RANKED! The Best Scary Slasher Movies Ever
Just to clarify, a slasher movie revolves around some sort of psychopathic killer with an affinity for sharp objects. This killer stalks their victims until achieving the Jackson Pollock climax they so desire (if Pollock had used gore). As a subgenre of horror films, slasher films reached the height of their popularity in the ’70s and ’80s. There have been some decent ones since but nothing that compares to the young-adult slaying, damn-near indestructible, sometimes supernatural serial killers of the 20th century. With that in mind, here is our list of the best slasher movies ever made.
Cover Photo: New Line Cinema
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12. 'Child's Play' (1988)
There’s something unmistakably creepy about dolls because they're not threatening in an obvious way. Child’s Play capitalizes on everyone’s latent fear of children’s toys and inspired a bunch of controversies, a string of sequels, and a pending reboot.
11. 'Alice, Sweet Alice' (1976)
Misunderstood and discarded upon its initial release, Alice, Sweet Alice is not regarded as a cult classic. It has accrued the type of acclaim that is often associated with films studied in an academic environment—the thinking man’s slasher film. It explores the nature of Catholicism, the family unit, and child abuse all while making the viewer fear some psycho little girl in a mask and yellow raincoat. This film is quiet yet brutal.
10. 'The Burning' (1981)
Often, at the core of a good slasher is a revenge tale (that tends to involve kids and a camp). The Burning is a perfect example of this. After being left for dead by a group of vicious pranksters, a camp’s caretaker returns from the gave to dish out some vengeance (fully equipped with his handy shears). It's a standard, fun, and disgusting relic of '80s horror.
9. 'Trick 'r Treat' (2007)
The only way a slasher could compete with the classics is to do so with an unconventional approach. The Bryan Singer-produced Trick ‘r Treat does just that with an anthology-style mashup of Halloween horror stories all containing a strange trick-or-treater wearing a burlap sack. It's a skillfully crafted salute to slashers of old (with a killer soundtrack).
8. 'Friday the 13th' (1980)
This is one of the first franchises anyone thinks of when contemplating the nature of a slasher. Any and every horror fan knows the story of Jason, the boy who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake. Naturally, Jason comes back to life and terrorizes campers (or inspires the terrorizing) for years to come. With a quintessential '70s appeal and an iconic killer, Friday the 13th will forever live in infamy.
7. 'Blood and Black Lace' (1964)
This Italian film about a masked man who kills models with his metal claws at a fashion salon arguably set the foundation for many American films that followed. Stylistically beautiful and unconventionally violent, this film made director Mario Bava a founding father of slashers.
6. 'Black Christmas' (1974)
There’s no beating around the bush: the victims of most slashers are young women. Black Christmas is a fundamental example of this. In the film, the residents of a sorority house receive threats and are eventually murdered by a crazed killer during the holiday season. The film has been cited as an inspiration for Halloween and has a 2019 remake pending.
5. 'Scream' (1996)
Wes Craven had to follow up his already impressive filmography with something memorable, and he did just that with Scream, a scary and witty whodunit that subverted expectations and deconstructed the genre. With the help of a ridiculous cast (and we mean that in the best way), the film brought slasher horror to a new generation of fans and made that ghostly mask as iconic as McDonald’s french fries.
4. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
The one film everyone thinks of when they hear the name Wes Craven—a man whose name will forever be spoken in the same breath as an industry he revolutionized. The story follows a disfigured stalker named Freddy Krueger who terrorizes children in their dreams. With an interesting premise and horrific imagery, A Nightmare on Elm Street changed the game. It's easily one of the best slasher films of all time.
3. 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (1974)
Largely due to the movie’s documentary-style camera work, this film is often assumed to be based on a true story, but it’s not. Some of the crimes committed by Ed Gein may have inspired the character of Leatherface, but the story of Sally and Franklin being attacked by a bunch of cannibals is pure fiction. The promotional tactics here have been used more recently by films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Conjuring, The Blair Witch Project, and Paranormal Activity—all films that claim to either be based on real events or created with actual footage.
2. 'Halloween' (1978)
This is considered by many to be the premiere slasher film that began the golden age of slashers. John Carpenter’s Halloween, following serial killer Mike Myers after escaping from a sanitarium, is creepy and visceral. It has served as the foundation for various slasher tropes and scores as well as being a shining example of art in a disreputable genre.
1. 'Psycho' (1960)
An argument can be made that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho started it all. Not only is the story of Norman Bates and his dysfunctional relationship with his mother considered one of Hitchcock’s best films, but it's also one of the greatest films of all time (slashers aside). It set a new standard for what was acceptable on screen regarding violence, gore, and sexuality and greatly influenced the horror and thriller genres while single-handedly creating the subgenre of slasher.