Scream Queens: Celebrating Women’s History Month

It’s Woman’s History Month, and I am beyond happy to be celebrating here on The Void of Celluloid. I am a proud woman and love me some women from the horror genre. Whether they’re the final girl or the antagonist in their films, the horror genre has always been a genre that predominantly casts women in their leading roles. The representation of their femininity and independence has only improved over the years as well.

Jamie Lee Curtis channels mom Janet Leigh in re-creation of 'Psycho' shower  scene

What is the best way to celebrate the horror genre and the women that are involved in it? Talking about the scream queens, that is. It is an honor to be crowned a scream queen, and usually implies that a female actor has frequented the genre a few times to earn the crown. Therefore, let’s talk about our famous femme fatales and how they’ve adorned our screens throughout the years.

The First of Many: Fay Wray

Fay Wray (1907-2004) - Find a Grave Memorial

As Tim Curry sings so angelically, “Whatever happened to Fay Wray, that delicate satin draped frame?” Well, she is the iconic star from the 1933 King Kong, making her our first official scream queen. She also starred in Son of Kong, The Most Dangerous Game, and Mystery of the Wax Museum, to name a few more early horror films with her as the starring role.

Wray really set an example of sultry meets the scream, as she always looked good while in distress. She practically is the poster child of what a woman looked like in early horror films.

King Kong was also incredibly successful for its timeframe, as the adjusted-for-inflation international box office for the film exceeds $350 million. It was a worldwide sensation that plastered Wray as its centerpiece (other than the giant ape itself). As the film closes, Wray was in fact that beauty who killed the beast, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here comes the slashers: Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh Reveals Psycho Movie Shower Scene Secrets

Yes, I am very aware that Janet Leigh is not a final girl when it comes to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. However, when thinking of the movie, her face immediately pops into my head. While Janet Leigh would not make another horror appearance again until the 80s with her daughter in The Fog, she is considered to be the first of the modern scream queens. Psycho is the birth of the slasher genre whose popularity snowballed in the 70s. Therefore, it can be pinpointed as the film that really kicked of the horror genre to what it is today.

That film would not have the gravitas that it does however without that shower scene. That shower was the last running shower Leigh would ever stand under, due to the mental strain filming that scene. With the masterful shots that teased nudity and gore, it was definitely a kill scene that made a splash. With it ending on Leigh’s eye transforming into that shower drain, there is no way that you don’t associate that movie with her.

Her Royal Highness: Jamie Lee Curtis

Halloween timeline and how to watch the horror series in order

Did I mention that Janet Leigh had a daughter? Well, she happens to be the queen of all scream queens herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. With her first role being the other huge film that changed the horror genre, Halloween, she basically was adopted and indoctrinated into the horror genre. To put it frankly, she is the horror genre. She has gone on to reprise the role of Laurie Strode multiple times in multiple timelines and has starred in other horror flicks such as Prom Night, Terror Train, and The Fog.

She is very aware of her role in the horror genre and where she lies on the scream queen hierarchy. Curtis is an executive producer on the new Halloween trilogy and says that she doesn’t participate in projects that aren’t important to her. Therefore, we have to know her reprisal and producing of this new trilogy is out of love and care–and it has reflected that thus far. Another notable film is Halloween: H20, as she stars in that with her mother once more. While it’s not the best horror movie out there, their scenes together are extremely heartfelt and really act as a nod as to the mother of the Queen. Legends truly make more legends.

Heather Langenkamp and Neve Campbell: Hello, Sid and nancy

Daughter, Sister, Mother - Nancy Thompson in the A Nightmare on Elm Street  Series - Rise Up Daily

Wes Craven was one to usher in a few scream queens in his day. The first being Heather Langenkamp from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Langenkamp was notably in the best of the franchise, the OG, Dream Warriors, and New Nightmare. Therefore, you could say they were the best because of Nancy’s appearance. She is a horror icon through and through, and Nancy can’t not be mentioned when discussing the penultimate final girls.

Scream (1996) - IMDb

However, the 80s came and went, and smack dab in the middle of the 90’s, we get a new scream queen–due to Wes Craven again. If you’re not new here, you know that I love me some Sidney Prescott. Neve Campbell graced the screens in both the Scream franchise and The Craft. Both of these films had the horror genre in a chokehold during the 90s. It was for good reason too, and a lot of it was due to Campbell’s natural charisma and edge that she gave to her characters. It made her that much more loveable and relatable. Campbell is also the scream queen with the most recent installment under her belt, with the latest Scream coming out earlier this year.

The MODERN-DAY Scream Queens

There are so many scream queens that haven’t been mentioned on this list that deserve acknowledgement, therefore I’m going to rapid fire a few here in a gallery to match names to faces to films. Let’s go.

If you can’t tell from this gallery, we could use a lot more diversity when it comes to crowning the next scream queens. However, we must appreciate the ones we have this women’s history month, as they have shaped the horror genre more than we could possibly say.

How you can celebrate Women’s History Month spookily

This month is the month to watch, support and share women led, directed and produced horror projects. While the scream queens grace our screens year after year, we are severely lacking in women horror filmmakers. While we should be supporting these films all the time, we know that people like to use these distinct months for performative activism. So go be performative and share some women led projects with the people you know.

Some of my favorite women-directed horror films are the original Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert), The Babadook (Jennifer Kent), the newest Candyman (Nia DaCosta), and The Invitation (Karyn Kusama). If I had to recommend one, The Invitation is one of the most slept on horror-thrillers of the last ten years, and everyone I’ve shown it to absolutely loves it. Give it a shot.

Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post twice a week and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.

Honesty is the Best Policy: Let’s Talk About Scream

Scream (2022) - IMDb

As I stated in my article last Friday, I am really looking forward to some honest criticism about Scream. If I want to see it, I might as well contribute. I was part of the super hyped group that saw it opening day. While it met my expectations and exceeded some, there were a few fatal flaws that looking back on it–I wish there was a little more effort. Don’t get me wrong, the legacy cast killed it and I did appreciate and like the new cast of characters, but the story that revolved around them has quite a few plot holes and went weird directions.

Time has passed, so I think that it is now time to talk about it. If you haven’t seen it, stop here and go watch it, as this review will be chock full of spoilers. The twist worth the watch, as it is done pretty damn well. Nevertheless, let’s jump into 2022’s Scream.

The Opening Scene: what a bummer

Don’t get me wrong, the opening scene in Scream is intense. However, having it not be a kill really breaks tradition for all of the Scream films, as these openings are known for taking risks and killing off either very important characters or A-list actors. I guess the zinger was that she was still alive after all of that, but it just communicates that we might not have a as sinister and strong killer as we did in the past.

Scream (2022) - Plugged In

I think this movie would’ve benefitted from an event flip. A shocker to the audience would be the double kill that occurs about twenty minutes into the movie: Judy and her son Wes. It’s in the broad daylight–which had been done only once before in the franchise–plus a beloved character and the top theorized killer due to his namesake and the casting of Dylan Minnette. I don’t think this would’ve changed the events of the film, as after the opening credits, we can jump right into the scene with Tara, involving the new characters. It also involves the original characters a little earlier into the film and is the hard cutoff from the fourth film, as Judy was the only overlapping character that wasn’t one of the legacies.

