13 gloriously gory slasher movies to watch right now

From Scream to Psycho, here are 13 slasher flicks to get you in the mood for Netflix's upcoming Fear Street series.

Nobody can pinpoint exactly where the slasher genre began. Some point to Psycho. Others to Halloween or the cult 1974 classic Black Christmas. But everyone who knows anything about horror movies knows exactly how the slasher feels.

That would be frantic, relentless, painful; a glint of smooth, cold steel as a knife pierces the skin between your shoulder blades. With the three-part Netflix adaptation of R. L. Stine’s best-selling Fear Street series due 2nd July, we could think of no better time than now to bring you the thirteen slasher classics that you absolutely have to see. There’s something for everyone in there: macabre Italian mystery, hillbilly horrors, loads of messed up dudes wearing masks. But most of all there’s gallons and gallons of blood.

You wouldn’t want it any other way.

13. Candyman (1992)

Based on horror maestro Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, director Bernard Rose uproots the narrative from urban Liverpool, transitions it to the projects of Chicago, pushes the critique of class to the background and hangs it’s hooked hand on matters of race. As much a gothic romance as it is a slasher, a modern-day reboot is due in August, directed by Nia DeCosta and written by – of course – Jordan Peele.

Available on Netflix.

12. Blood and Black Lace (1964)

They call pulpy, mystery filled, bloody thrillers giallo” within Italian cinema. This is the Italian word for yellow and nods to the penchant for the cheap, thrillingly tawdry paperbacks that came bound in sleeves that were printed upon card of this very colour. Considered one of the genre’s first productions, fans of DC Comics’ character The Question will find much to like in the film’s masked killer. Everyone else will marvel at the lascivious portrayal of blood.

Available on Amazon Prime.

11. Wolf Creek (2005)

This piece of Australian exploitation movie making created a horror icon. John Jarrett’s outback dwelling psychopath Mick Taylor is perhaps the scariest antagonist on this list, simply because every person reading it knows Mick Taylor in all but name. Sure, maybe you don’t know a serial killer. Maybe you don’t even know an Australian. But everyone knows an arrogant, misogynist, racist bully. The brilliance of director Greg McLean’s creation is that he’s just as much a man as he is a monster.

Available on Amazon Prime.

10. Inside (2007)

There’s a window of French filmmaking in the 2000s that has come to be known as the New French Extremity. Too arty – too French - to be dismissed as mere torture porn, this isn’t a moniker without merit. Of all the films to be produced during this window, it is perhaps 2008’s Martyrs – which is as horrifying as cinema is possible to be, without sliding into the realms of pure depravity – that encapsulates the movement best. And yet it’s this home invasion horror that is perhaps the best movie within it.

Available on Shudder.

9. Friday the 13th (1980)

Long before Kevin Bacon became a phone salesman, he was having a post-coital arrowhead pushed through his larynx. It should be said that as important to the genre as the Friday the 13th series is and as iconic as the Jason Voorhees character would become, the first movie – and most of the movies, in truth – aren’t particularly good. And yet it’s unthinkable you’d be reading this list if Sean S. Cunningham’s film had never existed.

Available on Amazon Prime.

8. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Catholicism, repression, guilt, the fractured family unit, child neglect; there’s a variety of big themes competing for attention in Alfred Sole’s mid-’70s cult classic. It’s impossible to understate how much heavy lifting one yellow raincoat, a near translucent mask and a big bloody knife does throughout one of the era’s most cerebral, deliciously cruel films. The film is essentially a Western made take on giallo.

Available on Shudder.

7. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Despite the opening card ominously proclaiming Tobe Hooper’s movie to be Based on true events”, there’s really only a slither of truth to that, with the crimes of murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein providing a loose framework for the depraved acts of Leatherface and his family. Though this is a blood-lite massacre – the horror omnipresent in the movie is often heard and implied rather than seen – the nastiness inherent in the movie has been replicated often and yet never bettered. The film is actually about meat. It’s about the chain of life and killing sentient beings,” explains director Hooper.

