(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
#25
Adjusted Score: 35853%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Someone with a power drill shows up uninvited to Trish's (Michele Michaels) high-school pajama party.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Jones

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 44546%
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: A beautiful young Frenchwoman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and brings along... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Aja

#23

Maniac (1980)
40%

#23
Adjusted Score: 39794%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Childhood abuse triggers a man (Joe Spinell) to kill women and use their scalps to dress his mannequins.... [More]
Directed By: William Lustig

#22

Pieces (1982)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 46301%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A frustrated Boston detective searches for the maniac responsible for mutilating a number of university coeds.... [More]
Directed By: Juan Piquer Simon

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 58375%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Friends defy the rules of a legendary murderer and discover he is real when they start celebrating Valentine's Day.... [More]
Directed By: George Mihalka

#20
Adjusted Score: 52270%
Critics Consensus: Friday the 13th: Part VI - Jason Lives indeed brings back ol' Vorhees, along with a sense of serviceable braindead fun.
Synopsis: Years ago, Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) killed infamous hockey-masked murderer Jason Voorhees (C.J. Graham), and the intensity of the experience... [More]
Directed By: Tom McLoughlin

#19

The Prowler (1981)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 16657%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A crazed World War II veteran gets revenge on his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend, then stalks teens 35 years later.... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Zito

#18

Torso (1974)
56%

#18
Adjusted Score: 33798%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A hooded killer with a hacksaw stalks college coeds (Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont).... [More]
Directed By: Sergio Martino

#17

Candyman (1992)
78%

#17
Adjusted Score: 84592%
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: Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) befriends Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) while researching superstitions in a housing project on... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#16

The Burning (1981)
80%

#16
Adjusted Score: 39794%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: At summer camp, some teenagers pull a prank on the camp's caretaker, Cropsy (Lou David). But the joke goes terribly... [More]
Directed By: Tony Maylam

#15

Happy Death Day (2017)
71%

#15
Adjusted Score: 81934%
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: Tree Gelbman is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Landon

#14

You're Next (2011)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 84466%
Critics Consensus: You're Next's energetic and effective mix of brutal gore and pitch black humor will please horror buffs and beyond.
Synopsis: The Davisons, an upper-class family, are extremely wealthy -- but also estranged. In an attempt to mend their broken family... [More]
Directed By: Adam Wingard

#13

Child's Play (1988)
71%

#13
Adjusted Score: 72888%
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: Gunned down by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), dying murderer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) uses black magic to put... [More]
Directed By: Tom Holland

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 76419%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Favorite daughter Karen (Brooke Shields) is viciously strangled and set afire in church on the day of her First Communion,... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Sole

#11

Halloween (2018)
79%

#11
Adjusted Score: 102080%
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: It's been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#10

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
79%

#10
Adjusted Score: 80402%
Critics Consensus: Sleepaway Camp is a standard teen slasher elevated by occasional moments of John Waters-esque weirdness and a twisted ending.
Synopsis: Bunks and the showers are a mad stabber's beat at a summer camp strictly for teens.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Hiltzik

#9
Adjusted Score: 73390%
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: During a hallucinatory incident, young Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) has her wrists slashed by dream-stalking monster Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).... [More]
Directed By: Chuck Russell

#8

Friday the 13th (1980)
63%

#8
Adjusted Score: 66694%
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: Crystal Lake's history of murder doesn't deter counselors from setting up a summer camp in the woodsy area. Superstitious locals... [More]
Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 72861%
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: As winter break begins, a group of sorority sisters, including Jess (Olivia Hussey) and the often inebriated Barb (Margot Kidder),... [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

#6

Dressed to Kill (1980)
79%

#6
Adjusted Score: 83387%
Critics Consensus: With arresting visuals and an engrossingly lurid mystery, Dressed to Kill stylishly encapsulates writer-director Brian De Palma's signature strengths.
Synopsis: When Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), a prostitute, sees a mysterious woman brutally slay homemaker Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson), she finds... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 90094%
Critics Consensus: The Opera house location gives plenty to work with for director Dario Argento, who hits his decadently bloody high notes here.
Synopsis: A hooded figure forces a young diva (Cristina Marsillach) to watch as he murders performers in a production of Verdi's... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#4
Adjusted Score: 55164%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Following the murder of Countess Federica Donati (Isa Miranda), an heiress possessing a beautiful piece of beachfront property, members of... [More]
Directed By: Mario Bava

#3

Scream (1996)
79%

#3
Adjusted Score: 83742%
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: 97748%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
Synopsis: In Wes Craven's classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#1

Halloween (1978)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104359%
Critics Consensus: Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.
Synopsis: On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

