After 1972’s Last House on the Left director Wes Craven didn’t make a horror film for five years, perhaps drained by filming the unrelentingly grim Last House and the controversy that followed it. In 1977 he returned to the horror genre with The Hills Have Eyes. This, while still certainly grim in places, doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of depravity that Last House achieved, and is more re-watchable for it, in my opinion.
The Carter family, led by Big Bob (Russ Grieve) and Ethel (Virginia Vincent) are heading to California with their family and two dogs in tow. To celebrate their silver wedding, they were gifted a silver mine by an Aunt and wish to visit it en route. Big Bob is a retired policeman of a take no nonsense sort of nature. Therefore, he of course ignores the warnings of the grizzled old Gas Station owner Fred (Robert Steadman) that the area is a no go area that is used by the government for air craft tests. They might of pay heed to his warnings of course, if he has just said ‘Seriously, don’t go that way, that way be a family of deranged cannibalistic madman’ but grizzled old Gas Station owners in horror films always go for the more mysterious approach.
‘If it’s in a word. Or it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… The Babadook’.
Grief is one of the most powerful experiences a human can go through. It can manifest itself in a myriad of different ways. It could for example lead to you to resent and dislike your own child, to see the ghost of your dead husband and relive his death over and over again, to subconsciously invent a demonic figure that represents all your pent up feelings, to unknowingly draw a picture book in which you are depicted as murdering your dog and child, to possibly actually murder your dog and child. These are all possible interpretations of what happens in The Babadook, an Australian horror film released last year that was written and directed by Jennifer Kent. Or maybe The Bababook is a real supernatural entity and the whole thing is a more cerebral version of a million ‘family in peril’ haunted house films (a sub-genre that truly recently bottomed out with A Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia). Or maybe it’s both.
The number of explanations and analyses one can have over the events in The Babadook isn’t a criticism. Being spoon-fed every tiny detail and clue to mystery is boring, unentertaining and a little bit insulting. The Babadook is not boring, it entertained the hell of out me and it assumes its audience has an IQ higher than that of a turnip (Three counts which Ghosts of Georgia definitely failed at).
While slasher films may have their roots in the 1970s with such fare as Bay of Blood, Black Christmas, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Halloween, the sub-genre was at its prolific height in the 1980s. If you ask most folk about slasher films from that era most of the responses will focus on the two titans of terror that are Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees and Nightmare On Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger. And possibly the terror of mediocrity that was some of the sequels to these original gems ( Personal Rant Sidebar Alert: while Halloween 3 – Season of the Witch as managed to become somewhat of a cult classic, despite the lack of Michael Myers, the same will never be said of Friday the 13th Part 5 – A New Beginning.). But what about other teenagers in peril films that the decade came up with? Don’t they deserve their time in the sun as well? Here are, in no particular order, 5 Semi Obscure Slasher films that I think are worth anyone’s time checking out… (Spoilers ahead, even though these films are all 30 plus years old internet etiquette doth demand it!)