25. Alice Sweet Alice (1976)
As the older sister of a girl killed on her first communion, Alice is sent to a mental hospital for evaluation after being blamed for her sister’s murder. While the killer isn’t revealed until the very end, audiences are convinced Alice is the culprit throughout the film. A social commentary on churches and religion, this slasher flick doesn’t have many clichés. A typical whodunit film, the Final Girl turns out to be the person you least expect. Alice, Sweet Alice is a flick with a turn on every corner. Taking place and shot on location, this classic horror movie was Brooke Shield’s debut.
24. You’re Next (2011)
Rewarding itself with a cult following, this hit movie is worth a watch. As producer Simon Barret said, “home invasions were the only horror movies that truly frightened him.” And frighten people it did. A family and their significant others are chased down by people in masks and killed. Later do they find out that the killers are closer than they think. With jump scares, a Final Girl, and (mostly) anonymous masked murderers, the twist ending is truly just the cherry on top of this masterpiece.
23. The Prowler (1981)
Another big budget film, the Prowler takes a spot on this list. A typical slasher, Final Girl Pam is the one left standing (barely.) The Prowler keeps the viewer guessing until the end. Who could guess the one responsible is right in front of your very eyes? After witnessing her friends become killed one by one, it is Pam who gets out to find the murderer. This is a horror staple that is enjoyable and freakishly terrifying.
22. Silent Night, Deadly, Night (1984)
One of the many Christmas movies that includes a bad Santa, this is the original naughty or nice slasher movie. After its release, it was pulled from theaters after a week due to the nature of a child icon hacking people to death. After watching his parents get murdered on Christmas eve and having a rough Catholic orphanage upbringing, serial killer Billy begins a rampage for the holidays. After slashing some of his coworkers, he spends Christmas Eve rewarding the nice and terrorizing the naughty. For being one of the first Christmas movies and being so scary it had to be taken out of theaters, Silent Night has earned its way here.
21. The Final Girls (2015)
A meta-slasher flick, this one had to make the list. Max, the daughter of a Scream Queen actress, finds her and her friends in a horror movie after trying to escape a fire at their movie theater. Ironically, they end up in the movie Camp Bloodbath, the film responsible for her late mother’s fame. Max and her friends try to avoid the characters in the movie getting killed by taking elements of a horror film and reversing them (i.e., preventing the movie’s couple from consummating their relationship.) Max comes to find that it is up to her to defeat the villain, so she can make it out of the film alive. While reconnecting with her mother (as Nancy), she encounters an emotional adventure that accumulates in who she is as an individual. A nice homage to slasher flicks and perhaps the best horror comedy slasher since Scream, this is a self-aware piece that is enjoyable to watch.
20. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Whether it’s the original 1979 film or the most recent remake from 2006, this is a classic slasher film that it famous for the first twenty minutes. This opening with a stranger calling a house and asking questions has set the stage for the openings of Scream and other features. As much of a slasher film as it is psychological, this film is notable for having the components of a Final Girl and a mysterious killer. Also, notable: the marketing of the 2006 remake used AOL Instant Messenger to promote the film. Users could talk to Jill virtually and she would give them a number to call which played a trailer for the movie. Jill also had a Myspace page where users could add her as a friend and see her profile. The marketing, unique to the rise of social media and instant messaging, gave way to large box office numbers, making When a Stranger Calls a hit of the 21st century.
19. A Bay of Blood (1971)
Wills were not a part of this time, that’s for sure. In A Bay of Blood, it’s Battle Royale as people begin to battle over an inheritance of a bay. Multiple people will stop at nothing to get it, killing those who stand in their way. If you want blood, you got it with this Italian slasher movie. With a bloodbath of murders to choose from, it deserves a spot on this list. Bay of Blood’s legacy is no joke – it is still played at drive-ins and grindhouses today.
18. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
A tragedy strikes in a mining town when teenagers encounter a demented killer. The premise of this movie remains unique: The Mayor wants to throw a Valentine’s Day Dance that has been suspended for twenty years due to murders that happened decades ago. The killer vowed that further attacked would happen if the dance proceeds, and the Mayor does proceed. The killer begins to strike in the down, and then goes down to the mine party, where each teenager meets their fate. Received with mixed reviews, other filmmakers have called it their favorite slasher film of all time. For its unique setting and of course a lot of blood and gore, this is a notable movie you should put on your Netflix queue.
17. The House on Sorority Row (1983)
Another cult classic deserves a nod in this list. When a prank goes wrong, sorority sisters must fight for their lives after a vengeful killer seeks retribution for their fallen individual. The sisters throw a graduation party that they will never forget, as each one except for the Final Girl meets their eventual death. This film has made an impact in pop culture, with a remake made in 2009. While it bombed in the box office, it gave awareness to the original Sorority Row, a thriller that was deemed a joy to watch.
