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One of the ironies of the Friday the 13th movies is Jason is supposed to be mentally retarded, and yet he has the most creative kills of any slasher in the genre.  Indeed comparing the way Jason kills people to the way any pre-1980s slasher kills people is like comparing humans before and after 50 kya (the date when some scientists think behavioral modernity blossomed).

Before 50 kya, humans generally could only make artifacts out of only stones.  After 50 kya they suddenly started making them out of bone, antler, ivory and shell.

Similarly before 1980, U.S. slashers could only kill with knives, saws, and their hands.  After 1980, they started killing with axes, pitch forks, machetes, cork-screws.  You name it!

Of course the one killing weapon no self-respecting slasher will use is as a gun.  Watching Halloween IV with a large group of people, there was one scene where it looked like Michael Myers was about to shoot someone with a rifle.  People watching the movie were booing, moaning and hissing.  “C’mon man” complained one black guy.

But when the crowd realized Michael had other plans for the gun besides shooting it, the crowd went wild with approval.

The question is why don’t we want our slashers using guns?  Here’s my just-so story:  Guns have only existed for a short period of time, by contrast primates have been slabbed, slashed and hacked for millions of years, so there’s been far more time to evolve an innate fear towards these methods of violence, and so they better fit the scary atmosphere horror fans seek.

At the 47 minute mark in the below video (hat-tip to commenter Bruno), Richard Dawkins and Stephen Pinker talk about how what we fear has more to do with what was threatening in our prehistoric past than what is threatening to us today, implying these fears are not rational, but hardwired instincts.  I think most of us fear even harmless snakes because our ancestors spent millions of years being eaten by snakes in the Africa Savannah: