June 29, 2010

The Death Rattle's Guide To Essential Slasher Movies

I thought I'd wrap up slasher movie month with a collaboration between myself and a few other bloggers: Neil Fulwood of Agitation Of The Mind, James Gracey of Behind The Couch, Carl of I Like Horror Movies, Matt Suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby, Bryce Wilson of Things That Don't Suck, B-Movie Becky of The Horror Effect, and Richard from Cinema Somnambulist and Doomed Moviethon. What we did was take the Slasher sub-genre and split it up into different categories. From there we all picked a particular one and selected what we feel are essential movies for that category. This is easily the longest post ever featured on the site, so I'm not gonna post anything for a few days so that everyone gets a chance to read it. I was originally going to split it up into three parts, but why not just post the whole fuckin' thing?

Hopefully this will either act as a guide to some of you out there who'd like to explore the wonderful world of slasher movies or as a fun checklist of sorts for the already-initiated. Enjoy!

Aaron's Essential 70s SLASHERS
Whether it be PEEPING TOM, Hitchcock's PSYCHO, Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE or THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, so on and so forth, it's often debated what the first real slasher movie was. Personally, when I think of slasher movies the way that I'm familiar with them and when they started, I think of the 70s. That being said, here's a list of my picks for essential 70s slasher movies:

DRILLER KILLER - More of a character study than an actual slasher movie, DRILLER KILLER is about a man who goes insane and kills homeless people with - you guessed it - a drill. Filmed in New York City back when it was one of the sleaziest, crime-ridden places in America, this movie truly captures the essence of 70s Exploitation/Grindhouse. A must-see in my book.

BLACK CHRISTMAS - Some consider BLACK CHRISTMAS the quintessential Christmas horror movie, and some consider it to be one of the best slasher movies ever made. Whatever the case, this movie is often overlooked in favor of the next movie on my list as being the first true American slasher movie.

HALLOWEEN - The greatest slasher movie ever made? That depends on who you ask, but a majority of horror fans would probably agree that it is. There's nothing to say about John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN that anyone reading this probably doesn't know. It's an essential slasher movie from the 70s, and an essential slasher movie period.

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT - An early example of the bloody slashers that would be common in the 80s, this is a movie that should be seen to get a better understanding of how the slasher movie has evolved throughout the years. It was released the same year as BLACK CHRISTMAS and, of course, shares the same Holiday theme.

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE - While not exactly the best example of your typical slasher movie, TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is, in my opinion, the greatest horror movie ever made and one that every fan of both horror and great cinema in general should see.

Neil Fulwood's Essential ITALIAN SLASHERS (GIALLI)
Neil's Blog: Agitation Of The Mind
1. DEEP RED - The number one slot for any list of gialli has pretty much got to go to Dario Argento. And there are enough contenders on his CV for that prestige position: OPERA for its squeamishly brilliant image of Cristina Marsillach forced to watch by means of needles sellotaped beneath her eyes; TENEBRE for its audacious blood-soaked payoff; THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE for its astounding opening sequence, Tony Musante trapped helplessly between two sets of glass doors, unable to prevent a murder. But for me, DEEP RED is Argento’s finest giallo. The structure is incredibly clever – up there with, say, MEMENTO – and uses "rhymed" scenes, as well as unbelievably confident misdirection (watch it a second time, and the murderer's right there before your eyes ten minutes in). The finale, which makes you question whether the ostensible hero (David Hemmings) is that much of a hero at all, delivers a poisoned sting in the tale.

2. A BAY OF BLOOD - Mario Bava can lay claim to directing the first bona fide example of the giallo, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (a film that wears its Hitchockian influences on its sleeve and in its title) and he pretty much defined the genre with A BAY OF BLOOD (or TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE or about a million other alternative titles). Checklists at the ready. A BAY OF BLOOD gives us: a Hitchcock/Agatha Christie style plot full of red herrings, rampant greed and a slew of dodgy characters, most of whom having something to hide or something to gain; inventive, grotesque and often unexpected death scenes (the triple whammy of offings that start the film will leave you open-mouthed); nudity and nookie (Bava gives us a "have sex and die" moment better than any American slasher); and a bitterly ironic coda that reminds us the kids aren’t all right.

3. DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING - Lucio Fulci was as adept at gialli as he was at outrageously gore-spattered zombie movies. At least three of his works in the genre are classics: THE PSYCHIC, A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN and this little number, a giallo that abandons the usual urban or even high society setting of many gialli and instead delivers a tale of provincialism, secrets, mistrust, religion, voyeurism and child murder. Fulci keeps things slow-burn, denies us any real protagonist and gives us plenty of reasons to suspect just about everyone of being the antagonist. There’s also a wincingly realistic scene of mob violence that makes his more notorious zombie movies look like an episode of 'Sesame Street', and an uncomfortably erotic scene of the throat-tighteningly gorgeous Barbara Bouchet being sexually provocative in front of an underage boy. But it’s Fulci’s grim insights into the human condition that prove the darkest elements of the film.

4. ALL THE COLOURS OF THE DARK - Sergio Martino is one of those second division directors of gialli who never quite enjoyed the same reputation of the big three - Argento, Bava and Fulci - but who consistently did good work in the genre. He also cast Edwige Fenech repeatedly, for which the man has my thanks and those of a great many others. Now, I haven’t seen the two most renowned gialli they made together - THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH and the magnificently titled YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY - so ALL THE COLOURS OF THE DARK is my only touchstone as regards Martino/Fenech collaborations. And it’s a damned good one: the offbeat plot, involving emotional instability and the occult, veers all over the place leaving the viewer as disorientated as the heroine. Fenech’s performance is superb. She’s required to run the gamut of hysteria, terror, confusion and desperation – and she pulls out all the stops.

5. FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON - There were plenty of titles I could have picked for the number five spot, but I wanted something that personified the appeal of the giallo. As any hardened giallo watcher will tell you, there are certain elements that are almost obligatory: leather gloves and trenchcoats; spiral staircases; bottles of J&B; rooftop chases; arbitrary unmaskings of the villain; equally arbitrary motivations for same. And weird-ass titles. Preferably involving colours, numbers or animals (Argento's FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET scores a hat trick). Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON boasts a title so random it's almost poetic. It’s one of the genre's (and its director’s) more bloodless offerings, but has plenty to recommend it. The set design of the beach house which serves as the main locale is so overloaded with 70s chic it makes the set design of BOOGIE NIGHTS look like a Dogme 95 exercise in minimalism. The murders are inventively staged, including a focus pull from sniper to victim that should be blatantly obvious but is actually incredibly effective. And there’s eye candy aplenty, from Edwige Fenech staging a seductive dance routine to Ely Galleani slinking around a mini-skirt by way of Ira Furstenberg and Helena Ronee giving it some ice maiden. FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON is good, twisted fun.

James Gracey's Essential 80s SLASHERS
James' Blog: Behind The Couch
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET - Classic slasher with a supernatural twist. A group of high school chums (including Johnny Depp) are stalked and slain in their dreams by the vengeful, now demonic, child-killer their vigilante parents murdered years ago. Craven effortlessly preys on primal fears of the 'bogey-man' and scores a major coup by exploiting the inevitability that eventually everyone must succumb to sleep – and that's when the killer gets 'em. Generational conflicts and the idea that the 'sins of the father shall be visited upon the children' add to the plight of the teens, whose parents’ attempts to protect them simply endanger them all the more. Skewed dream logic and warped visuals add to the feverish tension throughout.

FRIDAY THE 13TH - The original, and very openly cynical, copy-cat slasher, FRIDAY THE 13TH is much better than it has any right to be. Sure, that’s not really saying a lot, but its popularity still endures and its sequels gave us one of the most recognisable horror icons of the Twentieth century. It benefits from a fresh-faced cast (including Kevin Bacon), creepy location that gets creepier as the sun goes down and gory effects that were basically the raison-d’être of the entire movie. Modelled on Mario Bava’s body-count classic BAY OF BLOOD, Cunningham and Miller took the basic premise of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN – randy teens imperilled by a psychotic killer - and simply added more violence, blood and carnage. The shock-ending shamelessly, but effectively, mimicked that of CARRIE several years earlier.

