Top 18 Slasher Movies

This article originally appeared on Culture Brats on October 12th, 2010. But we're bringing it back (along with a few others) to get you ready for Halloween!

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to continue with October's horror movie theme and turned our attention to our favorite slasher flicks. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday To Me poster
18. Black Christmas

17. Dressed To Kill

16. Happy Birthday To Me

15. Hell Night

14. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

13. Candyman

12. Funhouse

11. Trick Or Treat

10. American Psycho

9. Sleepaway Camp

8. I Know What You Did Last Summer

7. Saw

6. Child's Play

5. Psycho
I became a fan of the Psycho series in a kind of roundabout way. The original was before my time. I wish that wasn't the case, because Psycho is one of those movies that would have been awesome to see without knowing anything about it. I've had movies ruined for me by blabbermouth friends enough times so that my inner-circle of friends would never, ever consider talking about movies around me unless they know I've either seen them or had no intention of doing so.

In the case of Psycho, Laverne DeFazio ruined it for me. Yes, that Laverne of ...and Shirley fame. In one episode, she's talking to someone who is on their way to see the movie and she says something like, "Don't bother... I've seen it. Norman Bates is his own mother." So, I knew the gist of the plot, and didn't bother seeing it.

My exposure to the Psycho series began with the '80s sequel, Psycho II. I saw that in the theater and was an instant fan. That's what finally got me to rent the original. The sequels--there were three--were all quite different from the original. Hitchcock's classic is more psychological thriller than slasher film, at least when viewed through modern eyes. I'm sure it was quite a gory sensation in its time, even though the body count is downright anemic by comparison to your typical slasher fare starting in the Friday The 13th era. (Norman only knifes down two in the first one.) I'm sure there are plenty of people who would say that the sequels fly in the face of what the original set out to do--but then again, I'm not the typical film critic. I actually think that the sequels manage to make Norman a rather sympathetic character. You actually feel rather bad for him when the people around him are doing their best to make him snap again after spending years trying to become sane again. And, in the fourth movie, you actually get to see what led to his madness in the first place.

Psycho and its sequels actually do stand head and shoulders above your typical slasher fare. Yeah, there's a lot of blood ("Oh, God, MOTHER!), but there's also a central character who is at the same time a deranged killing lunatic and a pretty decent guy. Not exactly something to which Freddy or Jason could aspire. --Dave

4. Scream
The worst thing that can happen to you when you are home alone watching a slasher film that incorporates the whole evil phone call of doom thing is to have your home phone, which never rings, ring. With a hang up. Actually that is probably not the worst thing. I suppose someone breaking in and killing you would be worse, but what are the odds of that happening? Yeah, so that happened to me. The phone call thing, not the killing thing. Obviously. What the hell?

One of the best things about Scream other than all the young bloody hotties in it is the humor factor. True to the plot of the movie, it incorporates every important element a horror movie needs. The hot girl in the tight sweater going somewhere alone. The apprehensive virgin who finally gives it up. The innocent bystander who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It follows the formula down to the smallest detail. Except the twist at the end. It's not just one killer, it's two, and then we have the "Aha!" moment and realize why this movie is different and better than others that came before. It took the formula and raised the bar and made us go "AHHHH! That makes sense!"

I'll be sleeping with one eye open and the phone off the hook.

By the way my favorite line from the movie is when Courtney Cox's character Gale Weathers is trying to get here assistant Kenny's dead body off of the top of their van. "Oh, God, Kenny, I'm sorry, but get off my fucking windshield!" --A Vapid Blonde

3. Halloween
Oh, Haddonfield.

If only you had made preparations beforehand for the imminent return of your most disturbed former resident, Michael Myers. Because really, doesn't every institutionalized lunatic pay a visit to the scene of his last rampage?

I'm not really sure what made Halloween an instant classic. Was it Jamie Lee Curtis as the worlds most capable babysitter, Laurie Strode? Or the tireless quest of Donald Pleasence's broken-down doctor, Sam Loomis, trying to recapture and cage our beloved mask-wearing, knife-wielding maniac? Perhaps it's the instantly recognizable theme song or the world's best tag line "Trick or treat... or die?" Whatever it was, Halloween pushed all the right buttons and hit all the right marks resulting in a horror juggernaut that encompassed all of your childhood nightmares.

