Archive for Urban Legend

**Fourth Anniversary Article** My Top Six Slaughter-tastic Underrated Slashers!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Slasher films; low-budget, gory-fuelled romps; masked killers lurking in the shadows ready to slash n’ hack their sexually charged teen victims who never ever learn their lesson!


Despite being considered bottom of the barrel when it comes to our great genre especially after the 80’s mass saturation of endless sequels leading to never-ending franchises, there’s something that always brings us back to the slasher film. There’s the entertainment factor, the creative gore effects and on a deeper scale the social messages underneath the surface of all the blood, guts and sex! Let’s not forget that some of today’s most famous actors began their careers getting bloodied up by a super-human lethal killer, there’s that Depp bloke you may have heard of who’s done a few films here and there and that Kevin Bacon guy who is busy selling ‘the UK’s fastest mobile network’ these days; to name a few!

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Most will argue that the slasher reached its peak during the early 80’s; notably as Jason rose from the murky depths of Camp Crystal Lake for the third time. The slasher was  semi- revived in popularity again later in the decade with Child’s Play then most prolifically in the mid-90’s with post-modern hit Scream which has since paved the way for the train of remakes, spoof films and more a brutal type of horror in the shape of Saw, Hostel and The Collection from the mid 00’s to the present day.


If it wasn’t for slashers I probably wouldn’t be the horror freak (I mean, fanatic!) I am today. It was discovering the Scream/Elm Street/Friday franchises at a young age that aided my growing interest in the genre. There was nothing better than coming home from school and watching the latest taped VHS of whatever slasher had been on TV the previous night instead of doing any of that boring homework stuff! For me, slashers represent nostalgia, escapism and fandom. To this day slashers still maintain a level of popularity, they prove increasingly marketable and continue to be revived. Thanks to films such as The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014), Stage Fright (2014) and the Hatchet series (2006-2013) the sub-genre is alive and well and is slowly being taken in new, fresh directions! Slashers are pretty easy films to watch however there’s plenty lurking underneath the surface to interpret; there’s running themes of murder and revenge, a level of mystery and they are played out as cautionary tales for teenage viewers. There are always consequences for bad decisions. Slashers reflect a universal fear in society that are applicable to their cultural and historical contexts e.g casual sex in 80’s slashers used as a metaphor for the AIDS scare.

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Its been four years since I began reviewing so what better way to celebrate that take a look back at my personal favorite entries from the sub-genre that made me horror obsessed. This list will not contain the typical choices of Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street etc. we all know they are critically-acclaimed and completely awesome and rightfully so! However, this list will contain films that are appreciated by a genre audience and have generated a cult following over the years but are not as well regarded among the mainstream. Some films included also may have been popular on their original release but have since gone under the radar. So here it is, Hayley’s Horror Reviews most beloved slasher films.

**WARNING: Will contain Spoilers!**

6. Prom Night (1980)

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Prom Night is what happens when you capitalize on the popularity and cast the star of hit slasher Halloween in order to create low-budget Canadian horror flick. Filmed over 24 days during 1979, director Paul Lynch struggled to achieve finance for his movie about a massacre circulating around a high school dance; that was until Jamie Lee Curtis who was making a recognizable name for herself as the final girl of horror at the time came on board as Prom Queen Kim Hammond. Paramount expressed an interest in distributing the film however would only give it a limited theatrical release whereas Avco Embassy offered a much wider release in which Lynch decided to go with. Also starring Leslie Nielsen, Prom Night was popular around the drive-in theater circuit and was somewhat financially successful upon its release in 1980, making it Canada’s highest grossing horror movie of the year.  Its a classic tale of revenge, a prominent theme of the Slasher. Six years before the main events take place a young girl is taunted and accidentally killed by a group of mean-spirited kids and the blame is placed on a local pervert who is arrested for the crime, flash forward to the ‘present day’ of the movie and someone has bloodthirsty revenge on their mind; but the question is who saw the “accident” and knows what they did?


