The Slasher Films: A Horror Movie Sub-Genre


What Is A Slasher Film?

A slasher film is a sub-genre horror movie in which a victim or many victims are murdered by the use of knives, razors or any sort of bladed weapon. Slasher films typically share a generic storyline. Undeniably, Slasher films were a big hit in the 80’s and have continued to be one of the most popular sub-genres in horror history. Due to the success and popularity of some slashers they have continued to receive ongoing remakes, sequels, trilogies, and more! But, why are slasher films such a popular sub-genre?movie-slashers-1Why are slasher films so popular? 

We’ve all heard of them. We’ve all seen them. They are the menacing serial killers who torment teenagers and slash them one by one! Slasher films are one of the most popular sub-genres in horror and there are many reasons to this. Here’s why..

1. The Teenage Life KILLS

Slasher films normally tend to target the teenage crowd. Teens have the reputation of breaking the laws and norms of society. We’ve all seen that disobedient teen in movies ( and real life ) who just wants to chill and smoke some pot or drink some booze. In society, Teenagers are always easily surrounded by popularity, parties, drugs, sex, alcohol, and mainstream trends. In horror movies, especially slashers, these are all favorable by the deranged serial killers who want to kill them. 

2. A Bloody Personality!

Many slasher films have become iconic in the horror community and some extremely favorable by audiences across the world. Major slasher film characters are said to be the perfect definitions of Horror. Some of the most popular characters are the ones like Freddy Krueger, Ghost face, Chucky, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees. Their popularity is mainly based off their character and personality within the movies. Freddy Krueger is known to have the most unique personality amongst slashers. Throughout the Nightmare On Elm St. franchise, Krueger has left a series of memorable quotes, kills, and actions. Most of his kills are unique and creative and his expressions play a huge role which successfully manage to execute the purpose of the film. He holds a twisted sense of humor with a passion for fear. Other serial killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees are known as the “Silent Killers” of slasher films due to their blank expressions and the absence of any dialogue from their part. This has a major effect towards the tone of the movie, as these characteristics make them much more brutal and ruthless because of the lack of any sign of emotion towards their violent acts and murder sprees. Ghost face is also famous for the characteristics the killer expresses throughout the franchise. Ghost face stalks and hunts the victims and uses horror movie trivia and the popular question, “What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?” to trigger fear into his victims. 

3. Do you like scary stories?

The storyline to most slasher films are also well recognized and definitely play a huge role to their popularity. Although most slasher films are similar to the killer vs. teens plot, they also contain a backstory to the killers and the rest of the characters. Since many slasher films share a few things in common it is important for a slasher film to have a story that really stands out from the generic content. The creators of slasher films must create a very creative and interesting backstory to their main serial killer and it’s surrounding characters. With the use of plot twists the effect of a slasher film can greatly improve. 

4. A Killer Appearance

The appearance a slasher has is also a very big key for slasher films. In most cases, the appearance of the serial killer is usually derived from their backstory or it is eventually picked up as the story builds up. In the case of the most popular slasher films the characters have a unique or overall menacing appearance. Some of the most recognizable appearances of slashers are from characters like Freddy Krueger and Chucky. As the audience follows up with the story of Chucky we learn about the story to his appearance throughout the franchise. Chucky’s appearance throughout the Child’s Play films is shown as an innocent children’s doll. As the story continues throughout the films his appearance changes mildly from an innocent looking doll to a stitched up sinister looking doll. Another notable character is Freddy Krueger. With similarity, Freddy’s appearance is also a result from his backstory.  His main look is a disfigured man who wears a burned hat and a striped, ripped, and burnt sweater. Throughout different scenes his appearance changes to many sizes and figures and even dimensions. In one scene he makes an appearance as a video game character and on another he appears as a giant snake looking creature. 

