Friday, July 2, 2010

Question of the Day: Which is better, Canadian slashers or American slashers?

In the spirit of the holiday coming up ("USA, USA, USA"...I kid...) -- and the fact that even though I've been watching a TON of horror movies lately, but I just haven't had the time to write about them (for Jamie: you were so, so right about Slugs, hehe, it was wonderful) -- I was thinking of posing this question about which country had the better slasher resume.  So, horror fans, which do you prefer: the slashers of America (Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Burning, Friday the 13th, and Scream) or the slashers of Canada (Black Christmas, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Visiting Hours, and Terror Train)?  I think if we're talking the heyday of slashers (1978 - 81) it's pretty close, but when you start to look at when the slasher genre was getting to become overkill, the Canadians were still releasing semi-decent and innovative takes on the subgenre, so I think I prefer Canadian slashers films.

Which do you prefer?  Perhaps you're like me and you prefer a whole different kind of beast, the Italian giallo, which was the king of this subgenre pre-Halloween (and Argento and Soavi even added a few twists to it with their later, 1987 entries, Opera and Stagefright respectively).  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  More horror reviews coming next week when work slows down a bit.


  1. It's an interesting questions and I don't think I can pick. Black Christmas came before Halloween and was just as good for different reasons, but it was obviously Halloween that made the slasher flick a respectable genre. I know you say Canadian's were still releasing semi-decent ones by the time the genre was dwindling but really, there are only so many possibilities for such a genre until you pull a Scream and get all self-reflexive. I know I'm not answering the question because it's not so much a matter of who did it best with slashers but who did it first if you know what I mean. If I had to answer I'd say Canadian just because three of those films you named have had really horrible American remakes.

  2. I'm probably like you, Kevin, and prefer the giallo, but there's great stuff from both countries, here. I really, really love Halloween and Black Christmas, both influential films. Looking forward to more reviews, Kevin, and have a good weekend.

  3. This is a much harder decision that I thought. I honestly don't think I could answer it right now to tell you the truth. Of course the U.S. has MORE to choose from, but the bad slashers outnumber the good ones by a lot, whereas Canadian slashers had a tendency to be consistently solid. But then again a few of my favorite horror movies of all time are American slashers. And of course I love most Gialli, even the bad ones to a certain extent.

    I'm torn. I'll get back to you on this one, Kevin. :)

  4. Here's how I see it: my absolute tip-top favorites are American. But the very worst Canadian slashers I've ever watched are better than the mid-range of the Friday the 13th series.

    So if I were given a choice between any random Canadian slasher and any random American slasher, I'd choose to watch the Canadian one: it limits the possibility of a masterpiece, but it limits the possibility of deep pain even more.

    Of course, I prefer the gialli but that's just plain unfair.

  5. Admittedly, the Canadians are in the mix here, and it's tough deciding. I'd probably go along with you on the Italian giallos as trumping both, though there are classics stateside, including HALLOWEEN, which you celebrate here with poster art.

  6. Mike:

    Yes, those films have had horrible remakes, but I attribute that more to the fact that there are some really poor horror directors working right now. Add that to the fact that the movie industry is in such dire straits that studios really are only interested in making horror movies that reboots, remakes, or sequels -- leaving very little for original horror filmmaking. I mean, what was the point of updating My Bloody Valentine? It's not like the original was this hidden gem that was begging to be rediscovered by horror fans.

    Oh, well. Thanks for the comment, as always, Mike!

  7. Hans:

    Thanks! Yes, the Italians are kings, but I purposefully left them out of the question, because as Tim states below, it simply isn't fair to compare the gialli of the 70's to the slashers of the 80's.

    I'll have a review up for My Bloody Valentine later tonight.

  8. Aaron:

    I'm with you. At first I thought it would be a no-brainer seeing as how I consider Halloween to be the best slasher film ever made (and I have great admiration for the original A Nightmare on Elm Street; however, I think you and Tim have hit it on the nose: the Canadians were just SO consistently good. Even Terror Train and Visiting Hours -- two lesser slashers -- are far and away better than something like Don't Go Into the Woods or The Forest...

    Anywho...thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. More reviews to come shortly.

  9. Tim:

    I agree with you about the consistency, and I think that's what I'm drawn to, because as a horror fan sometime all you want is what you're watching to be competent, and the Canadian slashers definitely employed filmmakers who knew what they were doing behind the camera.

    And yes, it is unfair bringing the Italians into this conversation, hehe. I'll be taking a look at your review for Don't Go Into the House tonight. I'm planning on doing all of the Don't (Woods, House, Basement, Near the Park, et al) films, but I don't know if I'll be able to make it through all of those without a lot of pizza and a ton of beer, hehe.

    Thanks for the comment!

  10. Sam:

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, Halloween is the king of this particular mountain. And I think we're all in agreement that the Italians are clearly the champions of this subgenre.

  11. I think the US produced more quality slasher films (for the simple fact that is produced so many), Canada did reach a great consistency, but I'd have to go with the US, especially if TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is being considered a slasher. I think BLACK CHRISTMAS is the best slasher ever for my taste (and I didn't realize it is Canadian), so there is that, but the TEXAS inclusion balances that, then something like PSYCHO, the granddaddy of them all is American.

    Just looking at the list you cite here, I think you have pretty much listed every Canadian slasher of note, whereas in the US films like INTRUDER, CHILDS PLAY, DRIVE-IN MASSACRE, JUST BEFORE DAWN, THE STEPFATHER etc are all very good films.

    So with this I lean American, in this very American sub-genre. I do also like the giallo very much but if we are opening up proto-slashers then America still looks pretty decent (early Wes Craven, Hitchcock, THE SADIST, DEMENTIA 13, and Herschell Gordon Lewis--who was garbage more or less--etc).

    In any regard there really needs to be a real, coffee table book made about the slasher. In all its forms. Like the Spanish made a couple of real good ones.

    _ _ _ _

    Glad you like SLUGS, it's a real blast, the ultimate beer and friends film.