Halloween’s Producer Irwin Yablans advised Lynch to center the film around a seasonal setting, building on the success of the  John Carpenter classic. Lynch opted for the prom scenario and tied the his premise around a story written by Robert Guza Jr. that told the tale of a tragic accident that had come back to haunt the children who were involved several years later. Prom Night has the classic makings of a traditional slasher but it has its own unique tone. What’s most striking is it builds up the characters and plot slowly, introducing us to the self-righteous teenagers who are about to get more than they bargained for. Essentially, its what happens when you cross Carrie with Saturday Night Fever, which is an apt description as there’s plenty of disco galore and polished choreographed dance sequences that sort of stall the carnage but creates a kind of spectacle. If you enjoy blood and dancing, like myself, Prom Night is one for you! While not as popular as its contemporaries, genre fans will take something from it as one of the more underrated slashers of the early 80’s that knew how to exploit the slasher movie marketing machine!

5. Scary Movie (2000)


Scream set the rules, then generated dozens of copycats. Some really held up prominently I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend while too many to name fell flat. The concept had been taken so far and in the four years since its release, the slasher was dying out once again. Something needed to come along and shake things up and thanks to the comedic talents of the Wayans brothers, that something certainly did! While not the first slasher spoof, Student Bodies (1981) takes that crown, Scary Movie is hip, crude and satirical of the contemporary horror of that period. You will never be able to watch Scream, Last Summer, The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project in the same way again!


Scary Movie cleverly weaves the fantastical story mainly poking fun at Scream and Last Summer, while being non-stop hilarious throughout. There are some genuinely amusing critiques, the characters ponder about who would be cast to play them if they were in a slasher movie; they comment that actors in their late 20’s-early 30’s would be the most likely candidates, creating an awkward exchange with that being the cast’s actual ages! Shannon Elizabeth’s aptly named Buffy Gilmore possibly has the best death scene, she fails to take the killer seriously, critiquing how a typical death scene in a slasher will go as she’s hacked to pieces until she’s a talking severed head!  Regina Hall equally steals the show in a too funny for words parody of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Scream 2 murder scene and Marlon Wayans is completely memorable as loveable stoner Shawty. While its a product of its time by today’s standards, who still remembers the “Wassup” Budwiser advert that gets the parody treatment?! For fans you’ll be surprised how hilarious it really is even fifteen years later. A batshit blend of laughs and gore, Scary Movie poked fun but manages to be an entertaining and outrageous comedy that literally slashes the fourth wall!

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter


Well what a misleading title! In all fairness, in the documentary Camp Crystal Lake Memories its stated that the intention was to lay the tormented Jason to rest once and for all after this instalment! But if something is profitable then why stop?! The Final Chapter picks up where Part III left off. Jason (played by stuntman Ted White this time around) is presumed dead is rushed to the morgue only for him to rise off the cold slab and brutally slay an unsuspecting nurse and frisky doctor! Immediately The Final Chapter ups the gore spectacularly with each kill proving more blood thirsty than ever before. Some kills come off as repetitive e.g. horror’s fixation with shower murders that inevitably aren’t as shocking as Psycho (1960) was but these are certainly some of Jason’s goriest moments. Its thanks to the return of FX master Tom Savini who effectively returned to finally kill off his own creation. Typically, The Final Chapter does feature a group of self-absorbed, horny teenagers with one thing on their minds but it also shifts the focus to a family staying at the camp. Divorced mother Mrs Jarvis (Joan Freeman), her teenage daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and young son Tommy (Corey Feldman) bring in a new dynamic, representative of the changes in familial roles in America that were emerging at the time, notably the father is absent in the film. A metaphorical external fear is present with Jason lurking in the backdrop of the family’s separation and it paves the way for Friday’s original theme of the protective mother figure to be incorporated.


Corey Feldman is brilliant as the young Tommy Jarvis, establishing his status as one of the franchises most popular characters. He is the first pre-teen to be featured in the Friday series and his character single-handedly breaks the traditional final girl convention by being the one to ultimately defeat Jason and protect his older sister. His performance is genuine and brings in authenticity, he was actually frightened during the scene where Jason grabs him through the window. The Final Chapter is iconic in its own right, it continued Jason’s hockey mask legacy that began in Part III, it also confirmed Mrs Voorhees’s (Betsy Palmer) first name as Pamela, as seen on her graveside as the teenagers drive to Camp Crystal Lake. Finally, Crispin Glover starred as the awkward Jimmy Mortimer pre-Back to the Future fame. The Final Chapter is my favourite instalment for the grizzly gore effects, the shift in dynamics, the return to the Jason POV shots instead of the stepping into the frame style they used in Part III, it bravely having a young boy take on Jason and its ambiguous ending.

