Now that we're a few weeks into October and Halloween is inching it's way closer, there's always a little time for a good old-fashioned slasher movie marathon. One of the most popular and effective sub-genres in horror, slasher films became popular in the '80s, despite the first actual slasher movie being Peeping Tom in 1960 (a lesser-known fact pointed out in the 2011 film Scream 4.)
The slasher boom of the '80s was aided by John Carpenter's legendary Halloween franchise (the first in 1978), which then helped push others into fruition, such as Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Child's Play, Sleepaway Camp, and many others for an entire decade. The Wes Craven masterpiece Scream was the next turning point for slashers in the late '90s, with some of the most iconic horror icons remaining in film ever since. Though there has been a sub-genre struggle to establish modern slasher staples, some have paved the way and remain perfect choices for an annual horror-themed binge. So what blood-soaked slasher franchises made the cut?
It's safe to say you can't talk about anything remotely slasher related and not give respect to the peak of the genre's success with Scream. When the first Scream debuted, it capitalized off self-awareness, an element of realism. It created an unforgettable level of tension from something as simple as the ringing of a phone.
With four films and a fifth on the way (you know we're excited), Scream has had the ability to reach different generations of horror fans. Unforgettable celebrity cameos, the unrivaled badass scream queen Sidney Prescott, and a slew of some of the most insane unmaskings has helped Scream become the perfect concoction of pop-culture and horror. So you can rest assured that all four Scream films will be enjoyed over the next month (and probably not too long after that either.)
When it comes to Halloween spirit, the Halloween franchise has earned its outright title for striking fear in the heart of all ages. Believed to be a fun, spook-filled night for children to enjoy, Michael Myers was introduced as the babysitter stalker who never spoke, and his presence alone is chill-inducing.
The reputation that Halloween has earned comes largely from his ambiguity and stoic demeanor that seems completely unstoppable. In just about every incarnation, Michael proves that he'ss more resilient than any human imaginable (bullets, explosions, fires, faked-beheadings, you name it). So the only hope for anyone in his path is to survive and move far away from Haddonfield.
Halloween notoriously implemented impressive chapters and some that were downright confusing or counter-productive to a previous installment. Still, there are glimmers of perfection over the span of 11 (with 13 confirmed) films. With that being said, grab a bowl of candy, lock your doors, and enjoy a little slasher treat without the danger of a masked-man annually targeting you.
Friday the 13th
As someone who (for a long time) had only seen select chapters of the Friday the 13th films, I recently embarked on a lengthy run of Friday the 13th, which only gave me a greater respect for the long-running franchise. From the first film of a scorned mother murdering camp counselors to the machete-wielding Jason Voorhees becoming the face of the film series, there's no shortage of slasher carnage.
The franchise often introduced several new groups of characters, with almost every other film giving us solid scream queen material, and some of the best killer vs. survivor battles (Parts four and five are massively underrated.) Something that's almost comforting about revisiting these films is that it has a sense of familiarity because of the setting staying consistent — with the exception of an unforeseen psychic battle, a trip to New York, and even the depths of space.
The films sprinkle a little bit of all the fun; campy horror can conquer, which means a few laughs, lots of blood, and some creative clashes in a fight for survival against the Terminator of the horror genre.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Writer and Director Wes Craven was one of the rare horror masterminds who was able to find success in two franchises, with A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. Starting out as Wes' brainchild (no pun intended), the film set out to make audiences fear our own dream space and relied on stripping the characters of any sense of security.
The first film has some genuinely impressive moments that have aged well, and some of the other films in the franchise like A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors or Wes Craven's New Nightmare gives new life to a franchise and prove that A Nightmare on Elm Street was far from a one-hit-wonder. We last saw the witty slasher villain in 2010, but the property has remained dormant ever since, so hopefully, the Craven estate has special plans for A Nightmare on Elm Street in the near future.
One of the most outlandish slasher properties comes from the indie-esque Hatchet franchise, with a deformed swamp murderer massacring those who pass through Honey Island Swamp in New Orleans. The first film feels like a slight oddity in the slasher realm at first glance, but as you conclude the film (and see the other three sequels), you start to learn that Hatchet is an overall unique experience.
The films have some of the most bloody, unpredictable demises in the genre, but it always avoids feeling as grotesque as films like Hostel. In fact, the moments that spotlight the gore tend to be done in a way where it actually adds humor or levity to the subject. Yes, I enjoy my slasher franchises because I enjoy my horror more streamlined, but Hatchet is something that feels like it can appease people who enjoy different facets of horror. What better for a well-rounded Halloween marathon?
What are some of your favorite slasher franchises? Let us know, along with what you'll be watching on Halloween!