Top 10 Horror Movie Slashers
You know their names. You know their history and the names of their victims. Freddy. Jason. Michael. Chucky. These names are as synonymous with the horror genre as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. They are, these days, perhaps even more iconic than the Universal Monsters of old. Each has their own unique look and their own unique way of taking their victims. Whether it’s by knife, by machete, by claw or by hook, the matter in which victims meet their demise is as inconsequential as it is inevitable. They’re going to die and there’s nothing they can do about it.
10) Leslie Vernon (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon)
Leslie Vernon is a unique character. As a budding serial killer, all Leslie wants to do is be thought of in the same way as the Jason’s, Freddy’s and Michael’s of the world. He’s willing to put in the work to do it, too. Behind the Mask is a satirical look at the Slasher Film, before it becomes a typical Slasher Film itself. Leslie Vernon exists in the same world as the aforementioned legends and he is desperate to prove himself. To do this, he allows a documentary film crew to capture his exploits. In doing so, he gives the crew, and the viewing audience, unprecedented access to all of the preparation it takes to be an effective boogeyman.
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9) Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Speaking of slashers without sequels (we’re not counting the weird Mila Kunis one), there’s American Psycho. This 2000 film based on the novel from Bret Easton Ellis tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a yuppie in 80’s New York with a penchant for nice suits, chic restaurants and, well, murder. Bateman is an apathetic sociopath (aren’t they all?) who murders for sport, or whenever the need arises. Like Behind the Mask, American Psycho is a satire that turns into the very movie it’s satirizing. Throughout the course of the film, Bateman goes from a calm, cool and collected snob into a shirtless, covered-in-blood maniac wielding a chainsaw. The transition is seamless.
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8) Norman Bates (Psycho)
Arguably, Norman Bates (or his ‘Mother’) was the one who started it all. In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock made Psycho,’a film that tells the story of Marion Crane, a woman on the run who finds herself as a guest at the Bates Motel. The Bates Motel is run by Norman, an odd but endearing young man with a plethora of mommy issues.
Spoilers for a 50-year-old movie coming up.
In a shocking twist, especially at the time, Crane ends up getting murdered by, we think, Norman’s mother. In another shocking twist, Norman’s mother is also dead and it is Bates himself that has taken up her mantle in order to do “her” bidding. Psycho was, perhaps, the world’s first slasher film, featuring various twists and turns. It shocked audiences upon its release (surprisingly, most audiences at the time were more aghast at the visual of a toilet flushing than of, ya know, murder). Psycho has endured for decades and, even now, it is still a chilling portrait of a man unhinged.
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7) Candyman (Candyman)
Candyman is unlike many of the slashers on this list. Don’t get us wrong – he’s a maniac with a hook for a hand. But Candyman is, dare we say, almost a sympathetic figure. As the victim of vile racism in the 1890’s, Candyman had his hand severed and was then murdered, simply for falling in love and impregnating a white woman. The woman’s father had him killed and that’s when the legend began.
Candyman was not born a monster. In fact, he was a polite, kind, artist who brought joy to many people. Then, he was murdered and that joy turned into horror as Candyman became an Urban Legend, a symbol, and a killer. Candyman represented an entire race of oppressed people and, though his means of doing so were not exactly admirable, we can’t really fault the guy for wanting to take revenge. Not many of these slashers can capture our hearts and earn our sympathy while simultaneously carving our bodies and tearing our flesh. The Candyman can.
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6) Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Nature VS Nurture. It’s the eternal debate. Are people born bad, or are they made that way by circumstances? Opinions vary but Leatherface, of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame, is a prime example of one being a product of his environment. Leatherface, or Thomas Hewitt, was born to a poor woman who died during childbirth. Her boss left the baby Leatherface in a dumpster, where he was found by the Hewitt family. What could have been a beautiful film of survival, adoption, and family being more than blood, quickly turned into a film about cannibalism. Wearing a mask made not of leather, but of human flesh, Hewitt brandishes a chainsaw whilst doing his family’s bidding. While certainly a victim of circumstance, Leatherface still stands atop the slasher mountain as one of the genre’s scariest figures, despite a run of sequels that were worse than anything the Hewitt family could’ve done to anybody.
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5) Ghostface (Scream)
Slashers love masks. This is a fact. Jason had his hockey mask, Michael had his Shatner mask. Ghostface had his, uh, Ghostface mask. It’s the classic chicken or the egg debate: which came first- the costume or the killer?
