7 Best Slasher Films
Blood Feast (1963)
The film that started it all. Gross both in content & profit, Blood Feast was created by 2 exploitation film partners, Herschell Gordon Lewis & David F. Friedman. The inspiration behind this movie, and consequently the entire genre, is an important story in the history of cinema. Slasher movies may be grotesque, but they're highly metaphorical of the American condition. All slasher movies begin with Blood Feast.
Incredibly, I discovered Herschell lived in the same city as me a few years ago, and we developed a rapport the year before he passed away. He taught me about the film business, and appeared in my film Mondo Miami, which was his final film appearance.
Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)
Lucio Fulci makes beautiful horror movies. He always has killer lenses, and sleek depth of field. Contrasting these films with the movies of Herschell Gordon Lewis is such a huge leap of technical virtuosity. It's almost like traveling dimensions. Herschell's movies feel like abrasive rickety low-budget toys; Fulci's films feel like smooth high-quality moving photographs.
The plot is complex, and the horror is explosive... There's an interesting effect being tapped in the mixture between soap-opera like drama, immersive cinematography, and peppered hyper-real slasher-gore.
The Burning (1981)
This one's produced by Harvey Weinstein. It's his first film, in fact. This movie's a classic 80's slasher film product. It's cynical in that it's motivated by profit flipping, and so it features plenty of moments of pure exploitation (sexual exploitation, gore exploitation, etc). But that's cool because that's the medium anyway. The flaws in this movie should be analyzed & enjoyed as such.
I like the autonomy of the film, the general image / icon of the killer, the absolute merciless intensity of some of the scenes, the twist ending, and the goofy marketing campaign.
Dario Argento refined the slasher movie genre into an art form. He's best known for the hyper-reality he stages his slasher moves in. I haven't seen all of his films, but for some reason Tenebre sticks in my mind. It's somewhat meta in plot, involving an author of murder mysteries. It's very stylish in form. The score is incredible. That awesome song by Justice samples Tenebre's theme. And Mr. Argento makes some bold cinematic moves within the horror genre. This is that fire slasher content 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is really well made. It's just a damn good movie. There's not a lot of killings, but I don't watch slasher movies for the killings anyway. I watch them for the intellectual novelty, and the visceral rush (I JUST WANT TO FEEL FEELINGS AGAIN!!)
This movie reminds me, on a formal level, of Back to the Future. Something about the crispness of the image, the cartoon-y nature of the actors / set dressing, and the whole mid-80's vibe.
The less you know about the movie the better. If you know *nothing* about this movie, I highly encourage you to check it out. Let me know what you thought afterwards 😎
April Fool's Day (1986)
April Fool's Day breaks up the genre into extreme meta. At this point in the 80's, the slasher film genre was highly saturated. How many times in how many ways can you kill horny teenagers? So the genre started to fold in on itself, as most social movements do eventually.
This is a particularly novel example of the slasher film gone genre-bending & meta. It's worth a watch simply for the ending, and to see Thomas F. Wilson in another movie that's not Back to the Future...
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Finally, a Freddy Krueger movie. Freddy in many ways is the classic 80's era horror villain. Then again, I was never really a Halloween or a Friday the 13th kid. Always preferred Freddy. A Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't the typical slasher movie in that it had this paranormal quasi-dimensional figure that's somewhere between Blood Feast & The Wolf Man. The movie spoke about dreams & nightmares & the unconscious in ways that spoke to me. Of course, now I know that's because of writer / director Wes Craven.