In Relation to My Work: How I’d Like 21st-Century Storytelling Media to Evolve, Regardless of Platform

Before I can begin this article, I’d like to apologize for being tardy in posting it. Truth be told, I’d been hoping to post this editorial much sooner. However, between work, family matters, and my current writing schedule, doing so has proven to be a lot more difficult than I’ve expected. All the same, from what I’ve seen in the media in recent months—particularly this past month, what with so many new programs coming out on television during the fall season—the content included in the editorial below is still pretty relevant to what’s been going on in the world of television and motion pictures. That being said, thank you all for your patience, and again…I’m sorry in taking my dear sweet time in uploading this, as I do plan on posting future articles here on this blog in a more timely fashion in the future.

Thank you all for your time, but for now, enough kvetching. On with the editorial!

*****

Hello, readers.

On January 23, 2016, I’d written an article on this blog about the kind of books I’d have liked to see come out in whatever at the time was left of this decade. Truth be told, I still have the same attitude regarding my suggestions as I did back then, but now my opinions have expanded towards other forms of media. After all, even though I myself can admit that the “good old days” of the 1980s and 1990s weren’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination, the fact still remains that no matter the crap that was going on in each of these two decades, there was still plenty of entertainment media out there for audiences to sink their teeth into and as such help them look beyond it all, even if only temporarily. That’s not to say that today’s entertainment scene is complete and utter trash, of course, for there’s still some good stuff out there for the masses to enjoy as well a good number of avenues through which they can check out said stuff. It always seems, however, as though such movies, television shows, and the like end up taking a back seat to whatever garbage seems to be flooding the market, which in turn leads to said garbage attracting more attention from folks by and large. Don’t get me wrong, either, for I’m quite tempted myself to vent about some of the flotsam and jetsam that’s been bob, bob, bobbing along the mainstream like buoyant fecal matter for years. Then again, what would that accomplish, even in the very unlikely instance that some major entertainment exec was to come across this humble little blog and read this specific entry? For all I know, nothing more or less than the person in question rolling his or her eyes, clicking off this page, and muttering to himself or herself, “Oh, great…another miserable malcontent from the vocal minority…”

That being said, I present to you all a small list of the kind of things that would encourage me to invest myself in a given form of entertainment. As was true before, the following represents my own preferences. If there’s any kind of idea that you think would make for a movie, television show, or similar form of media that I’ve neglected to mention, please leave it in the comments section below. Otherwise, enjoy!

Ease up with the remakes.

Just a VERY small sample of all the movies that have been remade over the years…mostly with much negative reception

One of the biggest complaints that’s been circling the Internet since the beginning of this decade has to be about Hollywood’s apparent lack of original ideas and the necessity to remake, reboot, readapt, and simply flat-out re-everything they lay their hands on. Now, granted, not every movie that happens to be a remake or reboot of a previously existing film is necessarily an unholy abomination that has no business to exist. I’ve already mentioned Dredd from 2012 on December 2, 2016, for example, and its superiority to the original Judge Dredd movie from 1995. The same can be said for John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982, Scarface from 1983, The Fly from 1986, The Blob from 1988, Cape Fear from 1991, Gone in 60 Seconds from 2000, Ocean’s Eleven from 2001, Chicago from 2002, The Italian Job from 2003, and The Hills Have Eyes from 2006, just to name a handful. Sadly, critically and monetarily successful remakes like these have recently become few and far between, as movie studios are more content to simply take something that either was or still is popular and remake it into a whole “new” film for little to no reason outside of making a quick buck from something with an already established audience. The result: Movie remakes have gone up in quantity, but down in quality. Whether such films as these are lazy, uninspired, shot-by-shot rehashes of their previously established counterparts (i.e., Gus Van Zant’s Psycho from 1998 and Samuel Bayer’s Nightmare on Elm Street from 2010) or nearly to fully complete overhauls that completely miss the point of their source material (i.e., 1999’s The Haunting or 2014’s Robocop), the fact remains that they usually only succeed at two things: alienating fans of the original works and making the originals prove all the more that they can stand on their own just fine without having to be remade. Very rare these days are remakes that respect the idea of the original property while adding something new to the formula to give audiences a movie-going experience that is both fresh and pleasant. Honestly, I can only begin to tell you the kind of backlash that the following movies, amongst others, have received for one reason or another from both audiences and professional critics alike, regardless of their financial successes.

Annie from 2014
Bad News Bears from 2005
Black Christmas from 2006
Carrie from 2013
Clash of the Titans from 2010
Conan the Barbarian from 2011
Friday the 13th from 2009
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call from 2016
It’s Alive from 2009
Mr. Deeds from 2002
Planet of the Apes from 2001
Poltergeist from 2015
Power Rangers from 2017
Pulse from 2006
Rob Zombie’s Halloween from 2007
Rollerball from 2002
Shutter from 2008
Straw Dogs from 2011
Michael Bay’s two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies
The Karate Kid from 2010
The Eye from 2008
The Omen from 2006
The Stepford Wives from 2004
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003 and its 2006 prequel, TTCM: The Beginning
The Wicker Man from 2006
Total Recall from 2012
Walking Tall from 2004

To think, too, that there are plenty of potentially eye-opening ideas out there that would more likely than not translate into excellent movies, if handled right, and possibly even be successful at the box office, should said movie receive the right kind of marketing. Alas, it’s proven to be much less of a financial risk for some studios to remake an already established product than to create a brand new one, regardless of whether doing the former or the latter is the wiser or more popular thing to do. It’s a shame, really, for if Hollywood doesn’t soon establish a keener production balance between new projects and the remakes it’s been churning out, who knows just how severe its already established creative drought will further blight the whole motion picture scene in the long run? Not only that, but if movie producers would learn to look at films from an artistic standpoint as well as a financial one, then if nothing else, they would at least come to the realization the real reason to remake a film: to do something new with its narrative that would help to improve it, such as telling it from another perspective or focusing on an element upon which the original had neglected to focus.

David Sandberg’s Kung Fury: One of the most highly regarded original films of 2015 and a definitive example of the power and effectiveness of originality

I could go on with this topic by talking about how many belated sequels to previously established films suffer from problems similar to those of film remakes as well as how this whole remaking trend has affected the television and video game industries as well as the world of cinema. The truth is, however, that I’d just be repeating a lot of the same points I’ve already made concerning the movie industry. Plus, let’s not forget that even though these studios are the ones responsible for putting out all these remakes the masses have taken issue with in recent years, we consumers are just as much to blame for buying tickets to see these flicks in the theaters. Even spending our hard-earned money on the home edition of these films puts cash into the producers’ pockets, which only further proves the profitability of their kind in this day and age, regardless of how many people take to the Internet to complain about them. Taking that into consideration, it seems as though the only way for us to put an end to this whole trend—or, at the very least, slow it down—is for us as a collective whole to stop paying to see these movies. Then, when the studios start to receive less and less cash flowing into their bank accounts on account of these remakes that we’ve all been taking issue with, they’ll learn to rethink this whole remakes fad and how we’ve grown sick and tired of seeing so many time-honored films receiving one subpar reincarnation after another. Granted, that’s not to automatically say that whatever original films they’ll be giving us from that point forward will automatically be instant classics. If anything, we’ll still be receiving a mixed bag as far as originals movies are concerned, just as we always have. We can still at least hope that the brunt of them will be good, however, although in that case, it’d be a matter of whether or not movie studios will have the wisdom to regard the hits of the past artistically, find out which elements made each of them work, and apply those same elements to their newer flicks.

Bloody Roar reboot: Make it happen, Konami. You’ve made a Bomberman game for the Switch, after all, so why not?

One final note about remakes, cinematic or otherwise: If there’s ever been a time I refused to see a remake of anything that I’d seen or neglected to see back when it first came out, it was never out of fear of the remake “ruining my childhood.” If anything, as I’ve said before, even a terrible remake only confirms the original’s worth to some degree. Rather, I’m more of the opinion that the entertainment industry give today’s young people a childhood of their own of which they can be proud rather than be fed that which the people of my own generation had already been fed when we were young. Quite frankly, the sole exception to this rule is the only product out there that I personally want to see receive a remake in the near future, and that would be Bloody Roar. Simply put, BR was an IP that never reached its full potential back in the day and deserves a chance to redeem itself after the much-maligned latest entry in its franchise, 2003’s Bloody Roar 4. I mean, hey, if Killer Instinct can be brought back to life after seventeen years of inactivity with a game that retells the original story with greater clarity than the first two games combined did, then why can’t BR receive similar treatment? Aside from BR, however, I’m more apt to look forward to more original products rising up from this moment forth so that new creators can have the opportunity to change the entertainment scene for the better.

Knock it off with the snark and other forms of lazy, lowbrow humor.

A small example of the cleverness that actually makes me chuckle

As it’s been said before time and again, humor is subjective, and that which makes one person laugh could very well annoy or even offend another. That being said, I’ve grown so sick and tired of most of what passes for humor in the media today that it isn’t even funny…if you’ll forgive the unintentional yet admittedly predictable pun. Trust me, too, when I say that I can go on for quite a while about how ironic it is for most modern-day humor to be as consistently raunchy, tone-deaf, mean-spirited, and simply lowbrow as it’s been for the past decade-plus in an age where PC culture has been playing as proactive a part as it has been. Truth be told, I can see why to some extent, but just because I can doesn’t mean I’m at all among the masses who’ve jumped on board such a bandwagon. To be fair, too, I haven’t seen every single sitcom, sketch comedy show, or standup comedy act of this era. Most of what I have seen, though, has given me a bad taste in my mouth. Toilet humor, sex jokes with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the back of one’s head, graceless slapstick, blatant and ceaseless profanity—I’ve seen and heard all of the above and then some in recent years through various outlets, and none of it has ever made me laugh. If anything, such material simply makes me roll my eyes, shake my head, and wonder about the kind of mentality one has to be in to appreciate anything so lazy, thoughtless, and cheap.

Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn’s characters Tommy and Audrey Macklin from 2012’s The Babymakers upon finding out about the negative reception their failed movie had received upon its limited cinematic release on account of its crass, immature humor (1 out of 4 stars from the late Roger Ebert, 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 49 reviews with a 3.5/10 average rating)

I know I’ve already touched upon this topic back in my original article from last year, but honestly, I feel as though I can’t stress it enough. After all, you don’t have to be “edgy” or offensive to be funny. Just look at the success of such comedians as Gabriel Iglesias, Ellen Degeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Anjelah Johnson, and especially Brian Regan—all of whom have garnered many a laugh from audiences over the span of their careers with jokes that didn’t need to rely on foul language, “shocking” ideology or imagery, shameless pratfalls, or any other form of below-the-belt humor. Granted, there have been instances in which a couple of these comedians have strayed from their usual path, such as with Gabriel’s “racist gift basket” routine and even Ellen dropping a couple of S-bombs during her famous Taste This comedy album from 1996, but even then, these comics relied more on their wit than on straight crassness to tickle their audiences’ fancy and make them think as well as laugh. Such is the key to timeless comedy, as has been proven time and again not only by the aforementioned comics and other, similarly successful comedians, but also by many a well-remembered sitcom or sketch comedy. Even The Cosby Show’s Claire Huxtable herself, Tony Award winning actress Phylicia Rashad, can attest to this based on the following piece of information she once shared in an interview with the Huffington Post:

Phylicia Rashad, Tony Award-winning actress and mother Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show as interviewed April 6, 2014 by Huff Post Live

“Drama appeals to the emotions. Comedy appeals to the intellect.”

Such were the words that the late Dr. Frank M. Snowden, Jr. of Howard University in Washington, D.C., said to Ms. Rashad after she’d answered a question he’d posed to her and the rest of her classmates concerning whether they preferred drama or comedy, and considering my own personal comedic tastes, this comparison makes a lot of sense to me. After all, as Ms. Rashad goes on to say in the same interview, most of the sitcoms from “back in the day” that the masses know and love today had writers working behind the scenes who all worked with each other in the same room day after day as they fleshed out each episode of the show they were putting together. Such would explain why the plot and character development of these programs flowed in a smoother, more logical fashion than it would on a more recent show such as, say, the not-too-distantly-cancelled Mike & Molly. Honestly, the two titular characters first cross paths with each other at an Overeaters Anonymous conference, yet subsequently stop attending meetings that the support group hosts after they marry each other, and Mike subsequently reverts back to his rapacious couch potato ways every now and then with only the occasional reminder of his original objective to lose weight. Add to that Mike inadvertently no longer sleeping with the help of a respirator around the same time, the couple moving out of Molly’s old bedroom and into the Flynn family basement only to eventually move back into Molly’s bedroom, and so forth, and it can be pretty easy to see where viewers can be disenfranchised with such a show, regardless of M&M having lasted six seasons on CBS from 2010 to 2016. On a similar note is how M&M and a good number of other 21st century sitcoms tend to repeat the same tired jokes over and over again with little to no payoff, usually within the same episode and—worse yet—within the same scene. You know…in case the audience hadn’t gotten them the first time. Then again, even that practice isn’t as annoying and insulting as when the writers of a given sitcom decide to change certain characters that either don’t make sense within the show’s narrative or go against their established personalities altogether. I can certainly say that I could have done without the writers of Everybody Loves Raymond turning the once-sensible Debra into a bitter, self-pitying shrew who takes every opportunity she gets to throw a tantrum at Ray and the rest of the Barones or start weeping and sobbing as though someone had just run over the family dog. Come to think of it, the whole show, in my opinion, went downhill when everyone within the Barone family started yelling and screaming at one another on a regular basis. It wasn’t pleasant, clever, or fun in the slightest…only dull, grating, and utterly obnoxious. It didn’t challenge my mind at all, only my sanity, which is exactly why most of the sitcoms I’ve seen these days have turned me away from them. Stereotypical characters, predictable situations, exhausted jokes, and a bitter tone that practically everyone has seen in so many other shows of its kind—all of the above are elements that have dumbed down many a recent sitcom that I’ve regrettably watched and made me pine for the days when Night Court, Golden Girls, Cheers, Frasier, and the like ruled the airwaves with their keen wit, palatable charm, and the kind of punchy sophistication that has time and again managed to put a smile not only on my own face, but also on countless other people’s faces from one generation to the next.

If this wasn’t a warning sign of the kind of regular situations viewers would see in Everybody Loves Raymond’s later season, then I don’t know what is.

Of course, as irritated as I’ve become with the banality and vulgarity that I’ve discussed earlier, there’s one more trait in today’s comedic scene that I’ve grown to abhor: snark. Now, sure, I get that the world can be a very unforgivingly (and unforgivably) unkind and frustrating place within which to live, and sometimes, one needs to just let off a sarcastic remark here or there to cope with it all. Likewise, there have been plenty of people popping up all over the Internet who’ve made snarky remarks about this, that, and the other since blogging first became a thing and editorials were no longer limited to opinionated journalists. All the same, as with everything else that has made comedy so nasty these days in comparison to what it used to be, snark has reared its ugly head so much and so often that I wonder as to whether or not I’m the only one who’s noticed it, much less has grown fed up with it. Don’t get me wrong, either, for once upon a time, I used to like characters like Dr. Peter Venkman from the classic Ghostbusters films and Chandler Bing from the earlier seasons of Friends for their wry charm, world-weary wit, and occasional sliminess. However, these two specific characters and all others like them back in the day actually had charm on account of having writers behind them who knew how to pace these characters’ sarcasm effectively and only had them pop off with a remark at moments that called for them to say something flippant so as to keep them from being completely rude, disrespectful, malicious scumbags. Additionally, no matter how despicable and depraved characters like Peter and Chandler might have come across as being at times, their writers wisely made sure to give them characteristics that would have made them at least somewhat likable to their intended audiences. For instance, Peter’s shrewdness, streetwise sociability, and secretly sweet disposition easily balanced out with his course, flippant, womanizing charlatan ways, especially when he uses his diplomacy to help free himself and his fellow Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, from prison. Similarly, Chandler’s refusal to quit a job that he otherwise hates (i.e., an IT procurements manager) and dedication to his girlfriend-turned-wife Monica, best friend Ross, and everyone else in their social circle temper his otherwise bitter, cynical nature. Sadly, I don’t get that same feeling from more modern comedy characters such as Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men or Dr. Leonard Hoffstadter from The Big Bang Theory. I know that’s probably going to earn me the wrath of Chuck Lorre production fans everywhere, but honestly, the way each of these two leads is written—which I could also say for the rest of the show to which each man belongs—is so thoroughly grating that it’s easy for me to forget about whatever good there might be in either of them. In fact, the further I stay away from Charlie with his hedonistic, misogynistic, scoffing self-absorption and Leonard with his needy, spineless, self-pitying, and at times ironically condescending pessimism, the more at ease I ultimately feel. Sadly, Charlie and Leonard are only two of many characters who define sarcasm according to 21st century humor, and unless there’s a more recent example of a character out there who can be sarcastic with the same grace and deftness as Peter Venkman, Chandler Bing, and the like used to, then by all means, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll remain convinced that snark is here to stay, much to my chagrin. It just isn’t appealing to me in the slightest, as it isn’t at all endearing, witty, or clever. Rather, it’s simply bitter, jaded, spiteful, and outright repulsive.

Dr. Peter Venkman from 1986’s Ghostbusters: One of the most beloved spewers of sarcasm in cinematic history and a prime example of snark RIGHT

Worse yet, snark not only makes characters within fictitious works come off as unlikable assholes, but also real-life people who try to be all cute, funny, and “personable” when the situation doesn’t call for such behavior. Just read AgentQuery.com’s guide on how to write a query letter, and you’ll see the kind of annoyance I mean. Seriously, though, AgentQuery staff, grow up and knock it off with your smart-ass remarks about people’s imperfect manuscripts, query letters, and so on, and the whole idea of the “Generation Y” having a collectively short attention span on account of only a select portion of “Gen-Yers” living up to that idiotic stereotype. People come to your website to discover information that would help them procure someone who can help them get their books published. There’s no need for any of your members to act like a bunch of flippant, pompous brats in the process. It isn’t the least bit funny, as I’ve mentioned before…only tiresome, predictable, pathetic, oblivious, and obnoxious. Knock it off and act your ages, please.

Brian Regan, one of the funniest “clean comics” known to modern stand-up AND one of the most deserving of a sitcom of his own

Bottom line, I really hope comedy evolves soon, if it hasn’t been evolving already. After all, I read humorous books, tune in to comedy shows, and watch comedic movies in hopes of finishing something to make me laugh and forget about my cares for at least a little while. Alas, very little of what we call comedy these days is intelligent or thoughtful enough to do just that and instead merely backfires and makes me feel even grouchier than I otherwise would have been, had I not come across it in the first place. It’s not even so much that all of which I’m taking issue with here is necessarily offensive, either, as I’ve said. If anything, it’s all just so irritating, tactless, immature, and straight up nauseating…almost as if the people making these jokes are going out of their way to alienate those who see it for whatever reason. Again, I know one person’s trash is another’s treasure as far as this topic is concerned, but since when did it become comically mandatory to deliberately set forth to annoy or offend people? What happened to simply aiming to make people laugh or, at the very lest, smile? Whatever happened to using one’s intellect to stimulate people’s minds and ultimately put them in a good mood as opposed to stooping to the lowest common denominator? Are the days of merry banter, quick-witted quips, sharp wordplay, and the like forever dead? I sure hope not, for with all the crap that’s still going on in this mess of a world within which we live, we all more than ever need material that brings joy to our lives, not more pain and anguish. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from these past couple of decades, there hasn’t been enough of that substance going around, and quite frankly, it’s enough to make me sick.

Smarten up your writing…PERIOD.

The quote speaks for itself.