HELL NIGHT - One of the most underrated slasher movies of the early 80s. A group of college pledges, including Linda Blair and Peter Barton, must stay the night in a supposedly haunted mansion; little realising that the previous owner, a murderous lunatic who butchered his entire family, still stalks the grounds. And doesn't take kindly to trespassing teens. While pretty formulaic, the film is genuinely suspenseful and at times exudes a bizarre 'old dark house' feel on account of the various characters wandering around in period costumes with candelabrums, which adds to the creepy gothic atmosphere.

TERROR TRAIN - Most slasher films are based in isolated locations to make it harder for the characters to summon help. This by-the-numbers but highly enjoyable entry takes place onboard a night-train as college students celebrate their graduation with the usual binges of booze, drugs and premarital sex; unaware the victim of an earlier pledge prank-gone-wrong is extracting bloody revenge. Jamie Lee Curtis gives her larynx another spectacular workout as she is pursued by a killer who constantly changes their mask/costume. Shots of the train hurtling through the snowy night, with its shrieking whistle, help build the tension and offer our only ventures outside the ever-claustrophobic setting.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE - Not all slasher films featured horny, drunken, pot-tokin' teens. Some also featured horny, drunken, pot-tokin' adults, too. This movie is one of the better ones, featuring a cast of hard-working, hard-partying small town miners and their girlfriends who fall victim to a psychotic killer decked out in full mining garb. After a party, the revellers decide to take a tour of the mines unaware of the imposing figure who skulks after them. Combining tension, spooky atmospherics and fair-enough attempts to flesh out paper thin characters, MY BLOODY VALENTINE is classic, good-ole fashioned slasher goodness, with a lot of heart. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Carl's Essential CAMPUS SLASHERS
Carl's Blogs: I Like Horror Movies and Horror Blogger Alliance
1. SLAUGHTER HIGH - Is it smart? No. Is it original? No. But SLAUGHTER HIGH is a hell of a good time. After a cruel prank on the school nerd, a group a friends are picked off when they return home for their 10 year high school reunion. For a strictly formulaic Slasher with plenty of gooey kills, this is one of the better late 80s entries.

2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME - Centered around a small private school, the members of a posh group of friends begin turning up dead on campus just days before Ginny's big birthday bash. What BIRTHDAY lacks in gore, it more than makes up in suspense and 80s nostalgia!

3. BLACK CHRISTMAS - Doubling as both the quintessential holiday and campus Slasher, BLACK CHRISTMAS established many of the longstanding genre conventions. Its dark tone, sadistic killer, and brutal deaths make it one of the greatest Slasher films of all time.

4. GRADUATION DAY - Although it pales in comparison to many of its Slasher brethren of the 80s, GRADUATION DAY can't be overlooked when discussing campus killings. After a track star dies during one of the meets, those close to her fall prey to an unseen assailant that slaughters them one by one using everything conceivable weapon out of the sports closet. A few clever kills make this one worth mentioning, even if it is well below average.

5. RETURN TO HORROR HIGH - Not to be confused as a sequel to HORROR HIGH, this silly spoof serves as a self-aware precursor to later films like Wes Craven's SCREAM. The crew filming a recreation of the infamous campus killings at Crippen High School do a damn fine job, as bodies of their friends start replacing the dummies they rigged around campus. While many of the jokes and kills fall flat, RETURN is another cheesy late 80s gem that any Slasher fan can appreciate.

6. STUDENT BODIES - STUDENT BODIES is years (if not decades) ahead of its time, marking the first Slasher spoof in the genre and influencing later entries like RETURN TO HORROR HIGH or SCREAM. The sight gags, ridiculous humor, and over the top kills are all goofy plays on everything that makes the genre great.

Another sub-sub-genre of Slasher movies was the Backwoods Slasher. It wasn't the most popular trend, but it's one that's had its share of good titles. These movies usually involve a group of people or an outsider to the particular area where the movie takes place breaking down and being stranded in an area infested with murderous rednecks, most of whom are inbred.

JUST BEFORE DAWN - The quintessential Backwoods Slasher, in my opinion. It's a nasty and surprisingly atmospheric horror film that never really gets mentioned when people talk about essential slasher movies. This movie sees a group of campers in the mountains of who-knows-where being terrorized by inbred, twin brothers. Just trust me when I say that this one is definitely a must-see.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES - Not exactly "Backwoods" but still following the same formula, this early Wes Craven film, for better or worse, is an essential horror movie period.

HUMONGOUS - This is a Backwoods Slasher from our friends "up North" about a group of people who are stranded on an island and stalked by what appears to be a deformed man who lurks in the woods that run along the coastline. This is a genuinely suspenseful, occasionally scary, and surprisingly nasty movie (depending on which version you watch) that does a great job of capturing the terror that comes with being stranded, helpless, and of course fighting for ones survival.

TOURIST TRAP - While this film isn't exactly an important one in the big scheme of things, it's still a movie that's so bizarre and "out there" that it would be wrong of me not to mention it. This isn't your typical Backwoods Slasher involving a family of cannibals or psychopathic rednecks, but rather one that involves a group of friends stranded out in the middle of nowhere, being stalked and hunted by a man who has an obsession with mannequins, wears frightening masks that resemble ventriloquist puppets, and supposedly has psychokinetic powers.

MAD MUTILATOR - Also known as OGROFF THE MAD MUTILATOR, this extremely amateur, no-budget, French slasher is recommended for all the wrong reasons. Some people have referred to it as the PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of slasher movies, and after seeing it it's hard for me to disagree with that. This could very well be the worst movie ever made, but it's so fucking weird that I think every horror fan should see this strange piece of work.

Matt Suzaka's Blog: Chuck Norris Ate My Baby
I don't know what it is about holiday or special occasion themed Slasher films that are so appealing, but I love the buttons off them. Holiday themed horror films are simply great on there own, and I carry much affection for snow in my cinema, so Christmas and horror mix to create a treat that I will always enjoy with a smile. Sprinkle a little Slasher on top, and consider me in love. Well, most the time.

This leads in nicely to my first pick for an essential holiday/special occasion Slasher film - which is set during the happy holidays of Christmas - 1984’s SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. One of the most controversial films of the 80's, SILENT NIGHT took the sacred and beloved Santa Clause and made him a killer for all to fear. Especially uptight and overprotective parents who spoke on behalf of god. One of the best of the Christmas/Slasher films to be made, SILENT NIGHT would also birth a sequel that is so epic in its insanity that it too could be considered essential for very different reasons.

My next pick is one that may not even belong, as it is not a holiday-based film, nor is it even a special occasion in a true sense. However, whenever Friday the 13th rolls around, it is a special occasion - for horror fans, that is. 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH is one of the most prominent Slasher films put to screen for an array of reasons. It would become the blueprint for many Slashers to follow, a basic story, with the focus on party hungry teens out in the woods and the build up to their satisfying and gruesome deaths, which would become what many consider the star of the movie. Friday would also be the start of the rapid-fire sequels, resulting in a horror franchise trend that continues to this day. In addition, it would prove to be the jumping off point for the creation of cinemas most recognizable movie monsters, Jason Voorhees.

Pick number three is much less of an influential Slasher movie, but my heart will always belong to 1981’s MY BLOODY VALENTINE for just how damned solid a Slasher it is. While not nearly as popular as the other films on my list, VALENTINE would be a film that would follow in the footsteps of its more recent predecessors, walking a path of quality and proper execution, making it necessary viewing for any fan of the genre. With a fantastic small town setting, MY BLOODY VALENTINE gives viewers a little something different with its blue-collar victims and awesome mine setting. And of course, Harry Warden, complete with miner's outfit and masturbatory breathing, makes for one of Slasher cinemas more memorable killers.

Getting back to the season of joy, 1974’s BLACK CHRISTMAS remains one of the finest and most respected examples of the Slasher genre, let alone the holiday themed subgenre. With one of the most visually appealing aesthetics centered on the Christmas holiday, BLACK CHRISTMAS is top notch from top to bottom, with its wonderful 70's setting, great performances and solid camerawork. Even though SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT was made two years previously (but not released until '74), many cite BLACK CHRISTMAS as the first true Slasher. While that is debatable, one thing is very true of the film, it would come to be very impressionable on a movie that would carry even more weight on the Slasher genre. Can you guess where I’m going here?

