The 20 Best Slasher Movies (1970-2000), Ranked

The 20 Best Slasher Movies  
(1970-2000), Ranked
Top 20 Slasher Films (1970-2000)

If you're a fan of horror movies, then you know that the slasher genre is one of the most popular and enduring sub-genres out there. And while there have been plenty of great slasher movies released in the past two decades, there's something special about the classics that came before the turn of the millennium. In this article, we're going to take a look at some of the best slasher movies from the 1970s to 2000, and why they still hold up today.


Firstly, What Makes a Slasher Movie?

A true slasher movie has a few defining characteristics that separate it from other horror subgenres:

  1. Human Killer: The villain must be human (or formerly human) rather than an alien, monster, or supernatural entity. Their motivations are rooted in human evil and depravity.
  2. Body Count: A slasher requires multiple victims beyond just a single target or "final girl." The killer racks up a body count as they stalk their prey.
  3. More than Home Invasion: While home invasion films share similarities with slashers, they typically focus on suspense and tension with a single victim rather than creative kills across a group. A true slasher revels in the deaths themselves.

With these criteria in mind - a human killer, multiple victims, and a showcase of creative kills beyond just home invasion suspense - we can identify the core slasher film genre. Let's get on with the list!

20. Pieces (1982)

Director: Juan Piquer Simón

Main Cast:

  • Christopher George
  • Linda Day
  • Jack Taylor
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Pieces (1982)

Starting off our list is the cult classic "Pieces." This Spanish-Italian co-production tells the story of a campus killer who's on the loose, dismembering co-eds with a chainsaw. While the plot may sound familiar, "Pieces" stands out for its over-the-top gore and cheesy dialogue. It's a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's part of its charm.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Outrageously over-the-top gore and creative death scenes
  • Unintentionally hilarious dialogue and poor dubbing
  • Pokes fun at the slasher genre while delivering the goods

19. Maniac (1980)

Director: William Lustig

Main Cast:

  • Joe Spinell
  • Caroline Munro
  • Abigail Clayton
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Maniac (1980)

Next up is "Maniac," a gritty and disturbing film that follows a serial killer as he stalks and murders women in New York City. What sets "Maniac" apart from other slasher movies is its focus on the killer's perspective. The film is shot from the killer's point of view, making the audience feel like they're right there with him as he commits his heinous acts. It's a chilling and effective technique that adds to the movie's overall impact.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Disturbing portrayal of a mentally ill killer
  • Gritty, sleazy atmosphere of late 1970s New York
  • Spinell's intense, unsettling performance as the killer

18. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Director: Alfred Sole

Main Cast:

  • Linda Miller
  • Paula Sheppard
  • Niles McMaster
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Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

"Alice, Sweet Alice" is a lesser-known slasher movie, but it's definitely worth checking out. The film centres around a young girl named Alice, who becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders that occur during her sister's First Communion. With its eerie atmosphere and surprising twists, "Alice, Sweet Alice" is a movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Subverts slasher tropes with a young killer
  • Tense, suspenseful buildup of dread
  • Ambiguous ending leaves viewers guessing

17. Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Director: Tom McLoughlin

Main Cast:

  • Thom Mathews
  • Jennifer Cooke
  • David Kagen
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Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

No list of slasher movies would be complete without mentioning the "Friday the 13th" franchise, and "Jason Lives" is one of the best entries in the series. This movie sees the return of everyone's favorite hockey mask-wearing killer, Jason Voorhees, as he's resurrected by a lightning strike and goes on another rampage at Camp Crystal Lake. With its self-aware humour and creative kills, "Jason Lives" is a fun and entertaining ride.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Revived the Friday the 13th franchise with a renewed sense of fun
  • Features some of the series' most creative, memorable kills
  • Self-aware humor balances well with the horror

16. My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Director: George Mihalka

Main Cast:

  • Paul Kelman
  • Lori Hallier
  • Neil Affleck
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My Bloody Valentine (1981)

"My Bloody Valentine" is a Canadian slasher movie that's often overlooked, but it's a hidden gem that deserves more recognition. The film takes place in a small mining town, where a killer dressed in mining gear is picking off the townsfolk one by one. With its tense atmosphere and memorable death scenes, "My Bloody Valentine" is a movie that's sure to satisfy horror fans.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Creative kills involving mining equipment
  • Tense, claustrophobic setting of a small mining town
  • Shocking, nihilistic finale

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15. Torso (1973)

Director: Sergio Martino

Main Cast:

  • Suzy Kendall
  • Tina Aumont
  • Luc Merenda
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Torso (1973)

"Torso" is an Italian giallo film that's often classified as a slasher movie. The film follows a group of college students who are stalked and murdered by a mysterious killer while on a weekend getaway. With its stylish cinematography and suspenseful pacing, "Torso" is a movie that's worth seeking out.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • One of the earliest Italian giallo slasher films
  • Stylishly shot and stylistically influential
  • Shocking violence for its time

14. The Prowler (1981)

Director: Joseph Zito

Main Cast:

  • Vicky Dawson
  • Christopher Goutman
  • Lawrence Tierney
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The Prowler (1981)

