Hellraisers and creepy crawlies: Morals from immoral souls

Ana Costanzo, Co-editor

By Ana Costanzo

Among the pillages, rapes, murders, framed suicides, forceful drownings, bloodbaths, and ominous phone call threats slasher villains orchestrate, there lies an underlying virtue. 

But what could these hellraisers possibly offer audiences in terms of exemplary behavior? 

Besides, the slasher film offers key lessons to audiences: The virginal Madonna (in the form of a young Jamie Lee Curtis) always defeats the villain; all bad girls go to Hell; and drinking and drugs is a cry for death. The only noticeable virtue in this repertoire of overdone scenarios is chastity; however,  throughout the years, slasher films have replaced it with a sense of wanton morality.

But these films also offer audiences a lesser known precedent in the form of these villains. Rather than pretend to learn from these repetitive tropes, audiences should embrace the lesson of these black-hearted psychos.  

In every quintessential slasher franchise based on the number of sequels and overall box office revenue according to online movie database IMDb (Halloween (11, 640 million), Friday the 13th (12, 466.2 million), Nightmare on Elm Street (9, 488.5 million), and Scream (4, 608.3 million)), these antagonists stalk their predators without alarm or haste. In other words, they exude the virtue of patience. 

Freddy Krueger only comes to his victims once they are tucked into bed and counting prancing sheep, reincarnating in the dreamscape. While he may teasingly run after his young boys or girls, he gloats in their escalating fear which pompously encourages him to remain steadfastly patient in his attempt to slash and bash. 

Moreover, Jason with his goalie mask does not immediately slay the camp instructors at Camp Crystal Lake—audiences wouldn’t anticipate that. In fact, audiences expect these slasher villains to hone patience. Without it, the movie is dead in the water within a couple of minutes, much like the licentious couple or unsuspecting casualty. 

If trick-or-treaters dress up in the Scream costume; the red and green striped sweater with the razor glove and dingy brown felt hat; the goalie mask; or black-eyed Michael Myers mask, why can’t they also adopt their characteristics? No, not the murderous streak, but the moral side of things: the unexpected virtue of patience. 

Could acting the part of these monsters teach us to see both sides of a being? With slasher films offering the same over-replicated and overplayed formula, audiences know what to expect from these villains. But why don’t they also see the (singular) virtue they hold? 

Judging from the box office, death counts offer more money than a reflection of virtues. But if audiences could recognize not only iniquity but also morality in slasher films, perhaps they really could learn something from these Halloween beasties. 

Why not? In fact, the slasher genre is the most recurring movie franchise offering audiences an illustration of patience. 

After all, when you’re destined for the fires of hell, there is no need to rush to the elevator to the gallows.