We are celebrating the influence of the slasher movie to the horror genre by ranking them in tiers! The sheer volume of knife-wielding psycho movies is almost overwhelming, but The Scariest Things has taken the time to accumulate as many mad slasher films as we could and compared them to each other. The cool thing? If you disagree, you can shuffle the deck and make your own choices!
Eric here! If you know anything about my personality from our podcast, you will know that I love rankings and ratings. The platform Tiermaker has given me a golden opportunity to categorize the slasher genre into ranked groupings. Why 120 films? Well, I picked as many horror movies as I’ve seen or recognized, and stopped, once I realized that I was just dragging across the bottom of the bilge.
Did I miss any? At 120 movies, I’m betting no. But, please alert me to any known CLASSICS, and I’ll be happy to include them in an update.
You can see the tier list below, but if you want to play around with it, and/or get a closer look at it, CLICK HERE.
Here is the definitive parameters for inclusion in the rankings:
- The killer is human. Or at least was human. The biggest stretch here was including Child’s Play, but this is undeniably a slasher film. I did not, however, include Puppetmaster, which are animated evil toys. Chucky is the soul of an evil person, trapped in a doll. Also, I did not include Jeepers Creepers because the creeper is more demon than human.
- The killer is a solo act, with a few exceptions. I included the hillbilly horror classics The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and Wrong Turn which feature families of degenerates. But otherwise, these are individuals. I did not include siege style home invasion movies like You’re Next, Green Room, or The Purge.
- I am not including tricks and traps or torture-porn movies, as I consider these to be a cousin to the slasher. The slasher is typically a stalker and is interested in killing and not toying with their prey (Audition being a notable exception.) Saw, Hostel, and the like are not included.
- All of the Fandom Slasher Tropes are in play here, and this plays into the rankings if the film is a trailblazer for the tropes. The slasher sub-genre is so trope heavy.
- Notable indicator tropes include: Cat Jump Scare, Cool Mask, Cruel and Unusual Death, Dark Secret, Death by Sex, Developing Doomed Characters, Don’t Go into the Woods, Final Girl, Maybe Magic Maybe Mundane, Menacing Stroll, Men are the Expendable Gender, Monster Misogyny, My Car Hates Me, Off With His Head, Red Shirt, Reduced Killer Difficulty, Shaggy Dog, Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome, Villain Based Franchise, and Wild Teen Party. (Whew! That’s a LOT!)
- The killer prefers to use a knife, axe, hook, pick, sickle, chainsaw, or drill. Up close and personal is the killer’s M.O. There have been serial killer shooters (Downrange comes to mind) but we’re sticking tot he traditional model of slasher.
- There should be more than one kill in the film. The idea is that the killer is on a killing rampage, and not to be messed with. I left The Shining and Misery at home, though some might make a case for those films. Also, Silence of the Lambs does not feel like a slasher movie to me, and you’d have a hard time convincing me otherwise. On the other hand, Psycho and Audition do have the feel of a slasher movie to me, and I will stick with that decision.
Tiermaker allows you to create different levels or tiers for ranking things. I have utilized the following levels:
S: The best of the best. These are the cornerstone movies of the sub-genre.
A: Superior Slasher Fare. These are the trend-setting horror movies. Powerful movies that are beloved, and are both critically well-received and beloved by horror fans.
B: Quality scary movies. Good concepts and (sometimes) good acting. These movies have solid stories, and transcend the been-there-done-that nature of the slasher film.
C: Solid horror fare. These movies might be a derivative or overly familiar, but remain entertaining and are a worthwhile watch. The better sequels of your warhorse franchises end up here.
D: Flawed movies. Often plagued with a tiny budget, terrible acting, and poor craftsmanship. These sometimes are the so-bad-they’re good movies. Sometimes these are movies that got overlooked but still have some merit. Cheap exploitation for the most part. Trashy cult favorites can still be found at this level.
F: Not Even Trying Hard. This is where your worn out sequels go. Also, where super-derivative or poorly executed tropes end up. Often times the lowest common denominator horror ends up here. Honestly, this would be a HUGE assortment of movies as most straight to video/streaming efforts from small studios go here.
My Judging Criteria:
- How Scary is the Movie? Pee your pants scary? How intense? Did you have to avert your eyes and/or scream during the film?
- How original was the film? Is it one that was hugely influential in the genre, and became a trendsetter? Does it have a reputation (for better or worse.) Does the movie have a fresh take we haven’t seen before?
- Are there memorable characters? Do you want to see more of them after the movie is done?
- Is there a moment in the movie that gets etched into your brain?
- Is it actually a well-made movie? Does it look good? Does the acting rise above the limitations of the genre?
- Is it FUN? Do you want to see the movie over and over again?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Slasher Celebration, where we will have another BRACKET FIGHT created.
Here is the ranking board. Again, if you want to play with it, click HERE. The earliest films on this list are Psycho and Peeping Tom (1960). The newest films are Skull: The Mask (2020) and Making Monsters (2019). Not all of the big slasher franchise films are here, but I did try and include the best and the worst of the famed franchises.
Hope you enjoyed this! If you enjoyed this, let me know, and I will create more tiered rankings of other sub-genre films.