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Top 10 Slasher Movies

5. Scream

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Part spoof, part satire, part slasher, this flick manages to balance funny and scary at a level normally reserved for that creepy uncle that would play with the kids during family reunions. The post-modern twists on normal slasher conventions (ala, multiple killers) made this film a classic.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street

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The savage imagery, deeply perverted sexual themes, and wily performance from Robert Englund place this film in the pantheon of great horror. The concept of a killer in your dreams is simple, and incredibly powerful.

3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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A brilliant Vietnam-era fable; the anger and hope in the final sequence are strangely moving, even today, and the sickening non-gore creates an atmosphere so tangible you can almost smell the decay from your TV set.

2. Halloween

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Its influence is undeniable, not least the score, the use of steadycam, and the way it refined and defined the official slasher formula. Copycatted more than any film in horror history, it also gets props for turning the world onto Jamie Lee Curtis.

1. Psycho

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The great granddad (or grandma?) of slasher films. Truly one of Hitchcock’s greatest, this flick is groundbreaking not just in its subject matter, but also it’s 50/50 plot construction, protagonist swap, and acknowledgment of psychological disorders.

And do I even NEED to mention Anthony Perkins?

Honorable Mentions
My Bloody Valentine (1981), Sleepaway Camp, Madman, April Fool’s Day (1986), Prom Night (1980), I Know What You Did Last Summer, Haute Tension

Leave your thoughts in the comments. What do you think are the best slasher movies?

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  • Thomas Waddington said

    You forgot Leprechaun

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  • Aline said

    I know my addition was not “mainstream”, but Cradle of Fear is the best of every horror/slasher flick from the late 60’s and 70’s all rolled in to one movie.

    The lead is played by Cradle of Filth front man Dani Filth, and has 4 sub-plots that are all tied together. It was released straight to DVD in 2000, and while you might not find it on the clearance rack of your favorite rental store a quick run to amazon.com might turn up a copy or two.

    If you like your movies with blood, guts, gore, and just a bit of T&A thrown in for good measure then check out this film.

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  • dustin said

    Leprechaun sucked. There are a tone of movies out there that probably do need to make some list as far as horror movies go, but what you have to remember is these movies in some way were extremely twisted and different or paved the way for modern horror film makers like rob zombie etc.

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  • Paul Martin said

    It probably loses strict slasher points for having multiple killers instead of the lone stalker, but Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood is a bit of a minor classic of the genre (think it’s also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve and Ecology of a Murder, as well as a few other titles).

    Friday the 13th half-inched the lake setting and implement-skewering-the-young-couple-in-bed bit, while the ending is truly bizarre. Great bit of unforgivingly blunt brutality as well when one of the swinging young hipsters/clueless murder fodder answers the front door, only to get a machete smashed into his face for his trouble.

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  • g.d.smith said

    I was thinking about the history of Slasher movies and it occured to me that Jaws 2 is at least as important to the genre as halloween. It woul have been in production at about the same time. The frisky underdressed teenagers in peril element is there. The isolated location. The poor acting. The “fright” every 20 minutes mentality. This is Friday 13th two years early on the open seas.

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    That’s an interesting point G.D., I’d never considered that. A lot of this comes down to how the slasher genre is defined – by the strictest definition even Psycho doesn’t fit. If Jaws 2 was included then it would open up a lot of ‘nature monster’ movies made since and it doesn’t feel right calling them ‘slashers’. But yeah, good observation.

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  • g.d.smith said

    I agree that Jaws2 is not a slaher film. But I do think that its release date and central themes suggest that it influenced the dead teenager school of slashers. Jaws2 predates films like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp and Friday 13th yet feels like it was influenced by them. It does not look like a movie from 1978, it looks like a film from about 1983.I do think that the definition of slasher movies is currently too broad. Pyscho and TCM are not strictly slasher films. They are, however, too good and too important to the sub-genre to overlook. My point about Jaws2 is that because it was a big hit film, its very clear proto-slasher flick element is ignored. Jaws2 just plays like generic slasher film and is release date says it shouldn’t.  The Dr Phibes movies are another example. The deformed masked killer and inventive deaths are all there. Yet somehow the idea that campy old Vincent Price influenced slasher flicks seems less authentic than waffling on about Argento or Bava.

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  • g.d.smith said

    As its being remade and will almost certainly not be good.The House on Sorority Row.

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  • g.d.smith said

    Since it has just been remade, almost certainly, minus the interesting bits.The House on Sorority Row is a classic Slasher movie. The score is fantastic. Sweeping and romantic for the opening credits and gradually growing more erratic as the film spirals towards its abrupt final act, where a re-occuring music box motif resolves in a very creepy confontation between the harlequin costumed killer and final girl. Or does it?
    During the last act of House on Sorority Row  the final girl is tripping her brains out. The one clear glimpse of the killer actually reveals him to be bald, slightly deformed and dressed in dark, but normal clothing, as he looks up at the fleeing heroine shortly before she finds her way to the attic. How does he get there quickly enough to dress as a harlequin and attack her from behind? There is no answer. The film is playing with a literary device. The use of an unreliable narrator gives the House on Sorority row a very good and very smart open ending. Thanks be they never did a sequel.

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  • jad khoury said

    well some of those are good but for me the top 10 best slasher movies are:
    2_scream 2(1997)
    3_scream 3(2000)
    6_halloween h20(1998)
    7_i know what you did last summer(1997)
    8_i still know what you did last summer(1998)
    9_halloween 2(1981)
    10_house of wax(2005)

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  • Joker said

    Its an interesting list, but I think the original Stepfather could have made it in.

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  • Joker said

    Your damn right maybe it’ll make the top 20 slasher films.

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  • gd smith said

    The Stepfather 2 is also pretty good. Terry Quin is just one of those great underrated actors who can make total psycho’s sympathetic. You almost root for him in The Stepfather films. He only wants an easy life with a nice family,after all!
    And in Pin, a very creepy film, he makes his character so reasonable, it’s easy to forget he’s completely insane and has driven his kids mad too.

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  • zz said

    Silent night, deadly night 1 and 2.

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  • gd smith said

    Just re-watched Behind The mask. Didn’t register this the first. But after the bit with the brick and the door, they’re all sat in the car and they’re discussing Leslie’s fist contact with Kelly . A blurred figure is walking in the background and the journalist says something like “who’s that”. Leslie is in the car with them, yet the the figure in the background is the Masked costumed Leslie Vernon! The point being that these supernatural killers, like magicians, work together as part of a magic circle. Thus Vernon’s Ahab is actually Freddy Kruger arriving in the nick of time to fire blank bullets and pose as Leslie whenever needed. Think about it, if the central premise of the film is that Mike, Jay, LF and Freddy are real then by definition Robert Englund has to be Freddy!
    The rest of the set up is designed to get the new kid a nice reliable survivor girl -it should have been final girl.

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