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10 Best Slasher Movies of All Time

Updated August 11, 2019
7 min read

The slasher movie genre is a niche in the horror genre. The provenance of the genre can be traced back to the 1960s, when visionary auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock turned a new leaf in the book of Hollywood. The films are usually panned by critics and generally don’t do well at the box office either. The kitschy potboilers, though, did find success in the formative years of the conception of its idea.

Over the years, the genre’s popularity has faded. Neither do the film-makers or the audiences like to be a part of such films. The genre is survived by remakes, sequels and reboots, which lack imagination and the original essence of the movies. The golden period for the slasher genre was during 1980-2000, when it gained popularity and saw directors come up with new ideas. The following list comprises of top slasher movies ever. You might be able to watch some of these good slasher movies on Netflix. Most of the these are slasher horror films. There are also a couple of 80s slasher movies.

10. Cabin in the Woods (2012)

This was Drew Goddard’s directorial debut. The story chronicles the deadly sojourn of five friends in a remote cabin in the woods, getting hunted by retrograde zombies and two obscure technicians from an underground facility. The film attempted at “revitilizing the slasher genre”, and is a satire on torture porn. It opened to rave reviews, with critics praising the style, tone and approach. The film was a commercial success as well, grossing $66 million world-wide. It is actually remembered as the re-birth of the slasher genre.

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9. Black Christmas (1974)

This film was directed by Bob Clark. The story follows a group of sorority sisters who are receiving threatening phone calls, while being stalked and murdered during the holiday season by a deranged murderer hiding in the attic of their sorority house. The film opened to mixed reviews, with critical acclaim following after re-consideration. It is credited for originating the unsolved ambiguous identity for the killer. The film has achieved a cult status and is one of the most revered pieces of cinema in the slasher genre.

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8. Dementia 13 (1963)

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This was the great Francis Ford Coppola‘s directorial debut. His revolutionary vision and bold subject matter depicted by the use of gory killing scenes didn’t sit well with the producers. This prompted them to change directors, and hired Jack Hill to re-shoot certain scenes. As a result, the quality of the film depreciated, opening to mixed reviews. The film chronicles the journey of a young woman, Louise Haloran to the castle of her deceased husband. Convoluted events take center-stage as an axe-wielding lunatic begins hacking down family members. Coppola received much praise for his direction and the imaginative use of the locations.

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7. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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This film was one of Kevin Williams’ earliest slasher flicks. The plot centers on four friends who are being stalked by a killer, one year after covering up a car accident in which they were involved. The film was a big commercial hit, going on to gross $126 million world-wide, almost eight times its budget. Despite the mixed reaction from critics, the film has been repeatedly parodied and referenced in popular culture. The flick was followed by two sequels, none of which retained the star cast but sustained the plot and the story-line.

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6. Candyman (1992)

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This supernatural horror film, written and directed by Bernard Rose, is based on a short story ‘The Forbidden’ by Clive Barker. The setting, though, is changed from England to America. The plot follows a graduate student (Madsen) completing a thesis on urban legends who encounters the legend of “Candyman” (Todd), an artist and son of a slave who had his hand severed and was then murdered. The film opened to highly positive reviews, with many critics calling it a “nuanced, effectively chilling tale” and one of the surprises of the year. The film set the cash registers ringing, making almost three times its production budget.

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5. Friday the 13th (1980)

This is probably the most adapted and recreated film of the slasher genre. But none of the innumerable adaptations have managed to scare and excite the audiences like the original. Directed by Sean Cunningham, the film tells the story of a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one by an unknown killer while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground. Boasting a plethora of up and coming stars like, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby and Laurie Bartram, the film became the biggest independent hit of all time, making almost 110 times of its budget! Critics praised the film for its gripping plot-line and the non-convolution of the underlying themes of the genre. This was the start of the Golden period for the slasher genre.

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4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

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‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ was banned outright in more than 30 countries when it was received. But that couldn’t deter its collections as the film went on to gross more than $30 million world-wide, almost 100 times its budget. Its iconic status in the industry is due to its inventiveness, originating several elements common in the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons and the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure. The film has seen repeated attempts to recreate the magic on screen. It is one of the few films of the genre that has been appreciated by the critics for its pragmatic approach and holistic use of gory violence.

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3. Scream (1996)

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This is probably one of the only films to have been gut-wrenchingly funny. And it is the second Kevin Williams movie to feature in the list. Its status as one of the most iconic films of all time in the slasher genre remains intact even today, thanks to successful sequels and remakes. It is one of the only franchises which has bettered the previous films with quality sequels. The original film had a stellar cast, including names like Courtney Cox (Monica Geller), David Arquette (Courtney’s husband), Rose McGowan and Drew Barrymore. ‘Scream’ turned out to be a huge hit, making almost 15 times its budget, also getting universal critical praise.

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2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This film was Johhny Depp‘s debut feature. The plot revolves around several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams (and thus killed in reality) by Freddy Krueger. The teenagers are unaware of the cause of this strange phenomenon, but their parents hold a dark secret from long ago. The movie is iconic for the creation of an anti-antagonist, someone who has been the victim of social and mental oppression. It is often credited as being the film to instill pragmatism and substance over non-nonsensical and gory violence. The movie’s villain is today regarded as one of the screen’s most iconic characters and has seen parodies and references in popular culture.

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1. Psycho (1960)

Ta-Da. ‘Psycho’ is the most critically acclaimed slasher film of all time. Alfred Hitchcock is considered as a pioneer of the crime thriller genre, and is credited as the founding father of anti-climaxes. The film that is remembered as the most Hitchcockian ever is without a doubt, ‘Psycho’. It stars Anthony Perkins as the manager of the doomed Bates Motel and he delivers one of the most chilling performances of all time. Initial acclaim was mixed, with many believing it to be too dark. But outstanding box office returns prompted reconsideration, which then garnered critical acclaim and four Academy award nominations. It set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films, and is considered as the earliest example of the slasher film genre. The shower scene, even today, is considered as the greatest cinematic scene ever filmed.

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