Sadly, there aren’t many solid Slasher (or horror) films set during the bestest holiday ever, but it does remain that the most renowned and recognizable of the bunch belongs to 1978’s HALLOWEEN. For me, this pick is a no-brainer, as HALLOWEEN is number one not only on this list, but also on my personal favorite horror films of all time list. So that should tell you everything right there. No film cast a bigger and more significant shadow over the Slasher genre like HALLOWEEN which would go on to influence such films as the before mentioned FRIDAY THE 13TH. Sort of brings things full circle, doesn't it? HALLOWEEN is the film that set the standard for Slasher films to come, and the way in which it is crafted, with its slow, brooding antagonist, incredible atmosphere, and some of cinemas most recognizable, and truly goose bump inducing music. HALLOWEEN is a classic, even outside of the Slasher and horror genre.

Bryce's Essential SLASHER SEQUELS
Bryce Wilson's Blog: Things That Don't Suck
Conventional wisdom from the mainstream says that one of the worst things about Horror is horror sequels. They’re mercenary, usually taking a truly scary idea and then watering it down film by film until it becomes unrecognizable. Pushed by studio heads after nothing but coasting to a hit with minimum effort off of name recognition. And to a certain extent it is true. Something like THE STRANGERS doesn’t need a sequel, and probably wouldn’t be as scary if it got one. At their worst, sequels can build up stupid mythologies (HALLOWEEN), coast by on autopilot (SAW) or just plain castrate their monsters (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET). But Slasher sequels can be used for good as well. They can perfect a formula. Or comment on it. Bring out the elements that worked in it, or cancel out the ones that don’t. Most of all they’re quite often a hell of a lot of fun. So kick back while I send out my top five slasher sequels.

5. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING - And here’s one no one expected to see here. The Rodney Dangerfield of The FRIDAY THE 13TH series, it gets no respect. Sure it stars Not-Jason. Sure the story "makes no sense". Sure the fact that a pudgy middle-aged ambulance driver can walk through walls is completely fucking ridiculous. But to me at least its one hell of a lot of fun, and only behind Part 2 and 3 in my ranking of the series period. So here to ambush you with a top five within a top five are the top five reasons FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5 kicks ass.

5) Danny Steinman: Danny Steinman only directed two films, and yet his place in Exploitataion cinema history is secure. Why, you may ask? Because this was one of them, and the other was SAVAGE STREETS.

Now SAVAGE STREETS for those not in the know is the movie that got Linda Blair blackballed for being too sleazy. It ruined her career.

Let me reiterate. Danny Steinman made a movie too sleazy for Linda Blair. Linda Blair. An actress whose films before SAVAGE STREETS were more or less defined by what odd thing she'd have inserted into her vagina this time.

He brings the same sense of unseemliness to the FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5. Even for a series defined by its love of copious nudity and violence this is a bit much. The film is rough, with a kill count the AV Club deemed existential and some gore shots that are just wrong. Even the side characters just feel wrong, from the paramedic who denounces everyone as pussies for being upset at the sight of an ax murder victim, to the leering ambulance driver, the anachronistic greasers that Not-Jason kills for no other reason but practice and the Hubbard's, a band of redneck assholes who seem to have wandered into the film mistakenly from an NC-17 rated PETE'S DRAGON. Its slasher film cat nip.

4) The Twist: So much better when you know it. The identity of Not-Jason is so arbitrary that it can be hard to guess. The "Dun Dun DUUUUHHH" shots don’t help. Everyone gets "Dun Dun DUUUUHHHH" shots in this movie.

3) Violet: You can keep your blond-headed, big boobed bimboes, this New Wave Girl is the slasher victim who makes my heart go pitter patter.

2) Demon: He rolls around in a party van, stocked with Black Light paintings and Egg rolls, tacos, and cheese and sausage pizza. He has a Jeri Curl and Michael Jackson Jacket, rolls around with a girl named Anita. Surely he is the most eighties man who ever lived.

1) Fat. Kid. Murder. It's just beautiful.

4. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and HALLOWEEN 2 - Rob Zombie’s got a good thing going with sequels. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS took his fun but inconsequential HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and made it better in just about everyway. Creating a thrilling tribute to and examination of 70's exploitation cinema filled with some imagery that is truly horrific.

Most everyone hated HALLOWEEN 2. And its true the director's cut is pretty awful. But it remains an ambitious, intense horror film. With a nightmarish tone and some of the most relentless scenes I've seen in a modern day horror film, HALLOWEEN 2 is a much better film then its reputation would have you believe.

3. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS - DREAM WARRIORS isn't perfect, and its responisible for beginning to move Freddy in the wrong direction. But its hard to hold it against a movie as imaginative and ambitious as DREAM WARRIORS. Filled with imagery that sticks with you (No horror fan worth their salt can't help but remember the Freddy Wyrm and faces of his victims pushing their way out of his flesh). Excellent performances by Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and Laurence Mutherfucking Fishburne. And a smart script by Wes Craven and Frank Darabont, DREAM WARRIORS is as ambitous as Slasher sequels come.

2. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 - There are a lot of horror comedies. But very few in which the horror actually horrifies and the comedy is actually funny ("I'm the lord of the harvest!" "What is that? A health food company?"). TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 is one of the few. A film that juxtaposes some luridly funny gore cartoon moments with some bits that are truly raw. Lefty's death is one of the sickest and most intense I’ve seen in a horror movie. The two tones don't cancel each other out either. They just make the film mutate.

Hooper doesn't even try to follow in the footsteps of his original nightmare (which depending on the day you ask me I will call the finest American horror film ever made). Instead he turns it into a parody of Reagan era capitalism. Centered by a gonzo performance by Dennis Hopper as the only man crazy enough to invite himself to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you gag. It's completely fucking crazy. It's a whole lot of fun.

1. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 - The ideal slasher film. Nuff said.

Aaron's Essential 90s SLASHERS
SCREAM - This Wes Craven film singlehandedly killed the slasher film by dissecting the sub-genre, and not only exposing its cliches but exploiting them as well. Ironically, it also started another wave of slasher movies to come because of its success at the box office.

SCREAM 2 - In my opinion, you can't see the original SCREAM and not see the sequel. I'm pretty sure that I'm one of the few people who actually prefers the sequel over the original, but regardless of my taste (or lack thereof depending on who you ask), I think this movie is an essential slasher movie for the fact that it further dissects the sub-genre while ironically falling victim to its cliches at the same time.

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - Following SCREAM, the next major slasher movie to come out was this one. Most people would probably agree that this is not a good movie, but for the sake of getting your slasher movie education I think this is one that every horror fan should see at least once so you can at least see what the 90s had to offer in terms of mainstream slashers. And in all fairness it at least tried to take an old-school approach to its storytelling.

HALLOWEEN H20 - People either hate this movie or like it but aren't willing to admit that they do, but I think it's a great entry into the HALLOWEEN series because of the fact that it disregarded the previous sequels that completely lost focus of what the whole fucking point was and completely eliminated the ridiculous Michael Myers mythology that had been built up until that point. This movie takes the series back to its roots, but still has an updated, contemporary 90s feel to it.

URBAN LEGEND - Along with SCREAM and I KNOW WHAT YOU DID..., this is one of the big slasher movies that came out in the 90s. The sequels progressively got worse, but this one has a small cult following of people who enjoy it for what it is. It's one of the first movies that comes to mind when I think of slasher movies from the 90s, and I consider it to be an essential one because of how it represents that particular decade as far as style and cast members.

B-Movie Becky's Essential SLASHER REMAKES
Becky's Blog: The Horror Effect
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE - This Michael Bay-produced remake could be to blame for the parade of imitators to follow. Although it certainly had its strengths (Lee Ermey’s dark humor, Daniel Pearl returning as cinematographer), it was also a slicked out Hollywood rendition of a dirty, exploitation piece that lived and breathed 1974. 2003’s version isn’t quite TCM, but it’s still pretty good and a pretty important film in the remake sub-genre of slashers.

HALLOWEEN - Rob Zombie’s remake is one of the most divisive films amongst horror fans. Love it or hate it, one must admit that it is as a landmark remake. Landmark because it is a redoing of one of the most-respected horror films ever made and landmark because it represents a Zombie-style of filmmaking that continues to influence other genre movies. Tramping on the spirit of the original HALLOWEEN, Zombie’s modern take on Michael Myers surely represents its time.

FRIDAY THE 13TH - Despite the fact that Platinum Dunes was involved, this reboot (and that word is used because this is hardly a direct remake of any particular film) turned out exactly how I imagined a modern interpretation of the 80’s slasher would be: full of gratuitous nudity and graphic violence. I believe this remake actually captures the nature of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise quite well, because it has fun with slasher conventions without making fun of them. Plus, who could possibly be angry about a 12th film by now?

MY BLOODY VALENTINE - Terribly cheesy? Yes. As good as the original? No. Full of gore? Yes. A serious bone in its body? No. This remake is a must-see because it truly represents the mirroring effect of the 80’s and the 2000’s. Fashion wasn’t the only thing that took a trip back two decades. Teen slashers are back and so is 3D. Oh and so is Tom Atkins. As bad as the film may be, I can admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this film experience and did purchase the Blu-Ray (3D version and nifty glasses included).

Richard's Essential FOREIGN SLASHERS
Richard's Blog and Website: Cinema Somnambulist and Doomed Moviethon
1. HIGH TENSION - One film is responsible for either revitalizing French horror or revitalizing European horror (or both). HIGH TENSION is that film. With its jaw-dropping gore setpieces and insanely tense pacing, this flick was just the slap in the face that the depressed millennial horror fan needed to fill their eyes with bloody tears of hope. The film is about two college friends (played by Cécile De France and Maïwenn Le Besco) who go out to the countryside to get some studying before their finals. Unfortunately, a serial murdering lunatic shows up in the middle of the night and lays waste to anyone in his path. Director Alexandre Aja manages to capture some of the most resplendent scenes of violence and bloodletting in the history of slasher cinema.

2. ANATOMY and ANATOMY 2 - Let’s face it, Germany isn’t exactly the slasher movie capital of the world. But after Scream proved that teen-oriented horror could still make a buttload of cash, Austrian born director Stefan Ruzowitzky made ANATOMY, an original, fast-paced, sexy, and gruesome flick. A medical student played by Franka Potente (RUN LOLA RUN) discovers a secret Antihippocratic society using human beings as test subjects to advance modern medicine. Ruzowitzky returned for the sequel (which I love) and it involves another group of students performing some hinky medical shit at a different medical school. Another conspiracy and some performance enhancing drugs make this a slightly sillier but worthy follow-up. The one thing about both ANATOMY films is their super slick and ultramodern style that is just incredible to behold.

3. BLOODY REUNION - Korean horror films have a habit of being much better than I expect them to be and are often way more fucked up than I could have imagined. BLOODY REUNION is a slasher flick that defies the rules of the genre and just plain screws with your mind, man. A teacher with a terminal illness decides to reunite her favorite students for a last hurrah but something just ain’t right. Some terrible memories from the past come bubbling up to the surface and a mysterious individual in a bunny mask starts dispatching her guests in brutal and vicious ways. The killer’s methods are sick and sadistic in this very bleak and well written flick that hopefully, folks will check out despite the glut of Asian horror films (some amazing, some terrible, and some just painfully mediocre) in recent years.

4. DEEP IN THE WOODS - While attempting to watch every European horror film released in the last ten years, I stumbled across DEEP IN THE WOODS, a very odd little number from France. A group of attractive actors are hired to perform their avante garde version of Little Red Riding Hood at a remote castle for a wealthy eccentric and his young grandson. That doesn’t sound suspicious at all, now does it? Of course, someone starts murdering these fools and everything goes to hell. DEEP IN THE WOODS has beautiful cinematography, an awesome score, some wet gore, some nudity, and a whole lot of weirdness. The stupid, inexplicable actions of the characters and almost total lack of a cohesive story might throw most folks but the rest will stick around for the atmosphere. Once the killer decides to put on that Big Bad Wolf costume, watch out.

5. CREEP - Honestly, I didn’t mean for Franka Potente to show up twice in my list but here she is! In CREEP, Potente plays Kate, a woman returning home late for a party who ends up as the next in line to be victim of a mutant killer beneath the subways of London. This British film (which owes a great deal to the 1972 film RED MEAT) is a pretty great exercise in claustrophobia and gore from Christopher Smith, the director of SEVERANCE. CREEP gets right to the point and provides viewers with some disgusting visuals and loads of tension.


  1. Technically Wolf Creek is a foreign slasher, and I have to say that I was a bit surprised not to see that one on its respective list. I think it's a far better and more effective film than High Tension.

    This was a fun read.

  2. Hey Kevin, thanks a lot for the feedback. I can't speak for Richard or any of the other guys (and girl) for that matter, but, with all due respect, personally I think WOLF CREEK is an extremely overrated movie. I'd put HIGH TENSION over 'CREEK any day. Every time I've sat down to watch WOLF CREEK I have always been just really underwhelmed and don't see what the big deal is. I'm not saying it's a bad movie... I just don't care for it.

    As far as foreign slashers, I would have put MUTE WITNESS on the list. Good call on DEEP IN THE WOODS, though.

  3. Excellent Job on Slasher month Aaron, had a blast reading it and writing for it!

    Same time next year?

  4. Same time next year, you say? I'm all over that like Jason on teens. Well done on a truly excellent Slasher Month, Aaron. Some great readin' here. Keep up the good work. ;o)

  5. Sounds like a date.

    Thanks again for the contributions, guys. Great picks too!

  6. Awesome read. No love for Aerobicide (AKA Killer Workout), Iced, or Sledgehammer? Terrible films but oh so sleazy!

    Great job everyone!

  7. Mute Witness! Dang it! I completely forgot about that movie. That's a good one.

  8. Freaking awesome list! I feel left out! Arrgh! I could have done a real nice post on foreign slashers...but hey, I like what I see here! Good job Aaron!

  9. Franco: Sorry, my man. If you want to work together on something for your site, I'm totally down with that. Just let me know.

  10. Those sure are some nice lists with a few films that always need more love. Thanks for letting me participate, Aaron, and I'd hate to see a month of Slasher love come to an end but at least it goes out with style!

  11. Excellent lists and contributions. Pretty stellar post overall!

  12. I just have to say that it's freakin' fantastic to see Bava's 5 Dolls for an August Moon get some love. That film is vastly underappreciated. One of my favorite movies to put on the television and let wash over me.

  13. All of my favorite horror bloggers teaming-up to fight injustice and bring knowledge of slashers to the world. So much to learn, so many movies to watch now...

    Just fantastic work, all.

  14. wow. this is a great list. i will have to reference it.

  15. I kind of love all of these, you magnificent bastards.

    What is the literal translation of the '5 Dolls' poster? I think it says something like 5 Girls on a Hot Summer Night, maybe, but I could be wrong (I've been to one year of High School French, people, leave me alone).

  16. Great read, Aaron, Neil, James, Matt, Carl, Bryce, Becky and Richard. Lots of nice choices there!

  17. Wow that's quite a team you assembled there Aaron and definatly some choice picks on the lists.

  18. Damn, that was a helluva read. I wish I could say I could cross off all those movies on my to-do list, but I'm sorely lacking in foreign slashers. I've seen a few, but not as much as I should have. At least I've got a list to start with now lol.

  19. Glad you guys dug it. I was expecting to see complaints about us including/not-including so-and-so movie. Not that I'm complaining. Thanks for the feedback everyone.

  20. Wow, everyone's lists are great! The variety the slasher genre has to offer seems greatly represented here. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't even seen a couple on this list...off to Netflix to remedy that! If only I had been born ten years earlier!

  21. Becky, there are seven movies in this post that I haven't seen. Strangely, they're movies that I listed. :\

  22. Excellent contributions by all, although I will never understand your affinity for 90s Slashers Aaron lol..

    Now off to Amazon to add ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK and DEEP IN THE WOODS!

  23. I actually hate 90s Slashers but thought they deserved to be talked about regardless of my opinions. And I'm surprised you haven't seen DEEP IN THE WOODS yet... can't wait to read your review on it! Thanks again for helping out with this post, Carl.

  24. Great fucking posts. Great site. i love it!~