Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever (2012)

OCTOBER 13, 2020


My Friday the 13th boxed set arrived last week, but apart from reading Mike Gingold's long essay booklet (which was quite good) and flipping around the covers for the New Line entries so that the spines would look right to my eyes, I haven't been able to dive into any of it until today (fittingly, the 13th). Since I just watched most of the movies on Shudder's marathon, I will probably be looking more at the bonus features for a while, so naturally - after quickly watching a few highlights from 3D* - I put in one of the two bonus discs, which offered two feature length documentaries about horror films (along with specifically Friday-centric things like interviews with some of its key players). One of them is about scream queens, which sounds fine, but the other called out to me like a siren: a slasher documentary called Slice and Dice.

Let me be clear right off the bat: I was not intending to "learn" anything from the film. Over the years I've consumed more material about slasher movies than any other topic, and the talking head roster were mostly the types I've seen in other docs or bonus features for their own films. Nothing against these folks - Mick Garris, Adam Green, Felissa Rose, etc - but after all this time I can't reasonably assume they're going to say something I haven't more or less heard before, especially when zoning in on a topic I have practically fed on for the past thirty years. So if you're like me in that regard, this isn't really for folks like us - it's probably of more use to people who are either newcomers to the sub-genre or who have unfairly written it off and could use this low-key but at times fairly effective defense.

Unlike Going to Pieces or some of the other slasher-centric docs, it's not so much about how the genre blew wide open, kind of died, then returned, but more of a general, non-chronologic account of the sub-genre as a whole. The low points do come up (with my poor Shocker singled out as the example of a failed attempt to make new icons, resulting in a lengthy dark period), but only to make other points - it's not about the box office and things like that. Nor is it exhaustive; it checkmarks all the major ones, but don't expect for the likes of Final Exam or Just Before Dawn to be given their due here. Instead they go into broader themes, such as the Final Girl and why the genre isn't as demeaning to women as its often criticized as being, when the audience shifted from rooting for the victims to rooting for the villains, and what makes such icons as memorable as they are. Preaching to the choir in my case, but hey, it's nice to know I'm not alone in thinking that these movies aren't as demeaning to women as their critics would like you to believe.

But you really have to pay attention to the talking heads, because if you watch on mute or fast forward through it, you'll assume it's just a documentary about the Friday the 13th movies. Specifically, the first eight entries, i.e. the Paramount ones. The only other films that are shown throughout the entire doc are My Bloody Valentine and April Fool's Day, which are also both from Paramount - everything else is represented only via posters (not even stills!). Curiously, the film's IMDb page lists several movies as being featured (as does the below trailer), many of which aren't even mentioned let alone shown, so I have to assume that all of those clips were replaced with these ten Paramount films by Scream Factory (who has released all of the films this year) for this release. Why they only show the Paramount movies and not the New Line Jason films, and/or the several releases that are listed as being part of Slice and Dice's original fom that are also in the Scream Factory library (Silent Night Deadly Night, Sleepaway Camp, Black Christmas, etc) is probably some legal issue that is too boring to look into, but ultimately it doesn't matter - it does a disservice to the documentary, as they're trying to sell the slasher genre as more interesting than it's given credit for, and yet the visuals suggest that guys in hockey masks are indeed all it has to offer.

It also renders it kind of confusing at times. For example, at one point writer/director JS Cardone is talking about a pitchfork murder that he directed, and how he wanted to see it enter/exit skin as opposed to an item of clothing, so that it would be more effective. He is referring to a scene in his 1982 film Slayer, but the accompanying clip is just the guy getting 'forked in F13 3 (through his shirt, natch), making it look like he a. directed F13 Part 3 and b. didn't get the shot he wanted. Adam Green and John Carl Buechler specifically refer to moments in Hatchet (Buechler even tees up an excuse for the shot of Jack Cracker drinking his urine), only for vaguely similar F13 clips to appear instead. And Patrick Lussier is on hand to talk about Tom Atkins' prosthetic jaw in My Bloody Valentine 3D during a brief "CGI vs practical" discussion, but we don't get as much of a still of it.

That said, the "only poster" limitation means that they mix it up by showing a lot of alternate/foreign art for the bigger titles (particularly Halloween and Elm Street), so that's always a plus since foreign posters tend to be far more interesting than ours. And speaking of art, I liked how the filmmakers spruced up their talking head segments a bit by framing some of the talent with overlays of windows or movie theaters or something, especially with so many of them being filmed in front of bland brick walls or the like (and the visual monotony of the clips doing it no favors). Oh and Corey Feldman is there, but doesn't narrate it, so that's a blessing as it keeps his nonsense to a minimum (unlike the ACTUAL Friday the 13th documentary, in which you can never escape his obnoxious voice). On the topic of voices though, I have to mention that the film lacks any subtitle options, which is a very poor oversight on Scream Factory's part. I understand that budgetary issues are probably to blame for why ALL bonus features lack subs (which is pretty standard from other outlets, even niche ones like SF) but not including them on a full length film that has been released on its own (and thus almost certainly already has them created) is just lousy. This is something they need to get better at.

As for the rest of the bonus disc (which is Disc 2, for the record), it's a mixed bag. There's a clean copy of Alice Cooper's "He's Back" video, including full credits (for a video that aired long before MTV even bothered to include the directors, let alone other key personnel), as well as a new interview with the man himself talking about how he got involved in the first place, and also that most of Constrictor was recorded in between viewings of slasher movies (hell yeah!). There are a pair of interviews with Sean Cunningham about the series' legacy and how he struggled to make non-horror things after the first film's success (he'd go into a meeting with execs who wanted him to replicate his success, and he'd want to do a comedy) and some new stuff with Tom McLaughlin as well. But there are some duds too, including a "Locations Then/Now" piece for parts 3-6 that is not only very sporadic (only two of F13 5's locales are highlighted) but also just a series of still images with no accompanying information (i.e. what the location is used for now) which really made me miss the "Horror's Hallowed Grounds" days since they'd be exhaustive and, you know, on video.

Between the new commentaries and interviews, plus the odd thing here and there I never actually watched before, there's plenty to keep me busy with the set for a while, and until Cunningham and Victor Miller get their legal nonsense straightened out it'll be truly comprehensive for a while, so that's nice (the joy of finally having a Halloween boxed set was dampened by how quickly it became "incomplete"). That said, it's a bit sad that this appears to be the final nail in the coffin for things like the uncut versions of New Blood or Manhattan (my kingdom to see the darts in the eyes death!), because they were turning over every rock in the country to pack this set and still turned up nothing, so I think it's safe to say it'll never be found. But at least we can move on, and more importantly, we can get rid of that ugly and flimsy black tin that's had to suffice for the past five years or so. And as for the Slice and Dice doc, despite the re-editing I think it's found a good home - it's not bad, per se, but it's hardly compelling or well done enough to work as its own thing, but as a bonus supplement on an exhaustive set, it's more than adequate.

What say you?

*I stupidly bought the Playstation VR a few years ago, and it mostly collects dust, but I recently learned it can let you watch 3D discs, something I can't usually do because my TV is not 3D-capable. So I wanted to check it out, but I don't know if I could watch the whole movie with the thing on my head for 90 minutes.


  1. Darts in the eyes at 5:30

    1. Right, but the actual kill? Unless it was always designed like this. Seems weird the MPAA would have trouble with something that's basically off screen.


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