5. Choose Your Weapon!

Every slasher seems to have a preferred weapon of choice. Freddy has his nightmare glove, Jason has his machete, and leather face has his beloved chainsaw. The weapon they each possess plays a big role to the characters. Depending on which slasher film you may choose to watch you will notice they each seem to have a  different weapon they frequently use to cause havoc. Each serial killer has creative and blood filled methods of using these weapons. Whether it’s chopping a head off with a rusty machete, getting cut into bits with a noisy chainsaw, or having a heart punctured with a stainless steel kitchen knife each slasher has his own method. Many people like to watch someone get holed up with a pickaxe so they watch movies like My Bloody Valentine. And others like to watch people get slashed up by a bladed glove so they watch Nightmare On Elm St. This “weapon of choice” method in slasher films adds to the effect of buying the favorable side of the audience. You are able to follow up on the story of your favorite slasher as he uses different and new methods with the same weapon.

6. Spooky Themes And Creepy Places!

And of course last but not least, each slasher film has its special setting and/or theme. Movies like Nightmare On Elm St surround the theme of nightmares in which victims are constantly torn between reality and a nightmare world. Friday The 13th hosts its brutal murders around the setting of Camp Crystal Lake, a place meant for summer camping. Each setting and theme share a great importance as an over all slasher film especially if a slasher film becomes a sequel or anything further than a sequel. Although the audience may prefer a change of kill creativity and appearance, the audience likes to see a familiar setting or theme. It not only adds to the character but it also adds on to the story. 

These are only 6 of the many reasons to why slasher films are one of the most popular horror sub-genres in horror history.

Slasher Film Fun Facts: 

  • Psycho was the first American film to feature a toilet. It’s the first film ever in which we hear a toilet flush.


  • Child’s play or Chucky as most refer to it is based off true events. In 1909 an author claimed that a family servant placed a voodoo curse on his child’s doll, Robert The Doll. The doll would move around mysteriously and have conversations with the son, Otto. The doll was placed in the attic until Ottos death  in 1976. When new owners came to the home and found the doll, they also experienced odd events with the doll. Today the doll is in display in Key West, Florida.


  • In the movie Friday The 13th, Jason wasn’t the original killer. Mrs. Voorhees was the original killer. After the fury of her sons death she went on a killing spree when camp crystal lake was reopened.This information was also released in a scene by Drew Barrymore Scream (1996)


  • Through the course of the 12 Friday The 13th films, Jason has killed 167 people. The film with the least body count was Friday The 13th Part 2, with a body count of 10. The highest body count was of 28 in the film Jason X


  • It is said that Freddy made an appearance in the film, Jason Goes To Hell. Freddy’s hand appears to be grabbing the mask and pulls him down to hell. It wasn’t until years later that we finally got the Freddy Vs. Jason film. It is also rumored that Jason almost appeared in the Elm Street tv series in 1987. In the episode, it is seen through flashbacks that Freddy abused of the young Jason.


  • Halloween takes place in Haddonfield, Illinois but was actually filmed in South Pasadena & Hollywood, California. Haddonfield was named after Co-Screenwriter and Producer Debra Hill’s hometown in New Jersey. Interested in visiting? The house used to film Halloween was relocated to 1000 Mission Street South Pasadena California.


  • Production for Halloween lasted 20 days.


  • The infamous mask used in Halloween is actually a widened out Captain Kirk (Star Trek) mask painted white. John Carpenter loved the mask because of the “blank stare” that fit perfectly with the character of Michael Myers.The mask was bough off a local toy store for 2$ and it was between the Kirk mask and a replica clown mask called “Weary Willie”


