Slasher Studios Presents: Top 5 Horror Impacting Life Choices

Horror films have been know to inflict nightmares upon people and make them afraid of things at night. I admit when I was a kid and I first saw I Know What You Did Last Summer, I became super paranoid that Ben Willis was hiding in the closet or in the dark corner of my room. But has a film ever impacted you in a way that prevented you from doing certain things in life? There’s the infamous Jaws and fearing of going into the ocean, Psycho with showers, and recently one could say The Visit could prevent people from wanting to visit long lost grandparents. I wish I could say that I haven’t fallen under the influence of horror, but sadly I have. Here are my personal five horror films that have impacted the way I live.

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5) Bug
A man and women holed-up in a crummy hotel begin to suspect that their room is being inhabited by bugs. While this was more of a psychological thriller with governmental conspiracy theories, the representation of the bugs is chill-worthy. Everyone prefers to stay at a nicer hotel than a crummy run-down one. However, my reasons are more intense due to this film. Although Michael Shannon’s characters emphasizes that these aren’t just bed bugs, the idea of bugs in the bedding and giving bites like this makes me cringe like crazy. Even during the film I found myself itching. Because of this film I am very picky at just how cheap and how the appearance is of hotels, as well as how the beds appear.

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4) Backcountry
The film follows a young couple who go camping/hiking in the woods. They eventually become hunted by a territorial black bear. People can say what they want about the bear attack scene in The Revenant, but the attack scene on the couple in their tent was downright horrifying and brutal. It is because of this that I have grown extremely paranoid about ever wanting to go in the woods. Living in the Northern Midwest, there are always sightings of bears wandering around. This doesn’t exactly help matters much.

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3) Frozen
Three friends find themselves stranded on a ski lift after the ski lodge closes. The cold winds/weather, the heights, isolation, and deadly wolves threaten the group. Okay, so this one is kind of a long-shot, but to be stuck on a ski lift in the freezing whether and seeing what it did to these characters, but putting your trust on a rickety chair at a large height in this freezing whether is enough to make me not want to go skiing after seeing this film.

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2) The Bay
A documentary/found-footage style horror film that follows a reporter doing a story on the fatal events that befell a small town after their water had become infected by deadly parasites in their local water. There are instances where the parasites have made their way into the humans’ bodies and began feeding on them from the inside and causing horrible skin lacerations. And some were even killed by the parasites themselves by swimming in the water. I am someone who absolutely loves swimming and would rather do it in a body of water than a pool. This movie however has made me paranoid about going into these bodies of water more than ever to where I’d wanna know more about its conditions before going in. With reports of people becoming sick or even dying from diseases in the water, The Bay only makes the thought more horrifying.

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1) Final Destination 2

There are many things in the Final Destination films that cause people to second guess certain things (airplanes, roller coasters, tanning, etc.), I can’t say very many of them have affected me that much (I love roller coasters way too much to be afraid of one crashing). That said, it is due to the pile-up scene in Final Destination 2 that I will never, ever want to drive near a logging truck. I have come across these too often on highways and interstates to where I’ve done whatever I could to put a great distance between me and the truck. It takes something as small as weak chain or strap to make those logs cause a wreck or death.

What horror films have impacted YOUR lives?

–Cody Landman

Playing Favorites: The Best of the Best Horror Movie Documentaries

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Here’s my new and improved “official” list of my all time favorite horror documentaries. These are all documentaries that makes me want to go to the horror VHS section of my mom & pop video store all over again. If there is a horror doc that you feel I am missing, feel free to comment below. Otherwise, keep slashing everyone!

Runners Up:

“American Nightmare”
Horror films have often been more than simple scares. At their best, they reflect society’s anxieties and concerns. In this film, major horror film makers such as George Romero and Tobe Hooper discuss the creation of their films in the 1960s and ’70s and how they related to contemporary events while interviewed intellectuals give their own opinions. Very specific genre piece that works in fits and starts. I enjoyed listening to the social commentary of the groundbreaking 60’s and 70’s films (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Last House on the Left” are especially informative) but the film itself is a bit dry.

To order: The American Nightmare – A Celebration of Films from Hollywood’s Golden Age of Fright

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“Boogeymen: The Killer Complication”
“Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation” is a horror compilation video released in 2001 by FlixMix. Marketed as “The Killer Compilation,” the film consists of seventeen scenes from notable, revolutionary horror titles, along with short screens describing the movie’s villain of choice. Ho-hum to say the least. The deaths chosen for each film are actually fairly lame (out of all of the cool “Friday the 13th” deaths, they chose “Jason Goes to Hell”) and some of the “best” killers are pretty mediocre (I would never put “The Guardian” on my top list for ANYTHING). Also, many of the deaths are in full screen. It’s a nice effort with a good commentary by Robert Englund but overall it’s not as good as it could have been.

