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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | May 2, 2007

Warning: There are some spoilers to “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” in this entry, please display caution.

Being able to see “Leslie Vernon” has been a difficult task. In fact it’s been one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever come across since “28 Days Later.” Hearing about Scott Glosserman’s slasher masterpiece has been pure torture. I was told I’d be able to get an early screener from a buddy in the movie business. That fell through. Then, I was able to go to an early screening, and that fell through. Then when it finally came to theaters, it played nowhere near me. What a bitch, eh?

Well, I was finally able to grab a hold of “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” and it’s without a doubt one of the best horror films in years. It’s one of the best slasher films I’ve ever seen, and speaking as someone who is a hardcore fan of the slasher sub-genre, and of the Friday the 13th series, it’s a strong statement. It’s a brilliant de-construction of the slasher genre that dissects every element of the formula slasher film, while also telling its own story in the process. Nathan Baesel is wonderful, Scott Glosserman is a mastermind, and the film just has to be seen.

Glosserman even suggests that perhaps Leslie Vernon is not so much a fame seeking monster, as he is a Byronic hero who is somewhat giving us a service. Or at least it’s the way he perceives himself. The glimpse of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” is somewhat an implication, and once we meet the teenagers Vernon is planning to, we almost root for his plans to go off. The plot twist ensues and suddenly we know that anything can happen, and therein lies the genius behind Glosserman’s horror flick.

It’s coming out on DVD soon, too. Check it out, for the love of god. I implore you to check it out and give it a chance. It makes Wes Craven on “Scream” look like a dumb a*s. It makes “Scream” looks like it’s stating the obvious. And this is from someone who thinks “Scream” is a mediocre awfully overrated horror flick.

One thing to know about me is that I’m also a scary horror fan. What do I define as a scary horror fan? I’m careful around dark hallways (I know that’s just common sense, but I’m careful for attackers or… zombies), take “pranks” with heed, and I’ve even planned and strategized in case of a zombie apocalypse. That’s a rather freaky horror fan. Sure, there are probably people out there who have built an apparatus that can kill a zombie, but hey, I think about this s**t even when I’m busy.

So, after watching “Behind the Mask,” I had a series of thoughts. If I planned to become a slasher like Leslie Vernon, how would I go about it? Not a serial killer. Serial killers are people like Manson or Ed Gein who just kill; no I’m speaking of Slashers, the masked, gimmicky, strategic monsters with a horrible past seeking vengeance. I’m speaking of the kind that Cassie Hack and Vlad hunt.

And I thought coming up with points, some of which brought up in “Behind the Mask,” would be an interesting catharsis for this horror freak. And here it is. Many things have to be taken into account to build the right slasher. I took into account convenience, mobility, and even an Ahab. Glosserman, you coined a new term for horror buffs, well done.

I think I’d leave that up to others to decide. How else is an urban legend or pure legend built other than being constructed of a questionable origin? When people are de-mystified, all sense of appeal is lost. I don’t want to know who Hannibal Lecter, Michael Meyers, or John Doe were, because I want to keep the mystery. Aren’t they just much more frightening that way? And the Hollywood machine can explain who they are, but I won’t buy it, in the end. It’s much better to keep the mystery than accepting an origin.

I wouldn’t wear paint, because it could drip, or smear, and that would ruin the illusion, not to mention during hot climates it would cause a rash from the sweat. I wouldn’t sport a bag or sack, because it would droop down during strong winds, get caught in leaves or branches, and definitely sag in water. I wouldn’t wear a hockey mask, because I’ve worn it three or four times during Halloween and it’s confining. It provides no breathing room, no comfort, and you sweat. With masks you have to take many things into account, most of all is peripheral vision. You never know when someone may sneak out from the dark to attack you and fight back, and unless you’re undead, it’s a hassle. Something like a fencing mask, or welders mask is also annoying because it’s also confining, takes away movement, and really is difficult to take off for quick escape. I think I would likely go for a mask that’s thin and loose, and also form fitted for my face. It would make a great cover, and also provide protection and the right peripheral vision needed for scavenging and the like. It would cost a pretty penny but a specialized mask would work in the long run over something like a gas mask, or cupid mask. Colored black for stealth purposes is also a plus.

With a costume you have to consider mobility, easy movement, and comfort. A jump suit like Michael Myers is a good idea mainly because it doesn’t require too much maintenance, comes in dull colors for stealth in dark corners and houses, and is very easy to get in and out of, without a doubt. For a costume, I’d definitely apply the Myers angle and go for a jump suit or clothing very similar to it. Accoutrements like shirts and body armor are nice, but take into account pursuing, escaping, hiding, ducking, jumping, and dodging, and a jump suit is a pretty damn good option. The s**t worn in “Scream” is great for theatrics, but it’s not much of a good tool for actually pursuing a target in the end. Trench coats and the like are also pretty pointless. I could never understand how it was so easy for the killers in “Scream” to get in and out of the elaborate costume with such ease. Probably one of the laziest costumes was from “Urban Legend” which involved a snow jacket that was shockingly huge. Have you ever worn a jacket with a hood that covered your entire head features and all? Meyers really had the right idea, in the end. Jumpsuits are just convenient, loose, comfortable, and inconspicuous.