I’m pretty sure you’ve all noticed this by now, but there have been times in the past where people have proven to be pretty stupid—not merely uninformed or unobservant, either, but simply and utterly witless. I know that sounds disparaging and rude, but let’s face it, folks: We’ve all more likely than not seen, heard, discovered, and probably even known people in our lives who’ve habitually said and done things that make us question whether or not they even know how to think at all. Heck, even now, such people continue to thrive and contribute to what one can very readily call the continued downfall of society as we know it, and even the most intelligent amongst us have forgotten how to use our heads, even if only for a brief moment, and succumbed to saying or doing something that has made others question our own sensibilities. That in mind, is it any wonder as to why certain forms of entertainment that a sizable portion of the audience considers to be pointless, tasteless, or otherwise idiotic still exist these days? Is it likewise any wonder why so many people tune in to such garbage, even when they know it’s bad for their brain and doesn’t warrant their attention? Thankfully, there do exist certain forms of entertainment, comedic and dramatic alike, that appeal to folks who despise having their intelligence insulted. Sadly, even they don’t last forever. In fact, too many of them never catch on well enough to last longer than a handful of years at best and are cancelled before they can truly make much of a mark upon American pop culture as we know it. So severe is the problem, too, that one could write up an entire essay on it if one wished to tackle the issue in depth. Who knows? I myself might do just that on this blog, should it remain standing long enough for me to do so…and should I get the gumption to follow through with such an idea. For the sake of simplicity, though, there are some key traits that indicate why a given piece of fictional media might not be as well written as it otherwise could or should be:

Raj Koothrappali: Often an afterthought compared to the rest of the characters from the other characters The Big Bang Theory and as such a prime candidate for one of the show’s most poorly written characters

Poor character portrayal and development. Have you ever watched a TV show or movie that featured a character that the writer had meant for audience members to perceive one way, only to come across as being completely different? That’s basically poor characterization in a nutshell, and to be quite frank, I’ve seen it happen in one form of storytelling too many. It’s never worked for me, either, regardless of the excuse that the writer or writers of a given work may offer to excuse the character in question acting in a way that doesn’t make sense for him or her. Maybe the writer(s) didn’t know what to do with said character beyond a certain point and felt the need to pull something out of thin air just to keep him or her relevant…even if that very something more or less made no sense in regards to who or what he or she already was or had already experienced according to the story’s overall plot. Maybe the writer(s) had meant to have him or her progress beyond a given point, yet had failed to do so out of negligence and thus either gave up on him or her altogether or forced him or her into a situation that would have him or her grow in the direction that he/she/they had initially intended for him or her. Whatever the case, failing to allow a given character to evolve naturally during the course of any given production is a great way to ruin any kind of story—even one that was already unimpressive to begin with.

Unlocking Blaze Fielding’s “bad” ending in the original Streets of Rage: An interesting choice to make in the game itself…but how effective would it be if SoR were a novel, movie, or TV show instead?

Poor plot progression. This next trait tends to ruin just as many stories as poor character development and portrayal do and, more times than not, works hand-in-hand with the former to create some of the most negatively received forms of fictitious media that humanity has come to know. Far too often do these particular stories feature character actions and other events that simply don’t make any sense, usually on account of the writer either compulsorily or carelessly stringing events together in an attempt to show and/or tell the story at hand. Sometimes a character will react to an event in a fashion that portrays him or her as having more knowledge than he or she should, such as a young girl automatically deciphering the coded glyphs that adorn a bizarre ancient compass that she has just received. Sometimes an event will occur in a way that betrays the rules of reality, such as an alleged murderess in a mansion turning off all the mansion’s lights when she is located in the mansion’s basement while the power source to the lights is on the ground floor. This later occurrence can even happen in science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror stories, which are notably more lax in their rules of reality. Say, for example, you were watching a fantasy film in which it has already been established that trolls can regenerate wounds caused by anything but fire, and it just so happens that the heroes are caught in a violent confrontation with a troll. Would it make more sense for the heroes to dispatch of the hostile creature with flaming arrows and a bow…or a simple silver stake through the heart? Even choices that a given character makes can mess up a story’s plot, such as the protagonist and her friends finally coming across the crime lord they’ve been gunning after throughout the course of the tale, only for the protagonist to agree to become the crime lord’s right-hand woman without any prior foreshadowing of or motivation for her betraying her allies. Such is the kind of stuff that would make any audience member scratch his or her head and wonder just what the writer(s) were thinking—if, of course, he/she/they were even thinking at all.

How I usually envision those who laugh at jokes about rape, suicide, tragic historical events, and the like as well as blatant sexual humor and similarly low-hanging “comedic” fruit

Deliberate shock value. Call me a prude all you want, but many has there been a movie, television show, comic book, novel, or video game that just had to go that extra mile into “adult territory,” only to turn out to be a tacky, hollow, shallow, pandering, lowbrow, soulless mess on account of such a misguided decision. Granted, there have been instances in which extreme violence, foul language, sexually explicit content, and the like have been used in fiction to great effect and paint a rather bleak mental picture for audiences to perceive the story’s overall themes and message. At other times, however, such content has been thrown into such works haphazardly “just for the hell of it” for the sake of drawing in viewers, readers, listeners, and/or players. The result: an egregiously incognizant product that may draw in the morbidly curious for a while by promoting its “shocking” content, only to send such an audience off either offended once said content rears its ugly head or disappointed once its effects upon them wear off. It is in such works that extreme violence becomes less about dramatic, heart-pounding action and more about wanton gore. Similarly, characters spew forth so much profanity to the point where they come off as petulant and immature more than they do tough, sex scenes become more nauseating and lust-based than genuine and even alluring, and all other adult-themed content similarly loses its necessity throughout the course of the story. Granted, some people may end up enjoying these products ironically, but in the end, what more are they to these people than guilty pleasures? Worse yet is how the brunt of these pieces have shown to have very little to no substance lying beneath their “gritty” and “edgy” style and end up coming across as the blatant smut that they truly are, and even those pieces that do happen to have substance aren’t always guaranteed to tell a better story than their tamer counterparts unless their storytelling is spot-on from start to finish. As a result, such productions are either doomed to live on in pop culture infamy for their schlock value or die off almost as quickly as they’d come. Either case is usually for good reason, too, especially within the presence of so many other works just like them out on the market waiting for curious eyes to fall upon them and said eyes’ owners caving in to temptation and giving them a watch, read, listen, or play…only to discover the cold, harsh reality in the end.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: 5% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 57 reviews with a 2.5/10 average rating, 13 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 16 critics, and nominated for six different Golden Raspberry Awards on account of its “tacky, numbingly inane” humor

Pandering to the lowest common denominator. This final flaw, in my opinion, has got to be the most fatal of them all when it comes to providing audiences with decent fiction. After all, even the most intelligent viewer, listener, reader, or gamer may want to shut his or her brain off every once in a while, but that isn’t reason enough for the producer of a given work of fiction to offer them something that treats them and the rest of the audience as though their brains don’t work at all. Even so, many is the moment in which the audience’s intelligence is either flat-out or accidentally insulted, such as when a joke or other occurrence is explained in-work for those who might not have “gotten it” or when random scenes successively take place with little to no context between them. I could say the same for events that occur with little to no buildup (particularly major ones, such as the reveal of a narrative’s chief antagonist) or when seemingly important information comes up during the plot’s unfolding, only to go on ignored later on either by the writers reducing its overall irrelevance or even outright refuting said information altogether. Don’t even get me started, either, on when a writer offers his or her audience a scene that defies conventional wisdom or logic simply to steer the plot in a given direction. Trust me, folks, for I, too, have felt as though I’d been talked down to when situations like this have played out in the fiction that I’d come across, and it’s not a very flattering feeling in the slightest. I’m sorry, but if a writer feels the need to explain to me the context of what had just happened, expects me to simply go along with a seemingly nonsensical chain of events taking place without any common ground between them, or demonstrates anything that is similarly jarring in his or her story, then I can’t help but question his or her mindset. Personally, I would like to think that the writers who commit such errors do so on account of just not paying close enough attention to their work. Otherwise, they would catch these mistakes in their screenplays, manuscripts, and demos before their ultimate production. I’m certainly no different, as I myself have fallen prey to my own anxiousness and have let a mistake or two slip through my fingers upon publishing my work. I’ve been making efforts to avoid repeating that process, however, and hope that other writers—regardless of the form their fiction takes—do the same. Alas, not every writer has proven to take note of his or her botches and done anything to correct his or her creative approach in the future. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who are unconvinced of how weak their grasp on storytelling actually is, and my gut instinct tells me that we all will be seeing more intellect-insulting narration down the line. Hopefully, though, it won’t be as bad as it’s been in recent memory.

All this in mind, let it be known that in order for intelligence to at long last claim a hold upon the realm of fiction, it’s up to the masses to recognize the poorly written stuff for what it is and do everything in their power to not support it. Sorry, folks, but it just isn’t worth it. Schlock is schlock, no matter what form it comes in, and even morbid curiosity—especially in the vain hope of liking something ironically—should never be considered reason enough for people to spend their time or money on it. Doing so, after all, only rewards the creators of such filth for making it, and if people are as adamant about the television, motion picture, video game, and literary industries smartening up and consequently creating more intelligent products, then they need to actively demand better. That doesn’t mean simply voicing one’s opinion about certain forms of media whenever and wherever one can, either. Sure, speaking out against the world’s dreck is a good start, but as the old saying goes, actions do speak louder than words. On that note, then, always regard that which you see and hear with caution when it comes to certain products, and if what you perceive doesn’t sell you completely on the product being advertised, then follow your gut instincts and keep your money and your time to yourself. Remember…first impressions might not be everything, but they still carry quite a bit of weight when it comes to determining the value of a given piece of media.

Somewhere out there, there’s a book out there with a sense of charm that can rival that of even the best Harry Potter novel that deserves every bit of attention that J.K. Rowling’s time-honored franchise has received over the years. If only one had the courage to seek publication for it…

In short, despite what progress we may have made recently in improving the quality of fictional media, we’ve still got a long way to go in achieving the level of storytelling excellence that I at least expect from this day and age. I’m sure that there are plenty of other obstacles that I haven’t even mentioned that creators need to overcome in order to tell the kind of stories that they think would captivate today’s jaded, demanding audiences. The apparent death of originality in modern-day media and the pressure of certain interest groups to create films, TV shows, and the like that appeal to their own specific tastes are certainly two that come to mind that are definitely worth tackling. However, without thoughtful, creative, intelligent writing serving as a foundation, no story can hope to win audiences over. After all, no matter how many people within the entertainment business will tell you that talent is “overrated,” we need talented and attentive writers more than ever nowadays to create the very works we need to immerse ourselves in from time to time and give us a break from this cold, harsh, and unforgiving reality we’ve all come to know. I sure know that as a writer myself, I have been improving my craft since the day I first created this blog, and hopefully the day will come when I can leave a positive grand-scale affect upon the literary market. Until then, though, I encourage the creators of today’s fictional media to step up their game and give us masses something we can support on a regular basis with sincere pride and satisfaction. Not only that, but I also hope that the undiscovered talent of today at long last get their time to shine and have their stories published, filmed, and presented for the masses to enjoy, thus proving to the world that artistic vision has more value than the detractors may realize. After all, considering the kind of crap we’ve had to endure over the years up to this point, I believe the time has come for us all to change things for the better in one way or another.