"The Prowler" is another slasher movie that's often overlooked, but it's definitely worth checking out. The film takes place in a small town that's being terrorized by a World War II veteran who's gone on a killing spree. With its impressive special effects and creepy atmosphere, "The Prowler" is a movie that's sure to leave a lasting impression.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Underrated gem featuring gruesome practical effects
  • Palpable tension and atmosphere
  • Killer's haunting WWII backstory adds psychological depth

13. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Director: Robert Hiltzik

Main Cast:

  • Felissa Rose
  • Jonathan Tiersten
  • Karen Fields
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Sleepaway Camp (1983)

"Sleepaway Camp" is a slasher movie that's gained a cult following over the years, and for good reason. The film takes place at a summer camp, where a series of murders are committed by a mysterious killer. With its shocking twist ending and memorable characters, "Sleepaway Camp" is a movie that's not to be missed.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Features one of the most shockingly twisted endings in horror
  • Subverts slasher tropes with a young, unlikely killer
  • Campy yet surprisingly stylish and well-made

12. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Director: Chuck Russell

Main Cast:

  • Heather Langenkamp
  • Robert Englund
  • Craig Wasson
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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

The "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise is another staple of the slasher genre, and "Dream Warriors" (according to some) is one of the best entries in the series. This movie sees the return of Freddy Krueger, as he's haunting the dreams of a group of teenagers who are all being treated for their nightmares at a psychiatric hospital. With its imaginative dream sequences and standout performances, "Dream Warriors" is a movie that's sure to please horror fans.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Revived and reinvented the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise
  • Features some of Freddy's most creative and iconic kills
  • Perfectly balances horror and humour

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11. The Burning (1981)

Director: Tony Maylam

Main Cast:

  • Brian Matthews
  • Leah Ayres
  • Brian Backer
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The Burning (1981)

"The Burning" is a slasher movie that's often compared to "Friday the 13th," and for good reason. The film takes place at a summer camp, where a disfigured former camper is seeking revenge on the campers and counsellors who wronged him. With its impressive special effects and memorable kills, "The Burning" is a movie that's worth checking out.

The story is by Harvey Weinstein which in itself is almost reason to not feature this film (urgh!)

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • An underrated, influences-laden slasher classic
  • Grisly, memorable burn make-up effects
  • Features early roles for stars like Jason Alexander

10. Child's Play (1988)

Director: Tom Holland

Main Cast:

  • Catherine Hicks
  • Chris Sarandon
  • Alex Vincent
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Child's Play (1988)

"Child's Play" is a slasher movie that's a bit different from the others on this list, as it features a killer doll as the main antagonist. The film centers around a single mother who buys her son a doll for his birthday, unaware that it's possessed by the soul of a serial killer. With its mix of horror and dark comedy, "Child's Play" is a movie that's sure to entertain.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Put a fresh, darkly comedic spin on the slasher formula
  • Chucky is an iconic, personality-filled killer doll
  • Effectively blends scares and laughs

9. Candyman (1992)

Director: Bernard Rose

Main Cast:

  • Virginia Madsen
  • Tony Todd
  • Xander Berkeley
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Candyman (1992)

"Candyman" is a slasher movie that's based on a story by Clive Barker. The film centres around a graduate student who's researching urban legends, and becomes obsessed with the legend of the Candyman, a hook-handed killer who's said to appear if you say his name five times in front of a mirror. With its atmospheric setting and thought-provoking themes, "Candyman" is a movie that's worth watching. Say it 3 times, I dare you!

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • A cerebral, artfully crafted slasher with rich subtext
  • Tony Todd's mesmerizing performance as the title villain
  • Daring to have an intelligent, complex African-American lead

8. Black Christmas (1974)

Director: Bob Clark

Main Cast:

  • Olivia Hussey
  • Keir Dullea
  • Margot Kidder
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Black Christmas (1974)

"Black Christmas" is a Canadian slasher movie that's often cited as one of the first films in the genre. The film takes place during the Christmas season, as a group of sorority sisters are being stalked and murdered by a mysterious killer. With its tense atmosphere and innovative camera work, "Black Christmas" is a movie that's still influential today.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • An incredibly influential proto-slasher that inspired Halloween
  • Effectively builds suspense through obscene phone calls
  • Memorable performances and well-developed characters

7. Friday the 13th (1980)

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Main Cast:

  • Betsy Palmer
  • Adrienne King
  • Harry Crosby
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Friday the 13th (1980)

No list of slasher movies would be complete without mentioning the original "Friday the 13th." This movie set the template for the slasher genre, with its group of teenagers being picked off one by one by a mysterious killer at a summer camp. With its iconic score and memorable kills, "Friday the 13th" is a movie that's still worth watching today.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Kicked off one of the most iconic slasher franchises
  • Tom Savini's gruesome, Tom Savini-effects
  • Simple but effective summer camp setting

6. Opera (1987)

Director: Dario Argento

Main Cast:

  • Cristina Marsillach
  • Ian Charleson
  • Urbano Barberini
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Opera (1987)

