Most people that know me know that I love slasher films. I was lucky enough to grow up in the 1980s, and I consider that decade to be the Golden Age of the slasher film. As I was growing up I spent most of my weekends at the local Mom and Pop video store renting every single slasher flick I came across and as a result I take pride in the fact that I have seen almost all of them and as such think that I am an expert on all things related to the art of the slasher film.
With that being said I found this list to be incredibly challenging as there are so many good slasher films out there that it was difficult to narrow them down to the 10 best of all time. I know that I left several awesome ones off this list so be sure to check out the honorable mentions at the end as well as most of them are awesome as well.
Without further ado, here is my personal list of the Top Ten Slasher Films of All Time (in my humble opinion). Enjoy!
This little flick is a guilty pleasure of mine and one that I have seen more times than I can count. It is one of those movies that never gets old no matter how many times that you watch it and it was definitely a favorite of my cousin’s and mine when he would stay all night and we would have a horror movie marathon. It has a simple enough plot as it revolves around an escaped mental patient with a power drill terrorizing a group of high school girls having a slumber party but it is also loads of fun. We get some pretty cool death scenes and features a very young Brinke Stevens as one of the killer’s first victims. It’s also cool that the writer and director are both women and that the first draft of the script was meant to be a parody of slasher films that was changed into something else by producers. It’s just an all-around cool little movie and if you’re in the mood for something fun and bloody to relax with it is without a doubt for you.
This film is a classic and many people will argue that It is the first true slasher flick in a lot of ways. Directed by the iconic Alfred Hitchcock and starring the very talented Anthony Perkins, this film (based on the novel by Robert Bloch) scared the hell out of a lot of people when it was first released back in 1960 and made sure that many viewers never looked at the shower the same way ever again. It is suspenseful, well-written, the acting and directing is flawless, and there is a neat little twist at the end that truly and utterly shocked audiences when it was revealed. I still think that it holds up pretty damn well and in a lot of ways is ahead of its time. If you haven’t seen it you are truly missing out because it is a true horror classic in every possible way.
A lot of people have tried (and failed miserably) to recapture the feel of the slasher flicks from the 80s in recent years, but writer/director Adam Green knocked it out of the park with 2010’s Hatchet. This movie is totally and completely awesome and is just loads of bloody fun in general. Green does what no one else was able to do and made a movie that did a great job of harkening back to the slasher flicks of yesteryear in numerous ways and in doing so created the newest slasher flick icon in the form of Victor Crowley (who is played by the legendary Kane Hodder, who is known for also playing another important figure in the history of the slasher film). Loaded with some absolutely awesome (and incredibly gory) death scenes, Hatchet is a modern slasher classic that has a lot of heart behind it. Adam Green is obviously a fan of slasher films and “gets it” so to speak, which is why this movie is just so damn great and deserves a spot on this list.
I remember right after Thanksgiving when I was in fifth grade back in 1984 when a bunch of kids at my school were all abuzz about this movie trailer that they’d seen that featured a man dressed like Santa Claus chasing a woman around with an axe. Being the demented kid I was I really wanted to see it after hearing about it but unfortunately I didn’t get to because it was quickly pulled from the airwaves due to a bunch of weenies complaining about it.
About a year later though I saw the movie on VHS and loved every minute of it. Along with Black Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night is my favorite Christmas slasher flick and my wife and I watch it every year around the holidays (she prefers Black Christmas and even though I love it too I have a special place in my heart for Silent Night, Deadly Night). It’s a great little slasher about a guy in a Santa suit going around and hacking up people he thinks belongs on the naughty list. Even though it isn’t the first of its kind (Christmas Evil AKA Terror in Toyland actually came first and has a similar premise) it is the best and it just isn’t the holiday season without watching it. It was pretty controversial upon its release as angry parents actually protested against it when it played at numerous movie theaters back in the day, but I think that this backfired as it made people like me want to see it that much more. It’s a true holiday classic that never gets old in my opinion (though the sequels do suck pretty bad).
If you ask me Intruder is one of the most underrated slasher flicks of all time (Hell, it’s one of the most underrated horror films in general of all time to be honest). It is loads of fun and has some of the best death scenes I’ve ever witnessed. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think that is part of the reason that it is so good. We basically have a bunch of grocery store employees getting killed off one-by-one by a mysterious maniac one night as they are preparing for the store to close for good. We don’t know who the killer is until the end and while some may argue that the person’s motive is goofy I disagree as I think that it works.
To make things even better Renee Estevez and Sam and Ted Raimi are all in it and if you don’t blink you’ll see Bruce Campbell in a brief appearance at the very end. Speaking of the end, I think that this movie has one of the most creative endings ever and it just rocks on so many levels. Intruder never really got the love it deserved (mainly due to the fact that it came along in 1989 when the slasher flick craze was starting to die down) which is a shame because it really is something special and deserves to be recognized.
05- Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp is my favorite movie of all time and I’ve probably seen it more than I’ve seen any other film. A lot of people (who don’t know any better) claim that it is just a Friday the 13th rip-off but they are totally mistaken. While it takes place at a camp and there is someone running around taking out the campers and counselors the similarities pretty much end there. It has some really cool death scenes, likable characters, and one of the greatest shock endings in the history of film that stays with you long after you’ve watched it. I got to hang out with stars Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten (who play Angela and Ricky in the film) on a couple of occasions and they are both just complete class acts who are beyond awesome. I’ve loved this movie ever since I saw it for the first time back in 1987 and think that it actually gets better each time that I watch it. I dig the sequels as well and while they may not be as good as the original they are still worth taking a look at as well. If you haven’t seen this movie do yourself a favor and stop reading this list right now and go check it out. You can thank me later.
I almost didn’t put this on the list. It isn’t that I don’t love it because I do, but I was debating if it could be considered a slasher film or not. After a lot of thought I decided that it was so I made the choice to include it (it actually took the place of Child’s Play, which I originally planned to have in this spot on the list). Who doesn’t dig this movie? We get a demented guy with a chainsaw and his equally demented family terrorizing a group of friends in a number of disturbing and unsettling ways. Believe it or not I didn’t really like it when I first saw it back in 1986 because it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. My t
e-year-old self thought that it was going to be bloody death after bloody death via chainsaw and when that wasn’t the case I was a little let down (I was a stupid kid). I saw it again a few years later when I was a little more mature and actually got it, and ever since that day I have been a huge fan. Leatherface is without a doubt one of the greats of horror and he is at his best in this film in my opinion. While I am not so big on the sequels (or the crappy remakes) I think that this movie is a classic in so many ways and is part of slasher film royalty.
On Christmas Eve of 1985 my dad came home from work with a surprise for the entire family. He’d bought a VCR for us (which is-to this day-one of the greatest X-mas gifts I ever got) so we loaded up the car and hit the carpet store in town that also rented videos (hey, it was the 80’s. EVERY store rented videos at the time and headed out to grab some movies. In addition to picking up a Transformers cartoon we also got A Nightmare on Elm Street (and the lesser known horror flick Bells AKA Murder by Phone) and I loved it. I wa
a Freddy fanatic for years after seeing this film and even though he got a lot less scary (and some may even say a lot goofier) as the years went by and more and more sequels were made he is awesome in this movie. I was freaked out by it and was afraid to go to sleep that night because I was terrified that he was going to get me as soon as I dozed off so I slept a grand total of about 20 minutes before I had to get up the next day. This movie still holds up very well (and is a million times better than the horrible remake from several years ago) and is without a doubt one of the greatest slasher flicks of all time that created one of the most important horror figures ever. Everyone knows who Freddy is regardless if they are a horror fan or not, and this movie is responsible for making him a household name. While I do dig some of the sequels (for some reason I have always loved part 4) none of them can hold a candle to the original as it is pretty much perfect in every way.
02- Friday the 13th
Even though I didn’t see the first Friday the 13th until after I’d seen parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 it is still one of the best of the series (right after part 6, which is my personal favorite) and is without a doubt an iconic film for a number of reasons. I saw it at the theater in town back in October and was surprised by how many people sitting in my general area thought that Jason was the killer and were shocked when it was revealed that Mrs. Voorhees was the culprit (have these folks been living in a cave the last 30 some years or something?). It is a great movie that helped usher in the era of the slasher film and set up the creation of one of the best-if not THE best-horror villains of all time in the form of Jason Voorhees (who is my favorite horror antagonist, by the way). Friday the 13th is ahead of its time in a lot of ways and is just a fun movie in general. I don’t think that the people behind it had any idea how big it would become and how many sequels it would spawn. It is without a doubt an awesome movie and a great way to kick off a series of films that would be equally impressive.
In my opinion Halloween set the standard for the slasher film and is one of the most influential (and imitated) horror movie of all time. It is in a class all by itself in a lot of ways and has had a huge following since it was released back in 1978. It was pretty much the first film to feature the unstoppable killing machine and has inspired many, many filmmakers to create similar movies. Michael Myers is iconic in the world of horror and I think that he is the best in this film as we don’t really know that much about him or why he is stalking poor Laurie Strode. He’s probably the creepiest of all the horror villains as he just lurks in the shadows and we don’t know why he is able to take a handful of bullets and get right back up like it is nothing. Though the series went downhill after part 4 (in my opinion anyway) and we find out way too much about Michael he is perfect in this movie as he is an enigma, which is the way he should be. I like the fact that he is pretty much just the Boogeyman in this installment as I think that it works on so many levels. Halloween is a classic horror film that has all the elements needed to make it a great slasher flick, and as such it deserves the number one slot on this list.
There you have it folks, my list of the Top 10 Slasher Flicks of All Time. Please feel free to agree or disagree as I love hearing your feedback!
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Prom Night (1980)
Black Christmas (1974)
House on Sorority Row
A Bay of Blood
Truth of Dare?: A Critical Madness