  • Scream was based partially on real life events. It was based off the Barbara Walters special on the Gainesville Murders. Williamson (Screenwriter for Scream) was terrified while watching this when suddenly he heard a noise from the kitchen and picked up a butcher knife. Nervously he called his buddy who then began asking questions about scary movies. And thus the opening scene for scream was born..
  • Wes Craven claims that the nightmare deaths seen throughout the series Nightmare On Elm Street were actually based off three incidents that occurred with Cambodian teens. These three teens all suffered from nightmares and sleeping issues. Two of the teens woke up screaming from their nightmares and died from a heart attack. The third teen was terrified of falling asleep and used a variety of items ( including a hidden coffee pot) to prevent himself from falling asleep. Some of the dialogue between Nancy and her parents is the same dialogue used by this teen when he attempted to convince his parents that going to sleep will result in his death. Upon sleeping the teen never woke up again.
  • Famously known for his acting roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and the Tim Burton films, Johnny Depp’s first film as an actor was with Nightmare on elm st. Wes Craven mentions he (Johnny Depp)  was accompanying a friend, Jackie Earle Haley to the auditions for the first film. It was there he caught Cravens attention because Depp appeared “dreamy”. Jackie also made an appearance in the elm street films with the 2010 remake of the film. Depp’s death scene consisted of troubling but incredible effects and took up to 80 gallons of fake blood.


  • Most of the scenes filmed in Nightmare On Elm Street were shot in the Los Angeles area in California.- The cemetery they use in some of the films is located in Boyle Heights and is in fact the oldest cemetery in Los Angeles.-The alley shot where Freddy is shown with enlarged arms was taken in Venice Beach.- Springwood High School was really Marshall High School in Los Angeles, which was about one block from where Heather Langenkamp actually lived at that time.- Tina’s first dream sequence in the tunnel was filmed at the Lincoln Heights Jail, which was later condemned for asbestos.-The police station is really a library in East Hollywood, California.-The fictional address of the house in the film is 1428 Elm Street. The actual house where filming took place is located in Los Angeles, California on 1428 North Genesee Avenue.


Need some tips to get into slasher films or simply want to add on to your slasher film list? Check out 15 recommended slasher films below!

15 Recommended Slashers You MUST See: 

1.  Halloween (1978)


Release Date: October 25, 1978

Directed By: John Carpenter

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Michael Myers was arrested for 15 years after the gruesome murder of his sister, Judith. After 15 years of being locked away, Michael manages to escape from a transfer for his court date. It’s Halloween and He’s back in Haddonfield, Illinois. The brutal Michael Myers is back again and searching for new victims to his murder spree.

2.  Scream (1996)


Release Date: December 20, 1996

Directed By: Wes Craven

Genre: Mystery / Slasher

Film Length: 1 hour 51 Minutes

Synopsis: The small town of Woodsbro is the new scene for a horror movie. A brutal serial killer stalks his victims and uses horror movie trivia questions to taunt his victims. One by one he
begins to murder them as the survivors  attempt to figure out who is behind the killing spree. Who can it be?

3.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


Release Date: October 1, 1974

Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Genre: Thriller / Slasher / Fantasy

Film Length: 1 hour 30 Minutes

While visiting an old family farm house, Sally and her friends discover a demented group of outsiders who live next door. Within this group is the chainsaw wielding leather face, who uses a mask made of human skin and a chainsaw to slash his victims, Upon the discovery they are all hunted one by one by the crazed leather face as they do everything they can to try to escape.

4.  A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)


Release Date: November 9, 1984

Directed By: Wes Crave

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 hour 41 Minutes

Synopsis: A disfigured man named Freddy Krueger taunts and preys on a group of teenagers in their dreams. Anyone who becomes victim of Freddy in their dreams also becomes a victim of his in the real world. The bloody dreams turn into a real world bloodbath as the victims are shredded to pieces in their dreams.  After investigating the unbelievable occurrences and murders, Nancy begins to suspect of a dark heinous secret. A secret kept away from her and her friends by their parents about the man named Freddy Krueger.

