I don’t know where this idea originated, but in a highly scientific survey of Reddit and various friends with opinions, I have found the following fact to be widely agreed-upon: the “big four” of classic slasher villains are Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface.
Why 4? Why not 5? Or 3? I have no idea.
Regardless of the arbitrary number situation, I buy it. While there are classic scares I’m super into and ones that certainly have better representation of women, I’m not sure there are four more iconic titles than A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), HALLOWEEN (1978), and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). Which leads me to a confession:
The only one of these movies I’ve watched is TEXAS CHAINSAW. It was way back in college, I was semi-intoxicated, and it’s sort of a blur with the 2003 reboot, which I watched the same day, and which had so much nauseating viscera that I promptly swore off massacres of all types (until a later ill-advised decision to watch all 7 SAW films in a row. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment).
Anyway! My interest in slashers has grown quite a bit since reading Carol J. Clover’s MEN, WOMEN, AND CHAINSAWS , and I feel that as a person who writes about horror movies, it’s time for my expertise to match my enthusiasm! My classic horror education has been weighed, measured, and found wanting.
Over the next week or so I’ll be watching all 4 of these masterpieces, in chronological order of their release.
I’m especially interested in thinking about these questions as I watch: why are the memorable characters the villains and not the heroes (or more accurately, heroines)? What does that say about horror as a genre? And what does it reveal about the viewers (aka us)?
Do you have a favorite Big 4 franchise? Which series is worth watching all the sequels? Give me some homework in the comments!