Slice And Dice: The Slasher Film Forever

Slice And Dice: The Slasher Film Forever

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Despite their (usually) low budgets, lack of big name stars and difficulty getting shown in mainstream cinemas, slasher films are among the most popular and resilient phenomena in cinematic history. They have legions of dedicated fans, finding new ones in every generation. Some become wildly successful on DVD. So why has so little critical attention been paid to them?

Slice And Dice: The Slasher Film Forever sets out to remedy this. It's light on the criticism but effective at drawing out the important themes of the genre and exploring their development. At just 75 minutes, it packs in an extraordinary amount of material. Made, appropriately enough, on a miniscule budget, it exceeds its limitations thanks to contributions from a remarkable number of genre names, backed up by a great selection of clips.

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Whatever generation you're part of, the chances are that, if you're a slasher fan, you first got into them around the age of 12 or 13. It may upset censors, but this is the age at which they seem to have their strongest appeal - perhaps, this film suggests, as a rite of passage. They're party films, best watched with friends - and they're not always watched straight through. Those who like to zap through for the good bits will find this documentary really delivers, with terrified screams, bizarre traps and gruesome deaths condensed into one bite-sized package. Inevitably, some of this starts to look ridiculous, but humour has long been part of the genre too, and more inventive stunts stand out in context, helping to explain why particular films have attained cult followings.

Despite building a case for celebrating the genre, this isn't a film that pushes a particular perspective on its various controversies. Instead, it takes an observational approach, letting different opinions and theories emerge from its pool of interviewees. The success of this is variable but it provides a good grounding for further documentaries with more specific focus. Whilst the sheer number of participants may sometimes threaten to overbalance the discussion, there's no denying that each of them is a valuable presence, and fans will be thrilled at this rare chance to hear from genre legends like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper. Corey Feldman is probably the standout, loud mouthed and flashily dressed, but demonstrating a shrewd understanding of the business that he rarely gets credit for. Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) and Christopher Smith (Triangle) provide nuanced perspectives on the development of audience sympathies and Felissa Rose contributes an entertaining villain's perspective.

Though it lacks the gloss of bigger productions, Slice And Dice is a solid little film that will thrill fans of a neglected genre, finally giving credit to the tenacity of a DIY filmmaking movement whose influence on the wider industry should not be underestimated.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2012
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A documentary about the development of the slasher film genre.
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