(Photo by Paramount, New Line Cinema, Dimension Films, Maple Pictures, New World Pictures, Lionsgate / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

25 Essential Slasher Movies

Slashers — that gloriously grubby, stabby subsection of horror — were first unsheathed in the early 1970s, when Mario Bava stalked his cavorting, frequently disrobed victims around in A Bay of Blood. The movie set up mood of the slasher: Sexually charged, with a degree of mystery, where the ample cast of characters one-by-one take a sharp turn into doom. Slashers can be stylish (Opera, Dressed to Kill), carnal (Torso, Friday the 13th), grimly violent (The Prowler, The Burning), trashy (Pieces, The Slumber Party Massacre) and even supernatural (Halloween, Child’s Play). We’re studying all sides of the blade as we assemble movies that best represent this killer genre in the 25 Essential Slasher Movies.

#25
Adjusted Score: 39.886%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this horror film, a group of teenage girls gather together for a slumber party, only to be terrorized by... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 45.131%
Critics Consensus: There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.
Synopsis: French filmmaker Alexandre Aja writes and directs the slasher film Haute Tension, given the English title Switchblade Romance. Best friends... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Aja

#23

Maniac (1980)
40%

#23
Adjusted Score: 41.085%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Maniac, given an X-rating for extreme violence and gore, is the story of a New York psycho (Joe Spinell) who... [More]
Directed By: William Lustig

#22

Pieces (1983)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 46.334%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a tagline that reads, "You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre," this Spanish-Italian entry into... [More]

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 59.407%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This Canadian slasher film features a disgruntled miner cutting out people's hearts with a pick-axe. Most of the film takes... [More]
Directed By: George Mihalka

#20
Adjusted Score: 49.845%
Critics Consensus: Friday the 13th: Part VI - Jason Lives indeed brings back ol' Vorhees, along with a sense of serviceable braindead fun.
Synopsis: This impressive entry in the popular horror series brings back the relentless killer Jason Voorhees, this time as a supernatural... [More]
Directed By: Tom McLoughlin

#19

The Prowler (1981)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 37.222%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this gory slice-n-dicer, a WWII vet returns home and finds his girl in the arms of another at the... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Zito

#18
Adjusted Score: 46.44%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A psycho stalks attractive college students on an Italian campus before he rapes and dismembers them (hence the title).... [More]
Directed By: Sergio Martino

#17

Candyman (1992)
75%

#17
Adjusted Score: 79.938%
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.
Synopsis: Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#16

The Burning (1981)
80%

#16
Adjusted Score: 74.074%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Apart from early appearances by Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter, an interesting score by Rick Wakeman, and some typically effective... [More]
Directed By: Tony Maylam

#15

Happy Death Day (2017)
72%

#15
Adjusted Score: 78.221%
Critics Consensus: Happy Death Day puts a darkly humorous sci-fi spin on slasher conventions, with added edge courtesy of a starmaking performance from Jessica Rothe.
Synopsis: Blumhouse (Split, Get Out, Whiplash) produces an original and inventive rewinding thriller in Happy Death Day, in which a college... [More]
Directed By:

#14

You're Next (2013)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 84.902%
Critics Consensus: You're Next's energetic and effective mix of brutal gore and pitch black humor will please horror buffs and beyond.
Synopsis: One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, YOU'RE NEXT reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist... [More]
Directed By: Adam Wingard

#13

Child's Play (1988)
71%

#13
Adjusted Score: 74.202%
Critics Consensus: Child's Play occasionally stumbles across its tonal tightrope of comedy and horror, but its genuinely creepy monster and some deft direction by Tom Holland makes this chiller stand out on the shelf.
Synopsis: Child's Play seems to have been concocted by a parent who went berserk after standing in line for hours on... [More]
Directed By: Tom Holland

#12
Adjusted Score: 83.464%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The shockingly brutal murder of a little girl in a church where she was just about to receive her first... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Sole

#11

Halloween (2018)
79%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95.382%
Critics Consensus: Halloween largely wipes the slate clean after decades of disappointing sequels, ignoring increasingly elaborate mythology in favor of basic - yet still effective - ingredients.
Synopsis: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers,... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#10

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
77%

#10
Adjusted Score: 78.257%
Critics Consensus: Sleepaway Camp is a standard teen slasher elevated by occasional moments of John Waters-esque weirdness and a twisted ending.
Synopsis: When Angela (Felissa Rose) and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tierston) go off to the dilapidated Camp Arawak for a summer... [More]
Directed By: Robert Hiltzik

#9
Adjusted Score: 73.286%
Critics Consensus: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors offers an imaginative and surprisingly satisfying rebound for a franchise already starting to succumb to sequelitis.
Synopsis: The best of the Elm Street sequels, this creepy, surreal fantasy features terrific effects, a fine young cast, and an... [More]
Directed By: Chuck Russell

#8

Friday the 13th (1980)
64%

#8
Adjusted Score: 68.734%
Critics Consensus: Rather quaint by today's standards, Friday the 13th still has its share of bloody surprises and a '70s-holdover aesthetic to slightly compel.
Synopsis: One of the longest-running horror film series began with this gory shocker from director Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously... [More]
Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham

#7

Black Christmas (1974)
71%

#7
Adjusted Score: 74.25%
Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.
Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb... [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

#6

Dressed to Kill (1980)
80%

#6
Adjusted Score: 84.317%
Critics Consensus: With arresting visuals and an engrossingly lurid mystery, Dressed to Kill stylishly encapsulates writer-director Brian De Palma's signature strengths.
Synopsis: In this stylish, violent thriller,an unhappy wife, Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson), meets a handsome man in a museum and goes... [More]
Directed By: Brian DePalma

#5

Opera (1987)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 92.066%
Critics Consensus: The Opera house location gives plenty to work with for director Dario Argento, who hits his decadently bloody high notes here.
Synopsis: An obsessed fan stalks a young opperata and kills those who are closest to her.... [More]
Directed By:

#4
Adjusted Score: 85.845%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This Italian shockerama was originally released as Twitch of the Death Nerve in 1971. When distributed to the US, it... [More]
Directed By: Mario Bava

#3

Scream (1996)
79%

#3
Adjusted Score: 83.062%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
Synopsis: The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#2
Adjusted Score: 97.98%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers are terrorized by "Freddy Krueger", an evil being from another world who gets to his victims... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#1

Halloween (1978)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103.63%
Critics Consensus: Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.
Synopsis: A young boy kills his sister on Halloween of 1963, and is sent to a mental hospital. 15 years later... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

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