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Slasher Films

Movies | By The Top 13 on November 12, 2009

Here at The Top 13, we're celebrating Friday the 13th a day early by presenting our Top 13 Slasher Films of all time. We've taken a somewhat broad interpretation of what exactly constitutes a slasher, but the hallmark of each of these movies is a psychopathic killer murdering people with a sharp object. The Top 13 features a wide variety of films within this sub-genre of the horror film genre, including some that were box office hits and others most people probably haven't heard of. For a fairly thorough list of all slasher films, see here.

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Black Christmas


Black Christmas


The first modern slasher film is also the best. Black Christmas set the bar and established many of the genre trademarks that slashers would follow for decades to come. Notably, this film also began the trend of basing slashers around a holiday, a trend that was followed in Halloween, April Fool’s Day, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and many others. The phone calls in this movie are disturbing enough to make you never want to answer your phone again.





Michael Myers is the ultimate slasher: silent, indestructible, cuts his victims up with a kitchen knife, wears an awesomely modified Captain Kirk mask, and - most importantly - is pure evil incarnate. Halloween - produced, directed, written, and scored by John Carpenter - truly kick-started the slasher boom of the late 70s and early 80s, and made Jamie Lee Curtis a household name.

Deep Red


Deep Red


The master of Italian horror, Dario Argento, gave us the most artistic slasher film with Deep Red (known in Italy as Profondo Rosso). While not as visually stunning overall as Suspiria, Argento’s most well-known film, Deep Red contains the most gorgeous death scenes you'll find. You'll be hooked the moment you hear the opening theme (by longtime Argento collaborators Goblin) interrupted by the creepiest children's music you've ever heard.

A Nightmare on Elm Street


A Nightmare on Elm Street


Despite the escalating absurdity of the sequels, the first A Nightmare on Elm Street remains one of the scariest films ever. The concept of a killer (and a child murderer who was burned alive, at that) who murders you in your dreams is both original and terrifying, and caused many moviegoers to fear falling asleep. Freddy Krueger's scarred face, razor glove, and ugly sweater are also equally nightmare-inducing.





The mother of all horror films (pun intended) was groundbreaking upon its release in 1960 and still shows little signs of age. Almost 50 years later, Psycho still contains some of the scariest - and most memorable - scenes in film history. The scenes of "Mother" talking to Norman while the camera shows the exterior of the house are about as creepy as it gets. Hitchcock's best film, bar none.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was released in 1974, the public was completely blindsided by Tobe Hooper's grizzly account of a family of cannibals and a chainsaw-wielding maniac named Leatherface, all supposedly based on real events. Adding to the graphic portrayal of the murders was the fact that the cast was made up completely of unknowns, which heightened the realism of the film.





This is one of the most disturbing movies of all time. What starts as a lighthearted romance about a man who sets up a casting call for a fake film in order to meet a potential wife takes a harsh 180-degree turn about halfway through into a test of how much gore and graphic violence one can handle. There are some scenes so horrific that even the most resilient viewers have a hard time stomaching them.





As a horror film with built-in social commentary, Candyman is effective on many levels. But Clive Barker's update on the "Bloody Mary" urban legend, set in the Cabrini-Green housing projects on Chicago's north side, mixes the real life horror of extreme poverty and gang violence with the shock appeal of a brutal horror film. Tony Todd's turn as the Candyman, a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand and a mouth full of bees, is truly memorable.





Before this film was released, slasher films were mostly low-budget sequels in once thriving franchises (like Jason Goes to Hell) or even lower budget straight-to-video clunkers (like Ice Cream Man). Scream is singlehandedly responsible for reviving the slasher genre for a good seven or eight years. It provided both real scares while offering a tongue-in-cheek dissection of characteristics of the sub-genre itself.

Dressed to Kill


Dressed to Kill


One thing Brian De Palma knows is Hitchcock, and Dressed to Kill is his fantastic tribute to Psycho. Sure, it walks that fine line between serving as an homage and being a rip-off, but casting aside some of the key plot devices, this film stands by itself as one of the premiere slasher flicks. Lots of gore, great performances by Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, and Nancy Allen, and De Palma's stylish camerawork make this a must-see.

