Although movies like A Bay of Blood and Halloween (1978) came first, the term "slasher" didn't enter the horror vernacular until Friday the 13th. And if there's one movie that's generated more copycats than any other, it's Friday the 13th. This indie-made horror was panned back in 1980, but its success is why the slasher boom took off like a rocket.
The slasher formula is well-worn at this point, but that doesn't mean filmmakers can't make a good go of it under the right circumstances. So, here are ten random slashers worth watching if you like Friday the 13th.
10 Madman (1982)
The story of a killer named Madman Marz is told around a campfire. He's notorious because he murdered his wife and kids with an axe, and he escaped being hanged. In the present day, the sharing of Madman Marz's legend summons him to the camp. What follows is a bloodbath destined to become another urban legend.
From the score to the narrative beats, this slasher is a shameless ripoff of Friday the 13th. With that in mind, when Madman works, it really works. The villain is certainly no Jason Voorhees, but he's a good seat-filler for the time being.
9 Lost After Dark (2015)
A few high school students all from different walks of life travel together to a party. And when their mode of transportation breaks down along the way, they seek shelter inside a creepy farmhouse. Little do they know, there's a cannibal lurking nearby.
This Canadian import feels like a sendup of classic slashers, but it tweaks with the formula enough to keep things fresh and running. The characters are variants of the Breakfast Club. Though not as interesting. The kill roster, however, takes some shocking liberties. Lost After Dark establishes its goal early on while still delivering some operable entertainment.
8 Deep in the Woods (2000)
A troupe of five young actors is invited to perform "Little Red Riding Hood" at a secluded mansion. Once the actors fulfill their part, the host goes missing with only signs of foul play in his wake. When the troupe aims to leave, they are then hunted down by someone dressed as a wolf.
Deep in the Woods (Promenons-nous dans les bois) is unofficially credited as the jumpstarter for the New French Extremity. This film movement of visceral and transgressive horror is home to contemporary classics like High Tension. Deep in the Woods lacks substance, but it reeks of style.
7 The Initiation (1984)
A college student is plagued by a reoccurring nightmare that she doesn't understand. She even seeks help from a grad student when looking for an explanation. Yet when she and her pledge sisters stay overnight in her father's department store as part of their sorority initiation, the deadly truth about her dreams is revealed.
Horror movies with a dream motif were popular following A Nightmare on Elm Street. Unlike Freddy Krueger's debut, this one-and-done slasher is far less fantastical. Nevertheless, the characters are affable, and the ending is somewhat out-there. The confined venue is a great choice of setting, too.
6 The Funhouse (1981)
A teenager defies her parents and sneaks out to a traveling carnival with her friends. They wind up witnessing a deformed carny murder someone. Now trapped inside a funhouse with the killer, the teens pray for a way out before it's too late for all of them.
Director Tobe Hooper is best recognized for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but his hand at a more traditional slasher has its fine points, too. The Funhouse is a claustrophobic dark ride. Hooper utilizes his limited set pieces with expertise, and his main cast is highly believable as the band of frightened teens.
5 Popcorn (1991)
Students put on an all-night horror festival at a local theater to raise funds for their university's film department. Meanwhile, one student uncovers a lost movie that is somehow connected to her recent nightmares. Later during the film festival, the staff is systematically murdered behind the scenes.
Ardent horror fans will argue the nineties was a period of struggle for the genre. At least until Wes Craven's Scream encouraged a much-needed renaissance. Slashers weren't too common in the early part of that decade, but there were obscurities such as Popcorn. It's a hidden gem with some masterful practical effects.
4 Lake Bodom (2016)
Several students head to Lake Bodom to reconstruct a set of murders that happened there in 1960. Four people camping by the lake were stabbed to death by an assailant who was never caught. The students' campout ultimately takes an unexpected turn, though, when history starts to repeat itself.
This Finnish film draws from true crime horror and slashers all the while creating a gravely savage suspenser. The case Lake Bodom is based on is scary enough as it is. Add in some gorgeous cinematography and staggering plot developments, and this movie proves slashers are still effective in modern cinema.
3 Sleepaway Camp (1983)
After losing her fathers and sibling in a horrible boat accident, traumatized teen Angela moves in with her aunt Martha and her son Ricky. When Ricky and his cousin go to Camp Arawak for the summer, Angela is bullied by everyone because she's different. And eventually, someone starts to pick off the Arawak campers and counselors one by one.
It's so hard to talk about Sleepaway Camp without spoiling its unforgettable ending. Not even the themes can be discussed. If the twist hasn't been spoiled for you already, you're in for a diverting treat from the golden age of slashers.
2 Intruder (1989)
The night crew in a struggling grocery store learns the boss has sold the business. Which means they're all out of a job. In the meantime, they prepare the store's inventory for closeout sales. As the evening continues, an unseen individual kills the employees in the most grisly ways imaginable.
By 1989, the slasher model was not as viable as it used to be. Even the heavyweights like Jason, Michael, and Freddy couldn't bring in money like before. Regardless, Intruder is a fabulous way to end the decade. It's an atmospheric, darkly humorous whodunnit featuring some impressive makeup effects.
1 The Burning (1981)
The Burning is loosely based on the real-life urban legend of Cropsey. In the film's prologue, a summer camp prank ends with the caretaker being disfigured in a fire. Years later, he targets another camp's unsuspecting counselors.
Harvey Weinstein put the idea for The Burning into motion after other low-budget horrors were becoming successful. Unfortunately, Friday the 13th beat him to the punch. The Burning is well remembered for its gory visuals. All of which are the product of renowned special effects makeup artist Tom Savini. Savini actually declined doing Friday the 13th Part 2 in favor of The Burning.