*****

All rambling aside, thanks again for stopping by, and as always, be sure to visit my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see what I have available, and please stay tuned for more content in the near future. Until then, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

CarPedalRecall.com
PatandJason.com
Lampray and Laser Unicorns
PixBit.com
PicSauce.com
IndieWire.com
Phylicia Rashad’s April 6, 2014 Interview with Huff Post Live
Giphy.com
GoodMenProject.com
Imgur.com
NotableQuotes.com
FansShare.com
MegaGrey’s Streets of Rage (Genesis) Blaze’s Bad Ending
FunnyJunk.com
RottenTomatoes.com
Infinite-Loops.Wikia.com

The opinions discussed within, however, are the author’s own.

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Bonus Poem of the Week: A Message for All Aspiring Novelists

A Message to All Aspiring Novelists
April 18, 2017

No one likes being rejected and tossed into the muck,
Having noses turn up at him or her and wished “Best of luck.”
No one likes being cast out from where he or she wants to be
Or denied that which he or she’s been fighting for. Believe me.
No one likes to struggle, especially when it comes to
Simply getting through the day. This I can assure you.
Even when there’s a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end,
Crossing said rainbow can be a chore. On that you can depend.
So much of a chore it is, too, that time and time again,
Too many people throw up their arms and walk away in the end,
Never to realize their dream, whether they deserve
To live that dream or not, all because of how their nerves
Have become shot over the course of months or years at a time,
And in the case of the worthy folks, it really is a crime,
For who’ll ever know the stories they could’ve shared with the world?
Certainly not the commonplace man, woman, boy, or girl
Or anyone who’d benefit from the messages within,
Even if said benefit is merely escaping the sin
And vice that’s been gripping the world for far too many years now.
Trust me…we all could use some escapism these days…and how!
We all deserve new stories with each year that passes by.
We all need something new to feed our hungry ears and eyes.
Otherwise, the old tales, good and bad, will grow stale,
And as they do, so will our minds, lest new storytellers prevail
To provide us with new substance with which to enrich our souls
And awaken within us the will to carry on into the fold
And accept each day as it comes, no matter what’ll be in store
When it happens to arrive, so long as it isn’t an utter bore.
After all, life’s one big adventure that we all undertake,
And it’s up to us to make the most of it with what we make
In terms of goals and other decisions and the choices that lead
Us down one path or another, and what better way to heed
This message than gleam inspiration from the stories we learn
To spark our thoughts and ambitions and help our hearts’ fires burn
With the passion that keeps us going every hour of the day.
That being said, why let rejection keep getting in the way?
The dream is still worth having, even though it may not seem so,
So keep your chins up and your noses to the grindstone and tally ho!
Keep your wits about you, too, and learn what makes a sale,
And may courage, creativity, and wisdom help you prevail
In the seemingly never-ending saga of chasing a dream
That might actually be more attainable than it might now seem,
For stories are more important than even you may ever know,
And only a sharp mind and a strong heart will help you see just so.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Bonus Poem of the Week: Screwing in My Heels

Screwing in My Heels
April 5, 2017

Depression
Bitter, jaded
Fretting, lamenting, panicking
Gotta change my luck
Studying, orchestrating, toiling
Work complete!
Hope…

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: The Road to Grownup Town

The Road to Grownup Town
January 30, 2017

Growing up ain’t always grand.
After all, no one will hold your hand
And walk you through
What it is you must do
To make your way through this land.

Everyone has his or her own
Path down which he or she alone
Traverses along
To the tune of a song
That hopefully leads him or her home.

Even when you’ve found your space,
You can’t help but look back and face
The place you used to be
And for yourself see
Just how much of a shameless disgrace

The scene you once knew long ago
Has transformed for the worst, you know,
Filled with assholes galore
Who ruin what’s in store
By bringing everyone else woe

By the bushel, which adds up quickly
And makes things ever so prickly
That it’s no longer the
Place at all to be,
Lest you want to end up just as sickly

In the head as the pains in the ass
Who, with their sheer lack of class,
End up making a chore
Of all that’s in store
For those who must cope with their sass.

Even when these schmucks aren’t a thing,
Looking back leaves such a sting,
Seeing how things change
And rearrange,
Making one ask, “Is this still my thing?”

Never mind all the new gals and guys.
What of the things you don’t recognize—
All the sights and sounds
That weren’t at all around
The last time you were made wise?

Worse yet, what happened to all that
Which was around when you were, jack—
All the legends and lore
That there was in store
When you were naught but a wee brat?

To put it simply, they’re gone,
Having long ago said so long
To ex-kids like you
Who once saw them through
To the end. Is that so wrong?

‘Cause if not, what about all the stuff
That has stuck around for the young pups,
Some of which is each bit
As when you were fit
To enjoy it even in times tough

While the rest of it’s gone to crap
And is so lame that you can’t laugh,
No matter how much
You want to and such?
What have you to say about that?

That it ain’t the same either way
Like it was back in the day?
Well, perhaps, then,
That’s a sign, dear friend,
Telling you to embrace a new day—

A day in which you’re the grownup
And must walk away from the kid stuff,
No mater how much
You don’t want to do such
A thing, no matter how tough

Doing so might be in the end.
That’s just the way things are, friend.
We must al leave our toys
For the next girls and boys
And prepare for what’s ‘round the bend.

After all, whoever knows?
Forever shan’t last your woes,
For surely there’s gold
‘Round a bend untold
Waiting for you, should you want it so.

Trust me, you’ll not know unless
You make it your effort best
To carry on down
The road to Grownup Town
And put your childhood to rest.

After all, no one’s a child forever,
And wallowing in pity will never
Allow you to move on,
So stand up and be strong
And prepare yourself for whatever

And always keep in mind, friend,
Even with your childhood at its end,
You still have memories
To help put you at ease
When your wits are coming to and end,

Not to mention the opportunity
To make more as you try to see
Your fortune unfold
And bring forth ventures bold
Via which to forge your destiny.

There’s only one way to see
What your life can come to be,
And that’s to get up
From the couch, ex-pup,
And accept your destiny.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

A Call for Feedback from My Readers

Hello, readers!

Today, I’m going to withhold posting my usual weekly poetry until either tomorrow or later this evening so that I may first ask you all, subscriber and non-subscriber alike, a particularly crucial question regarding the nature of this blog as a whole:

What kind of material would you like me to provide from hereon out?

This may sound like a particularly insipid thing to ask, but trust me when I say that I do have a good reason for doing so. You see, at the risk of sounding petty and needy, I’ll admit all the same that 2016 has been a relatively unsuccessful year for me in terms of gaining more attention for my literary endeavors, and though I have an idea on what I’ve done wrong in drawing people to this website, I’d nevertheless like to know directly from you folks how I can better appeal to you, my current audience, as well as attract new readers. After all, I’ve had quite a few people subscribe to me over the past eight months who’ve ended up unsubscribing to me after a week or two, and I’m wondering if whether or not their doing so has anything to do with the content I’ve been submitting or perhaps even the activities I’ve performed as this blog’s owner and operator. Additionally, as a writer who’s always willing to grow and expand my abilities, I am always willing to improve my craft so as to better reach the masses, and your feedback means a lot to me.

Take my weekly poetry, for example…are there any specific topics you would like me to cover in future poems? Any particular styles of poetry you’d like me to try my hand at? Do you want more or less poetry posted each week? Are you even interested at all in my Hoedown of the Week series that I’d tried to start up back on December 31, 2015?

How about my “In Relation to My Work” series of editorials? What topics have I talked about in such articles over the years that have appealed to you the most? Which topics would you like me to expand on? What topics would you like me to cover that I haven’t already?

Finally, there’s my work as a novelist. Would you like me to talk more about the projects I’ve worked on or have been working on, such as my novel Dream Weavers? What specifically would you like me to share about my projects?

I know this all sounds desperate on my part, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to build up my fanbase and establish my brand the best I can, and I’ve come to realize (It’s taken me long enough, I know…SMH) that I haven’t done just that. That being said, feel free to leave me your feedback in the comment section below, and I’ll gladly take it into account, as I aim to not only earn more subscribers this year than I have already, but keep said subscribers as well. After all, your support means a lot to an aspiring pro novelist such as myself, whether it’s subscribing to this humble little blog of mine via WordPress or email, hitting the “Like” button on each/any of my posts, sharing my content with others, or even going to my author pages (Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk) and buying any of the ebooks I have for sale there. As such, without further ado, please let me know down below what improvements you’d like to see me make to this blog, and thank you all for your support.

Okay…pity party over! Expect my next Poem of the Week in my next post, and once again, everyone, thanks.

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

Bonus Poem of the Week: 2017 Hopes

2017 Hopes
December 24, 2016

An end to extremism and unprovoked hatred for
Any given demographic. Why can’t that be in store?

No more senseless violence against anyone anywhere
For any sordid excuse. Is that possible to be done?

No more deadly diseases spreading everywhere they please.
We’ve already had plenty bringing humanity to its knees.

No more groundless anger spewed towards others on the Web.
We’ve seen and heard enough already. Time for such wrath to be dead.

No more shoving agendas in other people’s faces—
Political, religious, or whatnot. Such crap has already disgraced us.

No more frothing maniacs trying to lead us astray
From healing this ravaged world. Let’s bring about a brighter day.

No more stifling creativity, either. Time for ideas new
To provide new experiences for us all and see te masses through.

No more bitter, jaded snideness or insulting intelligence.
We’ve endured enough such trash thrown ‘tween each other over the fence.

No more sitting around idle when evil, bald and true,
Takes place, for we must shoot it down if good is to pull through.

No more blind eyes turned to what we know deep within our hearts
Is harmful to our wellbeing. Let’s stomp out evil ‘fore it starts.

No more foolishly smearing labels on that which we don’t understand,
For ignorance won’t bring us squat in terms of rebuilding this land.

No more wallowing in sorrow and self-loathing over the past.
We must buck up and work for tomorrow if we want good fortune to last.

No more hapless fixation over that which we can no longer change.
We must look to the present and future to see what we must now arrange.

Finally, no more of the same old crap we’ve long endured.
We’ve done nothing to help the status quo wallowing in such manure.

The past is past, and yes, like gas, it stank as it blew up
In our faces time after time , but guess what: Enough’s enough.