Tag Cloud

sopranos laika Disney streaming service LGBTQ Schedule Crunchyroll Universal art house Podcast CNN prank Mudbound Film Netflix Christmas movies Film Festival monster movies RT21 name the review children's TV witnail Marvel joker festival BBC Spike mob game show news Black Mirror nbcuniversal game of thrones breaking bad Lifetime 71st Emmy Awards independent Vudu sequels Discovery Channel action-comedy USA Extras BBC America Cannes Animation free movies TruTV Tomatazos Hear Us Out Marvel Studios The Academy documentaries summer TV preview Exclusive Video Martial Arts comic book movie FOX Creative Arts Emmys Turner Classic Movies franchise blockbuster Disney+ Disney Plus sports Anna Paquin remakes rotten AMC Plus Acorn TV Summer cartoon Broadway TBS Sneak Peek crime popular Valentine's Day USA Network Bravo PBS period drama rotten movies we love gangster Polls and Games mutant 94th Oscars nature PlayStation DirecTV based on movie ITV Arrowverse 99% Tokyo Olympics MGM GoT Reality President Winter TV Super Bowl hollywood Emmy Nominations worst movies Tarantino Country indiana jones 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards MSNBC heist movie Music natural history Ovation genre Box Office cops scene in color Fall TV twilight Academy Awards tv talk international 007 dreamworks crossover worst Disney anime godzilla Drama Baby Yoda BAFTA 73rd Emmy Awards thriller Pixar Premiere Dates movies Showtime TV TV renewals new zealand parents Grammys Comic Book renewed TV shows The Arrangement king arthur Spring TV Freeform Peacock disaster Fantasy target dramedy screen actors guild italian LGBT Pirates CBS All Access YA zombies TCM Oscars mcc aapi jamie lee curtis zero dark thirty travel First Reviews black Endgame Wes Anderson finale streaming spanish language justice league comedies video classics Britbox aliens book adaptation GIFs 2018 ID child's play movie Mystery Video Games Masterpiece Alien directors criterion ratings Brie Larson biography obituary Image Comics Best and Worst australia scorecard Rocketman book dragons A24 spy thriller summer TV VICE cars rt labs critics edition razzies TV movies Chernobyl rom-coms boxoffice ABC Calendar SXSW Trailer The Walking Dead GLAAD debate pirates of the caribbean Paramount Network adenture doctor who singing competition mockumentary hispanic Turner DGA Sci-Fi OWN Fox Searchlight TV One Shondaland political drama Sundance TV Marathons sequel Infographic vampires venice Dark Horse Comics dceu The CW APB 79th Golden Globes Awards critics Food Network 2015 canceled Sony Pictures 2019 Winners chucky Television Academy nfl YouTube 1990s cancelled Countdown cats latino spider-verse trailers OneApp TCA Winter 2020 toy story sag awards BET Watching Series 20th Century Fox japan DC streaming service discovery new york Warner Bros. robots casting golden globes jurassic park best Fargo green book 24 frames Netflix Rocky 45 foreign blockbusters comics Awards Instagram Live docudrama die hard Superheroe Nat Geo Apple TV Plus Focus Features elevated horror TCA Awards Star Trek fresh Logo lord of the rings Spectrum Originals Amazon Prime Video YouTube Premium new star wars movies The Witch Television Critics Association Mary Tyler Moore Apple Nominations Musical Family Lucasfilm Hulu IFC suspense fast and furious Shudder NYCC Toys Women's History Month Star Wars true crime The Walt Disney Company SundanceTV 2020 HBO Max cinemax Marvel Television Best Director stop motion comic book movies television emmy awards Paramount unscripted CBS all-time hispanic heritage month reviews Mary poppins Syfy cults docuseries legend Emmys crime drama Sundance Red Carpet First Look indie mission: impossible Lifetime Christmas movies 4/20 cancelled television Writers Guild of America a nightmare on elm street VOD Action boxing politics Kids & Family south america YouTube Red what to watch king kong Ghostbusters FX documentary Sundance Now football dc Oscar video on demand kaiju binge South by Southwest Film Festival strong female leads james bond BET Awards IFC Films Opinion dogs Esquire high school Adult Swim El Rey adaptation halloween Teen series Western anthology Tags: Comedy archives obi wan DC Comics black comedy Amazon Hallmark Christmas movies Fox News Mary Poppins Returns DC Universe kong social media American Society of Cinematographers Hallmark historical drama Pacific Islander Reality Competition satire reboot halloween tv Best Actor Binge Guide Interview Comic-Con@Home 2021 kids talk show Universal Pictures Election Paramount Plus cooking rt archives Thanksgiving ViacomCBS 2017 Disney Channel psychological thriller HBO Go Tubi zombie Trophy Talk NBC canceled TV shows stand-up comedy BBC One Legendary streamig critic resources AMC technology scary movies Columbia Pictures comiccon 2021 rt labs Superheroes broadcast 90s Hollywood Foreign Press Association slashers spider-man Holiday basketball TCA TIFF Year in Review Lionsgate slasher live event interviews Paramount Pictures A&E TNT Biopics Classic Film Song of Ice and Fire Heroines Nickelodeon romance Stephen King Christmas CW Seed facebook Amazon Prime serial killer richard e. Grant SDCC 93rd Oscars FX on Hulu Cartoon Network Musicals 2016 Best Picture psycho Quiz Captain marvel comic books batman PaleyFest New York Comic Con 72 Emmy Awards diversity supernatural Funimation spinoff films Walt Disney Pictures marvel cinematic universe superman Comics on TV women Epix spain Rom-Com composers ABC Signature space live action Set visit Comedy know your critic spanish golden globe awards hidden camera Trivia festivals WGN SXSW 2022 X-Men TLC TV Land streaming movies blaxploitation Apple TV+ E3 Cosplay adventure Character Guide olympics Starz stoner cancelled TV shows VH1 werewolf japanese christmas movies Neflix WarnerMedia San Diego Comic-Con science fiction Best Actress award winner ghosts transformers RT History History sitcom hist teaser Photos Travel Channel Avengers Holidays telelvision war Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Comedy Central Pop TV toronto Pet Sematary young adult harry potter Disney Plus ESPN royal family romantic comedy medical drama FXX NBA comic scary trophy wonder woman saw leaderboard Crackle Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Elton John E! dark 21st Century Fox CMT summer preview vs. feel good HFPA marvel comics Pop MTV Prime Video IMDb TV TCA 2017 deadpool revenge biopic Horror Amazon Studios HBO Certified Fresh Ellie Kemper Black History Month asian-american Awards Tour See It Skip It quibi french universal monsters MCU versus theme song Tumblr posters concert police drama cancelled TV series Mindy Kaling animated crime thriller Pride Month miniseries The Purge ABC Family dexter screenings superhero Rock National Geographic