One of the most prolific subgenres of horror is the slasher movie. Slasher movies first popped up in 1960 but as a genre, it really hit its stride in the late 70s and up through the mid-80s. This was known as the golden age of slasher movies and was no doubt helped by the popularity of direct-to-video releases, with VCRs entering homes across the globe.
Slasher movies have stood the test of time, changing and evolving through the years. Even some of the more modern examples can hold their own against the classics in the subgenre, just as the classics can hold up well today.
The first Scream is held up as the rebirth of the slasher movie subgenre. It was a kind of reawakening. It was directed by Wes Craven, who two years before directed New Nightmare and took the Elm Street movies in a new, self-referential direction. This was then spun into Scream. It comes off as something of a satire. It winked at audiences that were long-time fans of slasher movies with a nod to the clichés that were well known and established.
I really liked how self-referential Scream was, but not at first. This was not because I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t as well versed in slasher movies at the time. I was 16 and although I had seen many from the past by then, I just saw them as horror movies.
Scream used horror movies as the catalyst and backdrop for the movie’s killer and along the way redefined the rules for slasher movies. It mixed humor with violence well. Even though it’s at the tail end of my list, I definitely understand why it would be higher up for younger fans.
I first saw My Bloody Valentine when I was a kid, but couldn’t remember it. I couldn’t remember the remake at all. For the longest time I thought I had only seen the latter.
Hindsight being 20/20, it’s no surprise Paramount picked this up after the huge success a year before with Friday the 13th. It wasn’t the success they hoped for, but it’s still a great movie. It was heavily edited to take out the blood and gore. This hurt the box office because, of course it’s what fans were looking for.
My Bloody Valentine was yet another of the holiday horror movies made popular by the success of Friday the 13th and Halloween. It tried to piggyback on a subgenre of a subgenre… subgenreseption?
It has become well-loved by many fans of slasher movies. I re-watched it awhile back or so, I realized its goodness. It’s not a great movie, but as slashers go it’s up there with the best.
When I heard there was going to be a Scream 2, I was pumped. This was of course before cynical Shawn woke up inside of me (phrasing!). Now when I hear of a movie sequel, I die a little inside. That took a dark turn real quick…
Anyway, Scream 2 built on the foundation started with the first movie and does a decent job of continuing the story and expanding on the characters left over from the first installment. It also brings in new ones to stabby stab. It was a monster success and was released only a year after the first movie.
Scream 2 is easily my favorite of the series, but that’s not saying much honestly. The violence is, of course, bloodier and the self-referential humor is still good. It has been a little while since watching it, but I believe the “what’s your favorite scary movie?” aspect was completely gone.
Scream 2 was well-rounded with its scares. There weren’t jump scares every second like in the third movie. The way it ties into the first movie was done great and it should have stopped there.
Although the classical age of slasher movies didn’t start with Friday the 13th, one could argue it was the break-out movie that got the ball rolling.
Thanks to the MPAA for giving it just an R rating, it opened the door for gorier movies to flood the medium. Remember, at this time, horror movies with blood and guts were not popular. Friday the 13th is the movie that got Gene Siskel to doxx the chairman of Paramount Pictures, in the hope that people would complain straight to the top.
I love Friday the 13th, because I’m a big-time Kevin Bacon fan. No! That’s not why… although I do like Kevin Bacon. I’m not exactly sure, but it was one of the first movies that started to really stack the body count. I really liked that back when I was in my early teenage years… am I just finding out I’m a psychopath?
Anyway, Friday the 13th still had elements of terror and dread. It wasn’t all jump scares and blood. It was in that sweet spot, between the creepiness of Halloween and the crazed bloodbath of slasher movies yet to come. The best of both worlds.
Black Christmas had to grow on me. I hated it the first time I watched it. Sometimes that happens. Maybe it’s because I expected something different? Let me be clear, I hate both remakes. I didn’t know there was an original until after I saw the first remake. I was expecting something more like that remake when I finally got around to watching the original.
It had mixed reviews when first released, but since then it has become a favorite among cinephiles who dwell in the horror genre.
As I said, I didn’t like it when I first watched it, but I gave it another chance and it started to grow on me until I now think of it as one of the better slasher movies. Black Christmas has Margot Kidder (Superman), and at the time she was the only actress I knew in it.
She use to be very pretty, before going crazy. I liked her as one of the better things in the Superman movies. She had a lot of spunk (get your mind outta the gutter!). The movie is tame compared to what would eventually follow in the genre and I think that is the main reason it grew on me. Sure I still like high body counts, but a slasher doesn’t need that if done well.
April Fool’s Day is more of a guilty pleasure for me. I rarely hear anyone talk about it unless they are a horror fanatic. When it was released there was no real consensus. Some liked it for its gore and plot twist, yet others hated it. The movie was billed as a typical slasher movie and some felt duped by that. It did end up being a commercial success.
