Craving a good old-fashioned slasher scare? Look no further. These nine best slasher movies are full of all the classic kills and carnage you could possibly crave. Pop some popcorn, grab your mask, and sharpen your blade – you’re in for a gory good time.
This dark meta-comedy from director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson comments on the tropes of the slasher genre while simultaneously subverting them. The movie follows a group of genetically blessed high school students trying to stay in one piece in a town terrorized by a masked, knife-wielding killer known as Ghostface. Fun, frightening, and savvy, Scream launched a franchise of films following Ghostface’s exploits and inspired a slough of similarly self-aware movies.
Halloween 1 and 2
The first two films in director John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise essentially focus around the same concept — eerily masked killer Michael Myers knifing young ladies — so the two movies are included here in one sadistic set. Most of the knifing in the second film takes place in a hospital, whereas the first is set in a quiet neighborhood during Halloween. But the kills keep coming with the same ferocity in both.
This adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ brutal book follows Patrick Bateman, the pop culture-obsessed, materialistic investment banker with a thinly hidden penchant for murder. Bateman might not wear a mask like Ghostface or Michael Myers, but his method of dispatching victims is just as brutal as theirs. Give him an axe or some surgical tools and a Phil Collins backtrack, and Bateman will get the job done.
Deep Red is Italian cult director Dario Argento’s bloody, bizarre magnum opus. The plot tracks a brutal killer who slaughters victims with a meat cleaver. The killer’s attacks are preceded by the sound of an eerie nursery rhyme, the origins of which musician Marcus must try to uncover if he is to keep all his limbs attached.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
In this inspired-by-a-true-story classic, director Wes Craven gets rid of the middleman (or the middle-meatcleaver, as the case may be). Burnt serial killer Freddy Krueger’s weapon of choice is his own hand, a glove with razor-sharp fingers that he uses to slit his victim’s open in their dreams, thereby killing them in their real life.
Alice Sweet Alice
In this 1976 slasher from director Alfred Sole, the killer is a woman, disguised in a yellow raincoat and eerie mask. Armed with a steak knife, she wreaks havoc against a backdrop of religious iconography, starting her streak by slaughtering a young girl (Brooke Shields, in her film debut) during communion.
Friday the 13th Series
The Voorhees might be the first family of slasherdom. They’ve been featured in thirteen films (and counting), and introduced us to the iconic image of Jason Voorhees, his face hidden under a hockey mask, moving through the woods slaughtering camp counselors with a machete. In total, the Voorhees are responsible for a body count of over 200.
The killer in this 1974 film from Canadian director Bob Clark is Billy “The Moaner,” a masked pervert who hides in the attic of a sorority house over Christmas, picking the girls off one by one. Although Billy uses many intimidation tactics practiced by the other killers on this list, his mode of killing the girls is unorthodox, and varies: at one point, he even dispatches a victim using a sharp unicorn head.
Speaking of unconventional: Mark Lewis, the sadistic aspiring filmmaker in Michael Powell’s 1960 movie, kills his victims using a weapon concealed in his tripod. The voyeur records his victim’s deaths, as well as the world’s reactions to the murders, and gets his jollies by watching the carnage over and over. Sick, even by slasher standards.
Featured still from "Scream" via Dimension Films.