Another year’s ‘round the corner, and though it may seem to turn out dark,
There’s still a chance it can turn out great if we knew but where to start,

So let’s pull ourselves together and work as one to see
This world become a better place for the likes of you and me

And all who shall inherit the planet once we’ve left it physically.
Keep your fingers crossed, all, for we could all use some positivity.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

In Relation to My Work: Revitalizing Genres without Rebooting Old IPs, part 1

Time to FINALLY address in full a topic that the media-watching public has been coping with for years on end.

Time to FINALLY address in full a topic that the media-watching public has been coping with for years on end.

Hello, readers!

Sorry it’s taken me so long in coming up with a new article for this blog, especially considering that I honestly have no good excuse for my tardiness aside from writer’s block and getting myself tied up with other goings-on in my life (work, family, my novels, etc.). However, after noticing what’s been going on in the entertainment world over the years, one question has been on my mind that I’ll admit to being painfully slow on the draw in asking, yet have nonetheless wanted to ask all the same for quite some time:

Ever notice just how many old franchises have received—and, in some cases, will be receiving—either full-blown reboots or some other kind of revival?

Lethal Weapon the Series on Fox: Worthwhile revitalization of a classic movie franchise for TV viewers or shameless cash grab? By all means...share your thoughts below.

Lethal Weapon the Series on Fox:
Worthwhile revitalization of a classic movie franchise for TV viewers or shameless cash grab? By all means…share your thoughts below.

I’m sorry, but while I myself have been guilty of adding fuel to the fire from 2012 to 2015 with my reimagining of Bloody Roar, I’ve since become more and more disenchanted by the year with this whole trend in the entertainment industry in which a certain production studio brings back an intellectual property from the past to create a new motion picture, television series, or other form of entertainment for modern audiences. Granted, doing so—when handled with a healthy amount of finesse and respect towards the original property—can be a great way to introduce those who didn’t grow up knowing said franchise to its characters and themes. On a similar note, this whole trend of IP recycling isn’t exactly a brand new one that only started rearing its head at the very beginning of this decade or even the last. Comic books, for instance, have undergone such a treatment over several decades with each new generation of readers, writers, and illustrators that comes along as an effort to keep the characters and, subsequently, the brand alive for that generation’s entertainment. I can say the same for popular video game lines like Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and so forth in that the developers of these games and the franchises that they’ve spearheaded continue to develop new and oftentimes more advanced games as a means of building on the legacies that the original titles had established back in their respective time. Even so, I swear that there have been times in which the people responsible for bringing back these old IPs did so either primarily or, worse yet, solely for the money. Now, to be fair, every intellectual property—regardless of what form it takes or whether it be a stand-alone title or the beginning of an entire brand—exists, has existed, and will exist for the sake of making money for the people behind it. That’s just conventional wisdom talking. Still, I’d at least like to think that it takes more than just monetary desire to produce a good product. After all, some of the most successful IPs ever made, no matter which form they’ve taken—be they literary, cinematic, televised, or interactive—have had plenty of time, effort, and especially love dedicated to them to see to their creation, and even though some of these properties haven’t aged as well as they could have over the years, one can nonetheless see the care that the creators had put into them prior to their ultimate production.

Killer Instinct 2013: A long-awaited sequel/reboot to a much-beloved fighting game franchise that has proven to be even better than the original

Killer Instinct 2013:
A long-awaited sequel/reboot to a much-beloved fighting game franchise that has proven to be even better than the original

That being said, what’s with all these remakes, belated sequels, adaptations of decades-old properties to other forms, and so on? Have these studios really run out of ideas? Is creating a new property really that much of a risk for them? Are they just that desperate for a quick buck? Because look, I get it: Writing a new story is far from easy at times, and not all original properties are as successful as they otherwise could be, including the well-made ones. Nevertheless, how necessary is it for the entertainment industry to rely on the past to make money in the present and ensure a strong future? Let’s especially take into consideration that most remakes, reboots, remasters, reimaginings, retellings—whatever one wants to call them—aren’t even as good as the original version of the same product, much less any better. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when the initial product never lived up to whatever reputation it was trying to make for itself whereas the remake, on the contrary, did. The two Judge Dredd movies are a perfect example of this, what with 1995’s Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone having proven itself to be a critical flop while 2012’s Dredd with Karl Urban—while far from the financial success that critics and movie goers generally felt it deserved to be—nonetheless gained enough of a cult following to maintain the possibility of a sequel, even in the wake of its low theatrical gross. Such exceptions do nothing, however, to refute the notion that human beings like to experience new things, and in this case, that means reading, watching, and even listening to new stories. Plus, if one were to take a closer look at whatever books, movies, TV programs, video games, and so forth that humanity has produced over the course of its very existence, one can easily spot familiar elements in each of these products that one can use as the foundation upon which to create a brand new compelling story of his or her own. What makes each story feel different from the rest, however, is the unique personal spin its creator has put on it to make it stand out from others of its kind. Truth be told, this whole notion of premise establishment is only the start of producing a worthwhile story, and it’s ultimately said story’s execution that makes it memorable when all is said and done. However, if a tale’s idea manages to snag an audience member’s interest from the word go, then there’s at least a chance for it to succeed in captivating people’s minds and hearts for years to come.

Dredd 2012 vs. Judge Dredd 1995: One example of a remake/reboot done right

Dredd 2012 vs. Judge Dredd 1995: One example of a remake/reboot done right

It has become my belief as a writer over the years that every generation deserves its share of fresh new material to captivate their attention and that younger generations shouldn’t have to be cheated out of quality fiction to instead be made to grow up on carelessly rehashed versions of time-honored classics that fail to live up to the legacies that their original versions had established. Yes, there may still be room for readapted work here and there along the way, but such material shouldn’t have to be produced to the point where the masses are led to overlook and pass on new, creative ideas in favor of that which has already been around for some time. That being said, in this article and each of the subsequent entries in this latest intended mini-series of mine, I hope to take a genre or subgenre in modern film, television, literature, or gaming and deconstruct it in a way so as to show how aspiring creators can create their own stories in that specific category. In doing so, I hope to give fellow writers, official and aspiring alike, a method by which they can create their own properties that they in turn can have fleshed out into actual movies, TV programs, novels, and video games that the masses can come to enjoy for years to come. I furthermore intend to produce these articles as a means of teaching myself as an author to produce the kind of work that I believe the public deserves. After all, every writer is a student of the craft, and I’m no different from anyone else in learning it. Needless to say, I hope everyone who chances to read this gets something out of this entry and any and all that I happen to publish afterwards, regardless of whether or not they’ve had the good fortune of having their work translated into something for the eyes and ears of the general public.

All this in mind, let’s examine this whole notion by applying it to one of the most targeted subgenres of this whole reboot frenzy that’s been going on for so many years.

Slasher Flicks

Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers: Who within the years to come will be next to join the likes of them as slasher icons within their neck of the industry?

Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers: Who within the years to come will be next to join the likes of them as slasher icons within their neck of the industry?

One particular type of film that’s been a favorite of movie fans for decades that Hollywood has been desperately trying to revive is the slasher flick, and seriously, why not? This theme amongst the horror genre has given audiences some of the most memorable villains in cinematic history. Be honest, folks…who can forget the likes of the dream-dwelling child killer Freddy Krueger with his signature razor-fingered glove, the supernaturally driven and resilient madman Michael Myers, or the predatory and nearly invincible revenant Jason Voorhees? Certainly nobody who’s seen the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th, that’s for sure, and it’s thanks to the massive cult following that each of these films and many others just like them have made their mark in pop culture. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s efforts in the past decade-plus to reinvigorate interest in this select style of film and its signature variety of antagonist has resulted in a number of poorly received reboots and sequels that, according to critics, fail to live up to the original. Many are the criticisms levied against these newer versions, from an overemphasis on blood, gore, and jump scares over suspense and genuinely unsettling atmospheres to the lack of character development and hence sincere sympathy for each of the antagonists’ intended victims. At other times, these movies try desperately to make audiences of their original counterparts invest themselves into them by copying the originals scene per scene and ultimately failing on account of the inevitability of viewers to draw comparisons between these scenes as they’d taken place in each version of the film. Such a direction further proves the futility of trying to reboot the story in the first place if the people behind it are only going to make bare minimal changes in their retelling and as such not put all that unique of a spin on it. This is especially true when said changes have little to no positive effect on the movie in the first place, specifically when it comes to smoothing out whatever flaws the original story may have had to begin with. Even changing the actor who portrays the movie’s villain can damage the reputation of a slasher movie reboot, regardless of how unintentional said damage may be. This is especially true in the instance of a more talkative slasher villain like Freddy Krueger and the first actor to portray him, Robert Englund, whom many a Nightmare on Elm Street fan consider to be—and understandably so—the definitive Springwood Slasher.

All this in mind, it baffles me as to why many movie studios still believe in reviving the slasher subgenre by trying to revive the popular decades-old brands that have made it so beloved to begin with. Sure, the remakes of these classic pictures may have garnered themselves a pretty penny when they first came out, but considering the backlash that each of these later films has received since their theatrical debut, one would think that the infamy connected to slasher film reboots would come to such a head that studios would find themselves pressed to reject the whole idea of remaking the classics and instead create new films to carry the subgenre into the future. Granted, the simplicity of this kind of film can easily be exploited to the point where one can end up creating something that’s so run-of-the-mill that it’ll bore even the most gore-crazed horror fan to tears. Even so, this very simplicity also works to this subgenre’s advantage in that storytellers can easily play around with the formula and put their own unique twists on their respective stories’ plots, protagonists, and especially antagonists.

The Prowler by Joseph Zito (1981): A mostly forgotten slasher film regarded by critics for its strong atmosphere

The Prowler by Joseph Zito (1981): A mostly forgotten slasher film regarded by critics for its strong atmosphere

Before I get ahead of myself, however, I find it only wise to bring up a few noteworthy areas from which a slasher movie can benefit or falter. One of these areas that I’ve already briefly mentioned, for example, is the film’s atmosphere—an aspect of fictional media that has given many a horror movie over the years the power to tingle the spines of audience members and in turn give said movies much staying power. It is within each of these specific films that the story starts out just like any other drama until things take a turn for the worse. Then, once they do, the grim realization that things aren’t what they should be soon settles in with the audience and grows steadily stronger with each new and disturbing sight, sound, and other sensation and occurrence that takes place following the initial turn of events up until the moment when things finally reach a resolution. Lamentably, many more recent films have forsaken the idea of establishing such a palatably grim atmosphere in favor of merely startling their viewers with cheap jump scares. True, the nature in which slasher villains strike their prey practically out of nowhere at times and dispose of them in decidedly brutal, gory, and all-around nightmarish ways more or less makes jump scares a necessary evil at times for the subgenre as a whole, but rarely—if, in fact, ever—has a good slasher film relied solely on the nowadays predictable spontaneity of the common jump scare. Rather, it takes the a dark, grim, and often bleak atmosphere to truly unsettle a movie watcher with its subtle undertones and creepy vibes to get under the subject’s skin and truly remind him or her of the gravity of the situation he or she is watching.