 3.The Burning (1981)


Tom Savini turned down Friday the 13th: Part 2 to bring his splatterific, gory visuals to life in 80’s camping slasher The Burning. Taking inspiration from Peeping Tom and the slew of similar films that were consistently being churned out during the decade (its been debatable that it was in production the same time as Friday 1), The Burning was certainly ahead of its time featuring a killer audiences were able to empathize with. Bizarrely, it found itself banned in the UK under 1984’s video recordings act due to the graphically violent and now infamous raft scene. It challenged typical conventions in regards to pre-marital sex, it was much more self-aware than the films that came before it and also featured a final boy instead of the final girl slasher staple. I wrote extensively about The Burning during one of my Halloween Month specials which can be read here. I also discuss The Burning in the context of the Video Nasties panic in this video:

2. Tourist Trap (1979)


Stephen King took the words right out of my mouth; in his book Danse Macabre he describes Tourist Trap as an “obscure classic”. J A Kerswell, who wrote my favourite guide to the slasher ever, Teenage Wasteland referred to it as “an interesting sub-genre film”. Both are incredibly valid statements. Unlike Halloween released a year previous, Tourist Trap doesn’t have the mainstream appeal but there’s something so freakish about it you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Possibly used as the primary inspiration for 2005’s non-remake of House of Wax, Tourist Trap sees five teenagers become the victims of a deranged psychopath with telekinetic powers who lures them to his run-down Wax museum located  in the middle of nowhere.


Aside from the undeniably creepy visuals that see wax figures come to life entering into uncanny valley territory, what’s incredible about Tourist Trap is its use of sound. Italian composer Pino Donaggio creates an otherworldly sense using breathy female vocals for the mannequins that proves effective. The sound effects are the film’s most outstanding factor, a bizarre atmosphere is created placing a sense of unease for the audience throughout, without its strangeness diegetic sound the film certainly wouldn’t have managed the same impact. Tourist Trap has a considerably small core cast creating an isolated and compact feeling. Chuck Connors is unforgettable as the ambiguous Mr Slausen, who is definitely a fascinating slasher villain. We discover his back-story is again cemented in the slasher’s favourite trope of revenge however he is phenomenally creepy in his methods of murder. One victim Tina (Dawn Jeffory-Nelson) meets a painful end by having her face slowly covered with wax, her skin is burned and she is suffocated. The whole film’s tone, including the death scenes has something so mean-spirited about it! Many genre fans will say Tourist Trap needs to be seen to be believed. Its a truly fantastic, bizarre and mesmerizing slasher film that wholly deserves its cult status.

1. Sleepaway Camp (1983)


Happy Campers gather round as we take a look at the best underrated slasher film of the 1980’s (In my humble opinion, of course!). Instead of a masked maniac slicing and dicing his victims, Sleepaway Camp offers a whole new kind of killer, the mysteriously sweet, thirteen year old and trans-gender Angela (Felissa Rose). A tragic accident occurs in the opening sequence that sees a young child killed, years later cousins Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela are sent to Camp Arawak for the summer by Angela’s eccentric Aunt (one of my stand out performances in any film of this kind!). At the camp, a bloody rampage begins, which sees a bunch of young teens with enraging hormones and the corrupt staff slaughtered! Sleepaway Camp weaves in some taboo themes which were becoming prominent within society during the 80’s. Both gender and sexuality are explored along with bullying and familial issues. Strong hints are evident throughout the film in regards to Angela’s anxieties and motive with the symbolism of phallic objects used as murder weapons, hair straighteners anyone?! Sleepaway Camp heavily uses POV shots, conveying that the killer could literally be anyone, cleverly masking Angela’s reveal until the shocking end!