To order: Boogeymen – The Killer Compilation

“Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film”
An exploration of the appeal of horror films, with interviews of many legendary directors in the genre. This doc covers the horror genre from the very beginning (20’s and silent films) to today’s horror marketplace (remakes and torture films). This doc is interesting at times but like “American Nightmare” is can be a little dry and there is a bit too much talking head commentary. It’s a well made documentary but doesn’t really get interesting until the subjects talk about the slasher flicks.

To order: Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film

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“His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th”
“His Name Was Jason” details the series, cat, crew, concept and cinematic villain up until its re-imagining and trigger of success. It features also fan reflections from other directors inspired by the franchise or actors heavily influenced by the stereotypical transfusion. It features interviews with image gallery backgrounds from Sean S. Cunningham, Adam Markus, John Carl Buechler, Jason Isaac, Joseph Zito, Seth Green, Todd Farmer, Tom Savini as host guiding you through a tribute montage before directing you to its features with all the actors who portrayed the homicidal hockey masked Jason Voorhees.

This doc piece has a LOT of problems. The first one being that 90 minutes simply isn’t enough time to cover 11 movies. Everytime the doc seems to be getting interesting, it cuts to the next movie. Also, I could care less what other horrormakers have to say about this series. I want to hear from the cast and the crew of THESE films. A missed opportunity.

To order: His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2-Disc Splatter Edition)

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“Scream: The Inside Story”
In 1996, the horror master Wes Craven (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) unleashed “Scream”, a slasher movie aimed at a whole new generation of teenage movie-goers. Though premiering at a time when horror movies were in decline and plagued with an array of start up problems, Scream went on to shatter box-office records for horror films, earning well over $100 million in domestic box office receipts, revived Craven’s career and turned first-time screenwriter Kevin Williamson and a group of hot young television actors (among them Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Rose McGowan) into overnight stars. The film became a huge success, spawned three sequels and single-handedly revived the horror genre. “Scream: The Inside Story” features all-new interviews with Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, Rose McGowan and Matthew Lillard along with the many other cast and crew. A pure fun doc piece that really sets the tone for how an entertaining doc can be done on one specific movie. Only downside is that if you aren’t a fan of “Scream”, there is nothing here for you whatsoever. Also where’s Courteney Cox and Drew Barrymore?

THE TOP FIVE:

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5. “Halloween: 25 Years of Terror”
Narrated by P. J. Soles and featuring interviews from many of the cast members as well as filmmakers of the Halloween films and a lot of footage from the series as well. It has panel discussions with members from the casts and crews of most of the “Halloween” films, plus other celebrities and filmmakers such as Rob Zombie and Clive Barker as well as film critics. All of the panel discussions took place at a 25-year Anniversary convention in Pasadena, California (one of the filming locations of the original Halloween) in October 2003. It also has extended versions of interviews featured in the documentary.
A very fun documentary that tells many stories that fans of the series may not have known about. I had no idea the production problems on “Curse of Michael Myers” or the fact that Danielle Harris had a stalker come to her house after filming “Revenge of Michael Myers.” This works thanks in part to the fact that it ignores the mistakes of “His Name Was Jason” to concentrate fully on the series itself. I also love it when the filmmakers themselves admit they may have been wrong at times (killing off Rachel at the beginning of “Revenge”).

To order: Halloween: 25 Years of Terror

4. “Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film”
The film is a historical and critical look at slasher films, which includes dozens of clips, beginning with “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th”, and “Prom Night”. The films’ directors, writers, producers, and special effects creators comment on the films’ making and success. During the Reagen years, the films get gorier, budgets get smaller, and their appeal diminishes. Then, “A Nightmare on Elm Street “revives the genre. Jumping to the late 90s, when Scream brings humor and TV stars into the mix. Although some criticize the genre as misogynistic, most of the talking heads celebrate the films: as long as there are teenagers, there will be slasher films.

“Going to Pieces” might just be the best documentary I’ve ever seen about the history of the slasher film. From beginning to end, this documentary is full of facts with comments from filmmakers such as Wes Craven and John Carpenter. I wish they would have included more in the film on the 70’s slasher films. It really pisses me off when people say that “Halloween” is the granddaddy of slasher films without giving “Black Christmas” ANY credit. Still this is a well made doc with some interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout.

To order: Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film

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3. “Best Worst Movie”
In 1989, unwitting Utah actors starred in the undisputed Worst Movie in History: “TROLL 2”. Two decades later, the legendarily inept film’s child star unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of an Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie icon and an Italian filmmaker who come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure.

Probably the most heartfelt doc on this list, this movie examines the perspective of a “bad” movie from all angles. From the fans to the filmmakers to the cast, everyone talks about their experience. It’s a really sweet doc that I wasn’t expecting to find much weight behind but it’s one of the best experiences watching a movie that I’ve ever had in my life. Just because something is “bad” doesn’t mean it can’t be loved.

