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Beetlejuice91

Are monsters better with having their backstory told or up to your imagination?

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There's something I noticed when watching the slasher icons and their movies. Some of them had their origins explained in a different way around the 90's. I'm mostly looking at Freddy, Jason and Michael.

With Freddy, it's revealed throughout the films why he was a killer and in Freddy's Dead shows the deal he made with dream demons to get his power.

Jason seems to have a supernatural explanation in Jason goes to Hell. We never know about who his father was.

With Michael Myers, parts 4-6 explain Michael being controlled by a cult using paganism in Haddonfield to slaughter his family.

Does the explaining really make them more interesting or does it just demystify the characters?

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some people like not knowing how the monster gets their power.I myself like to hear the explanation,it's part of the story.Also,it really bothered me alot in the old days when critics of horror movies would say "He'll just come back in another sequel,no matter what they do to him here.It's so stupid and not worth your money." At least when movies like Freddy's Dead,Jason Goes to Hell, and Halloween-Curse of Michael Myers were made,we finally got some sort of explanation as to why the killer still hasn't died yet.They came up with rules to explain how it was possible,and i liked the effort the scriptwriters made in trying to define alot of that sorta thing.

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To me that isn't a matter of a character's origin or backstory being told but instead being revamped by adding new material to make the sequel more interesting when otherwise it might have suffered without that reveal (and lets be fair with most of those sequels suffered regardless). When a movie series is still pretty fresh its easier to toy with a characters history but once a series has been going on for a few films it feels to me that the lore established in those earlier movies sort of becomes bible as far as lore goes. Sure you can still add small details but huge revisions to me just seems to be taking lore that fans have invested in and like (hence part of the reason they kept coming back) is thrown out the window just so a sequel in the series later years can say they re-invented the wheel. To me it just seems like a last ditch attempt to rejuvenate a series that is way past its prime as a cash cow.

Though is it surprising that with Jason Goes to Hell (where they said Jason was a demonic slug), Freddy's Dead (Where Freddy made a deal with dream demons) Return of Michael Myers and Curse of Michael Myers (Introduction to the Thorn Cult) that the subsequent movies of the franchise completely nixed those new story elements? Heck instead of dealing with demonic slugs New Line just shot Jason into space. After Freddy's Dead New Line brought Wes back who in turn saw the series had gone so far off the rails his "Freddy" movies would take place outside the movies. Finally with Halloween after the Thorn cult stuff they decided to ignore those things happened in exchange for a return of Laurie Strode in a movie that was supposed to be the end of the Halloween franchise.

 

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In all honesty I prefer different takes on origin stories and the like. Variety is the spice of life. There are a lot of purists who, for them, have the canon stop up to a certain point (Halloween being a big one with completely disregarding Thorn, the sequels ignoring previous entries, some saying Part 2 is the last of it). It doesn't really matter to me but I don't lose sleep over some of the more contrived ideas. I guess it only really matters depending on your devotion to it (like if it's not under the umbrella of one creator or whatever), then you just pick and choose what interests you.

There's a reason Captain Kirk goes on all of his other adventures after being resurrected in the Shatnerverse.

Just depends on what kind of continuity you're willing to accept.

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Well if your looking for a sympathetic monster, then I would guess a backstory would be essential. For an unsympathetic scary monster I would just leave hints and vague references to it's past. (Such as Freddy being killed by a mob of angry parents.) Just enough information to explain why it's killing, and perhaps how it can be beaten, but not much more than that.

If the backstory IS explained, then I hope it's by the original creator, and not some Johnny Come Lately trying to put their own spin on it.

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I like what @Pazuzu said about "vague hints". This way there is some sort of a back story, but a lot of "let your imagination run wild with it". 

Here is an example, Halloween one, Loomis describes Michael as having the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes. Basically says he doesn't know why he is what he is so he spent years trying to contain him. Then in Curse we are introduced to "Cult of Thorn" and it was freaking cheesy as Hell. The Friday the 13th series is another one that the more backstory they try to implement, the less scary Jason becomes. 

Backstories are great for furthering a plot, developing characters and creating audience attachment to the characters. Overall though, the unknown is one of the most terrifying factors. I think the best way to add backstory is subtle clues along the way. Make the audience work for it. If they can pick up on what is in the shots, in a line or two of conversation and such then they can build their own theories, stories, interpretations while the horror continues around them.

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On 7/22/2018 at 5:25 AM, FinalGirl88 said:

I def prefer to know the backstory because you get to see them from a more humane angle and even feel sorry for them

I will agree that it adds backstory and could create a character bond. It can also have adverse effects where it makes a monster lose its power.

The monster now lacks mystique or power of the unknown.

The back story could make the character seem weak - my example here is Rob Zombie's Halloween. Seeing him being an emo kid that had gotten picked on too many times made him seem incredibly weak. Carpenter's version has a sane child in a normal, comfortable neighborhood kiling his sister suddenly and for unknown reasons. Much more mysterious and creepy.

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Considering I don't find Jason scary ( Because I always root for him lulz) I'd like to learn more about his history and what he was like before he became the unstoppable undead killer we all know. Kinda same goes for Freddy. Although really his character speaks for himself and knowing his backstory won't make him better or less better. I like Freddy's comedy. As for Michael Myers, leaving him as a mystery works for his character. It's what gives him the appeal as a horror villian that he is.

I don't acknowledge the stuff in Jason Goes to Hell as Jason being an ass crawling alien worm that body hops and shaves naked hairy men as canon to Jason's character.

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I like knowing what made them the way they are, so I'm all for knowing their history. I also like when people communicate and not just lurk.

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