistically, the fine art of this horror breed may merely be lying dormant, waiting for the gifted to read the incantation that will resurrect its rustic, brain-damaged spirit once again. Whatever the case may be, summer camp, proms, and garden tools will never be looked at in quite the same way again.