To order: Best Worst Movie

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2. “Crystal Lake Memories”

We actually reviewed this documentary in depth on our podcast. Click on the link below to check it out. **Spoiler alert: We loved it.**
Slasher Studios Visits Crystal Lake Memories

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1. “Never Sleep Again”

“Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” is a 2010 American four-hour direct-to-DVD documentary film that chronicles the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and the rise of New Line Cinema. Written by Thommy Hutson, produced by Daniel Farrands and Thommy Hutson, and co-directed by Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch. Heather Langenkamp, who portrayed Nancy Thompson in three of the Nightmare films, served as the project’s executive producer and narrator.

The best when it comes to horror documentaries. This movie gets every single detail right. The first thing that you will notice is that the doc is four hours long. Well, let me tell you it doesn’t drag…not for one second. All eight movies are examined in great detail (each given at LEAST thirty minutes of screen time) and just about every single person imagined is interviewed for the piece. They talk about the production problems, script problems, distribution problems….you name it, and it’s here. Not a puff piece by any measure, just good filmmaking from a group that always wanted to make the best movie possible. Something sorely missing today.

To order: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2-Disc Collector’s Edition)

Horror Taglines: It’s a Bad Horror Movie and You’re Soaking in it!

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Our “official” Slasher Studios list of the ten most awesomely terrible horror movie tag lines. So awful that they make me want to watch these movies right now. What are some of your favorite horror taglines?

1. “It’s par for the corpse!”
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2. “When it comes to terror, they’re in a field of their own.”
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3. “Icy Dead People!”
Shredder

4. “A very penetrating story!”
Nail Gun Massacre

5. “A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts.”
Frankenhooker

6. “It’s Cleavage vs. Cleavers and the result is Delta Delta Deadly!”
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7. “Don’t mix this movie and pizza.”
Grim

8. “Take the stairs. Take the stairs. For God’s sake, take the stairs!!!”
The Lift

9. ” By Pick, By Axe, By Sword, Bye Bye!”
The Mutilator

10. “Please do not disturb Evelyn. She already is.”
Mountaintop Motel Massacre

Slasher Studios: Top 10 Horror Movies of 2013

Bad Milo
The comedy found with Bad Milo! is just my cup of tea. The actors all have impeccable comedic timing as I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. The awkward comedy reminds me a bit of the The Office during the good years and it is so refreshing to actually like the characters and want to be involved with there life. The funny moments play a nice contrast to the horror aspects when Milo does his thing. There were a few bloody scenes and one in particular that will make any man cringe…

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Billy Club
Billy Club, directed by the creative Wisconsin natives Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer, is one of the top indie films for 2013. With the duo trying to follow up their first feature, Blood Junkie (Rosas directed and Sommer acted), they had big shoes to fill. Although Blood Junkie his hard to compete with, Billy Club came through in a big way. The look of the film is outstanding and the acting can hold its own against many big budget films of the year. The killers wardrobe and weapon of choice will help set this film apart from other run-of-the-mill horror villains.

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The Conjuring
This film by James Wan is one of the best looking films of the year. The cinematography and lighting choices added not only suspense, but substance as well. The film is filled with great camera work that really adds to the production value. The effects were creepy and well done, not taking me out of the film for a second. This great looking film was luckily paired with a great story and fantastic acting. If you are searching for that one film this year to give you goosebumps, you have found it in The Conjuring.

Curse of Chucky
Though the film starts with a slow buildup in the first act that results in two off screen deaths, the film nicely comes together in its second act to become one of the best made for video horror movies of recent years. To go on and tell you what REALLY works about this film would be to give away way too many of the devilish surprises. Let’s just say that fans will cheer in delight as the film hits its final act as there are in jokes, references, and homages to just about anything and everything Chucky has done in the past. The backstory might not be fulfilling to some and there might be some leaps in logic, but this is the rare horror sequel that actually appears to be trying to add something new while being faithful to what came before it. If you are a Chucky fan, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Also, make sure to stay after the end credits for one treat of a scene that will leave audiences howling. Thanks for returning Chucky, you were missed. Now, let’s see some more Chuck!

Evil Dead
Words cannot simply describe the experience of watching “Evil Dead” (2013). For a remake, it feels more like a sequel than anything and I really mean that as a compliment. This is the rare movie that stays true to the original while adding a strong new story, likable characters, and more blood and gore than you will likely see all year. It is relentless in its terror and atmosphere and actually made me feel uneasy at several key moments. If this film had to be cut to receive an R rating, I can’t even imagine what the original NC-17 version looked like. Not everyone is going to come out of this film with the same admiration that I had for it. Those that like their horror “fun” may feel a bit drained by the entire experience but I left the theater shaking. Yes, I found it to be THAT good.

