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Slasher Films

Movies, Reader Lists | December 3, 2009

Top 13 Slasher Films

Check out our list to see how it compares with our readers' list.

We asked you to submit your own lists of the Top 13 Slasher Films of All Time, and you did so enthusiastically. While you agreed with many of the films that made our list, you replaced four of our choices. Excised were Audition, Candyman, Friday the 13th Part III, and Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness; replacing them are your favorites the original Friday the 13th, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Burning, and Sleepaway Camp. You also strongly disagreed with how highly we ranked several films, including Black Christmas and Deep Red.

We already told you why we like most of the movies on this list, so we'll let the critics tell you more. But for your new picks, we'll let you know why we think you made good choices.

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Halloween

1

Halloween

1978

Chicago Sun-Times Halloween is a visceral experience - we aren’t seeing the movie, we’re having it happen to us. It’s frightening. Maybe you don’t like movies that are really scary: Then don’t see this one. TV Guide A modern horror classic. ReelViews With only a few arguable exceptions, there isn't another post-1970 release that comes close to it in terms of scaring the living hell out of a viewer. . . . Every frame drips with atmosphere.

Psycho

2

Psycho

1960

Salon All those who still get a chill every time they step into a hotel shower, say aye. That, you see, is the power of Psycho. Once you've experienced it, it isn't just a movie any more - it's a part of your life. San Francisco Chronicle [Hitchcock] has very shrewdly interwoven crime, sex and suspense, blended the real and the unreal in fascinating proportions and punctuated his film with several quick, grisly and unnerving surprises. AMC Filmcritic Delivers a rope-a-dope of chills that has inspired two generations of horror filmmakers.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

3

A Nightmare on Elm Street

1984

Variety A highly imaginative horror film that provides the requisite shocks to keep fans of the genre happy. TV Guide One of the most intelligent and terrifying horror films of the 1980s. . . . This movie intelligently probes into the audience's terror of nightmares and combines it with another horrific element - the very real fear of killers in one's own neighborhood. Empire Magazine What makes Freddy truly terrifying, and an inspired invention on Craven's part, is that he exists not in the real world but in the shadowy realm of dreams.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

4

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

1974

eFilmCritic.com Some may laugh at the juxtaposition of "masterpiece" and Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the same sentence. But for me there's no juxtaposition at all, because that's what it is. Chicago Sun-Times I can't imagine why anyone would want to make a movie like this, and yet it's well-made, well-acted, and all too effective. . . . The Texas Chainsaw Massacre belongs in a select company of films that are really a lot better than the genre requires. Empire Magazine The most purely horrifying horror movie ever made.

Black Christmas

5

Black Christmas

1974

Time Out A good slice of old-fashioned suspense. Eye for Film Although relegated in most discussions to a mere footnote as an influence on John Carpenter's seminal Halloween, Bob Clark's Black Christmas deserves to be better regarded in its own right. Combustible Celluloid This dark holiday classic ranks as one of the screen's very first slasher flicks. I love it. . . Film Freak Central Generally heralded as the first of its kind, Black Christmas may actually be one of a kind.

Scream

6

Scream

The Washington Post The best fright fest of the '90s, Wes Craven's Scream playfully tweaks many of the horror/slasher conventions in place since . . . the mid-'80s, but it does so with a fiendishly clever, complicated plot that makes it an instant classic, and not simply of the genre. San Francisco Chronicle It's party time for horror-movie fans. Los Angeles Times It ends up a terrific entertainment that also explores the relationship between movies and their audiences, specifically - but hardly exclusively - teenagers who love the kind of horror pictures Craven specializes in.

Friday the 13th

7

Friday the 13th

1980

Made for only $550,000, Friday the 13th was a massive box office success, grossing just about $40 million. The film, which featured Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles, told the story of a group of teenagers who are stalked and murdered by a deranged killer at an abandoned campsite. Despite the movie's overwhelming success and your votes placing it on The Top 13, the critics despised it. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ranted: "Friday the 13th is billed as a horror movie, but the main horror of it is that it was ever made. It is 90 minutes of tasteless, disgusting for broken intermittently by a dreadfully simple story, which seems to have been adapted from one of the sleazier tabloids cluttering newsstands."

