20 Jan 2015

SLASHER FILM RULES - And Then There Were None (1945)

Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  Are the slasher film rules true?

And Then There Were None (1981) is a murder mystery (based on the Agatha Christie novel) but as a film where people get killed off one-by-one, does it follow the slasher film rules?

The following may include spoilers for
And Then There Were None (1945)

Rule #1 - There Will Be A Warning...

The nursery rhyme and the LP count as a warnings, but is only after they are already trapped.  As effective warnings go, there wasn't one at all.
Prince Nikita Starloff did remark on the fact that the other seven non-staff guests had accepted the invite to a party of someone that they hadn't met: that, naturally, should have been a warning.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A
Given the era (the Hays Code was still in effect) there was no sex, nudity or anything of the sort.  There was a platonic romance between the two eventual survivors but that was it.
Generally, Christie adaptations avoid additional sex and nudity, with her being upset by the inclusion of such scenes to spice up the 1972 adaptation of Endless Nights.
It is said that Christie herself sometimes wrote naked a bathtub but that little bit of information probably does help this at all.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

It is explicitly stated that they were targeted because of deaths they were responsible and unpunished for, so it is the killer's intention.  Fortunately, the two survivors are actually innocent.

A:  SEX - No sex in the film.
B:  NUDITY - No nudity in the film.
C:  DRINKING -  Dr. Edward G. Armstrong, is an alcoholic who accidentally killed a patient because of his drinking and was thus a victim of the killer because it.  All drank.
D:  DRUGS -  No drugs in the film (beyond those of the doctor.)
H:  BYSTANDER - The boatman - survives.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A:  DOWN TO THE BASEMENT - No basements.
B: UPSTAIRS - Emily Brent was killed upstairs.  The others weren't.
C:  FOR A SHOWER - No one showers onscreen.
D:  SHEDS & OUT BUILDINGS - Thomas Rogers, the butler is killed after sleeping in the woodshed, although others had visited in daylight in pairs earlier.
E:  THE FOREST - No forest.
F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - General Sir John Mandrake, was killed because he stayed behind alone, but other characters frequently survive going anywhere alone.  In fact, the more fear travelling in pairs because one of the is the killer.
G:  ANYWHERE REMOTE - The entire premise is that they've be gathered on an island with only one house on it.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...

Few, if any, of the characters truly conform to the later stereotypes, both because they aren't meant to and because they aren't really strongly defined characters
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - The eight non-staff characters appear on screen at the same time, Philip Lombard has a close up first, but Prince Nikita Starloff is killed first.  (Fail).
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - None, however, Prince Nikita Starloff who dies first is a foreigner (Russian Prince in exile) and you could count that, I guess.  Possibly first (Pass).
C:  THE STONER - No stoners, Dr. Edward G. Armstrong is an alcoholic but that's the closest it gets and he's killed late.  General Sir John Mandrake is a dothering old man who has little touch with what is going on so may be a OK fit. Early (Pass)
D:  THE BIMBO - Ethel Rogers isn't a bimbo but she's a frail character who screams and collapses and isn't seen again once the accusations against her are made.  Early. (Pass)
E:  THE NERDY/FUNNY GUY - Prince Nikita Starloff may count.  Perhaps the butler Thomas Rogers  Early + Middle.  (Pass)
F:  THE MACHO JERK Prince Nikita Starloff may count, possibly William H. Blore.  Late. (Pass)
G:  STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER - None of the females seem particularly strong.  Emily Brent, maybe, but she seems too unaware of what's going on.  Middle (Pass)
H:  THE PROTECTOR - Phillip Lombard/Charles Morley.  Survives. (Pass)
I:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Phillip Lombard/Charles Morley.  Survives. (Pass)
J:   CHILDREN & ANIMALS - There's a cat on the island.  It seems it survives. (Pass)
K:  THE FINAL GIRL - Vera Claythorne (see #7).  Survives. (Pass).

Order of Death:

1.  Prince Nikita Starloff [B, E]
2.  Ethel Rogers [D]
3.  General Sir John Mandrake [C]
4.  Thomas Rogers [E]
5.  Emily Brent [G]
X.  Judge Francis J. Quinncannon
6.  Dr. Edward G. Armstrong [C]
7.  William H. Blore [F]
8.  Judge Francis J. Quinncannon/UN Owen [Killer]

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

A:  COMMUNICATION DEVICES - There is no phone.
B:  LIGHTING - The lights eventually went out and constantly being blown out candles were used.
C:  VEHICLES - No vehicles on the island, see 6g for the boat.
D:  YOUR OWN LEGS - No really running away occurred to fall over while doing so.
E:  AUTHORITIES - Didn't appear, although it was assumed that they'd end up arresting and hanging an innocent person at the end and the entire premise was the legal system's failure to punish the members of the group.
F:  WEAPONS - Weapons weren't used against the killer.
G:  ESCAPE ROUTES - The boat to the mainland only comes twice a week and won't return until Monday.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

Vera Claythorne probably counts.  She is the surviving female, although the male is the more dominant survivor.
A:  FINAL - Yes, as noted, one of two survivors.
B:  GIRL - Yes, the youngest of the three women on the island.
D:  WELL DRAWN - No.  Vera is a very poorly developed character.  Lomard accuses her of not being smart enough to be the killer.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Virginal: unknown, certainly nothing onscreen.  Innocent:  One of two people on the island who turn out not to be murderers.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - Vera does face down the killer at the end, but it was a pretty meek role, basically just listening to the denouement.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

A:  LOCATION - The killer invites them all to the island.
B:  THE FINAL GIRL - No connection.
C:  THE PROTECTOR - No connection (he isn't even the person the killer invited.)
D:  OTHER VICTIMS - No connection.
E:  FEMININITY - There is nothing noticeably feminine about the killer.
F:  SPECIFIC LOOK - No real specific look.
G:  SPECIFIC WEAPON - No specific weapons but he does kill them in lie with the nursery rhyme.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

A:  ALWAYS KILL THE BAD GUY TWICE - The killer arranges with one of the victims to fake his own death, so a point here.
B:  THE BAD GUY LIVES ON - Does not occur in this film.
C:  EVIL IS IMMORTAL - Not the case here.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

No sequels, but multiple adaptations of the novel have been made.


OK, at times (especially rules #5 and #7) it's a little forced, there's certainly signs that future rules apply to some extent, even in this film that isn't part of the genre.

The following rules were followed:  3, 5, 6.
The following rules were partially followed:  1, 4, 7, 9, 10.
The following rules were not followed: 2, 8. 
~ DUG.

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