Maniac
The reincarnation of the 1980 Maniac is told in a modern setting with an interesting and risky technique. A technique, by the way, I applaud. The film is shot mostly for the killers POV. Not sure if this was a way to capitalize on the success of found footage films that put the audience in the position of character, but all in all, this worked. The viewers are given disturbing looks through the eyes of Frank, played by Elijah Wood. This helps not only ramp up the intensity, but also helps with the suspense and surprise factor.

Stitches
This is the kind of slasher that is about five times better than it has any right to be. So often at Slasher Studios we have been mourning the loss of the “fun slasher.” Well my dear readers, if a fun slasher is what you want…a fun slasher is exactly what you get here. At 85 minutes, it never its pacing never drags and is filled with such a maniacal glee that even the hard core slasher snob will find something to enjoy here.

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VHS 2 is a much better all around experience than VHS was. The characters are more likable, the stories are better paced, and the concepts and ideas are stronger with some creative execution. Not all segments will hit home with all viewers but you gotta appreciate the effort. I’m ready for VHS 3!

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Warm Bodies
Bravo to Jonathan Levine for creating a zombie film that broke out from the ordinary. The undead craze has saturated the market with dull, paint-by-numbers zombie films. Although there have been a few exceptions over the past few years, Warm Bodies was able to bring us horror fans something to interesting and powerful. The idea of zombies having an inner monologue and the ability to live again was fascinating and intriguing. Warm Bodies is able to keep the audience engaged with witty dialogue, cool effects and a unique story to warm even the coldest heart.

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You’re Next
I consider myself a hardcore slasher fan, I try to go into every slasher movie I see with no expectations. After two years of hype, Adam Wingard‘s “You’re Next” was no exception. I saw only one trailer and managed to avoid all tv spots. I went in as fresh as I possibly could hoping to dig into the gory goodness. After a fairly mediocre opening, things weren’t looking so hot for the slasher. But then something interesting happened, I started to fall in love with the movie. Starting around the “dinner table scene” I found myself laughing along with the arguments and delicious black comedy as it was something I could relate to. The pitch black comedy (the dead mother line, the “Who is the fastest runner?” debate, etc) was totally on mark for me, and I loved the deaths (no CGI, hell yeah!). It was nice to see a slasher in which we were given a final girl who made the right decisions and managed to stay smart throughout. The ending especially had me smiling in all its macabre madness. It’s not a perfect movie but I had a damn good time with it.

Slasher Studios Picks: Top 5 Thanksgiving Turkeys

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To help celebrate Thanksgiving, we are at Slasher Studios have decided to share with you our top five favorite turkeys. Movies that were awful in every sense of the word and yet…we couldn’t stop watching. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

5. Troll 2
A young child is terrified to discover that a planned family trip is to be haunted by vile plant-eating monsters out of his worst nightmare. His attempt to save his beloved family is assisted by the specter of his deceased grandfather. Also, there are NO trolls in this movie, only goblins. Nilbog is Goblin spelled backwards! This movie is retched from beginning to end but damn is it fun to quote.

4. Jack Frost
Serial killer is genetically mutated in car wreck on the way to his execution. After which, he becomes a murdering snowman hell-bent on revenge for the sheriff who caught him. Shannon Elizabeth’s “carrot” scene is the highlight for this film which doesn’t say much. Terrible Fx as well (was the snowman’s costume made out of Styrofoam?).

3. Pieces
While playing with a puzzle, a teenager is repressed by his mother, and he kills her and severs her body with an ax. Forty years later, in an university campus in Boston, a serial killer kills young women and severs their bodies in parts, stealing body pieces from each student. Lt. Bracken makes a deal with the dean of the campus, and infiltrates the agent Mary Riggs as if she were a tennis teacher and together with the student Kendall, they try to find the identity of the killer. BASTARD! BAAAAAAAAAASSSTTARD!

2. Slaughter High
A group of popular students play a cruel prank on a shy nerd resulting in a terrible accident. Years later a reunion is held where each of the students face a stalker killer who may be the same nerd out for revenge. Hilariously over-the-top with some of the worst acting you’ve ever seen. Also, what is up with the ending? No clue what they were thinking there.

1. The Last Slumber Party
From United Entertainment/VCI, the VERY small 1988 distributor in Oklahoma, who gave us the legendary home video, no budget hit BLOOD LAKE, which IMDb doesn’t even have in its database and that doesn’t surprise me. That one had the same no-budget atmosphere and completely unknown teen actors that, like in this film, only starred in one film. Sample dialogue: `I’m loaded and I feel like throwing up, could you please pass the Jack Daniels?’ `There’s a party tonight at my house, would you mind if I invite myself?’ `I THINK he’s schizophrenic, why don’t we give him a partial lobotomy?’ And the science teacher that looked exactly like one of the science teachers that I had in high school. And he started talking about how he got laid at the prom. Oh my God.
(Info from horror7777 from imdb for Last Slumber Party, I personally could find NOTHING on this film)

Bloody Good Cheer: Our Top 5 Favorite Christmas Horror Movies

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SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT (1984)
As a young boy, Billy was given the unfortunate gift of witnessing his parents murdered by a mean old Santa Clause. Needless to say, christmas will never be the same for him. As a teen, the disturbed Billy dresses up as Santa and goes on a holiday killing spree before returning to the orphanage he grew up in. The inventive deaths and quirky towns people make this a must see during the Christmas season.