Child’s Play

8

Child’s Play

1988

The New York Times Tom Holland's clever, playful thriller. . . . It's the deft wit and swift editing that keep us off guard, no matter how predictable the plot. Chicago Sun-Times Child's Play is better than the average False Alarm movie because it is well made, contains effective performances, and has succeeded in creating a truly malevolent doll. Chucky is one mean SOB. Time Out Holland demonstrates how a well-written script and taut direction can triumph over the silliest premise. . . . Holland's sure handling of the suspense and shock moments lends the film a sharp and scary edge.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

9

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

1986

Shot on 16mm film for only $110,000, this film is loosely based on the story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who was convicted of eleven murders and sentenced to death in Texas, where he died of heart failure in prison. Although the film was complete in 1986, it wasn't released until three years later because of disputes with the MPAA about the film's initial X-rating. It was ultimately released without a rating. Rogert Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times: "It also is a very good film, a low-budget tour de force that provides an unforgettable portrait of the pathology of a man for whom killing is not a crime but simply a way of passing time and relieving boredom."

Dressed to Kill

10

Dressed to Kill

1980

Channel 4 Film DePalma was at height of his creative powers when he made this cinematically inventive, thrilling - and of course completely politically incorrect - slasher movie. . . . This film should be celebrated as one of those purely cinematic experiences, which these days are all too few and far between. Combustible Celluloid Dressed to Kill is a flat-out masterpiece. Chicago Sun-Times DePalma is not yet an artist of Hitchcock's stature, but he does earn the right to a comparison.

The Burning

11

The Burning

1981

The first film produced by Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein, The Burning is the story of a summer camp caretaker who suffers horrific burns in a camper-orchestrated prank that went awry and returns five years later to seek revenge. Featuring the acting debuts of Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens, and Jason Alexander, this film is so violent that when the uncut version was released on video in England, the tapes were impounded under the British Obscene Publications Act. Tim Brayton of Antagony & Ecstasy raved: "It's one of the absolute best slasher movies that I've ever seen. . . . This is the real deal, one of the unexpected horror gems of the 1980s."

Sleepaway Camp

12

Sleepaway Camp

1983

Yet another film you voted for that mostly takes place at a summer camp, this slasher might at first appear to be a run-of-the-mill horror film. But the shocking final scenes of Sleepaway Camp are anything but ordinary. We won't ruin the surprise for those who have not seen it, but we will tell you that the shock has nothing to do with the disclosure of the killer's identity. Rumsey Taylor of Not Coming to a Theater Near You noted: "Sleepaway Camp belongs to a pool of slasher films known for their generic prolificacy; it must be noted that it is one of the first and best." Finding the trailer for this one wasn't easy, and as you'll see below, whoever posted this version probably wouldn't agree with your vote.

Deep Red

13

Deep Red

1975

TV Guide Argento here presents a stylish and compelling film that boasts remarkable visuals and an inventive use of sound effects and music. The edge-of-your-seat climax, in which Argento gleefully manipulates his audience, is quite impressive. The Austin Chronicle One of Argento's very best works. . . Channel 4 Film A tough, uncompromising tale from Dario Argento which mixes the conventions of a thriller with the psychic themes he developed in later films.

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Comments Leave a comment

PulpAffliction ★★

I completely forgot about "Henry." Great pick, everyone.

8:42 AM   Dec 03, 2009

stillathreat ★★

Henry is awesome. So is Sleepaway Camp, and I was totally caught off guard by its ending.

8:49 AM   Dec 03, 2009

ajay ★★

Psycho still not quite where it should be, but closer.
I've never heard of The Burning, but the trailer is awesome. It's probably not the only one, but it must have influenced Edgar Wright's fake Grindhouse trailer.

9:41 AM   Dec 03, 2009

tloveisready ★★

Agreed that Psycho belongs at #1. So far ahead of it's time, it's insane. That one still holds up all these years later. Amazing and innovative filmmaking.

11:50 AM   Dec 03, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

Don't disagree with any of the additions. Henry is a fantastic movie, although pretty borderline whether or not it is a "slasher." Really hard to classify though, I guess.

12:59 PM   Dec 03, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

But then again, I thought Audition was a slasher, so what do I know?

1:05 PM   Dec 03, 2009

dudezer47 

Torso and Blow Out are up there for me. Glad to see Deep Red has enough of a following to make the list.

1:41 PM   Dec 09, 2009

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