Drowning in an outhouse full of leeches (Ally Burgess in Sleepaway Camp 2): One of the MANY creative deaths that occur to the victims of Angela Baker, the anti-heroine of the Sleepaway Camp series

Drowning in an outhouse full of leeches (Ally Burgess in Sleepaway Camp 2): One of the MANY creative deaths that occur to the victims of Angela Baker, the antiheroine of the Sleepaway Camp series

It’s also important for the writer to demonstrate different ways in which a slasher can murder his or her victims in order to keep the movie fresh and exciting from beginning to end. After all, if the antagonist were to simply kill each and every one of his or her victims in the same exact way time after time after time, he or she would quickly become calculable and dull as a murderer, thus making the movie boring and predictable in turn. Why else, then, would certain slashers rely upon a variety of methods to claim the lives of their prey, from using a different weapon here or there, tricking a hapless sot or two into an ambush, or even relying upon a spell of sorts or his or her own bare hands? They needn’t even be flashy kills necessarily, either, with gobs upon gobs of gore or otherwise rooted in a logic that lies outside the established rules of the story’s setting. Rather, the kills simply need to be different enough from one another to make the villain seem that much more versatile and unpredictable, thereby making him or her come off as more of a threat to those trying to thwart his or her killing spree and as such keeping the audience invested in the narrative at hand.

Nancy Thompson of Nightmare on Elm Street: One of the most time-honored "final girls" in slasher movie history

Nancy Thompson of Nightmare on Elm Street: One of the most time-honored “final girls” in slasher movie history

Something else that creators need to keep in mind when concocting a great slasher story is establishing characters with whom his or her audience can relate—not just the murderer himself or herself, but also his or her potential victims. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s still important for slasher movies to get their viewers to understand why their antagonists are roaming about and ending people’s lives left and right. All the same, it cannot be emphasized enough that without a strong cast of identifiable and relatable characters for the killer to prowl upon with whom the audience can sympathize, a slasher movie’s antagonist in turn suffers in his or her role. Think about it: Slashers, whether they be supernatural or mundane in nature, are essentially monsters—beings whom we, as their stories unfold before us, are supposed to terrify us in one way or another. As such, how are we audience members supposed to fear them in the slightest when the stories they’re in don’t make us feel for or even care about the people the slashers stalk and kill? Worse yet, what if the characters whom the movies’ writers want us to support only come off as annoying, pitiful, or otherwise unappealing? Sure, certain audience members are going to want to root for the villains one way or another based on the “badass” antiheroic mystique that comes with their archetype, and many is the slasher victim who, prior to meeting his or her untimely end, is guilty of some form of morally questionable behavior. Even so, if a slasher’s fanfare comes based off all of his or her victims—potential and actual alike—being amoral, dim-witted, cowardly, irritating, or otherwise just plain repulsive or forgettable rather than the slasher himself or herself simply being charismatically monstrous, then there’s something notably wrong with the script to which the characters are adhering.

Then again, if there’s one definite cornerstone that every great slasher film has built itself upon, that cornerstone would most certainly be its antagonist. It only makes sense, too, seeing as the antagonist in this type of movie is the element that gives the entire subgenre its identity and the fact that slasher films generally follow the exploits of their villains far more so than they do their heroes, especially taking into consideration that many slasher film franchises have experienced a change in protagonist from one installment to the next. That being said, I won’t deny that creating a villain for a brand new slasher story can be a pretty daunting task for fear that one might end up rehashing the same old tired character tropes that audiences have seen over and over. Regardless, the whole process doesn’t have to be as hard as one might make it out to be, assuming that one understand the elements from which the time-honored slashers of yesteryear have been made. Here…let’s take a closer at some of them and find out what makes each of them so legendary.

Norman BatesNorman Bates (Psycho): The openly shy and mild-mannered owner and operator of the Bates Motel who is under the control of his possessive mother on account of artificially reconstructing her personality as an act of guilt after he’d killed her ten years prior to the events of the original film. Known for dressing up as his mother prior to claiming his victims’ lives (often with a kitchen knife), he himself is known for being the original mentally disturbed killer who changed the face of horror movies forever by moving the genre’s focus away from monsters and towards potentially real, mentally disturbed human beings. His story is likewise said to be the earliest example of a slasher film.

LeatherfaceLeatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre): A physically deformed, mentally handicapped, chainsaw-wielding murderer and cannibal who wears a mask made of human flesh (hence his name) and takes orders from his older, abusive/manipulative family members in the name of the family meat business. The creators if his film, Tobe Harper and Kim Henkel, based his character (as well as other details in the movie’s plot) on the crimes of real-life murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein and is also known as the unwitting founder of the “chainsaw dance,” one of the most iconic moments in horror history.

Michael MyersMichael Myers (Halloween): A masked hulk of a man often referred to as “The Shape” and “The Bogeyman” who began claiming victims at the tender age of six when a mysterious force began manipulating him through dreams and voice to kill his older sister Judith. He has since killed one hundred eleven people—the second-highest body count in slasher flick history people—and usually claims his victims’ lives with a simple carving knife, although he has been known to use a variety of weapons in his kills, including his own bare hands. Horror fans also know him for his signature pale-faced mask, his tendency to display the bodies of his slain prey for future victims to see for themselves, and his gifts of possess superhuman strength, stealth, endurance, and durability of an unknown limit, all of which make him the first supernaturally powered murderer in slasher history.

Jason VoorheesJason Voorhees (Friday the Thireenth): A facially deformed and mentally handicapped camper at Camp Crystal Lake who was shoved off a peer by bullies one fateful day and drowned in Crystal Lake while two of the camp’s counselors were off having sex in the woods. His mother Pamela went off on a killing spree to avenge his untimely death, only to die herself at the hands of the sole survivor of her rampage. His mom’s death has since only further fueled his own desire for revenge along with his rage over his drowning as well as the immoral (e.g., sexually promiscuous) actions of his victims, and while he has handled many a weapon in his quest for vengeance and has even killed his victims with his bare hands, his weapon of choice is usually the very machete that Camp Crystal Lake counselor Alice Hardy had used to decapitate his mother. He is also superhumanly strong, quick (both on land and in the water), and durable and can suppress whatever pain is inflicted upon him. Similarly, he can regenerate any lost and damaged body tissue he may have at any given moment at an elevated rate, be resurrected via lightning and supernatural forces (psychic manipulation), and even switch bodies and even switch bodies and souls with certain victims to ensure his own survival. He is further known for his iconic hockey mask, which he only started to wear in Friday the 13th Part III, and having killed a total of 158 victims (including his version from the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th), the most career kills of any slasher villain as of this article’s posting.

Freddy KruegerFreddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street): The son of rape survivor Amanda Krueger (a.k.a. Sister Mary Helena), also known as the “bastard son of a hundred maniacs,” whose history of abuse and dismissal from many a foster home (allegedly on account of his psychopathic tendencies that he displayed even at a young age) eventually led him to become “The Springwood Slasher,” a title he received upon him killing twenty children until his victims’ parents ultimately had him burned to death inside a shack behind the power plant he once worked at. He is known for his ability to enter the dreams of his prey, change both his body and his surroundings as he sees fit, and bring about his victims’ demise in the real world upon killing them in their dreams—all of which were gifts he’d received from the Dream Demons following his initial death. He’s also known for his sadistic sense of humor and the consequential creativity of his kills, the burn scars on his face, and of course, his signature razor-fingered glove.

Pinhead (a.k.a. The Hell Priest)Pinhead (Hellraiser): The leader of the Cenobites, a race of amoral extradimensional beings (sometimes demons, depending upon which lore one follows) who resemble ritually mutilated humans and can only reach our reality via a schism in time and space as controlled by the opening and closing of an innocuous-looking puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration. Though not a slasher villain in the true sense of the term in spite of often being grouped together with the likes of the horror icons previously mentioned in this list, the aptly named Pinhead (also known as The Hell Priest in Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels, the direct sequel to his original novel from which Hellraiser had been derived, The Hellbound Heart) and his “Order of the Gash” perform “experiments” in extreme sexual experiences on the humans whom they bring to Hell under the watchful eye of their leader, The Engineer.

ChuckyChucky (Child’s Play): A “Good Guy” brand doll possessed by on-the-run serial killer and voodoo practitioner Charles Lee Ray (a.k.a. “The Lakeshore Strangler”) who transfers his soul into said doll upon having Chicago homicide detective Mike Norris fatally shoot him in a toy shop. Foul-mouthed and hot-tempered, Chucky prefers using a kitchen knife to dispatch his victims, although he—like Freddy—has been known for his murderous creativity as well as his continuous efforts to transfer his soul from his present and distinctly recognizable doll body into the body of a regular human.

Officer Matt "Maniac Cop" CordellMatt Cordell (Maniac Cop): A cop sent by his superiors to Sing Sing Correctional Facility for closing in on corruption in city hall as well as alleged police brutality who was stabbed in the showers by three fellow inmates, presumed dead, and returned to avenge his unjust incarceration while maiming numerous innocents along the way to make the system seem even more corrupt than it already is. He possesses supernatural strength and endurance and is armed with his trusty regulation sidearm and a billyclub that conceals a thin, straight slashing blade.

Daniel "Candyman" RobitailleCandyman: A slave’s son and prosperous post-Civil War artist named Daniel Robitaille who ended up falling in love with and fathering the child of a white woman, whose wealthy landowner father hired a lynch mob to publicly execute him by cutting off his painting hand, smearing him with honey, and subjecting him to the stings of countless angry bees. His death has since spawned an urban legend in which one can summon him—albeit with fatal consequences—by saying his name aloud five times while looking into a mirror. Driven by a desire to keep his legend alive and claim the lives and souls of his descendants (as well as that of Chicago researcher Helen Lyle, who is implied to be the reincarnation of his late lover Caroline Sullivan) so that they may join him in the afterlife, Daniel is armed with his signature hook prosthetic and a ribcage full of angry bees and is known for killing those closest to his intended targets—which have, according to the original film trilogy, have been exclusively female—and framing said targets for the murders prior to claiming their own lives.