SILENT NIGHT
A fun remake that creates some great new moments, while still paying the original its respect. Silent Night featured wonderful camera work and solid acting. Malcolm McDowell steals the show with great one liners and facial expressions that will leave you laughing at times and wanting more. The wood chipper scene is one of my favorites of the year!

BLACK CHRISTMAS
An all-time classic in the slasher genre, Black Christmas really brings out the creepy as a group of sorority sisters are terrorized in their own house. A demented killer lurks closely to the girls and makes a few phone calls that will make your skin crawl. With the killers voice, cinematography, and great deaths found here, the sad remake had nothing on the original.

SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT
Whereas “Black Christmas” features calls coming from a killer that’s hiding inside the house already, “Silent Night, Bloody Night” deals with the murderer calling each of the people that they intend to take vengeance on one by one, inviting them to the property. Fearful that their secret may be discovered (a pretty disturbing one at that, which I will not reveal for those who may have not seen it or would like to), they each visit the old dark house that they hate so much and long to destroy forever.

ELVES
Elves is about an elaborate plot cooked up by the Nazis to breed a superhuman by having a teenage virgin who is the product of incest mate with a weird-looking, killer elf. Which there is only one of; there are no elves in Elves. Just one shitty elf puppet in a Santa hat who can barely open and close its mouth. It’s kind of a bad plan on the Nazis’ part, and takes forever. One of the soldiers has to have a daughter, wait until she’s breeding age, then rape her and get her pregnant, to produce the child of incest. Which, if they’re trying to create superhumans, I’m fairly certain incestuous reproduction is not the secret to stronger, more evolutionarily developed stock.

Slasher Studios Presents: Top 10 Favorite Slasher Films

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.

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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.

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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.

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Curtains (1983)
“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.

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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.

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Halloween (1978)
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Scream (1996)
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.

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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!

Top 10 Blu-Rays Every Horror Fan MUST Own

Our resident Blu-ray reviewer Joshua Dean is back and this time he is featuring the top 10 must haves on Blu-ray that every horror fan MUST own. Enjoy!

Blu-ray has been around for several years now… but it is now that it is finally taking off and becoming mainstream. All of us at Slasher Studios love our horror films very much… and many of us want to own and experience them in the best way possible. Barring theatrical exhibition (and sometimes it’s even better than that), Blu-ray is the ultimate way to experience a film. A picture that replicates the look of an actual physical film print (unless it’s a botched transfer), and often times going beyond that with 4K scans or restorations of the original camera negative (such as Halloween’s new Anniversary Edition, or Jaws), combined with stellar uncompressed audio that matches even what the theater can offer, is what makes Blu-ray such a great format for film buffs such as ourselves. Here I am going to list ten of the best Blu-ray releases the genre has seen, and films no horror fan should be without. The criteria for making this list includes several factors: Picture quality, sound quality, and extras. Extras come last for a reason… The object of Blu-ray is to offer the “perfect movie-viewing experience,” if you will. Extras are nice to have, but if the movie looks bad, why bother?

Since mainstream horror films tend to get the best treatment on Blu-ray (That’s not to say Scream Factory doesn’t do a stellar job with with their more obscure chillers, though!), I’ll mainly be covering those this time… but I shall return with full reviews on the more hidden gems, as well!

(in alphabetical order)

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ALIEN (1979, Ridley Scott) Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver.
Presented from an all-new 4K master, Ridley Scott’s 1979 “slasher-in-space” masterpiece delivers on Blu-ray. The picture is stunning, with a fine, but natural film grain providing clarity, enhancing the production design of both the Nostromo itself, and the titular ALIEN that terrorizes first-time horror heroine Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, and a cast of now-legendary actors aboard their isolated ship. While the single-disc original only offers minimal supplements (a pair of commentaries, two different isolated score tracks, and deleted scenes… but also two cuts of the film), the Alien Anthology box set (that can be had cheaply if you catch it on sale, as low as $30!) offers comparable extras for all four films (ALIEN, ALIENS, ALIEN3, ALIEN: RESURRECTION), as well as two packed bonus discs includeing over 12,000 stills combined of photos and artwork, several behind the scenes featurettes, and more.