Sure, the movie apes the whole holiday horror theme like so many others during that time, but for me, it is up there with the best of them. I also like the refreshing twist ending. It was a bold move and it played on the audience just as much as the characters in the movie played on the whole April Fool’s Day aspect. If you ask me, that’s genius.
It also has Thomas F. Wilson in it… that’s it, that’s the sentence.
By far my favorite of all the Friday the 13th movies. I don’t think I need to say anymore. The End.
Okay! I love Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Although the ending was a little bit anti-climatic, it still worked fine and was a decent way to finish the series… that is until someone saw money left on the table.
The movie was heavily marketed on the demise of Jason Voorhees. I guess Paramount didn’t mind spoilers for their own movie. Fans didn’t mind either for that matter, seeing as The Final Chapter raked is just over $11 million and took the top spot in its opening weekend.
The Final Chapter has the best set of characters of any of the movies. This movie actually tried to give some depth to the characters. That’s not to say others in the series didn’t, but this one did the best job of it. I believe this was one of the few movies we see Jason run. The Jason performances were OK in the older movies, but were overshadowed by Kane Hodder’s performance for most of the later movies. At the time everyone thought this was the last hurrah for Jason and the Friday the 13th movies, so they took extra care of everything. It ended up working amazingly.
I don’t know when the term “slasher movie” was coined, but it’s arguable that Psycho was one of the first of its kind, if not the first.
Psycho had an uphill battle in its production. Friday the 13th caused waves in 1980 for something so tame today, but it was nothing like what Psycho went through and that was from the company producing it.
Never mind the viewers. Even a toilet flushing was deemed unacceptable! However, Hitchcock being able to make the movie he wanted was rewarded. Psycho went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, back when those awards actually meant something special.
Psycho is in black and white, which doesn’t mean much as movies back then often were. My love of black and white movies just adds a layer to my fondness for Psycho. Anthony Perkins was brilliant as Norman Bates. Although his character was clearly a creep, there was an innocence about him. The two sides together made for a shocking reveal.
Psycho also made bold moves with its star power, which surprised audiences when it came time for the horrific shower scene. Psycho is extremely tame compared to movies today, but for the time it was pushing all the boundaries and it ended up a better movie for it. If not for Psycho, there might not even be a slasher subgenre in horror movies today.
American Psycho deviated from the norm of slasher movies, right in the middle of a period when slasher movies were going through their own resurgence.
I don’t think it was done primarily to make the movie stand out, but because it was trying to stay true to the source material. American Psycho isn’t the only movie on here that came from a book and yes, the book is better.
Although the movie is a slasher at its heart, in subject and in execution, it is a psychological slasher. At times it makes the audience question what is reality. This is helped by the 80s setting and trappings of yuppie culture, so no one cares about anyone other than themselves.
It’s the perfect time and place for a yuppie serial killer like Patrick Bateman to feed his lust for blood. American Psycho also has a lot of dark humor to it, which is always fun. The movie is slow-paced at the start, but it ramps up the more Bateman seems to become unhinged and unable to control himself. Everything about it is perfectly timed.
Now if you’d excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.
I’m sure this comes to no surprise, Halloween is regarded as not only one of the greatest slasher movies in our lifetime, but one of the greatest horror movies in general. Sure Psycho came first and gave birth to the slasher subgenre, but Halloween‘s success brought us the start of the golden age of slasher movies.
It gave us the mysterious stalker, later known as Michael Myers, who picked off teens. It was built on that standard, dreadul presence that so many other movies would also use later, including Friday the 13th with Jason Voorhees and Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger. The premise used for Halloween has been a mainstay in slasher movies for years.
Halloween doesn’t have a massive body count at all. I don’t think more than maybe an ounce of blood is shown. It was all about the tension and creepiness of a young teen babysitter being stalked. An idea so overused by now that it’s completely cliché.
Unfortunately by the time the sequels started to flow the carnage candy of slashers was well established. So naturally the sequels followed suit. They obviously did well, warranting a number of them, but they all missed the magic that was so great of the first movie.
A young Shawn might have disliked Halloween when first watching it for being lowkey, by then I was already neck-deep into 80s action movies. Instead, it scared me as one would expect it to do to a child.
Halloween was the movie that caused me to pull the covers over my head at night. I generally believe it’s the reason I like psychological horror movies and thrillers so much. I like the Halloween season for multiple reasons – cheap candy on November 1st, the coolness of the fall season, relaxing rain, and of course having the excuse to watch Halloween every year… on Halloween night.
What do you think? What are your favorite slasher movies? Checkout for for 31 Days of Horror.