Let’s Talk new Characters

Scream 5 Video Introduces The Franchise's New Characters

Of the ones that survived this new reign of terror, I do appreciate the sister power we have as our new “Sidneys.” They’re not meant to replace Sidney, obviously. However, I can definitely root for them for a few more films. However, I have a bone to pick with our lead, Sam. It’s not her fault, it is most definitely the writers reaching for straws, but we need to talk about the hallucinations.

I Love Skeet Ulrich, but…

Of all the past killers to bring back, they brought back Billy. Also, the timeline lines up for Sam, but also it is very narrow amount of time, with it only making sense that Billy slept with Sam’s mother the night of Stu’s party or somewhere within those days of the killing spree. Also, trying to turn him into a near anti-hero in the end and Sam mimicking his blade wipe–that did not leave a good taste in my mouth. Billy Loomis is bat shit crazy and took his need for vengeance a little too far. We don’t need to redeem him. However, I did enjoy Sam other than her daftness about going to Stu Macher’s house as if she did not grow up in that town immediately after the events took place. Most of all, I loved her as a team with her sister.

Siblings not done dirty
Scream (2022): This or That? : r/Scream

Finally, the Scream franchise is kind to siblings and doesn’t kill them off in brutal ways or make them wacko killers. We see Sam and Tara Carpenter as sisters who kick ass despite their shared trauma that separated them all of these years. Sure, the way they reintroduce each other in the hospital room was a little rushed and messy, but in that final showdown, we see the potential of what they can be, and when they put their brains together, they manage to make it out alive.

While Tara and Sam really delivered in a dynamic duo of final girls, it was Randy’s niece and nephew, Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin. There was finally some relief from the pain of Randy being gone, as there is no doubt that he is their uncle. It is almost as if he has visited them beyond the grave and bestowed his witty wisdom. I think their inclusion as well as their survival (I was really worried about Chad there for a second) really felt like the apology for killing Randy so early and abruptly. I am excited to see them in the sequel, but as their uncle said, the stakes are higher in a sequel.

Let’s Talk about the Killers

Alright, I saw Jack Quaid being the killer from a mile away. However, I thought he would be the one to provide the tie to the original killers. It would’ve been so easy, as Stu was quite more of a sex maniac than Billy it seems. It would mean Richie actually being Stu’s son instead of the hallucinations and the Billy stuff. They could’ve found another way to bring Skeet back, but we all really wanted Stu back. Even Matthew Lillard wanted Stu back. Maybe they’re saving it for a rainy day. The man could’ve survived a TV to the head, it’s a horror movie for god’s sake, it doesn’t have to make sense.

Scream 5: All The Clues To The Killer Identity Twist

Speaking of things not making sense, how did Amber manage to lift Dewey into the air above her head? I think that was Scream‘s way of tiptoeing towards an invincible, super strong killer like the rest of the franchises have adopted. I mean, it took a lot to kill both of them in the final act. Mikey Madison even relived some of her stunts that she pulled in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, except it was a stovetop, not a flamethrower. The thing that I liked about Scream’s killers was the human element. The crazy, unhinged human element. It sets them apart from previous killers, and not in a good way. However, they were on that same level of batshit crazy, so their actions around their oddly super strength demeanor sold them over all as Ghostfaces.

Finally: THe Legacy Characters of the Scream franchise

Oh, Dewey. I bawled in the theater due to Dewey’s death, as it felt like they ripped out and stomped on the heart of the series. However, I knew that is what would have to happen for Sidney to even come back to Woodsboro, and the movie laid it out as so. It was so good to see all of them again, however. I also like how their lives ended up, as they are very human and very unpredictable. Sidney ending up with Kincaid was a good little easter egg and made me happy that she found happiness and trust in a partner again. The first two movies made us think that would never happen, and it would be justified.

Scream 2022 Ending Explained - FandomWire

Gale is in the best position that Gale could be in, and I was grateful that she wasn’t the bad guy that ended things between her and Dewey. This allowed for no bitterness between them in their final moments and nothing but mutual love without the will-they-won’t-they element. I think that drama that was present in the previous films would’ve taken away from how gut-wrenching it was to say goodbye to Dewey, for both the audience and Gale.

It wouldn’t go without saying that I wish that we could’ve seen more of them, and they had more driving forces in the story. However, if the Scream franchise is going to continue, we have to say goodbye as we can’t watch another one of them die. It is a salute to both Wes Craven and Sidney Prescott from the horror genre. Together they revolutionized the final girl and broke down all of the rules that they had to abide by.

In Conclusion: Scream is worth your time

If you are a horror fan and love Wes Craven as much as I do, please watch the newest Scream if you haven’t already. While there are some plot holes and it might not have the payoff that some of us were wishing for after all these years, it is still a wild ride that is worth the experience at least once–it definitely isn’t as rewatchable as the others are. It is heartfelt at times, nostalgic in others and reads as a love letter to its creator, gone seven years now. The horror family misses and loves you, Wes.

Do you agree with the critiques marked in this review? Let me know your thoughts either on Twitter @OfCelluloid, Instagram @TheVoidofCelluloid, or on Facebook under the page The Void of Celluloid. Make sure to follow and sign up on the mailing list if you would like to receive more content of the sort and I will catch you guys in the next void. See ya soon, Spelunkers.

March Horror: What’s New this Month

There are quite a few things going on in the horror community this March that are worth noting. While not much is releasing, there might be a few things that have flown under the radar as the movie theater scene grows slowly. Therefore, here are three things that you shouldn’t miss out on this March.

Scream: Now on Digital Rent/Buy

I’m sure if you didn’t see Scream in theaters, you were keeping your eyes peeled for a digital release. Well, now it is here. Scream came out early 2022 and was met with quite positive critical acclaim, with some saying it’s one of the strongest in the franchise next to the first one. I definitely enjoyed the film and recommend it, but I am partial to the Scream franchise. I would let Sidney Prescott wife me up in a second, no doubt.

March Horror

Now with its digital release, I am excited to see how it is received upon rewatching and getting a true critical scope that was muffled by the hype. I am among many to admit that this film did have its flaws and we know that Scream is usually one to learn from its fans what it wants. I mean, that’s what the basis of this new installment was all about, so they are just asking for feedback. Therefore, I’m looking forward to these discussions that will only lead to a better, already confirmed sequel.

Studio 666: Fear the Foo and Fight it

This film technically came out in February. However, I’m putting it in March since it wide released in theaters. Yes, Foo Fighters made a movie. Yes, I am extremely excited about it. I won’t be catching this one until next week, but I am excited to see what I’ve seen other describe as a Pick of Destiny meets Evil Dead II. It truly is a film that functions of camp, and I am living for it.

March Horror

I love that Dave Grohl and company have reached this point in their career that they do what truly makes them happy. I mean, the Bee Gees cover album from last year was truly a treat. It was the best promo they could have done for their new album. They said they always wanted to do a film together. In conjunction with their amazing music videos and Grohl’s involvement with Tenacious D (yes, that’s him under all that red makeup in Tribute), we can only expect something that is fun for the viewer as well as fun for them.