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THE EVIL DEAD (1981, Sam Raimi) Anchor Bay Entertainment
Starring Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss.
Despite the widely-available release being short on extras (offering only a commentary) it delivers a stunning presentation- wait… no, two stunning presentations of this classic cheese-fest. Presented in its original 4×3 version as well as an “enhanced widescreen version” (again clipping the top and bottom of the frame, but this time doing a much better job than the many DVD releases), the film looks and sounds much better than ever before. Despite Anchor Bay’s ever-disintegrating reputation for their horror releases, they must be commended for one thing: The horror titles they DO appreciate, they deliver. Great care was put into this amazing (still VERY grainy and VERY ugly to the unexpecting eye) transfer, and it can be had very cheaply. My local Walmart sells it for $10. With it being Halloween season, however, you may well find it cheaper. Also released in a limited editon with a DVD bonus disc of extras.

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THE EXORCIST (1973, William Friedkin) Warner Home Video
Starring Ellen Burstyn and Max Von Sydow.
Called the scariest film of all time, this demonic shocker featuring Linda Blair as the possessed daughter of actress Ellen Burstyn debuted on Blu-ray in 2010, featuring both the original theatrical cut, as well as the 2000 Director’s Cut, in absolutely stunning transfers (each cut got its own unique transfer, and details often differ between the two versions) with superb soundtracks… and a large host of extra features, including more than a couple documentaries and three commentaries (one for the extended cut, two for the original cut). It was offered in a digibook package with shiny metallic artwork and plenty of photos and information that would keep fans pleased. Sadly, it is out of print, but a 40th anniversary edition is due out on October 8th with a host of new supplements and presumably new transfers… though I don’t believe they’d be necessary.

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THE FOG: Collector’s Edition (1979, John Carpenter) Scream Factory
Starring Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis.
John Carpenter’s post-Halloween ghost story comes with a very spooky-looking transfer (complete with his signature “blue glow”) by cinematographer Dean Cundey and a few new bonuses that are sure to enhance any fan’s enjoyment of the film. First up is a commentary with Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, and Tommy Lee Wallace, joined by Horror’s Hallowed Grounds’ Sean Clark. This track is very fun, but only mildly informative. Also included is a very candid, and very revealing interview with a decidedly unbashful Jamie Lee Curtis, who admits that she doesn’t much care for the film, and reveals that its production was tainted by the recent split of writer/producer/director team Carpenter and Debra Hill, as well as Hill and Curtis’ dealing with Carpenter’s new lady, Barbeau, being ever-present as the film’s lead. There are several more extras included, most from the prior DVD release from MGM.

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HALLOWEEN: 35th Anniversary Edition (1978, John Carpenter) Anchor Bay Entertainment
Starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Carpenter’s classic suspense thriller arrives in a gorgeous digibook package with several rare photos and lovely new artwork, but the real treat here is the revelatory new video transfer (like The Fog, supervised by Dean Cundey) and immersive 7.1 Dolby TrueHD sound mix. This film truly looks perfect. Supplements are weak for those hoping to learn about the film’s production, but the ones that are included celebrate the film, including a new commentary by Curtis and Carpenter (which, like The Fog’s commentary, is more fun than informative) and a documentary following Jamie Lee Curtis and many of her fans (myself included) to her first (and only) horror convention. The extras are fun, but the real reason to scoop this one up is the new transfer that makes the previous BLu-ray release look flat-out bad.

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JAWS (1975, Steven Spielberg) Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Starring Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.
Spielberg’s classic beach thriller arrives with a fully restored transfer from the original 35MM film elements, and it looks GREAT. The film definitely shows its age, but it looks amazing. The new 7.1 DTS-HD sound mix is strong, but I personally find the original mono track to be more engaging… especially since the new mix renders a certain word at the end virtually inaudible. A long list of documentaries, featurettes, and deleted scenes accompany the release, as well.

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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984, Wes Craven) Warner Home Video
Starring John Saxon and Ronee Blakley.
1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you! This strong Blu-ray release gives very strong picture and sound quality, though some of the visual effects suffer a bit due to the leap in clarity. The film boasts 7.1 DTS-HD audio and a long list of extras (admittedly all from the infiniFILM DVD edition), including two commentaries, both featuring star Heather Langenkamp and director Craven, but both tracks offering a different experience as each one features different people, such as John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Sara Risher, Robert Shaye, and Jacques Haitkin. Three featurettes and a host of alternate endings also fill the disc, which is also available in a series box set featuring the six surprisingly good sequels (2: FREDDY’S REVENGE, 3: DREAM WARRIORS, 4: THE DREAM MASTER, 5: THE DREAM CHILD, 6: FREDDY’S DEAD – THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, and 7: NEW NIGHTMARE), admittedly with transfers and soundtracks somewhat inferior to the masterful work afforded to the original, as well as a host of extras.