GhostfaceGhostface (Scream): A primarily mute entity portrayed by several characters within the Scream series, all of whom don a similar costume of a black cloak and a rubber mask with the countenance of the figure from painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream and use a voice-cloaking device in an effort to kill protagonist Sidney Prescott on account of a series of events indirectly caused by Sidney’s mother Maureen. Thought he killers’ motives range from revenge to fame-seeking to “peer pressure,” they all operate under the same modus operandi by calling their victims on the phone while equipped with their voice changer, then slay them with a buck knife. Likewise, though all of Ghostace’s alter egos are ultimately human, they all seem to possess superhuman levels of durability and strength and a supernatural propensity for stealth upon donning the Ghostface costume.

John Kramer, the Jigsaw KillerJigsaw (Saw): Alias John Kramer, former civil engineer who suffers the loss of his unborn son Gideon, endures a divorce from his wife Jill Tuck on account of his bereavement, and develops an inoperable frontal lobe tumor that developed from the colon cancer he’s contracted. After a failed suicide attempt, he develops a new lease on life and makes it his mission to teach others life’s value by designing a series of elaborate and gruesome traps within which he lures his victims, each trap designed to reflect a problem in the life of its intended prey in order to test their “survival instinct” and teach them the value of appreciating (rather than squandering) their lives. He also operates through Billy the Puppet, who delivers recorded messages to his victims as well as through a number of accomplices, including Amanda Young, the first survivor of his traps; Mark Hoffman, a police detective whom he kidnaps and blackmails into becoming his apprentice after Hoffman had used an inescapable Jigaw-esque trap to avenge his sister’s death at the hands of her boyfriend; and even his own ex-wife Jill.

As you can see, the finer points to each of these villains are what set them apart from the rest, specifically in the instances of those whom one can describe as hulking, supernaturally gifted brutes (e.g., Jason, Michael, Cordell). Some have different powers (or lack thereof) from the other slashers. Some have signature weapons (e.g., Freddy’s glove) or other features (e.g., Jason’s mask) that not only define them as characters, but have also become iconic with slasher film lore. Some even stand out from the rest according to the way in which they slay their victims (i.e., Jigsaw’s traps). However, when stripped down to their basic components, there are six essential elements that define each of these killers and illustrate their lasting appeal with movie audiences even today. Those essential elements are as follows:

Motivation: What (or who) is behind the murderer’s killing spree? Whom or what is he or she seeking? Is anyone spared from his or her rampage? If so, who and why?

Personality: How does the slasher behave when he or she is out on the prowl and during and between each kill? Are there any people with whom he or she tries to get along/cooperate along the way? If so, to what capacity?

Powers: Does the slasher have any supernatural powers to aid him or her in his or her crimson quest? If so, how similar or different are they from those of other slashers?

Modus Operandi: How does the killer execute his or her prey? Does he or she have a signature weapon? If so, how does it compare or contrast to other killers’ signature weapons? What other additional equipment does he or she employ throughout his or her mission outside of his or her supernatural powers or lack thereof?

Victims: What common thread do the murderer’s victims share with one another (racial/age demographic, deeds/actions, associations to the event that spurned the villain to become a killer, personal deeds, etc.)? Is there anything special about the victims’ mentality prior to or during the course of the movie and their ultimate demise?

Weaknesses and Downfall: What weaknesses does the killer have? Of those weaknesses (in the instance that there are more than just one of them), which one ultimately leads to his or her undoing?

Clock Tower: The First FearTo illustrate each of these elements more clearly, let’s apply them to a slasher villain whom I neglected to mention earlier on in this article: Scissorman from the Clock Tower video game franchise. To put it simply, more than one person has adopted the “Scissorman” identity throughout the course of the Clock Tower story, not unlike Ghostface. However, there is a connection between each of these killers: the fact that they are either descendants of the aristocratic Barrows family of England or—in the case of Ralph and Jemina the Scissor Twins from Clock Tower 3—were once henchmen of a member of the related Burroughs family. According to legend, Theodore Barrows, the first lord of the Barrows family and builder of the Barrows Castle, was a member of a demonic cult who praised a deity known as the “Great Father” and abducted children for use in demonic rituals—many of which included cannibalism and massacre—in an effort to attain immortality. The only thing these rituals accomplished for him, however, was bestowing a curse upon his family that ensured that a demonic child would be born into the family to continue the acts of unnecessary bloodshed that he’d begun. John Barrows was one such product of the curse, a member of the thirteenth generation of the Barrows clan and the first known to adopt the mantle of the Scissorman, abducting and murdering countless local children until his father Quintin, who opposed his son’s killing spree, put and end to his life. Sadly, the Barrows family curse continued on down the line to Bobby and Dan Barrows with the former taking on the Scissorman identity at nine years old in the first installment in the Clock Tower series, Clock Tower: The First Fear.

Now that we’ve established the basic gist behind the Scissorman persona, let’s take a closer look at the six essential elements that make the first Scissorman, Bobby Barrows, such a memorable slasher villain.

Bobby BarrowsMotivation: As a product of such a long-preserved family curse that only the late Quintin Barrows dared to resist (only to have the cult of the Great Father eventually hunt him down and assassinate him for his “treason” in the end), Bobby’s demonic nature is usually enough to justify his murderous streak. Then again, there’s the incident in which his father Simon tried to thwart his cultist mother Mary and her brother from sacrificing a number of innocents for a black magic ritual they’d intended to perform, only to have Mary imprison him in the shed behind the Barrows Mansion for an indeterminate amount of time. As such, poor parental upbringing (i.e., the foul morals into which Mary has instilled into her two sons) could also be cited as a reason behind Bobby’s negligence to the idea of resisting his demonic heritage and hence his bloodlust.

Personality: Not only has Bobby has murdered many innocent people without a shred of remorse or mercy, but he furthermore seems to delight in playing with his victims prior to killing them, as players can see for themselves in Clock Tower: The First Fear when he dances for a short while after having knocked Jennifer to the ground via a failed physical struggle. Further evidence of his love for psychologically tormenting his prey comes from the way he snaps his scissors with each footstep he takes as he chases them, giving his targets the fear of knowing how close behind them he is.

Powers: Bobby is nearly immortal and impervious to all sorts of pain, as heavy objects coming down upon his head and second-story falls only knock him out for a brief while. He is also impressively strong for a nine-year-old boy of such a sickly physique, as he can to hold his own in physical confrontations against The First Fear’s fifteen-year-old protagonist Jennifer Simpson, effortlessly carry his massive scissors while climbing ladders, and dash forth short distances while holding his scissors high above his head.

Modus Operandi: Bobby is quite capable of setting traps for his prey, such as when Jennifer investigates the bathroom and manages to find the corpse of her friend Laura Harrington hanging from the shower and Bobby bursting forth from the bathtub full of water shortly after her grim discovery. Then again, he is far better known for his more straightforward approach of mercilessly stalking his victims (i.e., Jennifer) and, upon catching up with them, stabbing or slicing them with his signature shears. He is still incredibly persistent, too, and carries on chasing his victims with all of the might and patience at his command by simply walking, holding on to the belief all the while that no matter what his victims do, they’ll die all the same. In fact, the only times he stops walking or running after his prey is when they hit him with enough force to thwart him or when they hide from him, for it has been noted that as per the latter situation, he will not inspect the room in which she’s hiding until she continues to reuse the same hiding place time and time again.

Victims: Aside from Jennifer, there are three other victims whom Bobby stalks in Clock Tower: The First Fear—namely, Jennifer’s fellow Granite Orphanage residents Laura, Lotte, and Ann. All teenagers at their adoption by Mr. Barrows, the four girls fit in with all the other victims that the Barrows family had claimed since Theodore first instated the family’s demonic practices in that their young blood could have very well (theoretically) given Theodore the immortality he’d sought upon first swearing allegiance to the Great Father. Bobby’s own father Simon could have very well fit on the list of victims as well in that he tried to interfere with his mother Mary’s plans of bloody sacrifice, save for the fact that it’s Mary herself who contends with her rebellious husband and not Bobby.

Weakness and Ultimate Downfall: The only thing that can kill Bobby is falling from the Clock Tower of the Barrows Mansion as its bell tolls, which disorients him to the point where he plummets to his death. It is also hinted at that the tolling of the bells signifies the restarting of time at the Barrows Mansion, which results in the deformities that scientifically should have killed him at birth finally doing so following his fall.

Dan Barrows as he appears in Clock Tower: The First Fear giving chase to heroine Jennifer Simpson

Dan Barrows as he appears in Clock Tower: The First Fear giving chase to heroine Jennifer Simpson

In addition to Bobby Barrows donning the mantle of Scissorman is his twin brother Dan, who took on the title himself a year later in the following Clock Tower game, which is known as Clock Tower 2 in Japan and simply Clock Tower elsewhere around the world. For the sake of completion, we’ll be analyzing Dan’s role as Scissorman in this second installment in the Clock Tower saga.

Originally a morbidly obese monster of a child with saggy purple skin and a massive body at least twice as long as Jennifer is tall, Dan Barrows initially haunts the Barrows Mansion with psychic powers such as telekinesis (e.g., keeping the elevator doors shut until his death and being able to “warp” Bobby all over the mansion in his attempts to find and murder Jennifer) from the sanctity of the caverns beneath his family home. There he resides within a giant bed that his father Simon (upon his meeting with Jennifer in his cell in the shed) and Jennifer’s late father Walter (via the letter he’d written prior to his ultimate demise) refer to as “the Cradle Beneath the Stars.” Interestingly enough, Dan’s malformed body was created using the blood and corpses of the Barrows’s young victims, which explains why Mary brings her intended sacrifices to the mansion. His resulting body serves him as a cocoon of sorts within which he matures a more perfect (i.e., humanoid) form, which the PlayStation One release of Clock Tower: The First Fear shows. His involvement within the Clock Tower story continues a year after his accidental incineration at Jennifer’s hands when he—after having fully developed his new human body—arrives at Granite Orphanage with apparent amnesia and the name “Edward,” the latter of which he’d received from his guardian Kay Satterwhite. Having come to believe that he’s one of two survivors of the events from the first story, Edward eventually learns the truth about who he is and everything that has happened in the past and decides to adopt the Scissorman persona and finish what his brother Bobby had started a year prior.

Dan Barrows as the second Scissorman battles Helen Maxwell in the second Clock Tower game from 1996.