The film is mainly overlooked due to its low-budget feel and hammy acting (more so from the adults!) but this film and its subsequent sequels have an endearing quality to them, even Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) which is pretty laughable, in a good way! The sequels starring Pamela Springstein as Angela are also amazingly fun to watch, especially Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988).  It pushes the boundaries in regards to actually featuring characters playing their ages, a risky move for the sub-genre at the time having a cast so young in a film of this kind. Sleepaway Camp is pretty much an enjoyable entry in the sub-genre. The killer’s identity is unexpected and fantastically twisted. Angela endures cruelty at the hands of the more ‘well-developed’ campers especially Judy (Karen Fields) who utters the quotable line, “She’s a real carpenter’s dream: flat as a board and needs a screw!” adding to the tension and building on Angela’s insecurities, therefore its no surprise that she snaps! Sleepaway Camp is distinctive in its own right. Its memorable enough to be beloved by its fans and is extraordinarily warped.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down slasher movie memory lane. Here’s a big thank you to everyone who follows and supports my site as well as the other side projects I’m involved in. You’re why I keep on writing about the movies I adore. Here’s to another four years of blood, guts and gore!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

**Second Anniversary Review** Part One: Urban Legends in Films & Television

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews


For my second anniversary review I’ve decided to look into a topic that has fascinated me since a young age. This review is going to explore the subject from two angles, firstly films that are based on urban legends and secondly the myths that have been created surrounding film production. Please be aware that I can’t cover everything, therefore I will only focus on the films and television shows that I’ve enjoyed. I’m aware the majority of these legends are pretty well known, so I’m just re-capping on the  ones that are associated with horror and horrific incidents that still send chills down the spine!


Urban Legends are on-going forms of folklore that are told and passed on through communities over numbers of years. The stories aren’t necessarily true and are often tailored to provide significance to the place and time they’re told in. The ideas and ambiguity surrounding these myths create intrigue; therefore its no surprise that the horror genre has incorporated and developed them to ramp up the scare factor. The strange occurrences associated with certain films are equally as interesting in a sinister way, for example capturing a ghost on film! However many of these stories have been dismissed. I hope you enjoy this review as I delve into some bizarre and twisted stories. So, keep away from chanting into mirrors and don’t go into the woods to make out with your other half! Here are the Urban Legends that have impacted on me.

Firstly, using and as  key sources I will discuss some of the more famous legends that have influenced the films I’m going to talk about.

Bloody Mary

Allegedly if you repeat her name thirteen times into the mirror, she will be unleashed and scratch your eyes out. She goes by other names including Hell Mary, Mar-Lou, and Mary Worthington. She is not to be confused with the Monarch, Mary, Queen of England who also had the nickname. The legend is commonly used among young girls at sleepovers as dares. For more information I highly recommend visiting:


Hook Man

A young couple are making out in a car, a report emerges on the radio about a killer on the loose. They hear a noise and one of them gets out of the car to investigate (usually the boyfriend!). The girl waits alone and suddenly hears a scratching sound or a dripping noise. Her boyfriend is hung from a tree with his feet scratching the top of the car and blood dripping onto it. A bloody hook is then seen on the passenger side! This legend has been around since the 1950’s. Its a fable warning teenagers against sex and has clearly been an inspiration to many slasher films such as the Friday 13th franchise. Source:


The Doll

“I’m on the first step…”

As a child I hated dolls, there was always something unnerving about them. Didn’t help that family members bought me a baby doll and some china ones…*shudders*. This legend escalated my fear of dolls, however I have heard the same tale where the doll is replaced by a baby, which is equally as creepy. A young girl reluctantly receives a doll as a birthday present. There is something uneasy about it but her mother ignores her protests! One night as the girl goes to sleep, she hears a voice “Lucy, I’m on the first step…” and well you can read the rest of it here: The X Files featured an episode abour an evil doll in its fifth season. Chinga written by horror master Stephen King had the doll murder and attempt to murder the girl’s parents. More famously The Twilight Zone had Talky Tina in the episode Living Doll which the The X Files episode clearly took influence from.


Candyman (1992) and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)

Candyman…Candyman…Candyman…Candyman *I better stop there!*

Candyman is an acclaimed horror film that brought Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden to life. The concept is based on the well-known Bloody Mary legend which will be looked at later on. Its perfectly paced and keeps up the tension throughout. Cleverly, Candyman (Tony Todd) doesn’t appear a great deal during the film, leaving the focus on the notion of myth and the idea that if you believe something enough it can consume you! Helen (Virginia Marsden), a graduate student is conducting a thesis on the subject of urban legends. Along with a friend she begins to research the local tale which eventually takes a dark turn as she encounters the Candyman! As well as being a suspenseful horror film, Candyman brought in something different to the genre through its commentary on Urban, African-American society, poverty and racism. As well as taking influence from Bloody Mary, Candyman has a hook for a hand to slash his victims, similar to the classic hook man legend which has been portrayed on screen numerous times.  The film concludes with Helen’s death at the hands of Candyman, leading her to become a vengeful spirit in the same vein, it demonstrates how legends can evolve over periods of time and become modified, basing one legend on another.


