We’ve been up and running here at Slasher Studios for over two years and in that time I’ve realized we’ve never shared our favorite slashers. Below are our top 10 favorite slashers. These aren’t the best slashers out there, that can be debated until the end of time. Nonetheless, these are our favorites. Feel free to chime in with your favorite slashers. Now in alphabetical order, the bloodbath begins.
Black Christmas (1974)
“Black Christmas” is that rare horror movie that gets everything right. This is a movie that just oozes atmosphere. Every frame is dripping with dread and setting the film on the Christmas just adds to the excitement of it all. Not only this but the film is also scary as hell with some excellent performances and an ending that is sure to give every horror fan chills. What is the most incredible aspect of this groundbreaking slasher film? Throughout the entire film, we see various sorority girls getting hacked to death and receiving strange telephone calls. What we don’t see is our psycho, Billy. No motive, no reason, no face, no man..Billy could be anyone of us. If that doesn’t make a true psycho, I really don’t know what does.
The Burning (1981)
This 1981 work of near perfection really does fire on all cylinders and keeps the audience enthralled throughout the duration of the 91 minute runtime. The kills are spectacular, the locations are to die for, the cast has the perfect 80 vibe. The blood and gore within The Burning is top notch as Tom Savini works his magic and gives us some of the most memorable deaths ever to grace the silver screen. The raft scene is produced with out a flaw and everything from the blood, to the shot selection, to the editing pace was well meshed to create something very special. Location, location, location. We have all heard this phrase before and so did the locations scouts for The Burning. We are set in a summer camp near and lake and forest. Very classic 80′s. I have always loved the camp feel for a slasher/horror location and is one doesn’t disappoint.the water adds such a boost the the production value and gives great backdrops for the beautiful cinematography.
“Curtains” is a whopper of a slasher film that does nearly everything right. Creepy costume? Check. Intriguing backstory? Check. Likable, if slightly over-the-top, characters? Check. Great death scenes? Double check. I know this movie went though hell in post production. Rumor has it that the film was shelved for a year, during which there were re-writes, re-shoots, and one major re-casting done. Eventually numerous crew members had to be re-hired to shoot the footage to complete the film.
This movie should be a mess. The fact that it isn’t is a miracle in and of itself but the fact that the movie is a damn near masterpiece? Well, let’s just say that the slasher gods must have been looking down on this movie because it is simply incredible. Love the twist at the end, love the figure skater who gets killed by the masked man in the old hag mask, and love the final chase. Sure it isn’t entirely believable and there is a bit of logic that must be stretched thin but that doesn’t stop this movie from being one of the best of its kind. Definitely worth checking out for slasher fans everywhere.
Friday the 13th (1980)
There are some critics that attack these films don’t seem to see the power these films contain. Here, in Friday the 13th, is a young woman who must put all the pieces of the mystery everything together and save her friends in order to survive the night. And survive she does, something that not a single other male does in the course of the film. In fact, looking at the series as a whole, it takes the franchise until Part 4 before it even allows a male to survive in the end. It should come as no surprise that this male is survived with a female who, once again, was forced to save the day on her own. Whereas in other film genres, such as romantic comedies and dramas, where females are pushed aside to “girlfriend support” roles, Friday the 13th tries to do something different with gender roles by making the males the “supportive partner” and forcing the young female teenager to go take charge and same the day. In essence, the female in this film, as in many other horror films, is the hero.
Halloween is a style-driven movie. It has about enough plot to fill a thimble, but it doesn’t need any more than it has. Director John Carpenter and cinematographer Dean Cundey compensate for this with a very polished, but moody, style. Long, wide tracking shots and eerie blue lighting fill the film. The score is as simple as the script, but simplicity seems to be this film’s strong suit, and the score is no exception. It’s minimal and repetitive, but is amazingly effective. What’s interesting with Halloween is that, for the most part, it is rooted in reality. This is a story of real girls being stalked by a real killer. Only in the film’s final moments does it suggest the possibility of the supernatural. Everything happens as it would in a real-life scenario. The killer does not know his victims, and they do not know him. He happens to fixate on the first girl he sees, the unfortunate Laurie, who inadvertently introduces him to more prey. It’s obvious, though, that Laurie is the one he wants. Despite some extensive toying with Annie, and a fair bit with Lynda, the cat-and-mouse game between Laurie and Michael is apparent from the first act of the film. He fixates on her from the very beginning, and saves his most horrifying tricks for her.
Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
“Happy Birthday to Me” is preposterous, over-the-top, and silly. A blend of all of the 80′s excesses rolled into one far too long film (outside of the Scream franchise NO horror movie should run upwards of two hours). Nonetheless, “Birthday” works. Maybe it is the silly deaths (gotta love the shish-ka-bob to the mouth or the weights to the crotch) or maybe its the outlandish ending that doesn’t even try to make any sense whatsoever. Whatever it is, this movie put a blood red smile across my face for the majority of its running time. Great atmosphere, steady cinematography, and a capable cast also help matters considerably. I can’t say this is a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but if you are looking for a fine, fun 80′s slasher, this is definitely one of the better ones.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an unbelievably original, terrifingly realistic, and overall terrifying that, despite a weak ending, is one of the best horror flicks of the quarter of a century. The film deals with a deceased child molester who now lives only through the dreams of the children of those who burned him alive. Robert Englund is truly frightening as Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven delivers a surprising amount of tension that still holds up today. The film goes for suspense, drama, and gore and delivers for the most part. Heather Langenkamp gives a very solid performance as Nancy Thompson, the young woman is the “leader” among her friends and the only one who may get out alive. Langenkamp is the real deal and she kicks ass. A great horror film that still delivers today. Look for a young Johnny Depp who, arguably, has the best death scene in the flick.
Night School (1981)
This is the kind of movie where half of the fun is trying to figure out where the detectives are going to find the missing heads. The twist ending is pretty predictable and the acting is a bit wooden (Rachel Ward, in her film debut, is all sorts of terrible here) but the film is never boring and has been directed with style. Boston looks positively wretched on film here and it gives the slasher a bit of a grungy “Departed” vibe, I mean that in the best way possible. Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out, just keep your head at the door.
Scream made horror movies scary again with a brilliantly constructed plot. One year after the death of Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother, two students turn up gutted. When a serial killer appears, Sidney begins to suspect whether her mother’s death and the two new deaths are related. No one is safe, as the killer begins to pick everyone off one by one. Finally, something the horror genre was missing: a good old fashioned murder mystery. The performances all around are first rate from Neve Campbell as the vulnerable to Courteney Cox as the bitchy journalist willing to do whatever it takes to get a story Gale Weathers to David Arquette as the sweet, slightly dimwitted Deputy Dewey to Drew Barrymore’s doomed Casey Becker.
Terror Train (1980)
This is a personal favorite slasher film of mine, and one of the best college slasher films. There are many things I love about this film. One, Jamie Lee Curtis who started her career in the horror genre and this genre is some of her best work in my opinion. I don’t think anyone will forget her in John Carpenter’s Halloween either. Second, I love the creepy atmosphere and the killer. What I think makes this killer so creepy is that he or she always dresses in many costumes through out the film and some of those costumes are pretty creepy. I love that the killer uses their eyes to show some type of personalty which is very creepy. Also, I love that you try to guess who the killer might be and when you find out who the killer is at the end it is pretty shocking the first time you see the movie. Third, I love that they put these college students on a train and when in danger it’s hard to runaway from the killer. The kills aren’t too special in this film,but their many other things that make up for this film that I mentioned. If you haven’t seen this 80′s gem then I highly recommend it especially since it is getting a new DVD/Blu-ray release coming soon from Shout Factory. Perfect film to watch around the Halloween season. So get some popcorn with a good drink, and watch this fun slasher film.
Big thank you to Joshua Dean and Justin Rhine whose original reviews of Halloween and Terror Train were used in the write ups included here. Thanks guys!