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31 Best Slashers, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blade

Slasher? We hardly even knew her.
Best Slashers Horror Movies
By  · Published on October 31st, 2023

20. Opera (1987)


It is with deep regret that I must inform the other Michele Soavi heads that Stagefright and Opera came out in the same year, disqualifying the former as outright plagiarism. [Editor’s note: High crime aside, Stagefright actually landed a few spots above.] It’s okay. Soavi has a cameo, all things being equal. In the meantime, I’m told Phantom of the Opera author Gaston Leroux lurks in the scaffolding, licking his chapped lips and plotting his revenge. Indeed, while its general beats are nothing new, Opera is as bombastic and stylish as its title suggests, sparing no expense with its cruel tale of an up-and-coming primadonna (Cristina Marsillach) being stalked by a murderous super-fan. Then again, what did she expect to debut under the auspices of the famously cursed Macbeth? Not to victim blame, but that’s just asking for trouble. Featuring a delightful on-screen stand-in for Argento and an ominous unkindness of ravens, Opera also boasts one of the most iconic (if deviously simple) torture devices to grace the genre: tape and sewing needles. Argento, my guy, direct a Saw film, I beg you! (Meg Shields)

19. Maniac (2012)


Lots of films on this list have seen remakes come and go over the years, but Franck Khalfoun‘s dark, bloody, and incredibly slick Maniac is the first of only two remakes to make the cut. William Lustig’s grimy original fared well in our voting for good reason (ie Joe Spinell’s unsettling performance), but this remake scored even higher — and it’s not difficult to understand why. In addition to crafting one of the best slashers with a madman at its core, Khalfoun went the extra mile in two ways. He cast Elijah Wood as the psychotic killer, and he (and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre) shot its unfolding terrors with a first-person POV. We see Wood in mirrors or via occasional steps outside his own body, but while most slashers put viewers in the killer’s shoes for short bursts, here we’re in the killer’s head for the bulk of the running time. It makes for a haunting experience, a horrifying prison we can’t escape, which actively mimics the mindset that our title character finds himself in. He doesn’t necessarily want to kill pretty young women, but you know, he has to. Add in a stellar score by Rob (no relation), and you have a mean, violent slasher that looks and sounds amazing. (Rob Hunter)

18. House of Wax (2005)

House Of Wax

In the early to mid-2000s, horror remakes were all the rage. Despite what some may tell you, a good chunk of those remakes are damn good, and one of the very best is Jaume Collet-Serra‘s House of Wax. With a cast of hunky television stars of the day, House of Wax turns up the heat and melts your skin. It does take about fifteen minutes too long to get to the setup, but once it arrives, it unleashes a goopy gorefest that plays straight to the heart of horror hounds everywhere. Skin ripped straight from the bone, fingertips clipped off, and a metal pipe through the forehead are just some of the highlights on display. The real page-turner comes with the big finale that sees what amounts to an entire town melt into nothing. (Chris Coffel)

17. Phenomena (1985)


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — while Deep Red is Dario Argento‘s best film, my absolute favorite of his remains the one with the razor-wielding chimpanzee. An American teen (Jennifer Connelly) heads to an elite private school in Europe only to discover a rash of killings have recently begun. Also, she can control insects with her mind because they’re friends. Yes, this is a wonderfully bonkers tale that also includes a wheelchair-bound Donald Pleasence as an entomologist whose best bud is a chimp and a soundtrack featuring Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and others. It’s the slasher/giallo elements we’re here for, though, and Argento doesn’t disappoint. Teenage girls are chased and slaughtered to the gentle thrashing of heavy metal music, the good doctor is offed in the night, and the killer reveal includes not one but two psychotic individuals with more than one screw loose each. It’s a bloody, stylish ride fueled by a combination of suspense, bloodletting, adrenaline, bug shenanigans, chimp antics, and a soundtrack that also includes some unforgettable Goblin tracks. This is how you keep viewers on their toes, people. (Rob Hunter)

16. Candyman (1992)

Candyman Mouth Bees

Gimme a supernatural slasher any day of the week over your regular homicidal Joe-schmo who continues to prove that men will do anything instead of going to therapy. With the supernatural touch, slashers get to be so much more than something that’s grounded in reality (even if that reality includes ridiculous masks). While Freddy Krueger may be the Empire State Building of supernatural slasher characters, I like to think of Candyman as the Chrysler Building. Not as tall, not nearly as beloved, but arguably far more beautiful, elegant, and a wonder to look at. Candyman, based on Clive Barker‘s short story and reimagined by Bernard Rose, is as close as you can get to an art-house slasher without rolling your eyes at the terminology. A story that speaks about allegories and truth, urban legends, and the ways in which myths and lies perpetuate into reality. It’s also about an alluring and monstrous dude with a hook for a hand and bees in his chest. And to top it off? Candyman has a truly tragic backstory that makes his vengeance against a systemically cruel world feel ultimately justified. (Jacob Trussell)

15. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Alice Sweet Alice

As a longtime recovering Catholic, I have a love/hate relationship with religious horror. The supernatural stuff (i.e., possession, exorcism) typically bores me with its strict elements and outcomes, but religiously motivated killers? Yeah, that’s the ticket, baby. This mid-70s shocker stars a young Brooke Shields (for a little while, anyway) and tells the story of a masked killer in a yellow slicker slicing and dicing their way through some folks associated with a God-fearing family of Catholics. The killer’s identity is a mystery for a short while, but the eventual reveal doesn’t hurt the creepiness of it all. Director Alfred Sole crafts a grimy gem here where everything feels touched by sweat and sin, and he kicks it off with the brutal murder of a young girl about to celebrate her First Communion. All of the adults feel guilty about something — I’m looking at you, pervy landlord — but they certainly don’t have a lock on cruel behaviors. Double feature this with Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, and you’ll never look at someone in a raincoat the same way again. (Rob Hunter)

14. Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom

A good number of Michael Powell’s films carry an element of darkness in them. Think the maddening winds of Black Narcissus, the perfection-chasing obsession of The Red Shoes, or the existential limbo of A Matter of Life and Death. No surprise, then, that in 1960, Powell made a straight-up horror film (and it nearly cost him his career, which is how you know it’s good). While the film’s erroneous status as the “first” slasher movie is debatable, Peeping Tom does earn plenty of brownie points for its then-scandalizing portrayal of voyeurism, psychopathy, and (brace yourselves) boobs. The film follows Mark Lewis (Karlheinz Boehm), a filmmaker who moonlights as a serial killer obsessed with capturing footage of his victim’s terrified faces. A chance encounter with his landlord’s daughter (Anna Massey) gives Lewis an escape hatch to a normal life. But will Helen’s charms be enough to divert him from his depraved path? Featuring one of the most iconic coats in horror (a competitive bracket), Peeping Tom has become no less disturbing in the intervening years, forcing us to see things from the perspective of a genuine human monster. (Meg Shields)

13. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

The Slumber Party Massacre

There are a few reasons why audiences have labeled The Slumber Party Massacre a “feminist slasher movie.” First, it was written by feminist author Rita Mae Brown, who was best known for Rubyfruit Jungle, an autobiographical novel about coming of age and coming out during the 1960s and 1970s. Along with being a civil rights activist and champion for gay rights, she also wrote a feminist-lensed parody of the often misogynistic slasher genre. Her script was called Sleepless Nights, but (allegedly against her wishes) the producers chose to play the action more straight. That producer was Roger Corman, who hired Amy Holden Jones to direct and rewrite the script. Despite The Slumber Party Massacre still retaining much of the misogyny of early 80s slashers, I’d argue that Jones knew the assignment that Brown etched into her original screenplay. This may not be an outright parody, but you can still sense the over-the-top humor and intentionality behind Jones’ directorial decisions. She also gives her cast of female characters far more agency than if they had been written and directed by a man. Long story short: if you are looking for a slasher that passes the Bechdel test while also answering the question, “Are the weapons supposed to be phallic?”, well, then this one’s for you. (Jacob Trussell)

12. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)

Friday Final

Friday the 13th is arguably the greatest slasher franchise of all time. From top to bottom, the series rarely misses and pushes the envelope of what a slasher can be. The absolute peak came in 1984 with The Final Chapter. It has some of Jason’s most iconic kills, like the machete through the raft and speargun to the crotch, a pair of twins, and two of the standout performances. This is the movie that gave us Crispin Glover’s sweet, sweet dance moves and an adorable Corey Feldman as our clever hero. How does little Corey get the job done? Well, he shaves his head to connect with Jason, of course! And then he proceeds to hack Jason over and over and over and over again. It may have been the fourth F13 movie released, but it will always be number one in my heart. (Chris Coffel)

11. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Sleepaway Camp

Cousins Ricky and Angela attend Camp Arawak for the summer. Ricky is an outgoing kid, whereas Angela is an introvert dealing with past trauma. Shortly after arriving at camp, campers start to die mysterious deaths. Is this a series of accidents, or is a killer on the loose? Sleepaway Camp is one of the more unique slashers. The kill count is relatively low, with very few being of the slash variety. And we’re dealing with mostly pre-teens or, at the very least, younger teenagers rather than the more typical high school seniors and college kids in your average slasher. It also features a wild performance from Desiree Gould as Aunt Martha. Her line deliveries are the most peculiar that you’ll ever hear. Still, it hits all the slasher beats and builds towards a jaw-dropping surprise ending. (Chris Coffel)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.