Michael Meyers. Jason Vorhees. Freddy Krueger. These are all names I’m sure immediately bring to mind oversexed teens running for their lives directly into highly gory, and even more highly elaborate, deaths. But what about other names that deserve to be among those hallowed heavyweights of Halloween?
What about Matt Cordell? Angela Baker? Leslie Vernon? These are some truly demented fictional constructs on display and they deserve their time in the sun. Or I guess time in the dark. In their supermarket. Or cabin. Or carnival. Or whatever themed hell they decide to use as a staging ground for making the next class elections a bit thinner in the candidate department.
Alice Sweet Alice
Two years before Halloween showed us why we shouldn’t let screwed up kids from Illinois anywhere near the William Shatner mask section at the costume store, Alice Spages donned one of those really creepy looking disturbing masks and caused some trouble in Paterson, New Jersey. As slashers go, Alice Sweet Alice handles the mystery of the killer in a way that makes it almost a thriller. A thriller with a lot of blood that scares the crap out of you.
And hey, if it doesn’t scare you than obviously you’ve never been to Paterson.
When you think of tourist traps, what comes to mind? Poorly maintained amusement parks? The deepest hole in the ground in the entire county? Museums that are less a collection of important things and more the inside of an old ladies garage? A gaggle of skinny dipping teens being murdered and turned into possibly magic mannequins?
What? The last one? Really? Either you’ve seen this movie or should probably start taking your meds again.
It has an anti-authoritarian vibe, Bruce Campbell, and is called Maniac Cop. What more could you possibly want?
I would loved to have been involved in the writing meetings for this one. “Hey, so, people in masks doing a whole lot of slashing is pretty popular. What should our bad guy be?”
“Guy in an Owl mask.”
“Guy in an Owl mask.”
“You know what, screw it. Works for me. Get the wine.”
Evil Dead Trap
Since this is me writing a list about movies, you had to assume I was going to sneak a Japanese one on in here somewhere. Japan, while big into gore and violence, doesn’t really make many traditional slasher films. Evil Dead Trap is the exception. When a TV host asks viewers to send in Japan’s Funniest Home Movies and gets a disturbing snuff film, her and her camera crew start to get offed while investigating. This was Japanese Saw fifteen years before Saw came out, and is objectively better than at least twenty-one of the Saw movies.
If the last scene of Sleepaway Camp didn’t fuck you up, you haven’t seen it yet.
Behind the Mask
Slashers in general have hovered around “average at best” for a while now with very few standing out, but one that really did was Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I almost didn’t give it a chance because of how utterly sick I am of the found footage/documentary style, as most free thinking humans have, but was glad that I gave it a chance. Not only is it a good satirical deconstruction of common horror tropes, but it also turns into a hell of a slasher by the end.
Plus it stars somebody I’m fairly confident was Jim Carrey in a past life.
This is Dario Argento’s best film and thus is deserved of a spot on pretty much any list. If the phrase “Dario Argento’s best film” isn’t enough of an endorsement, you must not have majored in “Italian Horror Movies” like I did in college. At least that is what I think I majored in, I really didn’t pay much attention.
Blood and Black Lace
The common ancestor of the slasher film changes depending on the person you ask. Some will say Psycho is where the seed got planted, while others will make the argument for the aforementioned Dr. Phibes was the plant that grew from it. I personally think it really started with Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace. Not because of how stylistically awesome – and violently 1960s – it is, and not because Bava helped pave the road for Argento, Fulci, and the giallo movement in general. It is because the whole “bad guy stalks hot people for tenuous reasons” template started right here.
And let’s be honest, without that template this list would have been way shorter.