Slasher Movie

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Slasher Movie killer in its natural habitat; stalking the Final Girl.
Zombie movies are about groups: outside, the zombies are legion; inside, the humans struggle to work together. Slasher movies are about individuals: one man is doing all the killing, and only one girl will outwit him and survive.
Sara Bickley, reviewing The Ruins

Near-indestructible serial killers stalking attractive young girls, a combination that allows for buckets of gore and enough flesh to titillate.

The killers, mostly driven by Revenge, are Made of Iron, at a minimum, and usually Implacable. Many are explicitly supernatural. All of them can appear and disappear as if by magic, and the corpses of their victims are equally elusive. A slasher killer can whisk away a full grown adult's corpse in seconds, leaving not a single drop of blood behind, or swiftly arrange all its victims in an elaborate tableau, without ever being seen lugging the dead bodies around. The more explicitly supernatural killers will have powers ranging from Super Strength (all the better to pull victims through walls), the ability to appear in dreams and attack the dreamers, or other ghostly abilities.

The victims are usually teenagers or young adults, all usually guilty of some minor vice. Once the audience has had a convincing demonstration of their (usually sexual) misdemeanours, they are spectacularly slaughtered. If there's more than one sin or minority to pick from then the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality comes into play.

Eventually, there will be only one girl left standing, the Final Girl, normally the only "morally pure" member of the main cast. With considerable help from her death battle exemption, she will kill the killer.

Come the next sequel, it will be revealed that the killer was actually Not Quite Dead.

A subset of the Horror genre, although the schlockier examples replace suspense almost entirely with gore. They are often considered B-movies. Early examples of the genre were heavily influenced by the Giallo films of Italian directors like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and Mario Bava. The genre first became popular in the late '70s and early '80s, with the release of the three most iconic slasher flicks: Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The genre would burn itself out in the late '80s, as the established franchises grew stale and the ripoffs grew more desperate. The slasher genre was revived in the mid-late '90s, when Wes Craven's Scream satirized the genre and became a hit. Once again, studios sought to cash in on the film's success, releasing their own post-modern, teen-focused slasher flicks. Today, the slasher genre may be entering a third wave, with the remakes of Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, and Friday the 13th all being hits, a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street just arrived, and the backlash against the gore-driven "torture porn" that dominated horror in this decade.

Keep in mind that, while every slasher movie features a serial killer or a spree killer, not every serial killer or spree killer movie is a slasher movie. Also note that a slasher film is quite different from a Psychological Thriller, which tends to emphasize the Sympathy for the Devil part using a Freudian Excuse or two (and possibly a few Pet the Dog moments in the killer's favor), and de-emphasize the Final Girl, often killing off all characters.

Want to write your own slasher flick? We have a handy writer's guide for anybody looking to do just that.

Tropes applicable to the genre
Notable Slasher Movies include

Slasher Hybrids and Proto-Slashers[1]

Pre-'70s and '80s movies (but there are some recent examples as well) which contain some of the elements familiar to the genre. These are mostly made of Serial Killer and Giallo movies.

  • Alice, Sweet Alice (1977)
  • Alien (1979)
  • Alone in the Dark (1982 film) (1982)
  • 10 to Midnight (1983): Dirty Harry meets Friday The 13th.
  • The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970): Influential film by famed Italian horror director Dario Argento, who made his debut here. By this film, most of the tropes were in place, although the term "slasher flick" didn't exist yet, and the plot and characters were more akin to those in a usual whodunit.
  • Bloody Birthday (1981): Has some elements in common with the slasher genre and is sometimes categorized as such. Features three pre-adolescent children who kill people off.
  • Dementia 13 (1963): An early predecessor to the genre featuring an axe-weilding killer, notable for being an early work of director Francis Ford Coppola.
  • Death Proof (2008): Quentin Tarantino's take on the genre, featuring a professional stunt driver who uses a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger as his weapon.
  • Website Hysteria Lives! has a fairly decent list (with reviews and kill lists) of a number of these.
  • Lost Signal (2007): A slasher-less slasher, featuring a drugged out of their mind teenaged couple wandering through the wilderness in the dead of night, convinced someone or something is after them.
  • Maniac (1980): Contains a killer who slashes (and shoots) people with a variety of different things, but tends to the much bleaker side of things. The killer is the main character and suffers from mental illness that neither turns him into a mindless silent bogeyman nor a wisecracking sadist, you don't root for anyone to die, and the final girl's big fight against the killer has her stab him once and run like hell away. The killer does not pursue her for long.
  • Perfect Blue (1997)
  • Psycho (1960): Has very few of the associated tropes and is more akin to a typical Serial Killer movie.
  • Peeping Tom (1960): Same thing as Psycho. As you can see, they even were released on the same year.
  • Pumpkinhead (1988): Features the usual tropes and trappings of the slasher genre, though the villain is a giant monster.
  • Silent Night Bloody Night (1974): Although it predates the recognition of the genre, it does have some elements in common with it.
  • The Terminator (1984): The first film definitely has elements of the genre. Though the sequels are straight action movies.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): One of the first well-known ones to use a Final Girl (though not the first, that would be the 1972 Italian slasher Torso), possibly the first to "monsterize" the killer by portraying him as more beast than man. Also responsible for the stereotype of slasher villains wielding chainsaws. One of the two Trope Makers for the genre, the other being Black Christmas.
  • Thirteen Women (1934)
  • The Toolbox Murders (1978)
  • True Crime movies (usually the poorly made ones, such as Nightstalker or Kemper: The Co-ed Killer) can sometimes give off distinctive slasher film vibes.
  • Visiting Hours (1982)

Homages, Parodies, Other

  1. (Named after a Retro Slashers feature)