X: A new, Raunchy A24 Horror

A24 has kind of been killing it in the horror genre. Providing the platform for films such as Hereditary and Midsommar, it is the home for the arthouse horror. How does a slasher film taking place on a porno set sound? How about if that said horror film stars Kid Cudi? X comes out on March 18th, and with the trailer not giving away much, I am excited to see what we are dealing with here.

march horror

The film comes from Ti West as well, which makes me even more excited. I was quite a fan of The Innkeepers and at this point, if you haven’t seen The House of the Devil, you are truly missing out. It looks colorful, it probably will be gory, and I am expecting a bit of a slow burn as it is typically in Ti West’s fashion to take his time on his stories. They have paid off, however, and I’m excited to see if this one does the same.

Keep an eye out for these

Overall, it sounds like it’s a fun month for horror fans. These three on top of hearing that The Batman contains horror elements as well, it sounds like we’re getting delightfully spooky this March. It’s also Women’s History Month, so let’s celebrate by watching some female horror creators and celebrating our scream queens. Two women that come to mind are Debra Hill and Jamie Lee Curtis, which you can read a little bit more on their legendary impact on Halloween here. Let’s just say, it would not have blazed the trail as epically as it did without their contribution.

Thanks for spelunking the March Horror Void with me. If this is your first time here on The Void of Celluloid, welcome! I am happy to have you here, and if you want to know more about horror or just a film appreciator, go ahead and follow me on Twitter @OfCelluloid, Facebook on the page The Void of Celluloid and Instagram @thevoidofcelluloid. Until next time…

The Week of SCREAMS: Revisiting the Scream Franchise

Scream 5 Review: Ghostface Feels As Sharp As Ever

Hello everyone–I just watched the new Scream. It is a brilliant addition as well as homage to its predecessors. During its viewing, I took a trip down memory lane and it’s time to revisit Scream: my favorite quirks and moments in the Scream franchise. It truly is a unique and essential piece to the horror universe–one that many horror fans are proud of. For most horror fans, young and old, Scream just gets you. It knows how you tick, what excites you about horror movies and holds up a mirror and hands you a thank you card.

I cannot think of any fandom who doesn’t like their ego stroked–but we’re stepping away from the meta-ness. Each of these films in the franchise has a gleaming trait that always draws my attention and has me theorizing a lot of what-if scenarios. So, without further ado, I am going to go through some of my interpretations and observations of this brilliant series that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson has blessed upon us.

Billy and Stu: The Queer Subtext

I have seen the first Scream several times, and it is for three people: Stu, Billy and Randy. That is not a diss towards Sidney, Gale or Dewey, but we get significantly more time with them as the series goes on. Randy is obviously the shining star as well as the most relatable character–horror movie aficionado and a constant hard-on for Sidney Prescott (I mean, same, my dude). He’s not my focus point here; it’s the two murderous lovebirds.

Scream's Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard: Billy and Stu Fell 'in Love'

There is a certain intimacy between Billy and Stu, and it mostly falls on Matthew Lillard’s performance and portrayal of Stu. Even Matthew Lillard has confirmed he meant to convey it this way, which you can read more about in this brilliant essay from FilmDaze: The Lifelike Misogyny of Scream’s Stu Macher. Kevin Williamson confirmed this. He himself is proudly out and confirmed that he based the characters on Leopold and Lobe.

Lillard conveys Stu’s ferocity and passion towards Billy with intense eye contact. It is also implied that it didn’t take much convincing on Billy’s part for Stu to team up with him in this killing spree. Considering the killing spree included offing Sidney and making Billy painfully available–that was a bargain that one so madly in love couldn’t resist. It’s hard to deny that this isn’t about passion. The more I watch it, the more it comes through to me. On top of that, everyone that I’ve mentioned this theory too can’t unsee it, so I suggest giving Scream another watch and try to lean into the queer point of view. You’ll only appreciate Matthew Lillard’s performance more and more.

Oh, Randy: The Biggest Mistake in the Franchise

Now back to Randy–and yes, I’ve mentioned this before. Randy’s death in Scream 2 is truly devastating. As the franchise goes on, it sinks in more and more that the death of Randy might have been the biggest mistake they made. The Scream franchise was never afraid of broad daylight kills, but the fact that the character with his head screwed on so tight gets yanked into a van, sliced and diced with Gale and Dewey within earshot–that’s just cruel.

Scream Creator Kevin Williamson Explains Why He Killed Off Jamie Kennedy's  Randy | Cinemablend

It’s even more cruel due to Scream 2 showing Randy thriving in the college environment. Always being outcast by his peers in Woodsboro, he finds his niche and can discuss and evolve his knowledge and opinions all day long. This seemed like a step towards him growing with the rest of them and able to assess the surroundings and deliver appropriate ‘isms at perfect times. I understand that would’ve been the easy route.

I do respect the out-of-the-blue return of Randy in Scream 3 through VHS, but I feel as if the franchise is also realizing it was a bit of a mistake to kill Randy off so soon. His death would’ve been more firmly placed in Scream 3. Randy’s death in Scream 2 signaled no one was safe. However, there were no other major deaths of the legacy characters in Scream 3 and 4. Therefore, his death was a missed opportunity to take some more controversial steps and just kind of leaves a sad pit of what we could’ve seen from an older Randy.

Definition of Camp: Scream 3 isn’t a bad movie

Days before I watched the newest Scream, I rewatched Scream 3. I never am really excited to rewatch this one, however I saw it through fresh eyes for whatever reason lately. If Scream 3 sold strictly as a spoof and a comedy, I firmly believe critical panning would decrease. It is honestly the funniest installment in the series, and the absurdity of the plot and dialogue is what makes it.

Parker Posey talks Scream 3, her character's legacy

I realized that the opening scene of Scream 3 does not set the tone for the majority of the movie, but rather the more serious final act. Therefore, to go from the sinister nature of Cotton Weary’s demise to cooky Gale-Dewey Hollywood banter feels kind of like whiplash. I can see how that radical tone shift left a bad taste in people’s mouths. However, separating that, the rest of Scream 3 is delightfully campy with a whole bundle of wacky characters who happen to play the characters from the series. It’s extremely meta, which is what the Scream franchise is all about.

The character that sells on the campiness and meta-ness is 100% Jennifer Jolie, played perfectly by Parker Posey. Scream 3 deals a hard bargain on the actors in it–they have to play their characters as well as caricatures of themselves. I think that Parker Posey nails this balance, and focusing on her, Gale and Dewey’s storyline in the middle of the movie definitely is what sells it as a viable end to the original trilogy. I definitely recommend anyone to rewatch Scream 3 and treat it like it’s a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie–you’ll see the comedic genius and expert portrayal in camp in it.

Questionable Characters: Scream 4’s Bloodbath

Eleven years have passed, the original cast is either dead or older. 2011’s Scream 4 was an attempt to pass the torch onto a popular, younger cast and ended in a bloodbath instead. Almost every new character introduced in Scream 4 died by the movie’s end and for that, I am sort of grateful.

