And our countdown of the best slasher movies of all time continues. Here, in Part II, we cover Numbers 40 to 31 with movies spanning the early 1970s to the late 2010s. We’ve got a couple of remakes from the 2000s as well as a classic early Giallo, a couple of grimy exploitation 80s slashers, and creepy mannequins. Even Death itself makes an appearance on this portion of the countdown to Number 1.
40 – House of Wax (2005)
Of all the horror movie remakes of the 2000s, House of Wax was maybe the most unlikely candidate. The original movie was a 50-plus year old classic from a bygone era featuring horror icon Vincent Price. In response to the pressure of remaking a classic, director Jaume Collet-Serra made the controversial decision to turn the property into a standard slasher. Aside from the premise of a killer turning victims into wax model, the 2005 remake bares no resemblance to its predecessor. But if you can get past these issues, the House of Wax remake is a surprisingly effective slasher featuring some brutal kills. It’s a little on the long side, but it does kill Paris Hilton.
39 – Tourist Trap (1979)
Tourist Trap is an interesting entry on our list. When it was released, the slasher subgenre didn’t technically exist yet. Specifically, the rules were still in flux. And Tourist Trap’s premise of telekinetically-controlled mannequins stalking travelers at a roadside attraction was an early mix of supernatural with ‘stalk-and-slash’. On one hand, Tourist Trap feels pretty formulaic for a movie that precedes the formula. Nonetheless, it benefits from a creepy atmosphere, interesting (if not bizarre) premise, and bleak ending.
38 – Haunt (2019)
A more recent entry on this list, Haunt was among several horror movies exploiting public interest in haunted attractions. Though it didn’t enjoy the same wide theatrical release as the similarly-themed Hell Fest, Haunt is by far the better slasher. Yes, its premise and setting have been done. Nonetheless, Haunt injects some fresh creepiness into the premise. What you get here are good production values alongside an indie horror vibe. It’s gruesome while still putting an emphasis on tension over cheap jump scares. Best of all, Haunt stands up to multiple viewings.
37 – Maniac (2012)
Either the original 1980 Grindhouse house cult classic Maniac or its 2012 remake deserve a spot on this list. Both versions follow the same story – a disturbed and psychosexually disturbed man hunts and scalps women at night. While the original was a grimy, sleazy exploitation flick, the remake hedged closer to art-house horror with slick production values. Elijah Wood represents a significant upgrade over Joe Spinell. And director Franck Khalfoun’s (P2) decision to film the entire movie from a POV perspective subverts the misogynistic violence by putting the audience in the killer’s shoes. It’s hard to imagine anyone outdoing Tom Savini’s original FX work. Fortunately, Maniac is equally as disturbing and graphic as its predecessor.
36 – Alice Sweet Alice (1976)
A hidden gem from 1976, Alice Sweet Alice quietly contributed to the slasher’s evolution. Alternatively titled Communion and Holy Terror, the 70’s thriller famously introduced a young Brooke Shields to movie fans. Perhaps Alice Sweet Alice is too subdued for modern audiences – more emphasis is placed on the mystery than the deaths. There’s also an interesting subtext here with Alice Sweet Alice critically dissecting the Catholic Church’s waning influence in Western society. The religious thriller also quietly bridged a gap between 70’s and 80’s horror styles. To a lesser extent then a movie like Halloween, Alice Sweet Alice paved the way for Friday the 13th and the imitators it spawned.
35 – Sleepaway Camp (1983)
On one hand, Sleepaway Camp is an unremarkable slasher movie. For much of its runtime, it feels likes yet another ‘don’t go in the woods’ camping horror movie with more tepid kills. However, as the movie progresses, the tone grows increasingly nasty. Ultimately, it’s the twist ending that defines Sleepaway Camp. Though its gender-bending finale wouldn’t fly today, it remains one of the more disturbing finales in horror history. And for that reason alone, it earns a spot on this list.
34 – The Final Girls (2015)
Horror and comedy are tough genres to mix. And The Final Girls faced the added challenge of finding a new way of subverting slasher conventions. Both a spoof and homage to slashers, The Final Girls puts the daughter of a legendary ‘Scream Queen’ in one of her mother’s classic movies, Camp Bloodbath. In addition to a stellar cast, The Final Girls almost perfectly balances gross-out horror with some hilarious slasher references. Most importantly, our Number 32 entry on the list remembers that audiences invest more in a movie when they care about its characters.
33 – Final Destination (2000)
Slasher movies have endured in part because filmmakers have found clever ways to re-imagine the basic tropes of the subgenre. Among the more clever entries on this list, Final Destination positions ‘Death’ itself as the killer in this pseudo-slasher. When a teen experiences a vision of a horrific plane explosion spares his life and his classmates, Death stalks the survivors one-by-one in the order in which they were intended to die. Boating some wonderfully inventive death scenes and a cast of up-and-coming stars, Final Destination kickstarted a lucrative franchise.
32 – Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Equal parts exploitation movie, equal parts slasher, Silent Night, Deadly Night earns its spot on the list just by virtue of the controversy surrounding it. After all, this was the slasher movie that prompted calls for bans due to it featuring a killer Santa Claus. Like a lot of slasher movies from the late 70s and early 80s, Silent Night Deadly Night boasts a convoluted Freudian backstory for its psychosexual killer. But what stands out are the brutal death scenes – now fully restored on Blu-ray editions – boasting some impressive practical effects. This is a grimy exploitation flick that’s earned its cult status.
31 – Bay of Blood (1971)
Acclaimed Italian horror director Mario Bava, along with Dario Argento, is often credited with giving birth to the American slasher film. His 1971 giallo thriller, A Bay of Blood, alternately known as Twitch of the Death Nerve or Carnage, is frequently cited as directly influencing Friday the 13th. It never reaches the heights of Suspiria, Deep Red, or Blood and Black Lace. And the plot is more convoluted than most gialli. With its rotating roster of killers and schemers, A Bay of Blood often functions more like a murder and special effects highlight reel than a cohesive film. Nonetheless, Bava’s flair and style are undeniable and its fingerprints are clearly all over Friday the 13th.