What’s the best slasher film of all time? What better way to find out by doing a bracket fight! 64 of the most notable horror films face off in a tournament-style bracket. The all-time classics you know face off against the underground fringe exploitation fare… who comes out on top? You pick!
As a companion to our recent tiered ranking of (over) 120 slasher films, this will allow you to settle the great debate… Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael vs. Chucky vs. Candyman vs. Leslie Vernon vs. Mick Taylor vs. Leatherface vs. well… you get the idea. There are so many iconic slasher killers that perhaps you can make the selection. Once again we are using Bracket Fights to create a fun exercise for our fans to play around with.
This is a head-to-head matchup of films, with films seeded from 1 to 16 in four quadrants. The seeding was determined by the Historical importance and influence of the film to the genre, the overall quality of the film, the scariness of the movie, and the originality of the story. In the end, though, you will get to decide whether the films will get to advance to be the champion.
Culling the list from the tiered results wasn’t easy. Repeating our definition of what makes a slasher film:
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.
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 Miseryat 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.
The 1 and 2 seeds are all instantly recognizable films, and are probably the ones you would most likely consider to be the top brands of the genre. No real surprises here.
The 3 and 4 seeds are all landmark slasher films, but they may not have the “sequel” pedigrees of the 1 and 2 seeds. Some of the most intense and disturbing horror films ever made, with Wolf Creek, High Tension, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Last House on the Left showing up on this seed line. Dario Argento’s first giallo classic, Tenebre, is here, as is the 1960 film that helped start the whole sub-genre Peeping Tom.
The 5 and 6 seeds feature a couple of grisly hard to watch foreign offerings (A L’Inetriuer and I Saw the Devil) and our first big reboot (Halloween )
7 and 8 seeds feature a couple of somewhat obscure doozies. Twitch of the Death Nerve (A.K.A. Bay of Blood) was hugely influential to Friday the 13th, and is one of the goriest movies of the ’70s. Also pushing boundaries is the controversial rape revenge flick I Spit on Your Grave.What Keeps You Alive sets a standard of how powerful an LGBT slasher can be. And for pure gory fun, it’s hard to beat Hatchet.
The back half of the bracket starts bringing in the better big franchise sequels. Plus, a Maniacal double dip, which version do you prefer? Here are the 9-10 seeds.
The 11 and 12 seeds are home to some very popular, but less original fare. Also here are the almost forgotten gems Alice Sweet Alice, and Dementia 13, Francis Coppola’s first movie.
The ’80s were the breeding ground for slasher films. These films will be familiar to those of us who spent much time in the horror section of the video rental stores. Solid slashers, but the best of all time? Doubtful.
And, the last group of films to get in are the 15-16 seeds, who will have to defeat the giants of the sub-genre to stake a claim as the best slasher movie of all time. These films may have been forgotten in time, or were too obscure to begin with, but each has their own cult following. There are many other films that could have made this list.
What snubs do you think should have made this list?
Were there any movies that you think were badly seeded?
What big upsets did you pick in your bracket?
And, most importantly… who’s your champion?
If you’re curious to know what other slasher films were in consideration, check out The Slasher Celebration Part 1, the Slasher Tiers. The movies that just missed the cut: Shocker, The Lawnmower Man, The New York Ripper, Scream 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and Pieces.