Scream 4 makes a half-hearted attempt at revitalizing the largely moribund slasher genre this weekend. You can see my full review on this week's Escape to The Movies, but here are some lesser-known blood-spilling flicks that are vastly more worthy of your time.
For what it's worth, this actually started out as an alphabetical list of everything you could possibly do that would be more worthy of your time than seeing Scream 4," but when it got to be page 106 and I was only up to "Aardvark Racing" I decided to go in a more specific direction. Of course, I hate to just throw work away, so I did contact a publisher to see about releasing the list itself as a book - "Things More Worth Doing Than Seeing Scream 4" by MovieBob - although the publisher is strangely insistent that they already published the same basic manuscript under the title "The Encyclopedia."
Oh, well. Anyway, here's a list of movies:
Black Christmas (1974)
The slasher genre is generally seen as an American phenomenon, but this seminal film that kicked off many of its most infamous tropes was actually Canadian. A group of sorority sisters are victimized by obscene phone calls and, soon enough, murder in this genre-defining cult classic from late filmmaker Bob Clark.
Just about everything about it - from its then-groundbreaking use of a "killer POV" camera and even the ironic use of a holiday for the title - was later co-opted by successors like Friday the 13th and Halloween, but the original still stands up as a solid work in its own right.
There was a loose remake of this in 2006 which actually wasn't bad in its own right, either - it had a real go-for-broke "Troma"-style depravity that I remember being kind of a kick at the time (though I haven't gone back to watch it since).
Peeping Tom (1960)
Scream 4 awkwardly drops a reference to this one, identifying it as the first slasher movie. That's not entirely accurate - it's more of a stabber movie - but it is the first suspense film to take the audience into a killer's POV mid-murder, which made it an incredibly controversial film at the time.
The plot concerns a camera-obsessed serial killer who uses a portable film camera to record his victims' dying moments. Like other prototypical serial killer films, it's more a pitch-dark (for the time) character study than a suspense thriller, but it's one of the great unheralded classics of the genre regardless.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Yes, yes, the only reason anyone remembers this is because of the "shocking" final ending, but as far as "dead teenagers at camp" movies go this is actually one of the genre standouts. Unfortunately, the otherwise-formula plot and the "OMG" finale means it can't be much summarized beyond that. Still, a list like this would be incomplete without it.