Slasher films are a specific sub-genre of horror movies about a murderous psychopath who typically stalks a particular group of people and brutally kills them off one-by-one with their trademark weapon of choice (for Leatherface it's a chainsaw, for Michael Myers it's a butcher knife, etc.). Many people confuse slasher movies with psychological thrillers and splatter movies, but there are distinctive characteristics that make a slasher movie a slasher.
While other horror movies may contain similar elements (like a serial killer or string of murders), it doesn't automatically define them as a slasher flick. There are hundreds of genuine slasher movies out there, but only a small group are considered iconic. We're diving into the top 10 highest-rated slasher movies of all-time according to IMDb.
10 Child's Play (1988)
Move over Michael, Jason, and Freddy: in the late 1980s, a new slasher moved into the genre and he was pint-sized yet still fearsome. Child's Play is an American slasher film that has spawned a massive cult following and nearly ten movies over the past few decades. The movie follows a psychotic killer doll by the name of Chucky.
The first film is still regarded as one of the best slasher flicks of all time even though it is pretty different from many of the other slashers that came out around the same time. This is mostly due to the black comedy the Child's Play franchise became known for.
9 Halloween (2018)
Obviously, the original Halloween is iconic for many reasons. It was one of the first big slasher films and it helped kick off what is known as the "golden age" of slasher films. Rob Zombie attempted a reboot of the Halloween franchise a few years ago but it never took off the way Hollywood anticipated.
Last year, John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, two heavyweights from the original film, returned to do an official sequel. It was regarded with high critical and audience praise, enough that it may warrant a third film. The new Halloween is also regarded as a canon reboot of the franchise with all the other Halloween sequels being ignored.
8 You're Next (2011)
What makes You're Next such an excellent slasher flick, and definitely worthy of being on this list, is that it was a modernized take on a genre that had become somewhat stale. The film featured a dynamic female lead who was able to take care of herself and became more than capable as the film went on.
You're Next had characters who actively made excellent survival choices and yet their lives were still put in jeopardy. There's nothing scarier than knowing you did everything you could to survive and yet it didn't work. It was a tightly-woven film that has earned itself a place high up on the list of the best slashers, particularly from the last decade.
7 The Final Girls (2015)
The Final Girls is one of those surprising movies that kind of crept up on everyone when they were least expecting it and became pretty beloved. The movie featured a group of teenagers who were sucked into a B-movie horror film when the main character of the film wants to see the film in theaters to appreciate her now-deceased mother (who starred in said movie).
Except, once they're inside the movie, things go terribly wrong fast and they have to try and survive by following the rules of the slasher film. It's a comedy-horror movie with an excellent cast and some genuinely great humor.
6 Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas is a slasher film that doesn't often get the respect it deserves. It helped kick-start the slasher era, even pre-dating Halloween. Many people don't realize that Halloween was heavily inspired by Black Christmas. The movie was so popular it spawned a remake, which was critically panned, and at present, Blumhouse is planning to remake the film once again.
Black Christmas centers around a group of sorority girls enjoying their winter break together when they begin to receive lewd and threatening phone calls. The phone calls escalate quickly and eventually, the terror becomes real and present as they're killed off one by one.
5 Scream (1996)
People often leave out Ghostface when thinking of the big horror icons but they really shouldn't. Scream has had one of the longest lives of any slasher franchise. Just recently, the third season of the Scream television series finally aired and there are rumors Blumhouse might be considering trying to reboot the entire franchise with a string of films.
But the original Scream was special because it was so different from any other slasher. It completely lampooned the genre while still being genuinely frightening. The rules of being in a horror movie were a big part of Scream because the film itself was very meta and full of comedy despite also having gory, brutal, death scenes.
4 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is yet another slasher on this movie that went on to spawn a lucrative and long-winded franchise. While there hasn't been a new film made in several years, odds are we haven't seen the last of Leatherface given his iconic status. The other special thing about the original 1974 film is that it's one of the few slashers that are still genuinely terrifying even to this day.
There is something incredibly disturbing and primal about the first movie that has rarely been emulated with the same degree of horror. The movie has inspired many rip-offs, shout-outs, and parallels over the years. If you watch any horror movies on the regular then you've definitely seen your fair share of Texas Chainsaw allusions.
3 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
If you thought your dreams were a safe place to escape from, you thought wrong. While awake, you have to fear Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees, but in your dreams, you have to be wary of the scissor-fingered monstrosity that is Freddy Kreuger.
Wes Craven helped make a name for himself as a master of horror with his directorial and writing role with Nightmare, and then he hammered that point home when he created Scream several years later. The first Nightmare on Elm Street focused on a group of teenagers being traumatized by Freddy in their dreams (or nightmares) and then they were murdered simultaneously in real life the same way they died in their heads.
2 Halloween (1978)
On a grisly Halloween night in 1963, a horror legend was born. Michael Meyers made his first brutal kill in his very own home by slaughtering his sister, Judith. After the despicable murder, the state imprisoned Michael. Upon his release, he returned to his old ways immediately to restart his reign of terror.
The 1978 slasher flick began the golden age of slasher movies. Since its release, there have been more than ten movies in this franchise overall. That's not including all the merchandise, comics, novels, and more. It'd be hard to find a slasher flick in existence that doesn't pay homage to Halloween in some fashion.
1 Psycho (1960)
No one did mommy issues quite like Norman Bates (and yes that includes the Voorhees family). Previously on this list, we've mentioned how many of these slashers are considered iconic or revolutionary within the genre, Psycho truly stands out as an iconic movie due to when it was released and the nature of murders depicted.
Somewhat surprisingly, Psycho doesn't have a long list of sequels, but it does have at least one genuinely notable addition to his lexicon and that is the five-season television series Bates Motel starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. Like Halloween and several others from this list, Psycho is a must-see film, especially if you want to understand the persistent references to it within the genre.