Slasher movies get a bad rap for good reason.
Too often these films offer crude acting, clunky dialogue and predictable plotting. And blood. Lots and lots of blood.
That’s enough to draw a certain crowd, and horror movie fans can be extraordinarily passionate about their product, warts and all.
Still, some slasher films deliver far more than expected. The following films fall squarely in the “slasher film” mode but manage to get under our skin for all the right reasons.
It’s the granddaddy of slasher films, and few have matched its frights over the past three decades. Director John Carpenter is currently prepping a remake to his own horror classic. Why bother? The original’s creepy score, sensational scares and genuine sense of disgust are tough to top. Maybe impossible. Besides, we’re still sore about Rob Zombie’s unnecessary 2007 remake.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 remake)
Yes, you can include the original on this list, although it’s not nearly as gruesome as modern horror fare. The remake, though, got very little love from movie critics upon its release. It’s a proficient horror film, all the same, well crafted and headlined by a top-notch Final Girl (Jessica Biel). Give it a chance. It won’t nudge the original out of the Horror Film Hall of Fame, but the 2003 reboot slathers on the gore and more.
It’s the prototypical slasher effort, but with enough skill to skid past the genre’s worst tics.
3. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Before “The Cabin in the Woods” deconstructed the modern horror movie, Leslie Vernon did the honors. This self-aware horror film from 2006 has its kills, but the focus is on the meta moments. That elevated the material beyond the standard gore tropes. And it’s pretty darn funny, too, as we watch a wannabe Jason/Freddy/Michael Myers go through his paces.
This is a very low-budget affair, but it’s ingenious enough to make you forgive its modest scale.
Director Wes Craven’s franchise starter kicked off the self-aware horror genre 20-plus years ago. What we tend to forget is just how bone-chilling the opening sequence proved. The film’s goofy finale subtracts serious points from the overall effect. Still, the original “Scream” is a neo-classic for a reason, and it doesn’t skimp on the kills or fake blood.
5. Wrong Turn
Horror fans may know this 2003 shocker for its extended, direct to video sequels. Yes, they keep getting cheesier (with low-fi FX to match) but the original is still a nasty treat. The set up is so simple it’s sublime. A group of travelers is stranded in the woods, but they’re soon joined by a group of local mutants out for flesh.
It also gets a solid performance from Jeremy Sisto, an underrated actor best known, perhaps, for his “Law and Order” run.