16. Prom Night (1980)
The original of course! Although, the remake wasn’t half bad either. Focusing on some teens going to their prom, the night takes a turn for the worst when a killer begins to hunt them down. Wanting revenge for their responsibility in the death of another girl a few years earlier, he stops at nothing to exterminate them all. When you have Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis spearheading a film like this, it only makes it better. While it didn’t get great reviews, it spanned a franchise, made a lot of money, and included all great elements of a slasher film.
15. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Another slasher movie with a hook handed killer, this was a box office hit. Obviously designed to appeal to movie going teens, it starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddy Prinze Jr., and Ryan Philippe. Covering up a hit and run accident and murder from last summer, all four teens begin to receive haunting notes from an anonymous sender. They spend the movie trying to figure out the killer with some of them becoming disposed in the process. A villain, teenagers in distress, a secret, blood, and a hook – a perfect combination for a summer blockbuster hit.
14. The Last House on the Left (1972)
Brutal. That is the word that comes to mind when I hear this movie. This is film in which Wes Craven make his debut, proving to be a force to be reckoned with. Two teenagers are captured by a criminal family on their way to a rock concert. After being raped, tortured, and killed, the parents find the girls and get their revenge on the family. Sounds like a feel-good film, right? It was banned in some countries upon release, but received great reviews. For its intense violence, gore, use of household objects as weapons, and bittersweet ending, this is an unforgettable slasher movie.
13. Candyman (1992)
Say it and he will appear (Candyman, Candyman, Candyman!) This smart film showcases a serial killer on the loose in a lower-class, urban neighborhood. Following a local legend, a graduate student goes looking for people to get information about this hook handed murderer. He is supposed to appear after saying Candyman five times in a mirror and stab the person who summoned him, as protagonist Helen Lyle has studied. An interesting take on race in run-down neighborhoods, it is revealed the Candyman was the son of a slave who worked his way up in society. He fell in love with white woman and was hung upon her father discovering she was pregnant with his child. The lynch mob cut off his hand and replaced it with a hook. Helen spends her time throughout this movie digging up more information on this being, then fighting him off as he begins to hunt her down. With its Final Girl and a social commentary on racism and social class, this movie is a slasher flick that anyone can learn from.
12. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie’s franchise shines in this flick. His directorial debut provided controversy with its use of a sickening amount of blood, gore, and necrophilia. The film went through two production companies to get it released, as it was dropped by Universal Studios for fear on an unfavorable rating. This was another flick that developed a cult following, following with the release of The Devils Rejects, a sequel. Both films focus on the demented ways of the Firefly family, who kidnap teens on a cross country road trip and meet their untimely death after being tortured by the group. The interesting about this movie was that Zombie never focused on a “Final Girl.” Instead, he made the Firefly family endearing and unique so that viewers were drawn to them instead. For that, as well as stirring up controversy, House of 1000 Corpses gets itself a mention.
11. Saw (2004)
A high budget production, there is no question Saw has provided viewers with a niche. Not for queasy stomachs, it has spanned across eight movies since its inception in 2004. The film’s villain, Jigsaw, is a unique, obscure, and deeply disturbed character. His motive for taking people who have done something wrong in their life and putting them with other “sinners” is an intriguing idea that directors James Wan and Leigh Wannell created and has stuck as a plot point throughout the franchise. Antagonist Jigsaw finds that those he observes do not value life, and after losing a child and being diagnosed with cancer, believes that the only way people will change and value their gift of being alive is through the “games” he creates. These “games” involve traps that represent any moral issue that these individuals are facing, and the challenges often involve a gruesome task harming themselves or others. For its creativity, overbearing amount of gore, tortured and eclectic villain, and success throughout its now eight movies, this must take a spot on this list.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a franchise that deserves a nod and needs no introduction. Freddy Krueger, a villain that is instantly recognizable, takes his form in dreams. This third installment takes us in the mental hospital that original character Kristen is. Here, she meets other kids who have survived Krueger’s hauntings. This movie sticks out in this installment as it takes all the elements in a slasher flick and surely sticks with you. A final girl, lots of gore, and a terrifying villain – what more could you ask from this franchise?
This film is the one that started it all. A classic slasher flick, it introduced audiences to what a movie like this was. It has been ranked by many as one of the greatest films of all time, focusing on a woman on the run who stays in a run-down motel operated by a man and his “overbearing mother.” The film’s memorable “shower scene,” which featured Marion Crane getting murdered in the shower, was considered very risqué at the time. This was a movie that pushed the barriers of the censorship at the time. Norman Bates was also based of murderer Ed Gein, the killer famous for using women’s body parts to make a bodysuit for himself. For pushing the boundaries of the time and becoming a staple in American cinematic history, Psycho ranks on this list.