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PSYCHO: 50th Anniversary Edition (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) Universal Studios Home Entertainment (OOP in the US)
Starring Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles.
The shower scene looks absolutely sensational in this restored transfer from the original film materials, as does the rest of the black-and-white mystery-thriller. While you may not expect a black-and-white film to gain much from a high-definition presentation, this disc will prove you dead wrong. The high resolution causes the contrast-based picture to look absolutely stunning. Grain is present, and even heavy at times, but is never intrusive. The strong transfer also serves to show off the beauty of stars Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, as well as the haunting Bates house and motel. Featuring a large selection of archival extras (can you really expect more? This movie is now 53 years old.) and a newly created 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track… but in this case, stick with the (included) mono track… as the creators of the new track tend to get a little free with sound effects and the like.

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ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968, Roman Polanski) The Criterion Collection
Starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.
Polanski’s spooky – and surprisingly comedic – horror masterpiece also featuring Ruth Gordon (in an Oscar-winning performance) is given the deluxe treatment by The Criterion Collection, offering a fully restored digital transfer supervised by Polanski. This movie looks simply stunning. Colors are beautifully reproduced, a visible-but-non-intrusive grain structure is everpresent, and a brand new documentary, featuring Polanski, star Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans, accompanies. Also included is a feature-length documentary about composer Krzysztof Komeda and a booklet with plenty of printed goodies.

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THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE: The Ultimate Edition (1974, Tobe Hooper) Dark Sky Films (OOP)
Starring Marilyn Burns and Allen Danziger
One may not think this film would be particularly suited to the Blu-ray format. However, just the opposite is true. While some may think the grainy 16MM nature of the film would hinder its presentation in high definition, it actually enhances it. Transferred directly from the original film materials, the grainy 16MM film looks gorgeous. Yes, it’s still VERY grainy. Yes, details are not what you’d get with, say, Halloween, Jaws, or Alien… or any of the aforementioned releases, actually. What it DOES offer, however, is a truly chilling grindhouse experience. Featuring two commentaries, several featurettes, bloopers, and delted scenes, this sadly-OOP release can still be had relatively cheaply on Amazon.

Slasher Studios Countdown: Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Horror Movies

We all have our guilty pleasures. Movies we know that are terrible and yet we can’t help but fall in love with them. These movies are no good for us and yet we keep coming back for more. Below are our favorite guilty pleasure horror movies. Movies that are bad to the bone but they are never boring and THAT my dear readers is the worst crime a horror movie can commit. Can we all agree on that? Also, what movies makes YOUR guilty pleasure list?

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#5 Poltergeist III (1988)
“Poltergeist III” is, by all means, a film that I should hate. It’s a sequel with only two returning characters (Carol Ann and the ever reliable Tangina), it’s PG-13, and it’s supernatural. By all means, this should be on my worst list of horror sequels. Hell, that’s where most other horror fans would put it. But it’s a good film and it’s a film that I will defend until the day I die. To be honest, I just don’t understand the hate for this film. The mirror effects are surprisingly effective and the film attempts to bring closure to the story (even though there are only two returning cast members, it is surprisingly faithful to the original two films). The film is just plain fun from beginning to end and what the film lacks in logic it more than makes up for in inventive special effects. Sadly, this is young Heather O’Rourke’s (Carol Anne) last film as she would pass away shortly after filming would commence. Sure they may say Carol Ann about a hundred times too many but it really just adds to the fun of the film. Have a few drinks and do a toast to Miss O’Rourke, one of the genre’s youngest scream queens that was taken far too soon.

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#4 Humongous (1982)
“Humongous” is a fun, homage filled 80′s slasher that rips off a dozen other, better slasher films but still manages to be a lot of fun. Remember the scene at the end of “Friday the 13th Part 2″ where Amy Steel pretends to be Jason’s mother? This film sure does as the exact scene is repeated here to lesser effect. That being said, the kills are fun and characters are a tad bit better developed than most of the other 80′s slashers out there. David Wallace is particular is quite strong as our lead twin Eric. Most of the time in 80′s slasher, guys are given nothing to do but not so here. He almost becomes the film girl by being smart, likable, and even given a chance to emote. Lead Janet Julian possesses similar qualities and has a lot of fun with her “last girl standing” appearance. This is a must watch for fans of the early 80′s slasher genre. I can’t say that everyone is going to enjoy the film as much as I did as the film is quite slow and repetitive at times. Nonetheless, it is one of the better examples from the under-appreciated genre.