The sequel Farewell to the Flesh further explores Candyman’s backstory. Set in New Orleans, a young woman named Annie (Kelly Rowan) becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the legend. More is uncovered about the character, developing what was set up in the first film. Candyman’s real name was Daniel Robitaille who was tortured by a lynch mob for falling in love with a young white woman. Daniel’s hand was cut off accounting for the hook and he was also stung by a swarm of bees. He was an accomplished artist, which explains the links between the art work seen in both films, and illustrates how he was a creative person. The only issue with revealing this information complicates the urban legend as it removes the mystery and humanizes the character, similarly to how Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005) turned the title character into a tragic prom Queen and demanded empathy from the audience, that film was however less good.


Urban Legend (1998) and Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

In the same vein Scream critiqued the codes and conventions of the slasher film, the Urban Legend trilogy used the teenage, self-awareness approach as a commentary for folklore. The films featured a hooded killer murdering victims in inventive ways, replicating urban legends and portraying several of them. Its worth noting that the other Scream-esque teen slasher of the 90’s era I Know What you did Last Summer” also based its narrative on myth, featuring a scene of the core group discussing the hook man tale and them disagreeing on which was the legitimate version. Staying true to the notion of urban legends, the characters are stalked by the menacing Ben Willis, a man they accidentally run over and then dump the body, the film modernized the hook man concept to fit into the 90’s teen slasher sub-genre.


The Urban Legend films used the fables in the same vein and included Bloody Mary. They however contradicted themselves by the third film as the first had two female characters, Natalie (Alicia Witt) and Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart) saying her name in the mirror three times and nothing happening apart from a fun jump scare for the audience, suggesting the legend is untrue. Others that featured include the kidney heist, the licked hand, the hitchhiker, the dog in the microwave and the dead lover hanging from a tree. Urban Legend also played with stories that have emerged from the media, such as eating pop rocks and drinking a carbonated soft drink which allegedly killed the actor who played Little Mikey in the Life Cereal commercials from the 70’s! The rumor is dispelled as Joshua Jackson’s character plays a prank on his course mates by testing the legend out for real and Robert Englund (AKA. Freddy Kruger) plays the lecturer! These films blur the lines a lot between pop culture and folklore as well as incorporating actor allusions. If you enjoy slasher films, they are fun and entertaining.


Urban Legends within Television

The premise of children’s show Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990-1996) was centered on a group of pre-teens called The Midnight Society. They would recite scary stories to each other while sat around a camp fire, a classic trope for urban legends. Even though aimed at young people, the show incorporated a very eerie tone but was the perfect introduction to horror for kids. Each episode included the title “The Tale Of….” for example The Tale of the Twisted Claw, emphasizing its folklore angle. The kids used the stories as fables and warnings, promoting good behavior. The show allows kids imaginations to run wild however implies that they are only stories!


Much of Season One of Supernatural (2005-present) based its episodes on urban legends when the show was first establishing itself. The pilot featured The Woman in White, a spirit who would target unfaithful men at the side of the highway. Many female victims within the show, often wear white night gowns before meeting their demise, using the legend as a sort of symbol and suggests the character is more of a victim than actual evil. Bloody Mary and Hook Man also made appearances to maim unsuspecting victims. Supernatural played the legends as if they existed in the real world having Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) saving the day through vanquishing the malevolent spirits! One of the best horror television shows out there, Supernatural went all out on the horror and gore when adapting the legends.


Urban legends told by a friend of a friend of a friend and so on remain interesting to this day. This is because they provide a good scare and give you chills. But the most fascinating aspect is deciphering what could be real and what isn’t within the legends and witnessing elements of them change as time goes on.

COMING NEXT: Part Two: Movie Mayhem: The Shocks Behind The Scenes

Hayley Alice Roberts