What are the greatest slasher kills in cinema history? John attempts to find out.
Every horror fan loves a good death scene, as morbid as it sounds. But just keep telling yourself and others, “It’s only a movie!”
With so many memorable moments over the decades, it’s a bloody tough call to condense all those classic scenes into a top ten list. But here are ten of my favourite heart-pounding shocks to whet your appetite.
10. The Burning (1981)
Before there was Freddy, there was Cropsy, the original burn victim in a slasher. Despite brutally murdering several young victims with his deadly garden sheers, Cropsy was like few others, a psychopath you could actually feel sorry for. It’s not his fault that he was set on fire in a prank gone wrong. And even though The Burning’s premise is very similar to other camp-based slashers, its execution makes it stand out as one of the all-time greats in the genre. The best death scenes are always those that ride the wave of tension and suspense before delivering a gruesome pay-off. Just like this one.
9. Prom Night (1980)
Hundreds of drunk, horny teenagers all in one space whilst a vengeful killer is on the loose… what could possibly go wrong? Prom Night doesn’t deliver many memorable deaths and scrimps on the blood and gore, but its old-fashioned Agatha Christie “Who done it?” style manages to keep viewers on their toes. A death scene doesn’t necessarily have to end hideously for the victim if the set-up glues you to the screen.
8. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
How can we have a top ten list of slasher kills without The Shape himself, Michael Myers? John Carpenter’s original Halloween broke box office records as a low-budget independent movie about a babysitter being stalked one night by a masked killer. Without that movie, Friday the 13th would never have existed, and the conveyer belt of early 80s slashers would have never started. But one of the most memorable and vicious of Myers’ kills appears in Halloween 4. Whoever thought a shotgun could cause so much damage without being fired?
7. Maniac (1980)
Very few slasher movies attempt to be grown-up or try to explore the psyche of a killer, but William Lustig’s Maniac does just that. Every serial killer must have problems or else they wouldn’t go around murdering innocent people, but the maniac in question lets his killer instincts manifest in such a way that you can’t help but have empathy for him. Special make-up effects wizard Tom Savini obviously doesn’t mind being the butt of his own gory gags, as this horrifying scene will attest.
6. Hatchet (2006)
If ever there was a modern love letter to 80s slashers, especially Friday the 13th, then Hatchet is definitely it. Adam Green’s directorial debut dared to go where so many of the 21st century alternatives wouldn’t. Practical blood and gore was back by the bucket loads, and audiences were introduced to the new face of death, Victor Crowley, played by former Jason Vorhees Kane Hodder. In what has got to be one of the most creative and disgusting death scenes ever, a victim becomes a real-life Pez dispenser.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
When it comes to unique slasher icons, the bastard son of a hundred maniacs, Freddy Krueger, has to be king of the fucked-up mountain. No horror franchise is more imaginative and diverse than the Nightmare on Elm Street series. A relentless killer who you can never really escape (we all have to sleep eventually) is one of the most terrifying concepts in the history of cinema. This classic scene breaks the boundaries of reality, resulting in a bloody climax.
4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
No slasher movie is more disturbing than Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. What it lacks in gore, it more than makes up for in cringe-worthy scenes. Horror’s first inbred family, with chainsaw-wielding Leatherface doing most of the dirty work, is the stuff of nightmares. What seems friendly and inviting isn’t always so, as is the case in this surprising scene.
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
The birth of the gory teen slasher began with Friday the 13th. Its impact on young audiences led to a string of clones the following year, some good and some bad. The improvements in special make-up effects allowed artists like Tom Savini to experiment and get really creative with their skills. This is clearly displayed in this visually epic if kinda unlikely death scene.
2. Psycho (1960)
Psycho was arguably the original slasher. This is the movie that proved violence can be implied and still be effective in tricking the audience into believing they’re seeing more than they are. This iconic scene cemented Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy as “The Master of Suspense.”
1. Scream (1996)
Before Wes Craven’s Scream came along in the mid 90s, the slasher movie was as dead as Disco. Writer Kevin Williamson’s parody approach to the do’s and don’t’s of the genre helped breathe new life into the deceased slasher, and like Friday the 13th years earlier, started the ball rolling for a whole new generation of stalk and slash movies. This scene blends horror and humour to great effect; it’s both old and new in its scariness.