(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.

Adjusted Score: -1%
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

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
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


Maniac (1980)

Adjusted Score: 41138%
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


Pieces (1982)

Adjusted Score: 46376%
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

Adjusted Score: 58486%
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

Adjusted Score: 48036%
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


The Prowler (1981)

Adjusted Score: 37858%
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


Torso (1974)

Adjusted Score: 54865%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A hooded killer with a hacksaw stalks college coeds (Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont).... [More]
Directed By: Sergio Martino


Candyman (1992)

Adjusted Score: 83852%
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


The Burning (1981)

Adjusted Score: 76480%
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


Happy Death Day (2017)

Adjusted Score: 82587%
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


You're Next (2011)

Adjusted Score: 84200%
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


Child's Play (1988)

Adjusted Score: 73294%
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

Adjusted Score: 76458%
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


Halloween (2018)

Adjusted Score: 101736%
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


Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Adjusted Score: 79434%
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

Adjusted Score: 74619%
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


Friday the 13th (1980)

Adjusted Score: 67179%
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

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
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


Dressed to Kill (1980)

Adjusted Score: 84566%
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

Adjusted Score: 90053%
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

Adjusted Score: 85742%
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


Scream (1996)

Adjusted Score: 83845%
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

Adjusted Score: 98682%
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


Halloween (1978)

Adjusted Score: 104603%
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

Prom Night is known as one of the original slasher films with plenty of brutal killings, but not a lot of fiery explosions. The upcoming remake starring Brittany Snow may stick to the thrills, but behind the scenes, the girls are ready to burn.

“I never want to be in a prom dress ever again,” said Snow. “The girls in the movie, because we each had like six dresses, we’re each going to have a dress destruction party. Maybe not light a fire but we’re definitely going to go crazy on the dresses because we had to wear them for three months.”

Aside from wardrobe fatigue, Snow said Prom Night was a good experience. “It was a really great shoot. I mean, I was really lucky. I made some friends that I consider now my best friends. We had a great wrap party and caused a lot of trouble. But it was really fun. It was a good time.”

In announcing his involvement in the "Prom Night" remake, Idris Elba also revealed the new hook for this version. Instead of one slash-fest, this "Prom Night" has two, and Elba’s detective character has to investigate both.

"This is the second time he’s going to go through this whole thing," said Elba. "Some of it’s in flashbacks, so I rreally wanted to show the difference of confidence that’s been taken away from a detective that has to deal with multiple homicides."

Though horror remakes are de rigueur these days, Elba has confidence in "Prom Night." "It’s actually going to be really, really interesting. It’s a young director, Nelson McCormick, his first feature. His background’s in television and he has a really original idea of how to turn what we can call a slasher movie into a really good psycho thriller. So I’m on board and some really good actors."

Elba is even doing a ride-along for character research. "I’m researching now, all the time. Next week I’m actually going on a real drive with the detectives. They’re going to go to something similar to what happened in the film, and just check it out."

The original "Prom Night" (1980) starred the dynamic duo of Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielson. The Screen Gems remake, due out February 2008, will also star Brittany Snow, with a script from "Better Luck Tomorrow" scribe Ernesto Foronda and "Grudge" screenwriter Stephen Susco.

With the Super Bowl taking males out of the picture, mothers and daughters squared off at the North American box office this weekend with the younger set earning a slim victory. The spooky thriller "The Messengers" opened at number one driven by teenage girls and young women while the Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" bowed close behind in the runnerup position drawing upon older women.

The overall box office picture was bleak as the top ten slumped below the $70M mark for the second time in three weekends.

Sony scored its seventh consecutive victory over Super Bowl weekend with the haunted house spookfest "The Messengers," which grossed an estimated $14.5M in its debut frame. The PG-13 pic averaged a solid $5,736 from 2,528 locations but was weaker than the studio’s previous three hits that ruled this particular weekend. Last year, the horror pic "When a Stranger Calls" topped the charts with a $21.6M opening and $7,205 average, in 2005 "Boogeyman" led with a $19M bow and $6,232 average, and in 2004 "You Got Served" hit number one with $16.1M and a $8,341 average. "Messengers" did however post the best opening for a horror film since October’s "Saw III." A long string of terror flops were tossed into the marketplace in between with disappointing results.

Budgeted at only $16M, "The Messengers" skewed to a young female audience. According to studio research, 53% of the crowd was female and an equal percentage was under the age of 21. The studio is already planning for next year’s Super Bowl frame when it will release the horror remake "Prom Night," which will again cater to the same crowd. Teenage girls and young women historically have been the group least interested in football’s big championship game making them an attractive audience to target on this weekend. Creepy PG-13 films with strong female characters coupled with saavy marketing have led to many number one hits for Sony and its Screen Gems unit. But with the grosses getting smaller, movie fans could be telling Hollywood that it is dipping into this well too often.

Opening in second place with respectable results was "Because I Said So" with an estimated $13M from 2,526 theaters. Averaging $5,155 per location, the PG-13 film stars Diane Keaton as a meddlesome mother trying to find love for her unmarried daughter played by Mandy Moore. Men showed practically zero interest in the Universal release. Studio research showed that a whopping 82% of the audience was female. The film also played more to Keaton fans than to the Moore crowd as 55% of the turnout was 35 or older. 83% was Caucasian. Critics trashed "Because" and "Messengers" may have eaten into its potential with younger women.

Last weekend’s number one film "Epic Movie" dropped a sizable 56% in its second weekend and ranked third with an estimated $8.2M. With $29.4M in ten days, the spoof comedy looks on course to finish with $40-44M making it a bit smaller than Fox’s spoof from last February "Date Movie." That spin on romantic comedies grossed a somewhat stronger $33.8M in its first ten days, had a slightly lower 53% sophomore drop, and found its way to $48.5M.

Fox’s runaway smash "Night at the Museum" slipped only 29% and placed fourth with an estimated $6.8M pushing its tally to $225.4M. The durable Ben Stiller blockbuster became the first film to spend seven weekends in the top five since 2004’s "The Passion of the Christ."

Universal’s mob thriller "Smokin’ Aces" dropped 57% to an estimated $6.3M in its second weekend and put its cume at $25M after ten days. The step dancing hit "Stomp the Yard" followed with an estimated $4.2M, off 45%, for a total of $56M. The Oscar-nominated musical "Dreamgirls" saw the worst decline of its run dropping 40% to an estimated $4M. Cume stands at $92.8M.

Picturehouse added 259 theaters to the run of the fantasy pic "Pan’s Labyrinth" and stayed put at number eight with an estimated $3.7M. With six Academy Award nominations, the R-rated film upped its cume to $21.7M while its average of $3,383 was the third best in the top ten. Will Smith‘s tenth career $100M blockbuster "The Pursuit of Happyness" took in an estimated $3.1M, down 38%, for a $157.4M total to date.

Tied for tenth place with an estimated $2.7M in ticket sales each were the Helen Mirren Oscar nominated pic "The Queen" and the Jennifer Garner dramedy "Catch and Release." The Miramax contender for Best Picture slipped 33% raising its cume to $45.5M while the Sony flick tumbled 65% in its second weekend thanks to its female audience shifting over to the frame’s two new releases. The ten-day total stands at a weak $12M.

The horror remake "The Hitcher" also saw sales nosedive and dropped out of the top ten. The Focus release slumped 68% to an estimated $1.2M giving the R-rated scarefest only $15.6M overall. A final gross of $17M seems likely.

MGM and The Weinstein Co. saw a solid start for its indie drama "Factory Girl," starring media darling Sienna Miller grossing an estimated $95,000 from only three theaters for a stellar $31,764 average per site. Bowing in just New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated film tells of the rise of Edie Sedgwick and her mentor Andy Warhol. Reviews were mostly negative.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $66.5M which was off 13% from last year when "When A Stranger Calls" opened at number one with $21.6M; and down 19% from 2005 when "Boogeyman" debuted on top with $19M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Everyone is looking for the next "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" movie franchise, and Lauren Shuler Donner thinks she may have found it in the "Cirque du Freak" books. She is beginning production on the first film.

“It’s a series of 12 books in England that are hugely popular,” she said. “They’re in the vein of Harry Potter in that young boys and girls love them. Cirque du Freak is a freak show that comes to town and through this series of events, he becomes a vampire’s assistant, which is sort of like a half vampire so he has half the powers. He has the speed and he’ll age half as much. There’s a war between the good vampires and the bad vampires. His best friend becomes head of the bad vampires and ultimately the books lead to a huge war between the two of them.”

Shuler Donner has assembled an A-list crew to bring the books to life. “Brian Helgeland wrote the script and we brought in Paul Weitz to direct it. Paul’s doing his rewrite and we used the first three books. There’ll be four movies. Each movie is a combination of three books.”

The films will also transplant the story from England to America. “It works just as well.”

With vampires and wars, this hardly sounds like Harry Potter family fare. “It is more intense than Potter. It’ll still be PG-13 but "X-Men" was PG-13 and we went pretty far, so it’ll go that far.”

Cirque du Freak is in production at Universal.

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