Though there’s much discussion around how the slasher genre originated, many agree that this specific breed of film peaked in the 1970s and 80s—with cult classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th. However, some critics date the origin of the slasher movie back to Psycho (1960), and the genre resurged in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s (Scream.) No matter where this violent subgenre comes from, we want more. Here are seven violent books and slasher novels to read if you’re craving more gore.
For fans of: Urban Legend (1998)
Legend has it that in a small town in upstate New York, the town executioner returns ever so often … wielding an ax and seeking payment in blood. But Karen knows that this isn’t just a legend, and she has the horrifying ability to see through the eyes of this gruesome killer.
We’ve all heard urban legends before, and like in The Headsman, they are put on display in the slasher film Urban Legend—in which people on a college campus begin to die in the same way as those in the stories we tell around the campfire do.
The Devil in Gray
For fans of: The Fog (1980)
Paranormal activity corrupts townspeople in both The Devil in Gray and in ‘80s horror flick, The Fog. The California coastal town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary—but it has a dark past. The founder of Antonio Bay deliberately sank a ship owned by a wealthy man named Blake, and now, his ghost is out for revenge.
In The Devil in Gray, an unseen serial killer begins massacring the residents of Richmond, Virginia. Much like The Fog, the killer in this book is seeking revenge for the American Civil War. How can you stop a murderer you can’t see coming?
The Animal Hour
For fans of: Psycho (1960)
Much like the infamous Norman Bates in Psycho, Nancy, too, hears voices in her head—urging her to kill. When she comes into her office, and none of her coworkers recognize her, that little voice in her head tells her to kill them all. She flees, finds a pistol in her purse, kills a homeless man, and sets off a whirlwind of violence that will continue until the ‘animal hour’ (eight o’clock) has passed.
The Purification Ceremony
For fans of: Friday the 13th (1980)
Though The Purification Ceremony might not take place at a camp, the location is certainly a match for the slasher genre: An isolated hunting party in the woods of British Columbia. One by one, they begin to go missing—realizing that the hunters have become the hunted. Like Friday the 13th, the wilderness provides an eerie backdrop for these killings.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
For fans of: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
It just so happens that one of the most iconic slasher films is based on a book. And while there are some changes from the book to the movie, the basic premise remains the same. Lois Duncan’s 1973 young adult thriller follows the lives of four high-school students who accidently hit and kill a man while driving home from a party one night. They promise to never tell anyone else what happened, but a year later Julie receives a note saying, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”—setting off a wave of revenge killings.
Related: "Who Killed My Daughter?"
The Last Final Girl
For fans of: Scream (1996)
Just like Scream, The Last Final Girl examines common, somewhat stereotypical, elements of the slasher genre. Part screenplay, part novel, this book follows Lindsay—our beautiful heroine—as she tries to make it to the end, with our killer in a Michael Jackson mask, Jones, not far behind. It’s an homage to the genre that’s sure to amuse and delight fans.
For fans of: Halloween (1978)
A list about slasher films isn’t complete without a mention of the Halloween series. We’re first introduced to Michael Myers on Halloween night of 1963 when he’s six-years-old—already a killer. Fifteen years later, he’s escaped from a mental institution and has a new target.
While you might not consider Agatha Christie to be compatible with slasher films, there’s a murderer on the loose in her thrilling novel Hallowe’en Party. Thirteen-year-old Joyce Reynolds recalls a murder she witnessed years ago, and is then found dead at the end of a Halloween party—drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. As more murder continue to happen, detective Hercule Poirot investigates to find the killer.
Related: 11 Authors Like Agatha Christie
Featured still from "Halloween" via Compass International Pictures
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