1st Thursday [12]: A Murder Mystery, a Slasher Flick

 

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message in a bottle has arrived, and I have just finished reading Agatha Christie’s short work, And Then There Were None, a story that has undergone more than one noticeable change over the years after its title was considered a crime. I saw this story performed a few years ago on stage at the Lyceum, where I remember it being more farcical than it was via words on a page. But it really does contain many elements of farce; the unbelievable yet inevitable results of human nature. Fear, suspicion, guilt, and assumption are the main characters.

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Contrast this with the horror films of the 1980s, in which a single insane and supernatural being inflicts sheer havoc upon innocent fun-seekers. In the slasher flicks, the only crimes committed by the victims are being care-free, young, and excessive drinking and partying. None presents the victim as criminal, bringing to light certain selfish, careless behaviors that cost the lives of others. When reminded of the names of his victims, Anthony Marston’s response:

Must have been a couple of kids I ran over near Cambridge. Beastly bad luck.

To which Mr. Justice Wargrave replies what every reader must be thinking: “For them, or for you?”

There’s no chance for thoughtful reflection when you’re being chased by someone with a machete or chain saw. You’re also not facing a relatively painless death by poison in your drink.

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A key difference in the two genres is the appearance of the perpetrator. In the murder mystery, the antagonist is hard to spot, but in the horror movies, there is no doubt–nearly always there is some hideous disfigurement rendering them wretched to look at. If it weren’t for that, they might be, for all outward appearances, normal. As Doctor Armstrong says in this book:

Many homicidal lunatics are very quiet, unassuming people. Delightful fellows.

I imagine Freddy Krueger came off as a delightful fellow, at some point in time.

It is not difficult to see the influence of Agatha Christie in the horror films of the decades later. Though they are night and day in nature, the end result is the same: Victims, their killer, and a problem to be solved.

Was Jason Vorhees conjured from the child Cyrill? I couldn’t help but suspect that the boy had paid a visit to Indian Island.  Certainly his presence was felt at Camp Crystal Lake.

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