With the exception of Kirby, played charismatically by Hayden Panettiere, the new characters weren’t very likeable. Now having watched the newest Scream, I am so grateful they didn’t go with this ragtag group. Most of the characters didn’t have much character development, with Jill being the only one that got a backstory and link to Sidney. On top of that, they feel like hollow shells of a person rather than actual humans. All of the complexity vanished.

Hayden Panettiere's New Haircut Has Scream Fans Freaking Out | Cinemablend

I attribute part of this to the time jump and dealing with a different generation. A lot of characteristics from these new characters felt very tropey and out of place, with some of them seeming like they stepped out of coming-of-age rom-com. As I mentioned about Randy, this film definitely tried to make up for Randy being gone. While Kirby was extremely likeable amongst the trio of movie know-it-alls, the shoes of the Randy character were not filled. Despite my complaints, however, I really do like Scream 4 a lot. I feel that this newest Scream however took it down a few pegs in regard to likeable characters.

Scream Lives on through the newest installment

To wrap this up, I cannot stress how badly I want everyone to go and watch Scream. It is truly amazing, hilarious, and brutal. My overly emotional self even cried a bit. I adore the new cast so much and am already looking forward to a sequel, which they plan on doing. The directors behind this new one also did Ready or Not, so if you are looking for some more horror comedy with badass women, I suggest either watching or rewatching that one (I’ve seen it at least five times). I will never stop talking about Scream and singing its praises, so if you want to hear more from The Void of Celluloid, be sure to follow this blog and our social medias linked on the homepage. See you next time, spelunkers.

Revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream

The Week of SCREAMS: Planning Your Scream Marathon

Hello everybody, welcome back (to you and myself) to The Void. It’s a big week for horror fans as we begin the countdown for another release from an iconic franchise: Scream. I am here to aide the wait by recapping the fourth former films and discussing the wild theories that lurk on the internet. In a franchise recap, it can only mean one thing: movie marathon.

For those who have been here a while, I like to make an experience out of a movie night, and whether this is your first time or you’re exposing a poor soul so you can drag them to the theater, there is always an opportunity to make it special. Therefore, I’m going to take each movie and pair it with a savory snack, a sweet treat and two drinks: one non-alcoholic and another with the booze. It’s a mix and match system, or the most elaborate horror marathon of all time, you decide. There are the rules, and they won’t change like they do in this wacky but brilliant series. Without further ado, let’s set up the Scream marathon.

Scream (1996)

Scream' 20th Anniversary: Then and Now - Variety

The one that started it all. Scream rocked the horror scene in 1996 and delivered in the character department. It also delivered a helluva opening scene, so why not start out the movie with some Jiffy Pop? Here’s a homemade stovetop popcorn recipe to get things going. To make it bloody, pair it with this Cherry Bomb mocktail. If you’re already on edge and want to start partying like a high schooler, treat yourself to a Beer Margarita to class up the red solo kegger party. Once you reach Jamie-Kennedy-on-the-couch status, celebrate this film’s blood-soaked finale with a red velvet brownie.

Scream 2 (1997)

REVIEW - 'Scream 2' (1997) | The Movie Buff

Oh boy, this is one of those sequels that are just as good as the original. This one arguably has more scares in it, especially the opening scene and the cop car. Since the first one took the popcorn, we have to take on the next most popular movie theater snack: nachos. I am not one to tell you what goes on your nachos, but I can at least give you a cheese sauce recipe. You’re going to need a cool drink after Neve Campbell’s radiance in the play rehearsal, so either class it up with a Roy Rogers or dress it down with some college-party jungle juice. After the curtain falls on Scream 2, sweeten up the pot and end with a refreshing lemon bar as you brace yourself for the weakest (and campiest) link of the Scream franchise.

Scream 3 (2000)

Is It Just Me Or Is Scream 3 A Decent Sequel? - Wicked Horror

This is definitely the red-headed stepchild of the franchise, but it does have its quirks here and there. We’re going to Hollywood, baby–therefore, we gotta live the life of luxury. Instead of the munchies we had prior, make yourself an easy canape: this lovely caprese kabobs should do the trick. We’re slashing among the stars now, so we might as well drink like one. Cool your tastebuds with either this Cucumber Ginger mocktail or this Hollywood Martini. After the laughs and cringy dialogue, be thankful (maybe with your non-psycho sibling) that it’s finally over by some no-bake tiramisu parfaits–that should kick it up a notch to continue into the final of the quartet. Try to delete the mental image of Courtney Cox’s bangs while you’re at it.

Scream 4 (2011)

Is it just me, or is Scream 4 the franchise's best? | GamesRadar+

Before I go into this one: JUSTICE FOR KIRBY. Alright, now, we’ve jumped 11 years and things have drastically changed for our favorite slasher survivors as well as a few new people. Anyways, this is quite a bit of an upgrade compared to its predecessor, so we have to treat it as such. I’m talking spinach artichoke dip in a bread bowl! Go crazy like it’s 2011 again! Maybe even live stream the process and start your own web show. Trivia’s a big topic in this one too, and I usually associate trivia with some drinks. I’m going to give it to 2 Geeks Who Eat again with their Woodsboro Snapple cocktail. For the virgins out there (who aren’t guaranteed survival anymore), we’re going with a virgin Sangria that is as red as blood. With such a lofty sequel, they had to get creative–so it’s your turn. We all scream for ice cream, so here’s a recipe for some easy, no-churn ice cream. May I suggest throwing chunks of those red velvet brownies from the first film? And dying it red? We need to get bloody up in this joint.

Conclusion: May the Week of Screams begin

There are the aides for this Craven trek. Scream is truly a brilliant franchise and I am excited to see what the minds behind Ready or Not are going to do with it. As you can see by the title, this is a week of SCREAMS, meaning the Void will have a new post (almost) every day up to the Scream release. The Mother of the Void will be returning on Wednesday, but the rest will be just you and me, my dear spelunkers. Catch the article tomorrow as we recap Scream and discuss some of my favorite parts from the first movie.

31 Days of Horror: Week Three

Welcome back everybody to The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. The whole concept of this series is to go through each week of October and pair snacks, drinks and double features to The Void’s picks. This is the first year of this series, so the standard calendar is a lot of staples and not a lot of sleeper hits. However, it is not a bad thing to revisit some of the classics. We are hitting the halfway point of October, so we have to celebrate spooky season every second we got! Here is the calendar:

I’m really excited to revisit the picks of this week, as we have some killer classics here. You can find the kick off of this series here and the bloody sequel here. Alright, let’s set up this trilogy of good spooky fun, shall we?

A Micro-rant from The Void

For those that are going to stay away from some of these films because of tiny little words you have to read, please try and push yourself to do so. There will be another subtitled movie this week as well as next week, and if you aren’t open to subtitles, you’re going to miss out on a lot of good horror. As Bong Joon Ho says “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Alright, micro rant over, let’s get to the goodies.

OCtober 15th: THe Orphanage

If you somehow missed this movie during its long Netflix reign during the early 2010s, you missed out. That’s why it’s here. El Orfanato or The Orphanage is a compelling ghost tale that will have you rethinking every time someone knocks on a wall. Laura moves her family back into her childhood home, which was once an orphanage specifically for handicapped children. Not long after, her young son combats transition by having an imaginary friend. However, it turns out this friend might not be so imaginary. You might wanna have some tissues with you if you’re a hair-trigger weeper like I am when anything is remotely sad.

The double feature for this one has to be Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. He actually produced The Orphanage and both this film and Pan’s Labyrinth became the top grossing Spanish films of all time. Since both films take place in Spain, we have to indulge ourselves with some Spanish food and drinks. One of the most popular cocktails in Spain is the Agua de Valencia, a delicious drink reminiscent of a mimosa. For our zero-proof crowd, there is a delicious dessert drink known as Leche Merengada which is a creamy, spiced milkshake style drink (for those lactose intolerant and savvy in Google Translate/fluent in Spanish, you can find a dairy free version here). As far as snacks go, almost everyone loves potatoes, so pair all of this with a simple, spicy Patatas Bravas.

OCtober 16th: Psycho

Psycho's Shower Scene: How Hitchcock Upped the Terror—and Fooled the  Censors - HISTORY

As we know, Halloween Kills is out and while it is general trivia knowledge for most horror fans, a lot of people do not know that Jamie Lee Curtis is Janet Leigh’s daughter. Psycho is a must see and showcases stellar performances from all of its cast, especially Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Despite Peeping Tom being the first slasher film by technicality, it never reached as great of heights and praise as Psycho did. Marion Crane decides to make a run for it with her employer’s precious deposit, but due to a storm has to take refuge in the Bates Motel. I think we all know where it goes next… Nevertheless, Psycho still packs a punch despite its second biggest twist being spoiled for most film lovers and therefore, it makes it onto the calendar.

Psycho just screams classic to me, so therefore I pair this one with a nice Negroni. Believe it or not, I actually found a non-alcoholic Negroni which I thought was impossible, but it has great ratings, so check it out. What pairs nice with the sophisticated Negroni? A bunch of snooty (but tasty) things, but for some reason, these rich Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites from Entertaining with Beth will do too. Double feature wise, you could go with the previously mentioned pioneer Peeping Tom or you could go with another Hitchcock horror The Birds. It’s the simple decision of not trusting men or not trusting birds, you decide.

OCtober 17th: THe Conjuring

The Conjuring (2013) - IMDb

Ah, there’s nothing like family and building a home together, right? Gathering together and playing Hide-and-Clap sounds like a very wholesome thing to do? Well, when there is a possible witch/demon terrorizing your family each night, it’s not as picture-perfect as you would imagine. This is the first installment of the now expansive Conjuring Universe, but nothing quite beats the first one, which delivers the suspense upon every single viewing. Too bad that it spawned another wave of copycats and cheap spinoffs, but I don’t think any of its expansions can take away from this gem.

The film takes place in the 70s, complete with Patrick Wilson sporting some epic sideburns. Therefore, I’m going vintage with these pairings. If you’ve never had a cheeseball before, you have to try this classic cheeseball recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch. In the mood for something sweet and more with the season? Check out this this pumpkin cheesecake ball. If we’re keeping it classic 70’s, we should go for a nice bright Harvey Wallbanger (here’s a virgin one) to lighten up the mood for this dark, grim film. The double feature for this one is surprisingly not from the Conjuring-Verse, but rather a Mike Flanagan film Ouija: Origin of Evil. It matches The Conjuring‘s tone and because of its predecessor, some horror fans missed out on this one.

October 18th: The Shining

The Shining -REVIEW – The Martini Shot

In October, you try to shuffle in some new finds, but sometimes nothing beats the tried and true classics. That is why The Shining is on here. I watch it at least once a year, mainly to play detective to see if I get anything new from it. I feel like I don’t really need to explain the plot of this one other than it deters heavily from the book. Why I bring this up is mostly due to my double feature, but also a push for people to read the book, as it has a lot of sentiment that the Kubrick film is obviously lacking in.

There is now an obvious double feature for The Shining which is its sequel Doctor Sleep. Yes, Mike Flanagan again. Here he does the impossible task of marrying the two versions of The Shining, and he pulls it off beautifully. You can read more about it on The Void of Celluloid here: We Love You, Mike Flanagan. For this film, I went more with a themed cocktail meets generic yummy carbs, since alcohol is such an important plot point in the story. Yes, suggesting a cocktail is opposite of the point which is why I will lead with this mocktail recipe that sounds utterly amazing: Cranberry Apple Cider Mocktail. Which is red. I think you can see where this is going, just don’t spell this REDRUM cocktail backwards. The delicious side I chose to pair with this deep red punch is the viral Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread.

October 19th: Scream

13 Seriously Effed Up Facts About 'Scream' - MTV

This film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year so it’s time to rewatch it if you haven’t caught it in theaters yet. This film is Wes Craven’s comeback as well as the father of meta-horror that a lot of modern horror comedies use today. Also, I think it is impossible to not fall in love with Sidney Prescott’s badassery. Oh, and Matthew Lilliard’s acting. There’s a lot I love about this film.

Its double feature has to go to its sequel Scream 2, as I think there is a lot that they did better in regards to it being a horror movie. There is scarier moments in the second one at least, so if you want to go more pedal-to-the-metal with your scares, don’t skip this one. These two films drip with teenage/college student energy, so I decided to go for a dive bar meets high school party aesthetic with the pairings. We got a lovely light beer cocktail known as a Chelada, which is like a Corona with lime on steroids. Since we already did Shirley Temples last week, we’re going to go with another non-boozy classic: the Roy Rodgers. Pair this off with some adorable, salty Bacon Cheeseburger Bites and you got yourself a spooky rager.

OCtober 20th: Housebound

Housebound review: Perfect horror for the Covid-19 quarantined - Vox

If you couldn’t tell, I am quite a fan of Kiwi humor. Housebound is another title that lurked around Netflix for a while, and I remember watching it without any prior knowledge. I was confused, but once you realize it is a comedy through and through, it gets absolutely hilarious. Therefore, I want to use this platform to clarify and shine some more light on this lost gem. Kylie is forced to return to her childhood home under house arrest, trapping her inside with the supposed evil entity that lives among her and her family.

This is a fun movie and should be paired with equally fun things. Therefore I’m pairing it with one of my favorite movies The Lost Boys. Because who could say no to some glam punk 80s vampires? This is a mixed bag of a night, so why not mix it up some more with this Halloween Sangria or a prom-style punch? In my mad search for recipes, I came across these jalapeno popper pigs in a blanket that I could not help but share. Say hello to a wild Wednesday night!

OCtober 21st: Ringu

Ring (1998) | Trailer - YouTube

I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of the American The Ring. I feel like it’s a cheap knockoff of the rich story that is Ringu. If you have only seen the American version, I urge you to watch Ringu this week. It is genuinely one of the creepiest films out there. It still centers around the cursed tape that is well known but its use of practical effects as well as the absence of that blue filter that was so popular in early 00s horror (and promptly killed by Twilight) make this film soar above the American remake.