#3 Warlock Moon (1974)
“Warlock Moon” isn’t a movie that always plays fair. It tries to combine slasher elements (creepy guys with axes at the spa) and supernatural elements (an old bride who was suppose to be married at the spa but was killed and eaten on her wedding day) to a troubling twist ending that doesn’t quite provide the shock that it should. So why is “Warlock Moon” a masterpiece? This is the kind of movie that would never be made today. It is independent filmmaking at its rawest. This is the sort of film in which the filmmakers and actors wear their hearts on their sleeves. It may be too ambitious but it has a sense of dread, atmosphere, and suspense that is sorely missing from horror today. The cherry on top of the sundae? A hilarious commentary featuring the wonderful Joe Bob Briggs who goes to great detail to tell why witches are misunderstood today as well as why “Warlock Moon” is the worst title for a horror movie ever. It’s a hilarious listen but the movie is well worth checking out as well.

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#2 Girlfriend From Hell (1990)
The devil is on the run and being pursued by God’s assistant, a devil chaser named Chaser (played with pitch-perfect comic timing by an underrated Dana Ashbrook). When the devil makes a wrong turn to a high school birthday party, the devil takes over the body of innocent and painfully shy Maggie (wonderfully played by Liane Curtis who displays the perfect amount of tart sweetness to the role). Maggie is on the blind date from..err…hell. The bodies pile up and the fun begins as we have assault rifle nuns, soul stolen during sex, a journey throughout time, and a religious woman holding onto her dead life by a floating cheeto. Seriously. “Girlfriend from Hell” never takes itself too seriously and is never boring. It is actually a lot of fun with a clever script and a breezy pace.

#1 Sorority Girls & the Creature From Hell (1990)
The “plot” surrounds a group of sorority girls who decide to take a trip up to a cabin in the woods accompanied by some boys. To their dismay, there is an escaped convict on the loose as well as the uncle of one of the girls. It’s too bad that Uncle Ray is possessed by an Indian spirit turning him into a monster with a need for human blood. Sound a bit convoluted? It sure is but it is also one of the most entertaining horror movies that I’ve seen in quite a while. This film isn’t for everyone and horror fans looking for less cheese and more thrills should look elsewhere. That said, the lovely Debra Dutch (star of underrated cheese classic Hard to Die) steals the show as our resourceful final girl and the film never takes itself too seriously. That’s more than can be said for most films today.

Slasher Fans Unite: The Top 10 Slashers of All Time

Best Slashers

Earlier this month we asked YOU the slasher fan to decide what slasher flicks would make the top 20 slashers of all time. Last Friday we revealed numbers 11 through 20 on the list and now we are back with the ultimate top 10. Any surprises? Any films that should be on this list but aren’t or films that you believe are on this list but shouldn’t be? We want to know what YOU think! Now, we have the top 10 slashers of all time. The gore, the merrier.

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#10-PSYCHO (1960)
The granddaddy of all slasher films. Fifty years after thrilling audiences around the world, the film holds just as much of a punch as ever. An absolute classic that genre fans will still be talking about fifty years from now.

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#9-TERROR TRAIN (1980)
I’ve loved this slasher since I first saw it as a young child but I am honestly shocked it ranked this high. It appears that slasher fans prefer this one to the more often cited PROM NIGHT. Love the villain, love the revenge, love the setting. Also, the new HD remaster from Scream Factory is beautiful.

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#8-SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
The slasher with the best twist ending in the history of umm..ever?! Campy, over-the-top, and lots of fun with a nice little mean streak.

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#7-THE BURNING (1981)
Why is it one of my favorite slashers of the 1980′s? Simple. The deaths. And I do mean the deaths. The deaths in this splatter film have to be seen to be believed. Everything that you would want to see with garden sheers to nubile teens are done to extraordinary effect.

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#6-BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
Black Christmas’ power is impossible to deny; its characters are compelling, the imagery poignant, and the acting top-notch. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for one scary “Christmas” treat.

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#5-THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
From the weird & creepy music to the seriously frightening screams of Leatherface, Massacre is one of the scariest films you could ever see.

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#4-SCREAM (1996)
As Brian C. Tyler says in his review of the film for Slasher Studios, “Everything from the opening title with the sound of a phone ringing to the quick scare at the very end is full of great storytelling, lovable characters (and actors), lots of tension, great dialog, clever film references and most importantly… lots of blood.”

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#3-FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
This little film was the perfect storm story, setting, characters and score. When these main aspects of a film are working together, there is not much that can go wrong. Slasher fans always hav a great time with Friday The 13th and many films owe much to the one.

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#2-A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an unbelievably original, terrifyingly realistic, and overall terrifying that, despite a weak ending, is one of the best horror flicks of the quarter of a century.

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#1-HALLOWEEN (1978)
As Joshua Dean states in his review for Halloween at Slasher Studios, “While Black Christmas may have done the “young people stalked by a killer” concept first, Halloween takes it into a different direction. It’s not really a slasher film. It’s very much a one-on-one stalker movie until the final third of the film. These girls just happened to catch the psychotic killer’s eye… and now he is fixed on them. And while directly inspired by Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho,” Halloween inspired scores of slasher films itself, starting with the more straight-forward “Friday the 13th” (a legend in its own right).”