What has happened to slasher films? Why is it so hard to find a good scary villain these days? Horror movies used to scare people. There was a time when slashers stayed with people once they left the theater. Back in the day, after viewing one of these films, people slept with the light on, jumped at the slightest noise, and didn’t dare go anywhere near a camping site. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still a few good directors out there trying to save the genre, but sadly, it seems most are only out there for the money. Quick scares, too much CG, and an abundance of slow motion have turned most horror films into unintentional dramas that bore the audience more than it scares them. The majority of the main stream slashers are doing the genre an injustice. Here to help save the glorious world of slasher films, I’ve listed a few of my favorites.
10. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
This film gives a whole new meaning to the thought of giving your heart to someone on Valentine’s Day. After a tragic mining incident caused by negligence, Harry Warden swears vengeance to anyone in the town who dare celebrate the holiday with the annual yearly dance. After twenty years go by, a new generation of kids decide they’ve waited long enough and go ahead with the partying. As promised, Harry delivers, and it’s anything but a box of chocolates. This film is both original and frightening, and although some of the dialogue is a little silly, the gore makes up for it. Do yourself a favor and spend Valentine’s Day with Harry!
9. Child’s Play (1988)
Many are quick to dismiss the Chucky movies due to the villain being a child’s doll, but you should really give this film a chance. I’ll admit, the sequels get a little ridiculous, but the original Child’s Play is really a very well thought out scary movie with a great director, and some spectacular acting. A serial killer/voodoo practitioner is being chased through the streets by a police man when he gets cornered in a toy store and winds up transferring his soul into one of the “Good Guy” dolls. Later on, a sweet little boy named Andy receives the doll, strange (fatal) things keep happening, and Andy gets all the blame. Andy insists that his doll, Chucky, is the one committing all of these horrid acts, but honestly, who would believe him? The clever directing even manages to confuse the audience into believing that this little boy might actually be a murderer. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it one night. If you’re brave, watch it by yourself in the dark. I’m sure afterward you’ll be giving your stuffed animals a second glance.
8. Hatchet (2006)
I know, I know, how can I tell you to watch this film when it’s so new and I was just bashing newer slashers? Well, I did mention that there were a few directors still trying to save the genre, and Adam Green is definitely one of those guys. I absolutely love this film, and if you love slasher flicks, you will too. “Hatchet” not only will scare you, but it’ll tug at your heart strings, gross you out, and even make you laugh! With various homages spotted throughout the film, it’s obvious that Adam Green has seen what’s happened to the horror genre and is determined to give our generation one great scary movie. He’s even managed to provide us with a brand new bad guy! Victor Crowley, a child born disfigured and horribly teased for his appearance, seeks revenge against those who separated him from his loving father. He’s known to most as an old wives tale, a common ghost story like others that float about in the swamps of Louisiana, but those who fail to heed his warning will pay with blood. I don’t want to give too much away, but please rent this movie, and watch it, and make others watch it. You will not regret it! Long live the Hatchet Army!
7. American Psycho (2000)
There are so many great things about this film that I don’t even know where to start. How about the villain, Patrick Bateman? Who would think that a handsome, well to do businessman could be such a scary monster in private? Well, I really shouldn’t say private, since he makes his kills pretty public. However, no matter how obvious he is, everyone around him is so self-involved that no even notices his murderous rampages. The film shows an almost comedic viewpoint of the 1980s, and illustrates just how easy it is to get away with murder when no one’s looking. Or, perhaps, when they’re just too coked out to care. Christian Bale delivers a breathtaking performance that might even be better than his “Batman”, but don’t tell any die-hard fans I said so.
6. Christine (1983)
What could be better than a slasher movie where the killer is the car? Although it sounds corny at first, this movie proves to be pretty terrifying. The story starts out somewhat predictable–Arnie, a typical quiet brain who is somehow best friends with a jock, finds a way to join the cool kids and finally get noticed–with a car. The film moves along like you’d think, he cleans up the car, gains popularity, and begins changing into a meaner, cooler kid. However, the movie throws the audience for a loop when the car stars picking its own tunes and…attacking people? The fact that John Carpenter directed this movie is reason alone to see it, but if that doesn’t get you out of your seat and into the nearest Blockbuster, then the fact that Stephen King originally wrote the book should. Not to mention, the special effects are incredible, especially for its time period. Plus, the car, a 1958 red Plymouth Fury, is nice to look at, too. This movie truly shows that there’s no love like the love between a man and his automobile.