The obvious double feature is another story done so dirty by American film studios: Ju-On: The Grudge. A “slower” burn than the first film, but a truly rich and amazing ghost story through and through. Since we are enjoying two classic Japanese horror films, I decided to pair it with onigiri, which is impossible to hate given its endless combinations and simpler assembly. Of course, I involved sake, so please enjoy the highly rated Sake Southside from Tasting Table (a Japanese Cream Soda for the non alcohol drinkers).

Conclusion and what’s Next

I’m so happy to see people enjoying this series and I enjoy making it (even though it makes me hungry). There is a lot coming up with The Void of Celluloid in the next few months from a podcast to a Patreon startup to oh so much more and I am excited to share this journey with all of you. Please be sure to follow and share this with your friends and loved ones and I will see you next week as we celebrate the final ten days of TVOC’s 31 Days of Horror.

The Final Girl: How Wes Craven Saves the Day

Horror movies had quite a rocky start in depicting women. Early horror and the age of monster movies depicted women as damsels in distress rather than the final girl archetype we see today. They were always preyed upon and scared into submission. Most of the time, they were helpless. We see from the start of horror all the way to the 1960s with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Marion Crane isn’t really moving while she stabbed in the shower, which contradicts the ballsy moves she makes in the beginning of the film. She flails and she screams, but without the effort to do something, she dies naked, cold and humiliated.

Psycho Crane Sisters: Ancestors to the Final Girl - Ghoulish Media

It is important to remember that Marion Crane is not what horror fans know as the “final girl,” but rather her sister Lila that solves the mystery and escapes near death at the end of the film. Psycho did present a shift in the female protagonist, but Hitchcock is not the one to turn to for female empowerment. His following film The Birds is infamous for the mistreatment of actress Tippi Hedren. Instead, we are going to focus on the transition of the female protagonist in horror starting in the 1970s, and how the trope of the final girl went from empowering to demeaning. It remained that way throughout the years until the 1990s with the release of Scream, which destroys and rebuilds the trope once more.

1974: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was groundbreaking at its time of release. It determined what the slasher genre would be in the next few years. It was the next major exploitation horror film after Wes Craven’s release of The Last House on the Left, which is notorious for its brutality towards the two women. That film continued to push the narrative of damsels in distress–in high distress in this case–as they were put into a completely helpless situation. Yes, there is revenge as we see a mother and father rain hellfire on the rapist-murderers, but we don’t see the wronged women get justice themselves.

Marilyn Burns, Texas Chain Saw Massacre actress, dies aged 65 - BBC News

One of the first appearances of the trope that defines the slasher genre is Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This film is the standard of low budget grindhouse, and has the bare bones of what a final girl would look and be like in future films. Sally Hardesty is the last one left alive, and she does get out of the terrifying situation she finds herself in towards the film’s climax. She has good instinct too, but honestly, she gets out of there due to pure luck. She also drags that poor semi truck driver into the situation during the final scene. He is the one to deal the blow that saves both of them. That doesn’t dismiss her as a final girl, but instead of the typical showdown the final girl has with the killer, Sally takes the flight method rather than the fight method.

1974: Black Christmas

Released the same year as the previous film, Black Christmas is an underrated slasher pioneer. It released the same weekend as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but carries a different tone. While both are gruesome, Black Christmas takes a different approach with its characters. Many tropes trace back to this movie, and considering this movie inspired John Carpenter to make Halloween, I say that Jess Bradford is the pioneer of the final girls. For more comparisons between Black Christmas and Halloween, check out The Ringer’s article ‘Black Christmas’ Was the First ‘Halloween’.

What sets Jess apart from Sally is that Jess seems to have a functioning brain and does not shriek at anything and everything in sight. That is a real insensitve take, I know that the traumatizing situations justify Sally’s reactions, but it isn’t the usual image of a final girl. Instead a final girl does what she needs to do, which involves being sneaky and keeping quiet. It also involves a headstrong attitude. Jess exhibits both in the action of the film as well as the other plot points, most poignantly the discussion she has with her boyfriend in regards to her plans for an abortion.

FINAL GIRL PROFILE: Jess Bradford, Black Christmas (1974) - The Black  Museum: Lurid Lectures for the Morbidly Curious

There is something deeply unsettling about the fate of this final girl, as the ending is ambiguous and it leans more towards killing off the final girl, since she receives the damning phone call. This is why I claim this movie and Texas Chainsaw pioneering films. The main reason being that their final girls do not fit the modern day image of the final girl. However, I give it Black Christmas to kick off this trope, as there are similarities between Jess and our next final girl Laurie Strode.

1978: Halloween

Laurie Strode is always the first to come to mind when I think about final girls. John Carpenter set the groundwork for the strong female protagonist with his 1978 film Halloween. She is a quiet, reserved teenager responsible for babysitting a kid Halloween night. She is on edge throughout the beginning of the movie as she sees Michael Meyers lurking in the shadows. Therefore, in the beginning and by the constant harassment of her friends, we as the audience are meant to view her as “lame”. That’s not it at all though. She is self aware of herself and her actions, which is why she kicks it into gear when she realizes Michael picked off her friends one by one.

In Praise of the Shy Girl: Halloween's Laurie Strode (Women In Horror  Series) | by Kelcie Mattson | Applaudience | Medium

With Laurie being the stay-at-home-and-study type in contrast with her somewhat reckless friends, it is sometimes read that Laurie’s survival is like a reward for her purity. This is a stripped down, male gazey version of Laurie Strode and the Final Girl as a whole. Whether we like it or not, the standard for women is lowkey pedophiliac its focus–more like obssession–on virginity. This aspect supposed to be admired about the final girl. This is the wrong way of looking at it. Rather than glamorize the idea of virginity, it should praise not succumbing to peer pressure and holding standards for yourself. Her friends tell her to loosen up multiple times in the film’s beginning. Laurie stands her ground and continues to be herself, all the way up to the end of the film. Tragically, the first train of thought is what the horror industry ran with.

1980: Friday the 13th

The next big slasher is what gave us the so-called “rules” of the genre: Friday the 13th. This has a big plot point of punishing the act of sex, as that is the reasoning Mrs. Voorhees attaches to her son’s death, and rightfully so, as neglect to watch over the swimmers led to him drowning. But they push that punishment to the extreme, with Mrs. Voorhees striking during or right after the act. It’s mindless revenge as none of the counselors were around Camp Crystal Lake during Jason’s death. Therefore it comes off more as a senile woman punishing the act of sex rather than getting revenge for her son.

Friday the 13th: Why Alice was Killed for part II – Mack's Musings

Alice Hardy is our final girl in this film. The film exhibits her prudishness with the strip poker scene and her childlike crush on Bill, therefore it establishes the assumption that she is a virgin. What makes her the standard for the final girl is her epic showdown and kill of the villain. The seemingly innocent Alice is fed up and lops Pamela Voorhees’ head off, which according to her character we saw in the rest of the film, it is fairly unexpected and has us cheering for her. While Laurie Strode served as influence for Alice Hardy, the ideal final girl is Alice when the trope is analyzed by itself.