Dan Barrows as the second Scissorman battles Helen Maxwell in the second Clock Tower game from 1996.

Motivation: Dan’s ultimate goal is simple: to carry out his family’s dark legacy and offer up more sacrifices to the Great Father in the name of his cult. However, upon regaining his memory, Dan learns not only his own identity, but also discovers a hidden truth about Jennifer: the fact that she, too, is actually a long-lost member of his family. As such, part of his master plan involves trying to get Jennifer to realize her true heritage and convince her to join forces with him in carrying out the “family trade.” Should she refuse to join him, however, he is not against spilling her blood in addition to that of anyone even loosely connected to his old family residence and the murders that took place there or the investigation into said murders.

Personality: As Edward, Dan starts off as shy and obedient yet determined, only to become cold and calculating once he discovers his true identity. He is also quite coercive and manipulative, not in the slightest above using others’ hidden secrets to force or otherwise persuade them into serving his agenda. He especially delights in manipulating people of weak moral fiber, as they in particular succumb to his whims rather easily. He is also very resourceful and therefore capable of analyzing and manipulating his environment to better carry out his objective, especially with the assistance of his psychic abilities.

Powers: Dan possesses the same level of strength and durability as Scissorman that Bobby had while retaining the psychic aptitude he’d had during his days living beneath the Barrows Mansion. Not only can he appear anywhere at any time in true slasher villain tradition via psychoportation, but he’s also clairvoyant and as such can read the minds and souls of his prey in order to better manipulate them into a position that would better serve his objective. His clairvoyance likewise grants him the ability to plan out his kills several steps ahead, which one can particularly see upon witnessing the manner in which he kills whomever criminal psychologist Samuel Barton sends the Demon Idol to between Rick and Sullivan in order to better understand its nature and influence over the Barrows family. Additionally, one can safely say in regards to these potential in-game scenarios that Dan also makes the most out of his telekinetic powers to better manipulate his environment and that it’s also possible for him to corrupt the minds of non-human creatures (i.e., Rick’s dog Victor) and have them perform his bidding.

Modus Operandi: Dan can just as easily chase down his victims and slay them directly as Bobby had, save for the limp with which he walks that consequently slows him down quite a bit physically. More importantly, though, he’s more apt than his brother to use his brains to make the most out of whatever situation he’s in, especially when it comes to setting traps and luring his prey into them as his brother had. His killing Baker—a coworker of co-protagonist Helen Maxwell—and use of his corpse to chase her off and discover her other coworker Rose’s dead body either in a stall in the women’s bathroom or on operating table in Professor Barton’s therapy room is one such example, similar to how Bobby used Laura’s corpse in the bathroom in the Barrows Mansion as a lure for Jennifer in the previous game.

Victims: Dan’s victims in Clock Tower/Clock Tower 2 are, as mentioned before, anyone and everyone connected to the Clock Tower murders or their investigation. As the game’s plot progresses, however, one will notice that he prefers to claim the lives of pedophiles, hebephiles, and adulterers rather than children as Bobby had. He specifically targets the likes of Harris Chapman, who secretly holds an infatuation for Jennifer (as his constant questioning in the game’s prologue shows); his own guardian Kay, whose pedophilic tendencies Edward detects and acts out upon with his psychic powers to make her mentally and physically inseparable from him; and Baker and Rose, who have an affair going on between them. Sexual /romantic deviants aren’t the only holders of dark personal secrets to fall prey to Dan’s murderous streak, however, seeing as he also uses Professor Barton’s desire to gain knowledge of the psychology of murderers against him by turning him into an unwitting Scissorman decoy in the Barrows Castle by drawing Barton into his own dark soul and merging Barton’s soul with it, hence the grim transformation.

Weaknesses and Ultimate Downfall: As with Bobby, physical attacks do nothing to stop Dan’s rampage and only slow him down at most, thereby making his ultimate weakness come in the form of a teleportation spell that both of the game’s chief protagonists, Jennifer and Professor Barton’s assistant Helen Maxwell, can learn to banish him from their reality. Sadly, even banishment isn’t enough for him to stop his plans, seeing as how certain endings in the game do show him dragging either Jennifer or Helen to Hell along with him, lest something is done to shake him off them. Regardless, the fact still stands that this spell is the only thing that can spare the reality of Clock Tower from Dan’s continued onslaught.

Dan Barrows as Edward in the second Clock Tower game

Dan Barrows as Edward in the second Clock Tower game

By breaking down the Scissorman persona in this fashion, it should be easy to see just how much he contributes to the success of the first two Clock Tower games and why, thanks in part to his creators, gamers still remember those installments in the series as fondly as they do today. Scissorman isn’t the only slasher villain who can be deconstructed in this fashion, though, and I wholeheartedly encourage every horror enthusiast who might be reading this little editorial to use this model on his or her favorite slasher villain as a fun little exercise to remind himself or herself of why he or she enjoys said killer so much as a character as well as the movies from which said killer hails. More importantly, however, I hope that writers will be able to make use of the template I’ve constructed here as a form of prewriting for their own slasher horror stories in hopes that they each can create an antagonist who can hold a candle to the likes of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and other such horror movie icons. Even if it’s not this specific template I’ve provided, I still hope that the writers of tomorrow will find some way to craft unique, interesting, and memorable villains like Jason, Michael, Freddy, et cetera to serve as the foundations of the next wave of slasher tales for the sake of the subgenre’s survival. After all, while slasher flicks might not be everyone’s cup of tea (and understandably so), their effect upon American pop culture is nonetheless undeniable, and people should be able to enjoy new stories of this nature—and, quite frankly, new stories in general—for years to come.

Once again, readers, I thank you all for being patient between my last article and this one, and again, I hope you’ve been able to get something out of what I’ve written here. Please forgive me for the wait, and if you’re interested in seeing this series of editorials continue, feel free to leave me your suggestions for the next genre of fiction you’d like me to tackle, as I do intend on making it a thing. Also, as always, I invite you to check out my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see what I have available, and please stay tuned for more content in the near future. Until then, happy Holidays and happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: All opinions discussed in the article above are the author’s own. All visuals used, however, belong to the following sources:

Dear Hollywood – Remakes, Reboots, & Sequels by CinemaSins Jeremy

Lethal Weapon the Series: FlickeringMyth.com
Killer Instinct 2013: AllertonAve.com
Dredd vs. Judge Dredd: Entertainment-Break.com
Slasher Villains: MoviePilot.com
The Prowler DVD Cover: IcePoster.com
Sleepaway Camp 2: Angela Drowns Ally: TheBloodyPitofHorror.Blogspot.com)
Nancy Thompson: Heroes.Wikia.com
Norman Bates: Playbuzz.com
Leatherface: Wikipedia.org
Michael Myers: Michael-Myers.net
Jason Voorhees: JStationX.com
Freddy Krueger: Blumhouse.com
Pinhead/The Hell Priest: GeekAlerts.com
Chucky: FanPep.com
Matt Cordell: ScreenFish.com
Candyman: TheRetroSet.com
Ghostface and John Kramer: Villains.Wikia.com
All Clock Tower pics: ClockTower.Wikia.com

Poem of the Week: Post-Election 2016 America

Post-Election 2016 America
November 11, 2016

Election
Objection, rejection
Lamenting, protesting, rebelling
America divided against itself
Chanting, bickering, beating
Absurdity, insanity
Fear

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
September 26, 2016

They say beggars can’t be choosers, and sadly, I can’t debate,
For time and again, I’ve been in spots that I’ve come to hate—
Relationships I’ve walked out on, jobs I’ve quit in a blink—
All because I could feel the proverbial ship start to sink.
It’s a nightmare that I know too well time and time again,
And it doesn’t get better at all each night I endure it, friend.
In fact, the last of tribulations I’d gone through made me sick—
Literally, too, for even now, my nose keeps going drip, drip, drip,
And this headache I’ve got is still killing me, I can’t deny,
And hackhack-hacking on my own phlegm’s been making me want to die.
I can only imagine, though, just how much sicker I’d surely get
If I’d stuck around any longer and tried to make a sure bet
Out of the situation I’d been in that made me so bloody ill
At a time when I’m usually resilient to all but the foulest swill.
Thankfully, I’ll never find out, for I got out of things quickly,
And my family’s even more thankful that I didn’t get more sickly.
Still, I’m left to wonder how things would’ve turned out otherwise,
Had I stuck with my main plan and not let myself be cut down to size
By the circumstances I suffered in the setting I was in at the time.
Would I’ve come to resent sticking ‘round, or would things have worked out sublime?
I guess I’ll never know either way, seeing as I’ve long since gone
Forever to wonder exactly what it was I had done wrong
To not make my situation work, perhaps even for years.
Then again, sticking around may have more likely brewed other fears—
Fears that may have proven worse than what I’ve already endured,
Such as a deadening of my soul from wounds too deep to be cured
And a satisfaction with mediocrity that none should feel.
Thankfully, that’s not what turned up when I dared to spin Fate’s wheel.
The moral, then, I suppose one could say, is always keep your wits
And know what’s good for you and when your situation’s become the pits
And weigh your pros and cons carefully when you’re stuck knowing not what to do
Before the latter all come pouring down and flush your soul straight out of you.
Beggars can’t be choosers, after all, as the saying goes,
And before you find yourself trapped between anxiety and woe,
Know your options and what to expect , should you go one way or another,
For in the end, it’s one of at least two outcomes, sisters and brothers.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                          Amazon.com
                          Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: A Brand New Trade (The Exhausted Job Hunter Poem)

A Brand New Trade (The Exhausted Job Hunter Poem)
September 12, 2016

All I want is to try my hand
At a brand new trade
Following the end
Of my last job, friend,
Hoping to have it made.

Alas, the people in charge have made
Error ‘pon error to the end,
Making me run through loops
And jump through hoops
As I wonder what’s ‘round the bend.

Do I finally get new work in the end,
Or tis this all one bug “Oops?”
‘Cause I’m starting to fret
About what I’ve yet
To do to join this group.

I hope there’s no low to which I must stoop
In order to secure this bet,
‘Cause I’d really hate
To lose out on a great
Chance to grow as a person yet.

I’m crossing my fingers, trying not to fret
And hoping things will turn out great
And that Fate’s fickle hand
Will understand
And places something good on my slate.

If the results, though, I come to hate,
Then it’s back to pounding the land.
Then elsewhere, there’ll be made
Hist’ry where I’ll be paid
By someone who truly understands.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk