The hack n’ slash formula isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Not all horror lovers love slashers, either. Even in its various forms, the slasher picture entails a bunch of people dying, gore, often a whodunit-style plot, sometimes naked women (most specific to the ’80s), and the list goes on.
Real good slashers can be truly terrifying. As this list will show, mediocre to bad slasher can even be scary enough to enjoy (Fulci— we’re looking at you). You should find a nasty treat for the Halloween season here.
If not, feel free to hunt me down.
Just do it quick, like Cropsey!
There’s an incredible transfer of Satan’s Blade currently available from Arrow Films, it’s the best way to see this obscure piece of slasher history. This is a strange mix of surrealism and murder. There are simple, haunting images— like the is-it-a-nightmare-or-is-it-real appearance of the killer above, or a knife stuck in a tree. There’s supernatural stuff, too. Or, maybe. Yeah!
All of it amounts to an unnerving ’70s-style slasher made in the ’80s, and 82 minutes of odd enjoyment, so long as you’re a lover of the sub-genre.
This 1987 hack n’ slash delight is full of fun practical effects, dark humour, Thanksgiving, gore, and a serving of Freudian terror. Blood Rage uses the trope of identical twins to provide a real creepy plot, where one brother frames another for a murder when they’re children. Many years later, the institutionalised brother returns home for Thanksgiving to see his family, when a series of murders occurs at the apartment building where they live. Not too complex, just down and dirty, proper horror in the slasher tradition.
Just Before Dawn
Backwoods horror is the creepiest of sub-genres when done right. Super exciting when backwoods horror also involves slasher elements, such as Jeff Lieberman’s 1981 Just Before Dawn.
Along with Fulci’s creep in The New York Ripper, which you’ll find later on this list, Liberman’s slasher killers adopt a queasy voice— as opposed to the talkative murderer Fulci gives us, these killers say nothing, only laughing in the strangest way possible. The cinematography and all around atmosphere of Just Before Dawn help make this a low budget gem not to be missed.
If pressed, I’d pick 1989’s Intruder as the most brutal slasher movie with the best use of practical effects. There may be better slashers, there may be more brutal slashers, too. This is one’s got the greatest practical effects in conjunction with pure vicious serial murder. Also, the plot’s an effective, darkly humorous critique of capitalism. Trust and believe, the evidence is there to make my case. Without the commentary, Intruder is one of those underrated slasher flicks from the ’80s that ought to be in all the BEST OF lists— all of ’em!
Cold Prey II
The Cold Prey trilogy in its entirety is a modern slasher masterpiece!
Cold Prey II itself is undeniably one of the greatest slasher movies out there. This sequel occurs after the events of the first film, as the only survivor gets taken to the hospital— and not long later, the killer’s brought there, where he resuscitates. The setup leads to a Halloween II-esque situation, in which the survivor and others in the hospital are left near defenceless while a brutal murderer begins taking them out. This sequel’s full of suspense. If you’re looking for terror in your slasher, Cold Prey II‘s as sure a bet as any.
A Bay of Blood
Mario Bava’s been endlessly inspirational to the world of horror. A Bay of Blood specifically helped lay out the template for the slasher sub-genre, as well as inspired homage kills in many slashers for years to come, most famously Friday the 13th. Even if it didn’t get referenced so much – American Horror Story: Hotel did a great one most recently – this would still be such a damn fine example of slasher cinema. The whole thing’s got the whodunit aspect in spades, the premise itself is perfect. Best of all are the gory, brutal, and fiendish kills Bava visualises to dispatch the characters. On Blu-ray, this one’s horror heaven.
Alice Sweet Alice
While Alice Sweet Alice a.k.a Communion is an excellent slasher, it’s also an attack on Catholicism, evident in the religious imagery. So much to love about this weird, disturbing movie. Clearly influenced by Don’t Look Now, and the reveal is a terrifying moment that’s unforgettable. You’ve got a killer in a mask and yellow raincoat, a suspicious paedophile landlord who loves cats, and BLOOD! Perfect concoction for a creepy fall night as Halloween draws closer and closer.
The New York Ripper
This Lucio Fulci joint is pure trash. It’s sleazy and gory. The cinematography is impressive, a waste for a movie that’s got no real plot. Father Gore says this with all love for Mr. Fulci. The New York Ripper is nowhere near his finest hour. It’s all about the kills. Some say Fulci’s movie itself is misogynistic. I feel he was trying to make a movie about a misogynist murderer and, instead of making commentary on the misogyny of men, wound up half-assing things to the point it comes off as awful.
But I bet you’ve never heard someone do a Donald Duck impression while committing murder, have you? Now you’ve got Fulci to thank for the pleasure.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
As exciting as the new Halloween is, and mediocre as some other entries in the franchise are, there’s still good life in a few of the sequels. Who cares what anyone else says!
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers embodies its title by bringing Michael back after the third movie, Season of the Witch, didn’t do well financially. We get an even more vicious Michael— one of the biggest reasons I enjoy the movie. One scene has him pushing a thumb through a victim’s forehead. This is where the superhuman qualities of Myers really took off, leading to crazy though fun madness in later Halloween movies. Awesome to see Michael less psychologically upsetting here and acting more akin to Jason Voorhees, annihilating victims to brutal extents.
Many fans pick Suspiria as their favourite Dario Argento movie. Father Gore personally loves Deep Red most. There’s the typical black-gloved killer terrorising people, plus David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi. There’s an eerie doll, creepy music, and the camerawork’s utterly fantastic, typical of Argento’s best work. To say any more is to spoil, so if you’ve never taken in this Giallo flick, remedy that, and fast!