8 Slasher Slang Terms, Dissected


Thirty-five years ago this month, the first Friday the 13th was released, two years after that other slasher classic, Halloween. Since then, both have spawned numerous sequels, remakes, video games, at least one mashup, and countless imitations and parodies. They've also unleashed a whole of host of slasher slang. Here are eight of the most definitive in slasher movie history.


We know slasher movies as those that involve a killer, often masked, that murders his victims with some kind of blade (or perhaps a chainsaw). However, in the early-to-mid 1970s (and before the release of Halloween and Friday the 13th), slasher was synonymous with snuff, a disturbing film “genre” that involved the actual killing of a woman.

But whether or not snuff movies actually exist is questionable. In his 1971 book The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion, author Ed Sanders says that Manson wanted to make a movie called "Easy Snuff" that would involve an actual murder. However, since then, the existence of snuff movies has only been rumor.

The word snuff, which originally referred to extinguishing a candle, came to mean "to die" by 1864, and by the early 1930s, to kill or murder. The meaning of slasher changed from "snuff film" to the one we know now in the late 1970s.


When we hear psycho, we probably think of someone like Norman Bates. But when the word first originated in 1914, it was shorthand for all things psychology and psychiatry, including psychopathic behavior.

It was in 1919 that the word came to refer specifically to someone who behaved in deranged way—in other words, like a psychopath. By 1945, the word had also gained its adjectival form.

Many think of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film as the first slasher movie, or at least a very strong influence. Either way, you probably can't hear screeching violins without thinking of Janet Leigh meeting her unfortunate end in the shower.


The Italian giallo movies of the 1960s and '70s also had a big impact on American slashers.

A suspense genre in general, giallo translates as "yellow" and is named for the bright yellow covers of popular mystery novels published in Italy beginning the late 1920s. (The American equivalent of such novels are pulps, named for the cheap pulp paper they were printed on.)

Sometimes called spaghetti slashers (playing off spaghetti western), gialli often feature gratuitous sex and violence. Perhaps one of the more slasher-esque is Blood and Black Lace, in which a masked murderer picks off models, one by scantily-clad one.


You know the scene: the heroine has entered a darkened room where the killer might lie in wait. Improvised weapon raised, she carefully, quietly creeps in when—SCREECH! YOWL! "OH MY GOD, WHAT—" ... Phew, just a cat.

The Lewton bus is named for filmmaker Val Lewton, who used a hissing yet harmless bus to startle his heroine—and the audience—in his 1942 film, Cat People (although some say it was actually film editor Mark Robson who invented the technique). While the method didn't debut in a slasher movie, the Lewton bus, also called the cat scare, has been used—or overused—in many since.

This same Cat People scene, by the way, also features the Lewton walk, in which the heroine suspects she’s being followed when she hears footsteps behind her that stop when she stops, and speed up when she hurries. This technique was hilariously parodied in Bowfinger.


The splatter film is the slasher’s gorier cousin. While 1970s movies The Wizard of Gore and The Last House on the Left are considered part of this gruesome genre, the term splatter film didn’t originate until about 1980.

Because of the graphic and sensationalist nature of the genre, splatter films are also referred to as gorno, a blend of gore and porno, as well as torture porn, especially when referring to movies like Saw, Hostel, and Audition.

Splatter films also share qualities with shocksploitation movies, which explore “taboo” subjects for pure shock value. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a prime example.


In early 1980s Great Britain, a "moral watchdog" called the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association coined the phrase video nasty to describe what they considered particularly offensive horror movies.

Such movies were distributed on videotape and had never been released in theaters, says the BBC. The National Viewers' and Listeners' Association blamed such videos for violent crimes. Now video nasty seems to mean any negative or disturbing video.


Final girl refers to the last female survivor in a slasher pic, like Laurie in Halloween, Alice in Friday the 13th, Sidney in Scream, and many others.

The term was coined by American film professor Carol J. Clover in her 1993 book, Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Since the mid-1970s, Clover says, the last survivor in slasher films has been female. She is often virginal, or at least unavailable, following the first “rule” of surviving a horror movie, at least according to Randy in Scream. She’s paranoid yet resourceful, and she puts off the killer long enough to be rescued or to kill him herself.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer may be considered a send-up of the final girl trope. The TV show is full of "final girls" who survive to kill the killers, and who even after being killed (twice!) refuse to die.


A scream queen is an actress who has appeared in a number of horror movies, such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Heather Langenkamp of, respectively, the Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

The term scream queen may have originated with the 1978 book, Scream Queens: Heroines of the Horrors by Calvin Thomas Beck. Beck published a horror film magazine called Castle of Frankenstein from 1962 to 1975, and may have been novelist Robert Bloch's partial inspiration for Norman Bates (the other part being serial killer Ed Gein). Beck apparently had a domineering mother who followed him everywhere, including his college classes.

Bloch's novel of course became a very famous movie starring one of the original scream queens, Janet Leigh, mother of Jamie Lee. Curtis, by the way, will be appearing in an upcoming TV show called Scream Queens.

9 Curses for Book Thieves From the Middle Ages and Beyond

It may seem extreme to threaten the gallows for the theft of a book, but that's just one example in the long, respected tradition of book curses. Before the invention of moveable type in the West, the cost of a single book could be tremendous. As medievalist Eric Kwakkel explains, stealing a book then was more like stealing someone’s car today. Now, we have car alarms; then, they had chains, chests … and curses. And since the heyday of the book curse occurred during the Middle Ages in Europe, it was often spiced with Dante-quality torments of hell.

The earliest such curses go back to the 7th century BCE. They appear in Latin, vernacular European languages, Arabic, Greek, and more. And they continued, in some cases, into the era of print, gradually fading as books became less expensive. Here are nine that capture the flavor of this bizarre custom.


A book curse from the Arnstein Bible, circa 1172
A curse in the Arnstein Bible
British Library // Public Domain

The Arnstein Bible at the British Library, written in Germany circa 1172, has a particularly vivid torture in mind for the book thief: “If anyone steals it: may he die, may he be roasted in a frying pan, may the falling sickness [i.e. epilepsy] and fever attack him, and may he be rotated [on the breaking wheel] and hanged. Amen.”


A 15th-century French curse featured by Marc Drogin in his book Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses has a familiar "House That Jack Built"-type structure:

“Whoever steals this book
Will hang on a gallows in Paris,
And, if he isn’t hung, he’ll drown,
And, if he doesn’t drown, he’ll roast,
And, if he doesn’t roast, a worse end will befall him.”


A book curse excerpted from the 13th-century Historia scholastica
A book curse from the Historia scholastica
Yale Beinecke Library // Public Domain

In The Medieval Book, Barbara A. Shailor records a curse from Northeastern France found in the 12th-century Historia scholastica: “Peter, of all the monks the least significant, gave this book to the most blessed martyr, Saint Quentin. If anyone should steal it, let him know that on the Day of Judgment the most sainted martyr himself will be the accuser against him before the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Drogin also records this 13th-century curse from a manuscript at the Vatican Library, as notes. It escalates rapidly.

"The finished book before you lies;
This humble scribe don’t criticize.
Whoever takes away this book
May he never on Christ look.
Whoever to steal this volume durst
May he be killed as one accursed.
Whoever to steal this volume tries
Out with his eyes, out with his eyes!"


A book curse from an 11th century lectionary
A book curse from an 11th century lectionary
Beinecke Library // Public Domain

An 11th-century book curse from a church in Italy, spotted by Kwakkel, offers potential thieves the chance to make good: “Whoever takes this book or steals it or in some evil way removes it from the Church of St Caecilia, may he be damned and cursed forever, unless he returns it or atones for his act.”


This book curse was written in a combination of Latin and German, as Drogin records:

"To steal this book, if you should try,
It’s by the throat you’ll hang high.
And ravens then will gather ’bout
To find your eyes and pull them out.
And when you’re screaming 'oh, oh, oh!'
Remember, you deserved this woe."


This 18th-century curse from a manuscript found in Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, is written in Arabic: “Property of the monastery of the Syrians in honorable Jerusalem. Anyone who steals or removes [it] from its place of donation will be cursed from the mouth of God! God (may he be exalted) will be angry with him! Amen.”


A book curse in a 17th century manuscript cookbook
A book curse in a 17th century cookbook

A 17th-century manuscript cookbook now at the New York Academy of Medicine contains this inscription: "Jean Gembel her book I wish she may be drouned yt steals it from her."


An ownership inscription on a 1632 book printed in London, via the Rochester Institute of Technology, contains a familiar motif:

“Steal not this Book my honest friend
For fear the gallows be yr end
For when you die the Lord will say
Where is the book you stole away.”


One of the most elaborate book curses found on the internet runs as follows: "For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change to a Serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain, crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no surcease to his Agony till he sink to Dissolution. Let Book-worms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment let the Flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.”

Alas, this curse—still often bandied about as real—was in fact part of a 1909 hoax by the librarian and mystery writer Edmund Pearson, who published it in his "rediscovered" Old Librarian's Almanack. The Almanack was supposed to be the creation of a notably curmudgeonly 18th-century librarian; in fact, it was a product of Pearson's fevered imagination.

5 Things We Know About Deadpool 2

After Deadpool pocketed more than $750 million worldwide in its theatrical run, a sequel was put on the fast track by Fox to capitalize on the original's momentum. It's a much different position to be in for a would-be franchise that was stuck in development hell for a decade, and with Deadpool 2's May 18, 2018 release date looming, the slow trickle of information is going to start picking up speed—beginning with the trailer, which just dropped. Though most of the movie is still under wraps, here's what we know so far about the next Deadpool.


The tendency with comic book movie sequels is to keep cramming more characters in until the main hero becomes a supporting role. While Deadpool 2 is set to expand the cast from the first film with the addition of Domino (Zazie Beetz), the return of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and the formation of X-Force, writer Rhett Reese is adamant about still making sure it's a Deadpool movie.

"Yeah, it’ll be a solo movie," Reese told Deadline. "It’ll be populated with a lot of characters, but it is still Deadpool’s movie, this next one."


Fans have been waiting for Cable to come to theaters ever since the first X-Men movie debuted in 2000, but up until now, the silver-haired time traveler has been a forgotten man. Thankfully, that will change with Deadpool 2, and he'll be played by Josh Brolin, who is also making another superhero movie appearance in 2018 as the villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. In the comics, Cable and Deadpool are frequent partners—they even had their own team-up series a few years back—and that dynamic will play out in the sequel. The characters are so intertwined, there were talks of possibly having him in the original.

"It’s a world that’s so rich and we always thought Cable should be in the sequel," Reese told Deadline. "There was always debate whether to put him in the original, and it felt like we needed to set up Deadpool and create his world first, and then bring those characters into his world in the next one."

Cable is actually the son of X-Men member Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey named Madelyne Pryor (that's probably the least confusing thing about him, to be honest). While the movie might not deal with all that history, expect Cable to still play a big role in the story.


Although Deadpool grossed more than $750 million worldwide and was a critical success, it still wasn't enough to keep original director Tim Miller around for the sequel. Miller recently came out and said he left over concerns that the sequel would become too expensive and stylized. Instead, Deadpool 2 will be helmed by John Wick (2014) director David Leitch. Despite the creative shuffling, the sequel will still feature star Ryan Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

“He’s just a guy who’s so muscular with his action," Reynolds told Entertainment Weekly of Leitch's hiring. "One of the things that David Leitch does that very few filmmakers can do these days is they can make a movie on an ultra tight minimal budget look like it was shot for 10 to 15 times what it cost,"


No, this won't be the title of the movie when it hits theaters, but the working title for Deadpool 2 while it was in production was, appropriately, Love Machine.


The natural instinct for any studio is to make the sequel to a hit film even bigger. More money for special effects, more action scenes, more everything. That's not the direction Deadpool 2 is likely heading in, though, despite Miller's fears. As producer Simon Kinberg explained, it's about keeping the unique tone and feel of the original intact.

"That’s the biggest mandate going into on the second film: to not make it bigger," Kinberg told Entertainment Weekly. "We have to resist the temptation to make it bigger in scale and scope, which is normally what you do when you have a surprise hit movie."


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