Well, it was the costume. Obviously. The point is, Ghostface has somehow overcome a super dumb name to become one of horror’s most iconic figures. This is especially triumphant because Ghostface is not, in fact, just one person. Throughout 4 movies, Ghostface has been portrayed by no less than 7 killers, all of whom have a grudge against the series’ protagonist, Sidney Prescott. Ghostface is unique because he (or she) isn’t just one person. Like Batman, Ghostface is an idea, a symbol. He is also very much mortal. There’s nothing supernatural about Ghostface. When he (or she!) is dead, they’re dead. But the mantle of Ghostface can be taken up by anybody, especially if that somebody has a vendetta against Sidney.
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4) Chucky (Child’s Play)
When Chucky told Andy Barclay that they were going to be “friends till the end” homeboy wasn’t kidding. We’ve been friends with Chucky since the 80’s and, for the longest time, the Good Guy Doll himself was the only horror icon not to be rebooted. That’s all going to change but, luckily, we’ll still have our original version of Chucky in some way, shape or form.
Lest we forget to mention, Chucky is a doll possessed by the soul of Charles Lee Ray, a vicious serial killer who looks a lot like Billy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. For 30 years, Chucky has been trying to make friends and, in doing so, he has become the killer doll that everybody knows and loves (to hate). With a wit as sharp as his knife, Chucky has been in 7 films thus far and is rumored to be getting his own television spinoff, in addition to the remake that we’ll probably all hate. Still, Chucky remains an icon and, in terms of his legacy, there seems to be no end in sight.
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3) Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th series)
As the slasher with the most films, Jason Voorhees more than belongs in the top 3. If it weren’t for our other two choices, Jason would be king of the proverbial mountain. As it is, he is one of the most recognizable icons of the horror genre…a pretty impressive feat, given that he wasn’t even really in his own first movie!
Jason Voorhees, son of Pamela Voorhees, was a young boy who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake because the counselors were too busy smoking drugs and making sex. His mom took revenge and was then beheaded. Then Jason took revenge for his mom who was taking revenge for him. Does anybody think that maybe he could’ve just, like, called his mom and let her know he was okay? Literally, hundreds of lives would be saved, had he just sent a quick text.
Regardless, the legend of Jason has only grown over the past 40 years. His hockey mask is legendary. The kills are merciless. His fear of water is…confusing. Is he scared of water or not? Jason has been a part of 10 movies, one crossover, and one remake. Through it all, he has remained one of the most feared yet loved icons of the entire genre. If Freddy Krueger is the Dracula of slashers, then Jason is Frankenstein’s Monster. He is, perhaps, misunderstood. It’s hard to empathize with a guy who just stabbed you in the face, though. Once you peel back those layers, however, Jason is just a boy who misses his mom.
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2) Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
“Welcome to Primetime, bitch.” That was the line that Freddy Krueger told Jennifer right before slamming her head into a TV, but it could have been said to Freddy himself. He had made it. When Freddy Krueger was first introduced in 1984, he was a dark, lurking figure in the shadows. Throughout the course of his 8 movie career, Freddy Krueger has etched his name in brimstone as one of Horror’s best bad guys.
Clad in a striped shirt, a fedora, and a razor glove, Krueger has been invading our dreams since 1984. Always quick with a joke, Freddy Krueger has been called the “Henny Youngman” of the slasher genre. He is unafraid to exploit his victims’ darkest fears and deepest insecurities. He is the dream demon and there are no warriors who can step to him. Fred Krueger has become, arguably, the preeminent slasher thanks to his loud mouth. He’s able o do talk shows, commercials and guest star on The Goldbergs. Krueger took the horror genre out of the shadows and brought it into the limelight, cracking jokes the whole time.
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1) Michael Myers (Halloween)
The Shape. The Boogeyman. Michael Myers. Whatever you want to call him, Michael Myers has proven himself to be the monster-est monster among men. He has hidden in the shadows for the past 40 years, only coming out once a year to track down various family members or hapless babysitters, depending on the interpretation. Whether he was a puppet of a druid cult or a lone, faceless knifeman, Michael Myers has taken the slasher genre to the absolutely next level.
Never was this more evident than with the recent release of the newest Halloween, a release that shattered box office records and proved Michael Myers and his star-crossed-sibling, Laurie Strode are the winningest tandem in horror movie history. Michael Myers is unrelenting. He is the monster under your bed or hiding in your closet, he is everything about the dark that you’re afraid of and he’s not going to stop until you’re dead. He will cross universes, timelines and city streets simply to cut your throat and that is why Michael Myers is the greatest slasher of all time.
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