1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street

This implication of slashers punishing the youngsters for sex and drugs carried itself on a box office pedestal throughout the 1980s as several knockoffs and sequels planted their roots in the home video-palooza of the 80s. Though some had their twists and turns, the final girls became more and more washed out. It was almost like the final girl was becoming a hollow shell of herself and they were hitting copy-paste with each new release. Wes Craven took on a different kind of final girl in A Nightmare on Elm Street by giving Freddy a different motive than the motiveless voiceless killers of the early 80s, but even then Freddy painted himself as a godlike figure doing punishing.

Why A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET'S Nancy Is Horror's Greatest Final Girl -  Nerdist

Nancy Thompson is smart and has a good head on her shoulders. She is feminine, which was forgotten in the 80s, with the purposeful masculinization of the final girls to make them seem tougher. However, due to the nature of the killer and her surroundings, she comes off as helpless quite a few times throughout the film. Another ambiguous ending confirms this helplessness in which it implies Nancy actually never made it out alive.

Instead of going in that direction, the rest of the films of the 1980s almost had a carbon copy of Alice as their final girl. We would continue to see this regurgitation for the whole decade, until Craven finally said enough is enough.

1996: Scream

Scream is brilliant, and I mean that in both adoration and critically. This film blends humor, horror and badasses, especially from the main protagonist Sidney Prescott. When I think of my ideal final girl, it goes to Sidney all the way. Despite her trauma and her poor taste in men, she doesn’t skip a beat to kick ass and defend herself and her posse. Her posse in both the original and its sequels also feature some badass women, with Gale Weathers being a secondary final girl and Tatum Riley, who scores some awesome hits on Billy before her unfortunate run in with the garage door.

Scream 5: Neve Campbell in talks to return as Sidney Prescott | GamesRadar+

Sidney destroys the final girl archetype as she breaks most of the “rules” Randy reminds of us nearing the climax of the film. She is not a virgin by the final showdown and she is not a innocent delicate flower. She is actively dealing with her mother’s murder and testified against Cotton Weary so effectively that she put him in jail on a life sentence. Sidney is a breath of fresh air and restores the internal workings of a woman into the final girl. Therefore she rises to the top of the hierarchy side by side with Laurie Strode.

Wes Craven did make an instant classic, which engraved Ghostface in the history of horror among the classic slasher villains. He also made Sidney Prescott a posterchild for aspiring young women. His writing of Sidney is almost like a true apology in regards to how he wrote women characters before. A lot of Craven’s previous work brutalized women quite a bit and put them in hopeless situations consistently. Therefore, to have Sidney Prescott persevere through all of this, I can forgive Craven’s depravity.

What now? Modern Day Final Girls

In modern horror, the final girl is still alive and kicking, but rather in the model of Sidney Prescott rather than Alice Hardy. Some key examples is Grace from Ready or Not, Rocky in the first Don’t Breathe, and Dana in The Cabin in the Woods–who plays a trope in but transcends it much like Sidney did. There hasn’t been much regression, and while sequel fever has sparked back up in the recent years, more paranormal based films are the ones to pick up sequels, which prevents the final girl becoming hollow again.

THE FINAL GIRLS (2015) • Frame Rated

A brilliant horror comedy that has come out in the past decade is The Final Girls. It truly is a romp and will become a cult classic as the years go by, but the way that this movie plays with the rules that the 1980s horror flicks set is creative and hilarious. This film is a feature in my 31 Days of Horror coming up, so check it out. Overall, I don’t think the horror community will allow this trope to return back to where it was, and when it does, it usually is in homage to something and likes to challenge the original ideas that caused such a prudish final girl. Final verdict: thanks to Scream, you can drink, do drugs and have sex and you can still survive a horror film. Just don’t say you’ll be right back, because you won’t be. Easy enough, right?

The Art of the Creative Kill

A shared experience for every horror fan is sitting in the theater for a new horror film that they already know how it’s going to end. Whether it be too much advertisement or the writer’s pitfalls, it can be a semi-disappointing viewing experience. The viewer doesn’t necessarily want a M. Night Shyamalan sized twist at the end to prove themselves wrong–they don’t really care if they’re right–but they would definitely appreciate some spice to keep the experience enjoyable. There is one technique that can be a saving grace for a horror film: creative kills.

Creative Kills

Horror will remain one of the more creative genres on the film spectrum. However, there is monotony that future creators are trying to dodge when releasing a new film out into the world. One of the genres that faces the most monotony is the slasher genre. With its never-ending sequels and reboots, it seems like all the kills of characters that you care less with each film never hit quite as hard as watching the original. Even A Nightmare on Elm Street with its dream realm lost its spark as the sequels seemed to go on and on, despite its open availability to do something new and out there.

Creative kills are a thing that horror creators do to engage its audience. It surprises them in moments rather than the whole plot. Sometimes it works better than trying to add a twist that people end up anticipating in the first place. I can save a film too. If a viewer remembers a certain death, even if they didn’t enjoy the film as a whole, that could be considered a win.

Warning: Spoilers past this point


The First Viewing

The horror films we see nowadays are rarely original. Most trace back to an origin film, with most of the films from the 60s, 70s and 80s serving as influence on modern horror creators. This was a special time period for horror. The monster movie was going out and the genre was starting to branch out into different subgenres. The groundwork for creative kills rests in the original slashers, as they were the first to take the plunge into the grisly. Their reign in conjunction with rental movie shops that dominated in those decades allowed for these gruesome yet unique scenes to spread to televisions across America.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Creative Kills

We start from the beginning with of the 70s-80s slasher reign with Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While there are a variety of weapons in the film, none of them sound more terrifying than the chainsaw. Despite its low budget, there is plenty of clever camerawork in this film. This expressed the gruesome nature of the kills, tarnishing the chainsaw forever. It’s rare to find a haunted house that doesn’t utilize one without its chain for its terrifying sound. Personally, a man wielding one of these chased me out of a haunt with one. I don’t scare super easy, but I did minorly fear what would’ve happened to me had he caught up.

Halloween

Creative Kills

Up next is John Carpenter’s masterpiece, Halloween. While there are plenty of groundbreaking, iconic kills, the one topping the list is Michael Myers playing pin-the-Bob-to-the-pantry. The impact of the scene is not necessarily the kill in action–though it is effective–but rather Michael Myers stepping back and observing his kill, tilting his head and brainstorming his next move. This leads to the iconic bedsheet ghost with glasses. John Carpenter is no stranger to creativity in his horror and his kills. This shows especially in his follow up film The Fog and even more as he approaches the sci-fi horror genre in 1982 with his take on The Thing.

Friday The 13th

Creative Kills

Going chronologically, the next in line is Friday the 13th, which kickstarted the trope of “you have sex, you die.” The death that sticks is both creative and one of the only familiar faces in the film. Poor Kevin Bacon’s character Jack is trying to enjoy a nice cigarette. Moments later, he gets a hand around the head and an arrow through the throat. The use of close up practical effects in this kill distinguishes it from the previous pair of film mentioned, as it is a death seen up close rather than imagined due to shadows or camera placement. This pushed the boundary of gore on screen, which was turned up to eleven in 1984.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Creative Kills

A Nightmare on Elm Street is the foundation for out there creative kills. It takes place primarily in a dream state. This allowed for Wes Craven to push the supernatural boundaries on this classic slasher. It is also has the impact of familiar face meets gruesome end as it stars a babyfaced Johnny Depp. While watching Tina pinned and slashed on the ceiling is truly frightening and impactful as a first kill, it is Glen’s bed eating him and projectile vomiting him out in a geyser of blood. The excessive gore and false security that both the viewer and Glen feels makes the death impactful and very memorable. Wes Craven is no stranger to making the viewer care for the characters, which can also be seen in the Scream franchise. This only makes his creative kills even more useful and impactful.

BREAKING THE VIEWER’s TRUST

While a horror fan knows not to get too close to any characters in their favorite horror series, it happens anyways. They want the best for these characters ultimately. When it comes down to their brutal death, there is a powerful emotion that comes with it. Sometimes they don’t see it coming. Most of the time they do see it coming and convince themselves that the writers simply wouldn’t do that. This is what makes this technique the cruelest of the creative kills.

Fear Street: 1994

Creative Kills

These attachments are usually side characters that shine just as bright as the main character. A main example in recent times is Kate in Fear Street: 1994, which is one of the most unfair and creative deaths I’ve seen in the recent years. Kate is lovable. She and her best friend Simon have some hilarious, if chaotic, moments together that just makes the audience care and love them more.

As the film arrives at the final grocery store showdown and the Skull Face Killer locks her in a chokehold, the film convinces the viewers she isn’t going to die. She had escaped death too many times to count prior in the movie, she has to get out of this. He slams her down on the table and her head slides closer and closer to that bread slicer. The film convinces the viewers once more someone will save her since this team is always looking out for each other, and her screaming her head off has to attract one of them to help her. All that hope shatters into pieces as the audience gets a close up shot of her head becoming shredded by this once ordinary, now malicious machine.

The predictability comes back the moment afterwards, with Simon’s death seeming inevitable, but it was that brief moment that will actually stick with you. Not only because the writers killed off beloved Kate, but also the shocking visuals and the manner of her death.

Scream 2

Creative Kills

Another way to shock the audience is killing off what seems like a quintessential-to-the-plot character. In recent years, the fake-out death of Marty in The Cabin in the Woods is an example of this kind of kill. He was high as a kite the entirety of the film, but he was the one–other than the main protagonist– not affected by the mental curveballs thrown by the company running the show. The one that has stuck with many horror fans however was the killing of Randy in Scream 2.

Lovable, adorkable Randy who was an easy target in the first film but delivered very necessary information on the tropes of a horror film that saved a lot of his friends’ asses. He, like us watching a horror film, knew what pleasant predictability felt like; the first Scream is chock full of pleasant predictability with its main but effective curve being there was a second killer and it was Stu. With its equally enjoyable sequel, we think we are just as self aware as Randy. Therefore, we together are not susceptible to the killer’s tricks.

All of those comforting feelings go out the window, or rather into the back of the van when Ghostface murders Randy in broad daylight with Gale and Dewey so close by. Upon each viewing, the kill is just as devastating as it is the first time. A die-hard horror fan relates the most to this character, and his death dismisses the belief that his knowledge and self awareness alone could keep him alive for another round.

Sometimes horror creators are too trigger happy with killing off characters. While this is sometimes done in a “they were all doomed anyways” kind of sense, sometimes they take it way too far.

The extreme: Torture porn versus arthouse

There are two genres that have the same level of brutality most of the time. They differ so heavily from each other. The genres are arthouse horror and a genre lovingly known as torture porn. Both feature disturbing images and scarring scenes, but a film that completely relies on tolerance to gore doesn’t mean its the most creative. The best horror movies are ones that non-horror fans can watch, in my opinion. It doesn’t mean that they won’t come out unscathed– some of the mentions on this list are disturbing–but it’s not watching people die in bloody, gruesome ways back to back.

Torture Horror

These types of films have their fanbases, and I am not invalidating their feelings towards these films. In regards to their accessibility , their grisly goriness earns them their praise rather than storyline. This does not mean that the kills in these films aren’t creative, they are overly creative. However, they lose their impact by having so many creative kills back to back. It allows a new kind of unpredictability that creates excitement for what bizarre thing will come next , which amps up fans of torture porn. This allows for some creative error, because while a lot of these films continue to have out of the box moments, the excitement with each sequel dims and dims as each sequel falls short.

An example of this last year is Spiral, the Saw reboot. While this film was sadly hindered due to movie theater closures due to COVID, there was an overall complaint about seeing things that have already been done before in the franchise. In a series full of traps that are made of the masses’ worst nightmares, it a risk to make so many movies which ultimately turn away a general crowd due to its brutality and turn away its cult following due to running out of ideas. You can see this same progression in many of Eli Roth and Rob Zombie films too, meaning that going to the extreme all the time can burn out the creative spark that make this gory flicks tick.

Arthouse Horror

Another genre of film that can be hit or miss but can teach the torture porn genre a thing or two about how frequently to use creative kills is the arthouse horror genre. The obvious recent examples are films such as Hereditary, Midsommar and The House That Jack Built. These films can exhibit as equally creative and disturbing scenes as the torture porn films, but these films use a one-and-done method. They’re films where it is okay if they’re not watched again, since they can be deeply disturbing, even for the most desensitized horror fan, but there is no hinderance in watching it again, as most of the time there is opportunity to understand and see more than one saw in the first viewing.

Comparison

While most arthouse horror have things that are odd and out of the usual, it is usually in a slow burn format rather than the fast paced timing of torture porn movies, which allows for a break from the gore but also creates a foundation of dread to build upon during the film’s usually longer runtime. Much like the grisly films mentioned above, these films are not everybody’s cup of tea, but they are the films that are shaping the horror scene. More mainstream films follow the influence of arthouse horror, which includes the films from recent horror powerhouse Jordan Peele, who utilizes disturbing images and creative kills to his benefit in both of his films Get Out and Us–specifically the use of the giant scissors as well as the deerhead stabbing.

Overall, both of these genres have changed what modern horror fans are looking for in horror films. Whether it be an out-there arthouse film or a grisly never-ending death hour, both genres hold heavy influence over the modern day horror film, with viewers seeking out more and more creativity in the standard mainstream horror films that come out year after year.


Conclusion

It is undeniable that the use of creative kills defines what the horror genre. It also separates it from the similar thriller genre. When used correctly, an out-of-the-box kill can shake things up for a seemingly predictable movie. This can be used to the enjoyment of the general viewer and the horror fan, even if it involves some broken hearts along the way (I’m still not over Randy’s death). However, when used too often, it can alienate both the casual horror viewer as well as its cult follower. Nonetheless, it is an essential technique that is used by the best horror filmmakers out there and is a one stop shop to make a horror film memorable.