5. Psycho (1960)
When thinking of slasher films, Psycho is not usually mentioned by most, but I think it deserves a spot in my top ten. Although it is older than most slasher flicks, there is still quite a bit of violence, and a ‘whodunit’ atmosphere to the film. The brilliant Alfred Hitchcock showed the world that scary movies don’t have to be limited to vampires and werewolves–people are pretty scary too. Marion, a beautiful woman who works at a bank, starts out as a thief who steals from her boss, books it to the nearest hotel, and meets Norman Bates, a.k.a. the definition of ‘momma’s boy’. I’m sure most of you have watched this film already, but I still don’t want to give away any of the twists, on the off chance that a reader hasn’t seen it. I will say that this film has a famous shower scene which started the whole fear of letting up your guard for personal hygiene. For those of you who haven’t seen this masterpiece of a film, rent it now. Actually, go ahead and buy it, because odds are, you’ll want to see it again.
4. Friday the 13th (1980)
You can’t make a slasher flick list without including “Friday the 13th”! In this film, a couple of young adults head down to Camp Crystal Lake to re-open it for the summer. The stars of the film are the future camp counselors, who have arrived a few weeks early to clean and set up the area for the kids. It’s too bad they didn’t heed the warning of the locals, or they’d know that this camp is cursed. Filled with tension and suspense, this movie rewards the patient viewer with lots of gore. The slasher that gave birth to one of the greatest fictional serial killers of all time, Jason Voorhees, has continued to scare audiences and influence writers for decades. See this film and experience the true meaning of cabin fever. Although, I’m not too sure you’d be any safer in the woods.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
There is only one true Freddy Krueger, and his name is Robert Englund. Sorry Jackie Earle Haley, but your movie did the one thing to me that it was not supposed to do: it put me to sleep. If you’ve heard of Freddy, do the man some justice and watch the 1984 classic, the one where it’s not totally obvious when people are just dreaming. Heather Langenkamp gives a stellar performance in this cult classic as Nancy Thompson, an ordinary teenage girl dreamt into alarming circumstances. After her best friend is murdered, and the only person present claims he didn’t do it, Nancy digs up a dark past which unfortunately only gives more power to the demon she’s trying to defeat. After realizing that her dreams are no longer safe territory, Nancy forbodes sleep and seeks to stop Freddy before he kills again.
2. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
I live in Texas, and this film is the reason why I don’t go on road trips. The movie starts out simple, with just a couple of regular twenty-somethings going on a road trip through Texas, and ends with redneck cannibals terrorizing the group. The reason why this movie is so horrifying is probably because it’s so close to reality. The cast and crew of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre went through real turmoil on set, ranging from the Texas heat, to Marilyn Burns having her hair literally ripped out while running through trees, to Paul A. Partain’s method acting, to Gunnar Hansen’s one and only shirt. When actors experience real pain while filming, it comes through in the final cut. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre proved just how advantageous misery can be in the horror industry.
1. Halloween (1978)
Obviously, I can’t have a top ten list about slasher flicks without including the mother of all slasher movies, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Some may argue that Psycho is actually the original slasher film, and although this is somewhat true, it was really John Carpenter’s that started a slasher craze in the 1970s. John Carpenter’s Halloween defined what a slasher film is, informed future horror fanatics what the rules are, and gave birth to the Scream Queen. Jamie Lee Curtis still wears the crown to this day, as the greatest Scream Queen to ever be the last one to live. For those of you who are not familiar with the Queen, she is the last female, and the only person, to live through the movie. Basically, if you’ve seen Scream, the “rules for horror movies” that Randy recites really do apply. If you want to survive a scary movie, you cannot drink, do drugs of any kind, have sex, or say idiotic things like ‘I’ll be right back’. John Carpenter created these rules, and made the wise decision of casting Curtis to play his Scream Queen Laurie Strode. Carpenter also brought Michael Myers into existence, the butcher-knife wielding maniac who stalks and murders babysitters . It’s so simple, yet so chilling, because it could happen to anybody–including you.
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