Although the origin of slasher film has no exact beginning, the horror subgenre undoubtedly got its start in the 1970s. When talented directors bought their expertise to creating a face for the slasher and spawning a new kind of villain, it helped create a launch pad for the slasher. Movies like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had inimitable killers that still resonate with audiences today, spawning new unfavorable remakes.
After horror hit its peak in the 80s and countless directors had the chance to give the genre their turn, it hit a wall in the 90s. That said, thanks to Wes Craven, the genre slasher has seen a revitalization. Movies like Scream, Candyman, and I Know What You Did Last Summer were huge hits, becoming standalone franchises. But the highlights of these kinds of movies are incredible body counts, teenagers who get lost, and terrifying killers who look human. These are the best slasher movies of all time.
9/9 Sleepaway Camp
United Film Distribution Company
With the cheesy aesthetic of the 1980s at the time, but with a much more perverted, depraved and fetishistic look at teenage life on Long Island, Sleepaway Camp is a disgusting but thoroughly entertaining jaunt through the slasher genre. Following in the footsteps of troubled and painfully shy teenager Angela (Felissa Rose), the people at the camp who bought her begin to mysteriously die. Robert Hilztik never shows the murder onscreen, but rather shows the body after the fact, creating a series of terrifying and equally haunting images. The final image and twist at the end is one of the most disturbing shots of the genre.
Tri Star Pictures
Backed by romantic gothic film music by maestro Philip Glass, director Bernard Rose creates a nightmarish vision of Chicago with Candyman. Rose uses academia and research to create distance between graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and the environment she accesses to gain an otherworldly experience to understand trauma. The trauma of slavery and gentrification manifests itself in a folk tale of “The Candyman,” an iconic twist from the mammoth Tony Todd. Wielding a hook and bumblebee creates bloody murders that have haunted a neighborhood for generations.
7/9 Dressed to kill
Brian De Palma is known for being the heir to the throne of suspense after the master, Alfred Hitchcock, and Dressed To Kill is his blatant tribute. Partly inspired by Psycho, De Palma’s film features a protagonist who gets killed early, a shower scene, a gender-blurred killer on the loose, and brutal climax psychoanalysis to ward off the killer. Showcasing a stunning museum chase sequence where the killer stalks his prey, De Palma once again showcases the visual ability to keep his audience enthralled.
6/9 Black Christmas
A horror film that lives under the artificial neon glow of Christmas lights and decorations, Black Christmas is a slasher flick terrorizing classic teen horror movie victims, and gives the genre a new feel due to the specificity of his calendar vacation. While director Bob Clark – whose other famous Christmas film A Christmas Story – isn’t a staple of the genre, he knew the exact kind of aesthetic and technical approach to creating the eerie, charged feel in the film’s compositions. . The director constantly cuts, uses split diopter planes and dramatic use of POV – in short, creating a slasher classic. One that also suffered an unfortunate remake.
King of the Giallo, Dario Argento’s slasher film Opera focuses on an intimate part of the human body, a part so obvious that the design is ingenious. Argento keeps the eyes of the audience, as well as those of the victim, so close to evil and danger, that the film has a restless, delicate quality throughout the runtime. In the world of opera singers, a stalker haunts Betty (Christina Marsillach) before she performs The Phantom of the Opera. What happens is Argento’s mastery of the contraption, taking the karma and putting it where it’s needed: peephole, trash cans, etc. It’s a complex slasher that never telegraphs its next move.
By the 1990s, the slasher genre seemed almost over. However, one of its main initiators came back with a new idea. The one who savored the cliches, spilled them and gave it to an audience who knew what they wanted but not how to do it. Scream is ironic in its nature, as a group of teenagers discuss all the horror movie rules as a killer who wears a ghost mask goes on a rampage. The moves, though telegraphed, created visceral emotional trauma. Thanks to a stellar cast of David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, Courtney Cox, and Skeet Ulrich, the film has had legs for decades now. Craven has created another staple and one with spirit.
3/9 Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Bryanston Distribution Company
A filthy, crackling film from start to finish, Tobe Hooper’s foray into the horror genre came out on top on this low-budget Texas Chainsaw Massacre celluloid burner. Create a dynamic of teenagers who would only be puppets of flesh for the family of disturbed and murderers whose house they lived. Hooper directs each gruesome murder with maximum carnage intent, bringing the film to the hot Texas sun. While giving the horror canon its iconography with the legendary “Leatherface”, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the dirtiest American films ever made.
John Carpenter’s Halloween created a legacy in cinema that is still thriving today. With the inimitable Michael Myers, in the blue trench coat and the terrifying remix of a James T. Kirk death mask (Star Trek), Carpenter has created an icon. As Michael Myers stalks the seemingly perfect little town of Haddonfield, Illinois, Carpenter fills the air and atmosphere with dread. Composing a score inseparable from the tone of the film, Halloween is scary from start to finish. While making way for Jamie Lee Curtis to become the ultimate badass scream queen.
Another setting from the master of suspense that will forever be remembered by moviegoers is the infamous shower scene. Not only was this scene groundbreaking for its portrayal of the murder – the number of scenes cut in a short period of time – but also for the murder we thought the main character would be in the first 20 minutes. Hitchcock was at his most innovative with Psycho, and he gave us the ultimate evil mama’s boy in Norman Bates. Played with a subtle naïveté turned psychopathy by Norman Bates, Psycho is one of the great slashers of all time.