Child’s Play


Child’s Play


A serial killer who is mortally wounded uses a voodoo ritual to transfer his soul into a child's toy; the concept alone should have sent this one straight to video. But the end result rose well above such a ludicrous plot device and gave us one of the best combinations of horror and comedy ever produced. The foul-mouthed "Good Guys" doll Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) is also one of the most likeable killers in any horror film.

Friday the 13th Part III


Friday the 13th Part III


We couldn't give you a list of the Top 13 Slasher Films on Friday the 13th (or the day before) without mentioning a film in the Friday the 13th franchise. However, it's not the original that gets the nod here, as Jason isn't even the killer in the first installment. It's Part III, where many of the characteristics of the later films originated, including the hockey mask, the exponentially rising body count, and the creative death scenes. Plus, it was in 3-D!

Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness


Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness


This might be the worst horror film of all time. It's a perfect storm of bad filmmaking – awful acting, horrible production, a cheesy synth score that is repeated ad nauseam – that makes it one of the most entertaining movies to watch. Unfortunately, not enough people have seen this to make it a cult classic. That needs to change. Don't miss future Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean playing the killer as a child in a flashback scene.

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Comments Leave a comment


I haven't seen a few of these, but Psycho is easily my #1. That trailer for Black Christmas is pretty awesome. James Mason, ftw.

6:43 AM   Nov 12, 2009


I'd like to see a more general horror film list. Slashers are the worst of the genre.

6:58 AM   Nov 12, 2009


I don't know enough "slasher films" to make a list :(

7:11 AM   Nov 12, 2009


Good list. Still need to see Black Christmas. One of the most memorable moviegoing experiences I've had is when I went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre around Halloween at an old theater, with a live band providing the music. They had a costume contest (a guy dressed as a beekeeper won) and they served 'blood red' wine.

7:21 AM   Nov 12, 2009


Not a bad list, but I wouldn't consider Audtion a slasher film. Have not seen Truth or Dare, need to look for that one

7:21 AM   Nov 12, 2009


Jack Frost! Ok I kid, but it does have a man in a giant foam snowman suit attack a woman in a bathtub. So bad it's good. Also horribly amusing, The Gingerdead Man, starring Gary Busey in a giant gingerbread man costume...who kills! Worth it for the poster alone and tagline - Evil Never Tasted So Good! Maybe we need a top 13 worst slasher pics. On a more serious/relevant note, interesting choices for this list. No love for Rob Zombie though?

7:39 AM   Nov 12, 2009


Good list, and im with travelin_jack, i'd like to see a general horror film list, as it being my favorite genre of movies. Glad to see Candyman on the list its one of my favorites and as i kid it scared the living daylights out of me. Nothing takes the cake for me like Halloween though thats my #1

7:45 AM   Nov 12, 2009

stillathreat ★★

Psycho needs to be 1. Texas Chainsaw 2. I've never heard of that Critical Madness movie. I'll watch it I guess but there must be better movies like this that could have had that spot.

10:13 AM   Nov 12, 2009


great films, American Psycho could have been a great addition

11:11 AM   Nov 12, 2009


I'm personally very happy Rob Zombie is not on the list. American Psycho is fantastic, but I wouldn't even consider that a horror film.

12:13 PM   Nov 12, 2009


Rob Zombie's films are not on the list because they are not slasher films (Save for the halloween remakes that, while good, were not as good as the originals).

1:10 PM   Nov 12, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

Great list. Kudos.

2:52 PM   Nov 12, 2009


agree with everything you said about audition except for calling it a slasher film in the 1st place.

9:52 PM   Nov 13, 2009


That Truth or Dare? trailer is amazing.

12:06 PM   Nov 14, 2009


Truth or Dare stirs me into a critical madness every time I see it. As good a description as this is of it, you just cannot grasp it's brain-splitting awesome/awfulness until you see it for yourself. Good list by the way, though I am in agreement about Audition - an amazing film, but I am hesitant to classify it as anything really, much less slasher.

1:39 PM   Nov 29, 2009

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