Halloween Essentials, Vol. 1: Slashers
Justin George | Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Halloween Essentials is a weekly column in the month of October by Scene Writer (and Resident Spooky Boi) Justin George. Celebrate the season with his horror movie recs.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Spooky Season™, and nothing screams Spooky Season quite like a horror film. For this week’s theme, I’ve chosen a subgenre near and dear to my heart, the slasher flick. This list will not include “Friday the 13th” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as those are summer horror movies, and this list for what I consider to be autumn horror movies. Also, “Psycho” is not a slasher, and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on.
John Carpenter’s masterpiece is a classic for a reason. No proper Halloween movie list is complete without it. “Halloween” is the linchpin of what we consider to be the modern slasher (sorry “Black Christmas,” “Halloween” does it better), and I’d say Michael Myers is in pretty strong contention for the title of Greatest Slasher Villain of All Time. If you’ve never seen this absolute banger of a slasher flick, do yourself a favor, stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it immediately.
Wes Craven is responsible for several horror classics, but my favorite of his is this meta-slasher comedy. “Scream” centers around a masterfully written murder mystery that will keep every viewer on the edge of their seat and features one of the greatest openings to ever be put to celluloid. The characters know all the rules, and the movie makes a point of referencing as many other slasher flicks as possible, including “Halloween” and Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
“House of 1000 Corpses”- 2003
Is this a “good” movie? No. But “House of 1000 Corpses” is a highly entertaining, underappreciated gem from the early 2000s extreme horror movement. While nowhere near as serious as its contemporaries, Rob Zombie’s debut film manages to be fun whilst also focusing on incredibly sadistic killers. While the vulgarity, extreme gore, bad acting and heavily stylized presentation might not be for everyone, it’s a Halloween go-to for me.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street”- 1984
Wow, look at that, another Wes Carven film! It’s almost like he’s a master of the genre or something! Freddy Kruger is one of those villains that is diabolical yet loveable. His appearance and mannerisms alone are enough to make your skin crawl, but his wisecracking dialogue combined with Robert Englund’s physicality makes him one of the most endearing slashers on this list.
“Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”- 2006
A hidden gem of the horror genre, this film follows an up-and-coming serial killer who wants to become an infamous slasher. So naturally, he hires a documentary crew to follow him around. We follow Leslie, the aspiring slasher, as he plans every single kill, from laying out the weapons and setting up to selecting the final girl. “Behind the Mask” is smart, funny, gory and well worth seeking out.
“The Town That Dreaded Sundown”- 1976
Based on the unsolved Texarkana Moonlight Murders of 1946, this film is a brutal watch. The film is shot like a documentary, but the gruesome kills are shot from a first-person perspective. The film ends with the message that the killer was never actually caught, and could be anyone, even someone at the same screening of the film as us, which makes this is one of the most blood-chilling entries in the horror canon.
“Blood and Black Lace”- 1964
Here’s one for those of you looking to escape the confines of American horror. This Italian giallo classic directed by Mario Bava follows a group of models at a Roman fashion house who are picked off one by one by a masked killer to obtain a scandal-revealing diary. The film is worth seeing for the cinematography alone, but I promise the plot won’t disappoint either.