8. Black Christmas
Phone calls, sorority houses, and a mysterious killer. Sound like a cliché slasher film? You’re right. This film focuses murderer. This film introduced the idea of an anonymous being as a killer. Even at the end, nobody knows who it is. It was this idea that truly endeared viewers and kept them on their toes. This inspired antagonists like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Michael Meyers of Halloween – an assailant with no specific identity was feared by many. For setting up the development of further iconic characters and being a great early slasher flick, this movie set the stage for more films to come.
7. The Evil Dead
Iconic is the only word to describe Evil Dead. This low-budget film surrounded five friends who go to a southern isolated cabin for spring break. Finding a book in the basement as well as a recording from an archaeologist, a spirit awakens. Soon, the group members become possessed one by one. This film was given an X rating in some countries due to its “pornographic” nature (of the time.) As it was a low budget film, the actors often went through grueling conditions to get the shots they wanted. While there is no Final Girl, there is no shortage of gore or cliché setting. This movie is an iconic cult classing, with three movies comprising the franchise. It has spawned video games, comics, a musical, and even a TV show. Just like many cult classics, it did not do well in its immediate release but made a lot of money in its later days in theaters. For its commercial success, low budget, gore, and incomparable legacy, this gets number seven on the list.
6. The Strangers
Another film advertised to be based on a true story, The Strangers has stayed with this writer since it first came out in 2008. It is loosely based on the crime novel Helter Skelter, about the Charles Manson novels as well as director Bryan Bertino’s own life. As a child, people were knocking on doors and seeing who wasn’t home to rob any unattended house. Tapping in on this home invasion fear, The Strangers was created. Three masked strangers enter a house to rob it only to find a couple inside. Terrorizing the characters in their own home, the fate of this couple takes a turn for the worst. For its ability to provide great jump scares, add some gore, use of a Final Girl, and the ability to stay with me almost ten years later, this gets a spot at the top of the list.
5. Child’s Play
Who can forget the iconic face of Chuckie? This eccentric movie surrounded an escaped convict who transfers his soul to a “Good Guy” doll. His eventual goal is to become human again, making him able to transfer his body to his first possessor – a six-year-old boy. Going on a killing spree to get his way, this sadistic man spends the franchise mostly in doll form. These films, thought to be comedic horror, spawned a franchise and a cult following. Seven movies later, fans are still talking about the “Good Guy” doll gone bad. For its successful cult following, a villain that’s almost loveable, and lots of gore, this movie ranks number 5 on the list.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This movie invented the elements of a slasher film. Marketed as a true story, it was banned in some countries even though it was entirely fictional. Only the inspiration of Leather face (infamous serial killer Ed Gein) was true, also impacting some plot points and setting details. Demonstrating what goes into a slasher flick, this movie has been remade multiple times and has inspired a lot of slasher films that resonate with audiences today. It is to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre that we owe the idea of the Final Girl, the killer’s use of power tools and homemade objects to attack its victims, and the anonymity in a movie of this genre. It is Leatherface’s demeanor and his portrayal that has made him and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre iconic in its release and reception amongst audiences of its time.
By the 1990’s horror fans had begun to take notes of common elements in horror films. Scream took these components and made a self-aware, well informed masterpiece that launched the careers of many of its characters. Starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and Drew Barrymore, this gory film lands its place on this last as number three. Wes Craven can make a movie, and Scream sowed that he could. The movie’s core elements of a Final Girl, blood, gore, and “whodunit” story was well received, thus turning into franchise that spanned over 4 (and now, possibly more) movies.
Who hasn’t heard of Michael Meyers? The famed serial killer with a backstory, you don’t want to get on this guy’s bad side. Laurie, his sister, certainly did. This movie was so successful that it spawned an entire franchise – including one that didn’t include its beloved character (see Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which is barely acknowledged as part of the franchise.) Due to its success and its ability to include all elements of horror, this ranks towards the top of the list of the best slasher flicks of all time.
1. Sleepaway Camp
If you want to talk about unforgettable slasher movies, Sleepaway Camp tops the list. Not only is it campy (literally and in the sense of cheesiness) but it also has arguably the most shocking ending in movie history. The last five minutes are the most important. This movie has all the elements an 80’s horror movie should have: a creepy setting, characters that leave you guessing, and a killer on the loose. Nothing is creepier than Angela, who has endured a rough life at the mere age of 12. This film keeps you guessing until the very end – and then stays with you. The elements of horror it possesses, combined with the performance and the lasting impression it has ranked number one on this list.
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