Never again would you have a carefree night when your parents mistakenly left you alone with an ill-equipped teenaged chaperone on your unassuming suburban street. Because of this movie, you knew exactly what kind of bloody fate could potentially await you if your sitter wasn't as kick ass as Scream Queen Jamie Lee and you were left to your own devices and clever tricks to survive.

Happy Halloween, everyone! --Dufmanno

2. Friday The 13th
Jason Voorhees is a killing machine. He's also a celebrity.

He's starred in twelve movies. He's been to Hell. He's been to Space. He's been to Manhattan. He's battled Freddy Krueger, 21 Jump Street's Captain Adam Fuller, and Corey Feldman.

He's such a badass, he had his Mom handle his dirty work in one film and a paramedic take the duties in a second. Jason is a One in Six Degrees Of Killing Kevin Bacon. He's an unstoppable killing machine, and has more lives than all the LOLcats combined.

In fact, the only creature that's been able to kill Jason has been Michael Bay.

As a small boy, Jason Voorhees drowned at Camp Crystal Lake, affectionately known to the locals as Camp Blood, while the camp counselors who should've been watching him were off drinking, doing drugs, and fornicating. Jason's mother, Pamela Vporhees, decided to pull a little Charles Bronson on the counselors and offed nearly the whole camp before meeting the losing end of Alice Hardy's machete.

After that, Jason took it on himself to avenge his mother's death by killing every pot-smoking, sex-starved teen to step foot on Camp Crystal Lake over his long cinematic career, a DIY version of Nancy Regan's "Just Say No" campaign, only with consequences. Unlike the other slashers in our Top 5, Jason was active more than one day a year, didn't dress up as his Mom, or wait until you were asleep to get his hands dirty. Jason did what was needed, when it was needed, and could kill you with whatever was handy.

You can run, you can hide, but eventually Jason catches up with you. Jason eventually catches everyone.

Except Michael Bay. --Chris

1. A Nightmare On Elm Street
I first saw A Nightmare On Elm Street at a friend's Halloween party when I was a sophomore in high school. I was there with a girl I had a big crush on, and she was cringing behind me as we watched the movie in the host's living room, clutching my arm in this awesome way. The only problem was that I myself was terrified, and had to squash the impulse at several points to turn and hide behind her. That first scene beneath the opening credits? Where Tina is running through the boiler room from a mysterious figure in a fedora and some sort of strange glove of knives? And right when she's backed into a corner, he pops up right behind her? And then she walks up and realizes it was just a dream? Except that her nightgown had SLASH MARKS IN IT?

Fuhgettaboutit. Frozen with fear, I was.

When Nightmare was released in 1984, it offered up a whole new breed of psycho killer. Other bad dudes just stalked and slashed with relentless, robotic momentum. It was Freddy Krueger's diabolical glee that terrorized me—the pure enjoyment he took in turning teenagers' dreams into playgrounds of murder, the way he played with his victims like favorite toys.

Psycho killers are never held to conventional rules of physics; they can cover a lot of territory during a chase even when they seem to be lumbering slowly, they can take an axe to the skull and still keep coming for you (I'm talkin’ to you, Jason). But since Nightmare's central conceit was that you never quite knew where the real world ended and the dream world began, Freddy could emerge from anywhere, at any moment. And the result was never just a cheap, out-of-nowhere jolt; the movie's own rules meant that the audience was never allowed to relax.

The scene that almost made me abandon my 10th grade date at the party? When Tina, the character who's positioned as the movie's heroine in the beginning, is killed fifteen minutes in. (I hadn't seen Psycho, so I didn’t know movies were allowed to do that.) Oh, God! Remember when she's dreaming, and she's running down that alley and then she turns back and sees Freddy's arms stretching out behind her? Gah! And his leering, burnt pizza face finally emerges from the shadows? Gah! And then when her boyfriend wakes up in her bedroom and sees Tina being dragged up the walls, spinning in mid-air as she's being slashed to ribbons by someone who isn’t even there? GAHHH!

I'm here to report that the movie has aged well. I watched it a few nights ago, so I could write this up. 25 years after that Halloween party viewing, and I still didn’t sleep well afterwards. --Didactic Pirate

We showed you ours, now show us yours! What's your favorite slasher flick?


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