"Opera" is an Italian giallo film that's often classified as a slasher movie. The film takes place at an opera house, where a young singer is being stalked by a mysterious killer who's forcing her to watch as he murders those around her. With its stylish direction and suspenseful pacing, "Opera" is a movie that's worth seeking out.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Quintessential work from the maestro of giallo, Dario Argento
  • Lush, stylish, and visually stunning bloodshed
  • Creative, operatic murder scenes

5. Dressed to Kill (1980)

Director: Brian De Palma

Main Cast:

  • Michael Caine
  • Angie Dickinson
  • Nancy Allen
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Dressed To Kill (1980)

"Dressed to Kill" is a slasher movie that's directed by Brian De Palma. The film centers around a high-class call girl who witnesses a murder, and becomes the target of the killer herself. With its Hitchcockian influences and memorable set pieces, "Dressed to Kill" is a movie that's sure to please horror fans.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • De Palma's Hitchcockian blend of mystery and graphic violence
  • Shocking, psychosexual slasher themes
  • The iconic razor terror of the elevator scene

4. Scream (1996)

Director: Wes Craven

Main Cast:

  • Neve Campbell
  • Courteney Cox
  • David Arquette
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Scream (1996)

"Scream" is a slasher movie that's often credited with revitalising the genre in the '90s. The film takes a self-aware approach to the slasher formula, with its characters being aware of the "rules" of horror movies. With its clever script and standout performances, "Scream" is a legend in the space.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Revitalized and reinvented the slasher genre with a fresh, meta approach
  • Strikes the perfect balance of scares and tongue-in-cheek humor
  • Clever deconstruction and commentary on horror tropes

3 (Tied). A Bay of Blood (1971)

Director: Mario Bava

Main Cast:

  • Claudine Auger
  • Luigi Pistilli
  • Claudio Camaso
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A Bay Of Blood (1971)

"A Bay of Blood" is an Italian giallo film that's often cited as an influence on the slasher genre. The film takes place at a seaside villa, where a group of people are being murdered one by one. With its creative kills and atmospheric setting, "A Bay of Blood" is a movie that's worth seeking out.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • An incredibly influential proto-slasher that inspired Friday the 13th
  • Gory, over-the-top kills before the slasher boom
  • Established many slasher tropes and archetypes

3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Main Cast:

  • Marilyn Burns
  • Paul A. Partain
  • Edwin Neal
  • Gunnar Hansen
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows a group of friends who encounter the deranged, cannibalistic Sawyer family, led by the flesh-mask wearing Leatherface, while exploring the backroads of rural Texas. Through its gritty realism and unrelenting tension, the film laid the groundwork for the slasher genre while creating an iconic horror villain family.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Introduced the Deranged Killer Family - The cannibal Sawyer family, led by the iconic Leatherface, was a new take on slasher villains being a terrifying collective rather than a single killer.

  • Gritty, Documentary-Style Realism - The film's raw, grainy aesthetic and naturalistic acting gave it an unsettling sense of realism unlike standard Hollywood horror films.

  • The Power of Suggestion Over Explicit Violence - With minimal on-screen gore, the film proved that suggestion and atmosphere could be more unnerving than over-the-top bloodshed.

  • Relentless, Uncompromising Horror - From the bone-chilling opening sequence to the grueling finale, the film never lets up in its barrage of dread and terror.


2. Halloween (1978)

Director: John Carpenter

Main Cast:

  • Donald Pleasence
  • Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Tony Moran
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Halloween (1978)

In a hotly contested top spot, falling just shy, we have "Halloween," which is often considered the granddaddy of all slasher movies. This movie introduced the world to Michael Myers, a masked killer who's stalking and murdering teenagers on Halloween night. With its iconic score and suspenseful pacing, "Halloween" is a movie that's still worth watching today.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • The quintessential slasher that pioneered and cemented the genre
  • John Carpenter's masterful direction and iconic musical score
  • Launched the "final girl" trope with Laurie Strode

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Director: Wes Craven

Main Cast:

  • Heather Langenkamp
  • Robert Englund
  • Johnny Depp
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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

And in top spot!

This could very well have been decided by personal preferences, but A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher movie that introduced the world to Freddy Krueger! A disfigured killer who stalks his victims in their dreams. With its imaginative premise and standout performances, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a movie that's still worth watching today and an absolute classic in the Slasher Horror genre.

Why It's a Great Slasher Film

  • Introduced the iconic, supernatural slasher villain Freddy Krueger
  • Wes Craven's imaginative, nightmare-based concept was a fresh twist on the genre
  • Inventive and memorable dream sequences and death scenes
  • Johnny Depp's standout early role as Glen
  • Launched one of the biggest horror franchises of the 1980s

There you have it, folks - a list of the best slasher movies from 1970-2000. While there have been plenty of great slasher movies released in the past two decades, there's something special about the classics that came before the turn of the millennium. Whether you're a fan of over-the-top gore, creative kills, or suspenseful pacing, there's something on this list for everyone. So grab some popcorn, turn off the lights, and get ready to relive some of the best slasher movies of all time.

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