Available on Amazon Prime.

6. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Halloween might have encapsulated genre perfection in 1978, but it was the commercial success of Friday the 13th two years on that opened the floodgates to the river of blood that would drench the eighties horror cinema scene. Many of these films would set their stories in summer camps too, the best of which is probably Robert Hiltzik’s Sleepaway Camp. Tonally, the film is all over the place. At times, it’s more of a comedy than a horror – any film where someone is stung to death by wasps while sitting on the toilet surely is. But for its gloriously problematic twist ending alone, it deserves its place high up this list.

Available on Shudder.

5. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

To varying degrees throughout the franchise’s eight movies (nine if you count 2010’s pointless remake), Elm Street’s principal antagonist, Freddy Krueger, would resemble a Butlins redcoat as often as he did a dimension-hopping killer. That and lashings of blood are principally responsible for Freddy’s horror ubiquity. How a wisecracking demon paedophile became an eighties pop culture icon is surely a TED Talk in waiting, but Wes Craven’s original remains the character’s best outing.

Available on Amazon Prime.

4. Psycho (1960)

The term slasher” wasn’t common currency when Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece was released and yet Psychos bloody fingerprints can be found smeared across every release that’s been classified thus. Based upon Robert Blotch’s 1959 novel, Psychos iconic, much parodied, rarely bettered shower scene is perhaps the iconic slasher moment. Conservative sensitivities meant the film opened to a tidal wave of disgust. And yet it’s been said that highest on the censors hit list was the scene where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, mother of genre icon Jamie Lee Curtis) flushes a toilet, an act that hadn’t been seen within mainstream film in the United States prior to that time.

Available on Amazon Prime.

3. Black Christmas (1974)

It’s testimony to the brilliance of director Bob Clark’s sorority-based slasher that, half a century on from its original release, it’s still being remade. First in 2006, then in 2019, while just this May a fan made, crowdfunded unofficial sequel” was released into the world. That might strike some as an odd way to pay reverence to one of the genre’s greats, but the truth is that the blueprint for an entire genre is sketched perfectly here. Many of Black Christmas ideas would be duly appropriated by more popular films. 1979’s A Stranger Calls owes everything to the reveal in the third act that The calls are coming from the house!”

Available on Amazon Prime.

2. Scream (1996)

A second coming for the genre and, indeed, for director Wes Craven, when Scream arrived in the mid-nineties, it entered a horror landscape that had been barren of the type of film by which the veteran moviemaker had made his name with in the seventies and eighties. Craven took said classics and applied a meta twist. Both protagonists and antagonists in Scream are aware of slasher lore. It was a neat trick that played out with diminishing returns over three sequels, with a fifth on its way. Key to the film’s appeal was the unquantifiable quality of cool. Not only was the soundtrack perfectly in sync with the alt. rock boom of the age (and earmarked Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Red Right Hand as the modern era’s quintessential murder ballad, decades before Peaky Blinders) but every fresh-faced young star of the era – David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Rose McGowen, Drew Barrymore and more – played a starring role.

Available on Amazon Prime.

1. Halloween (1978)

Not only did Halloween popularize the final girl” trope (making Jamie Lee Curtis the definitive scream queen” in the process). Not only did it announce the silently obsessed Michael Myers (or The Shape” in the credits) as the definitive big bad of the genre. Not only did it introduce horror fans to the slasher genre’s very own Captain Ahab, the ever in pursuit psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis (played with perfect weight by the late, great Donald Pleasence). Ultimately, John Carpenter’s Halloween sits atop this list for being the best film in it. Perfectly paced, shot and soundtracked (by Carpenter himself), Halloween is a cinematic marvel. One of cinema’s greatest ever films, in the horror genre or otherwise.

Available on Amazon Prime.

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