5.  Child’s Play (1988)


Release Date: November 9, 1988

Directed By: Tom Holland

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Synopsis: Moments before his death in a toy store, Charles Lee Ray uses black magic to transfer his soul into a Good Guys doll named Chucky. Days after the incident Karen Barclay buys the doll for her son Andy. The boy soon realizes the doll is possessed after Chucky kills his baby sitter. When he tries to warn people everyone turns against him and Andy ends up institutionalized. Andy and his mom must find a way to convince the detective about the truth behind the doll before Andy becomes the next victim.

6. Friday The 13th (1980)


Release Date: May 9, 1980

Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham

Genre: Mystery / Slasher

Film Length: 1 hour 35 Minutes

Synopsis: Terror at Camp Crystal Lake! Counselors set for camp at Crystal Lake as they ignore the warnings from locals about the area. They come face to face with the ruthless Jason Voorhees. They fight and struggle for survival as they are stalked and killed by the brutal Jason Voorhees.

7.  My Bloody Valentine (1981)


Release Date: February 11, 1981

Directed By: George Mihalka

Genre: Slasher / Indie Film

Film Length: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Synopsis: An eery and old legend surrounding a crazy murderer and Valentines Day celebrations turns out to be more than just a legend. A group of friends contravene the killers order resulting in a blood crazed killing spree. 

8. Terror Train (1980)


Release Date: October 3, 1980

Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Synopsis: A fraternity of pre-med students has a malicious prank coming for their most timorous pledges. The prank is successfully played but it leaves the victim institutionalized. After a few years the students are celebrating their graduation in a costume party on board a train but the prank is not over yet.

9. Maniac (1980)


Release Date: December 26, 1980

Directed By: William Lustig

Genre: Drama / Slasher

Film Length: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Synopsis: A sinister and deranged man begins targeting woman to murder them and uses their scalp to dress his collection of mannequins.

10. Maniac Cop (1988)


Release Date: May 13, 1988

Directed By: William Lustig

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

Synopsis: Innocent people are killed by a uniformed police officer in the streets of New York. Three police officers are on the hunt to track him and take him down.

11.  Chopping Mall (1986)


Release Date: March 21, 1986

Directed By: Jim Wynorski

Genre: Slasher / Indie Film

Film Length: 1h 35 min

Synopsis: Three mall security robots begin tormenting 8 teenagers when they become trapped inside a high tech shopping mall.

12. Deep Red (1975)


Release Date: June 11, 1976

Directed By: Dario Argento

Genre: Slasher / Mystery / Thriller

Film Length: 1 hour 46 Minutes

Synopsis: A musician and a reporter take matters into their own hands to search for answers behind a brutal murder. When the musicians friend turns out to be viciously murdered by the same killer, the pair speed up their search to find the killer’s identity behind they end up becoming a victim as well.

13. Psycho (1960)


Release Date: September 8, 1960

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

Synopsis: Marion Crane decides to stay at The Bates Motel after a storm leaves her no other option than to find a place to wait the storm out. Since she is avoiding police after stealing $40,000, Bates Motel is her best option. It is here where she meets the polite psychopath Norman Bates, whom also happens to be a big Momma’s boy with a taste for Taxidermy.

14. Black Christmas (1974)


Release Date: December 20, 1974

Directed By: Bob Clark

Genre: Slasher / Thriller

Film Length: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Synopsis: During winter break a group of sorority sisters begin receiving odd and anonymous phone calls. When the anonymous caller begins to threaten the girls a friend of the girls goes missing. Soon the news breaks out that a local adolescent girl was murdered. The girls realize a serial killer is on the loose but they fail to realize just how near the killer is to them.

15. Sleepaway Camp (1983)SLEEPAWAY-CAMPS-poster-art

Release Date: November 18, 1983

Directed By: Robert Hiltzik

Genre: Slasher / Teen Film

Film Length: 1hr 28 Min

Synopsis: A camp site is the new site of a murder spree for a murderer with a taste for stabbing.

Don’t miss out on some of these awesome slasher movies! Make sure to watch them next time you plan a horror movie night! You can never go wrong with some slasher movies! Thanks for reading!






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