(Zodiac Killer - still unsolved mystery)The 1970s gave us lots of serial killers to spark the slasher genre at the end of the decade into the 80s.
Zodiac Killer: In the late 60s and early 70s, a serial killer tormented Northern Californians. He sent taunting letters to the press claiming to have killed 37. The case has remained open.
John Wayne Gacy: This man raped and killed 33 boys in the 70s. He buried 26 of them in his basement crawlspace. He worked as a fundraising clown. He was caught and ultimately executed.
Ted Bundy: Assaulted and killed 30 women in the 1970s. This nice looking "boy-next-door" approached women in public and pretended to be an authority figure to lure them away to their deaths. He was caught and executed.
Son of Sam: David Berkowitz terrorized New York in the mid 70s. In 8 shootings he killed 6 people. Near one of the shootings a police officer found this note with many misspellings: I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the "Son of Sam." I am a little "brat". When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood. "Go out and kill" commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young — raped and slaughtered — their blood drained — just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic, too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wave length then everybody else — programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first — shoot to kill or else. Keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. Too many heart attacks. "Ugh, me hoot it urts sonny boy." I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house but I'll see her soon. I am the "Monster" — "Beelzebub" — the "Chubby Behemouth." I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game — tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are z prettyist of all. I must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt — my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borrelli, sir, I dont want to kill anymore no sir, no more but I must, "honour thy father." I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on Earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I wa want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next and for now I say goodbye and goodnight. Police — Let me haunt you with these words; I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interrpretedas — bang, bang, bang, bank, bang — ugh!! Yours in murder Mr. Monster. He claims in his prison time that he is born again and so far has been denied every parole hearing.
Hillside Strangler: In the 70s, women were raped, tortured and killed by what was termed "Hillside Strangler." The cousins (Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr) who did these crimes were caught. Bianchi is still serving a life sentence and Buono died of a heart attack in jail.
Dean Corll: "The Candy Man" worked for his mother's candy company. In the early 70s, he tortured and killed 28 boys in Houston. At the time, he was the worst serial killer known. He was convicted for life.
Gary Gilmore: This man was in trouble with the law a lot and in jail, but in 1976 he robbed and murdered a gas station attendant, then he robbed and murdered a motel employee the next night. In January of 77, he was executed and he chose a firing squad. They sat him in a chair with sandbags behind him to absorb the bullets and 5 shooters were behind a curtain with their barrels sticking out of holes. His last words, "Let's do it!"
Were the slasher movies of the late 70s and 80s decade just cautionary tales for youth about the dangers of unsupervised sex and drug use or was it a natural movement coming out of a decade of death? Sure, there was "Psycho," and a few other disturbing killer movies before the golden era of slasher genre, but the peak of it began around the last 1970s and moved right through the 1980s, a stark contrast to the happy John Hughes films and other perky 1980s brat pack genre. It was that very contrast that gave it more power to be dark and scary, sort of like the 1950s beach movies compared to their science fiction.
I'm going to list the ones I consider definitive of the times -
Friday the 13th
Nightmare on Elm Street
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Hills Have Eyes
My Bloody Valentine
April Fool's Day
Last House on the Left
Happy Birthday To Me
I Spit On Your Grave
The House on Sorority Row
Slasher movies ran a certain theme that worked - the good and smart kids survive, those having sex and drugs died. The teens are in a situation of unsupervised mischief and they pay the price. The killer might be invincible (Halloween) or be extremely good at hiding his identity (Prom Night). The killer might be a misunderstood or ridiculed youth (Terror Train) or a vengeful person (Friday the 13th).
Perhaps the most definitively loved slasher film of all time, loved by those who don't even like the genre, is "Halloween," a cheaply budgeted film by an up and coming horror master, John Carpenter.
- Movies based on real-life serial killers -
“Monster” Aileen Carol Wuornos killed 7 men in Florida, executed in 2002. (A female serial killer is an amazing thing when you think of it. It seems to go against nature since women's instinct is to create and support life. Perhaps Ms Wuornos couldn't produce estrogen?).
“Citizen X” Russian mass murderer Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo who killed 52 women and children in the Soviet Union executed 1994. (This butt-lick managed to get past the crippled criminal system in the Soviet Union for years and keep murdering. The justice system there basically killed the last victims. Lesson: Don't expect policing in a communist-run country).
“Zodiac” Zodiac Killer, a Northern California killer in the 60s, never found, left taunting letters, claimed he murdered 37. (Never found. Sometimes, I think with California's justice system, they should just put up a sign saying "kill here--we never convict!" Even if they found him, he'd probably get 3 warm meals a day in a cell the rest of his miserable life and do interviews for cheesy news shows like the Octumom and other famous-for-nothings)
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Psycho” “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Strangers” “Ed Gein” Ed Gein in the 1940s and 1950s exumed bodies to use and killed women, died in prison mental hospital. (This dickless dude was apparently inspiring for a lot of movies because he didn't just dig up dead bodies and kill folks, he used them for parts to make things.)
“Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, convicted of 13 murders in the 1980s in California, on death row. (A real poster child for birth control)
“Gacy," “To Catch a Killer” John Wayne Gacy, raped and murdered 33 boys and men in the 1970s, in 1994 he was executed. His brain was removed and examined and nothing unusual found (something tells me the rotten parts won’t be found in the architecture of the brain, but perhaps in the seat of the soul)
“Dahmer” Jeffrey Dahmer, killed 17 men and boys. (In 1994 he was thankfully beaten to death in prison)
“The Deliberate Stranger” Ted Bundy, over 30 murders in the 70s, executed in 1989. (Supposedly one of those cute friendly guys you'd never suspect. I think I sat next to a dozen guys like this in junior high. Makes me wonder what they're doing now...)
“Helter Skelter” Charles Manson gang, orchestrated his commune members to kill several people in California, still in prison.(And on the news whenever they can interview the ball-sac)
“The Boston Strangler” Albert Desalvo, the Boston Strangler of 13 women in the 1960s, 1973 was found murdered in prison. (Once again, a prisoner did our work for us))
“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (Really disturbing movie) Henry Lee Lucas, could have killed 350-600 people. George Bush, Governor of Texas comminuted his death sentence (WTF????) He died of natural causes in prison (I sure hope that natural cause was a pillow to his face)
“Summer of Sam” Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, terrorized New York in the 70s with a gun to unsuspecting people, killing 6, wounding more. (Really, pathetic loser. Couldn't really face his victims, just lifted a gun and aimed)
“The Hillside Strangler” Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono. Bianchi was also suspected in the alphabet murders—yet another film based on that. These cousins in the 1970s pretended to be cops to lure women and teens to torture and kill them, both carrying on their life sentences. (Yet another bad thing that resulted in a good thing in that a lot of women were more critical about who was a supposed cop)
“Speck” Richard Speck, raped and killed 8 nurses in the 1960s, died of a heart attack while in prison before turning 50. (Thankfully we didn't have to give him free food and health care for another 30 years!)
“Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway, over 50 women killed, incarcerated. (I'm not sure about this justice system, I think 50 female relatives of those women in a room alone with him-might just do the trick more expeditiously).