I wouldn’t want a gun, because it’s loud, requires reloading, and it can be clunky. A knife, even a bowie knife can be handy, but often times it would cause a distracting splatter, or wouldn’t cut through bone and achieve the proper amount of damage. And then sometimes knives take repeated jabs to do its trick, and someone can knock it from your hand. A butcher knife is basically the same deal, and Chainsaw’s are too heavy to maneuver, even for someone like Leatherface, who we saw had a bitch of a time holding it for extended periods. Mallets, or jackhammers are also too heavy to really swing with ease, and you’d have to rest your arm, eventually. I think the best bets would be something like a scythe, or some sort of saw. They’re light weight, maneuverable, frightening to look at, and you can be granted easy reach and pull. A meat hook can only do so much damage, and the same goes for an axe, even though it’s an effective tool. Or, I guess, if the time calls for it, you can just get creative and improvise. Jason used a weed whacker, a fence post, and sleeping bag, Michael used a corkscrew, and a dumb waiter. It’s really all about the artist in the killer. Leatherface raped with his chainsaw, Michael violated with his butcher knife, and Jason was just a big kid who played it by ear. Your best bet is a scythe like Mr. Vernon.

Celebrities would be too difficult, even though I’d gladly take a mallet to Paris Hilton’s casaba, but you just have to go for anyone in High School. Small town folks would be too difficult, especially since it would be a small community, and anywhere that’s public or busy would also be too complicated to put in the effort. In reality, murdering in a hospital or police station would be tough, because both are always too active to move around in. I guess just separately offing pre-pubescent “Laguna Beach” fans would be the proper MO for a slasher. First because teenagers these days just ask to be offed, and second because anyone who willingly watches “American Idol” deserves to die a cruel and painful death.

My Ahab:
You just have to go for the psychologist, or virgin. There have been many, many Ahab’s that have worked. Sometimes there’s the grizzled small town sheriff, sometimes there’s the hard investigator and his partner, the reporter, and sometimes there’s a victim. Tommy Doyle was probably my favorite Ahab of the horror genre, because he really did have a grudge with Jason. Jason ruined Tommy’s life turning him from a creepy little kid to a psychotic mental patient. It’s a shame the series never ran with Tommy as a perpetual foil to Jason’s slashing, it’s a truly missed opportunity. Laurie Strode is probably the perfect female foil to a killer, as she was innocent and quiet, but also managed to unleash the beast on Michael when she had to. Sewing pin to the neck, hanger to the eye, and so on, Strode was an interesting Ahab, but Dr. Loomis the quintessential foil to Michael. He was a man who was almost as mad and dangerous as Michael Meyers, and yet he was just so obsessed with him. Michael was in essence a reflection of Loomis, presenting the failed mission, the potential for death, and the lion that eventually bit back. If it were me, I’d definitely wait for a psychologist of some sort to track me like a hunter. They’ll know my moves, my patterns and make things very difficult for me. No offense to Doc Halloran, but someone like Loomis would be very entertaining. Every slasher wants to be defeated, at some point. That’s why they never kill their Ahabs very often.

Although, I’d also consider Dr. Phil:

“Fillix, yer blamin’ ever’ one but yerself!”

I’m not always a big fan of slashers that come back from the grave. If I go down, I’ll be sure to stay down, and if I do happen to get back up, I’ll disappear into the darkness. The ultimate end would be at the hands of your virgin or Ahab, and battling to the death and dying in a hail of flames and a possible explosion. Something like Jason in “Jason Lives” would be a great way to go down. His battle with Tommy is possibly my favorite square off in a horror film, which makes me sad they didn’t ever meet again. Jason was much more imposing in “The New Blood” and would have surely made Tommy his bitch. Going down like James Cagney in “White Heat” is the definite end for my slasher persona. What’s more poetic than being swallowed whole by fires that bring me to hell? That’d be boss.

Yeah, you’re likely thinking “What a f*****g freak, he’s planning to be a serial killer.” But no, horror movies don’t make killers, horror movies don’t help serial killers plan, nor do they provide tips. They don’t create maniacs, they don’t give birth to maniacs, and they don’t act as handbooks. Don’t buy the hype. They’re just entertainment. Many times, they’re entertainment that provides catharsis like video games, punching bags, squeeze toys, and masturbation.

Society breeds serial killers. And sometimes a psycho is a psycho, born as a psycho for no pure reason. Some people are just born psychologically off, violent, sadistic, and that’s a fact. Adding a scapegoat doesn’t help anyone. This is just for the sake of argument, my friends. I’m not a Norman Bates, or Michael Myers waiting in the wings for something to set me off, and if I ever did go off on someone, I would never blame the movies. I’m just a horror buff creating fun scenario like LARPers that happen to involve bone saws and blood splatter. Would you accuse someone posing as an elf of trying to be a real elf?

No worries, I’m not coming to get you.


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  1. Film Threat Blogs » Blog Archive » He’s Just a Big Puppy Dog… says:

    […] Posted by Felix Vasquez Jr. in Writer’s Corner at 12:50 AM PDT Preamble: Today is the release of “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon,” for the love of god, buy and or rent it. It’s a true horror film classic waiting to be discovered. Take my horror brother Jeremy Knox’s word for it, and for good measure, view my riff on the film on the blogs… […]

  2. Jeremy Knox says:

    Felix, without a doubt, you’re my new best friend. Let’s become slasher brothers.

  3. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    You can never have too much accomplic–er–I mean, friends. Hell, yeah, brother, consider us friends.

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