Before the advent of “torture porn,” slasher movies were generally considered the lowest rung on the horror ladder. There are plenty of die-hard genre fans who are quick to blurt “…but I’m not into slashers!” when speaking of their love of scary movies. But not me: I love ’em, and I always have. Sometimes they’re good for a genuine scare (Halloween, My Bloody Valentine). Sometimes they’re good for a laugh (Slaughter High). And sometimes they’re just plain awesome for featuring the most ridiculous, ludicrous and fabulous death sequences you’ll ever see. As you probably know, Mr. Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame can fill a “creative kills” list all by himself. But he’s by no means the only slasher movie killer who thinks outside the box when offing horny teens. The usual “knife, knife; stab, stab” shenanigans are way too milquetoast for the wackadoos in these horror flicks.
Barb (Margot Kidder), the foul-mouthed boozehound of ill-fated Pi Kappa Sigma sorority, is killed with a crystal unicorn she displays next to her bed. What else is there to say about that besides “killed with a crystal unicorn”?
After summer-camp caretaker Cropsy suffers disfiguring burns, thanks to a prank gone wicked awry, he vows revenge on all campers for all eternity, amen. And he really, really means it. Cropsy turns his giant hedge trimmin’ scissors against kids with abandon, most notably in The Burning‘s infamous “raft sequence,” in which he quickly takes care of… well, a raft full of kids all at once. This brutal scene runs counter to the genre’s tendency towards one-by-one “stalk and slash,” and earned the movie a nice, big “You’re banned!” from the U.K.
OK, this movie is a bit of a chore to sit through, despite the fact that it was made in 1981– a prime year of the slasher era — and features a roller-skating party. The fact is, it goes on and on and on until you’re sure it must be six or seven hours long instead of 96 minutes. But believe me, it’s worth enduring the tedium for the moment when the killer busts out the greatest weapon in the history of horror movies: The football with a sword attached. Yes, you read that right: A football with a sword attached. It makes me so happy just to type those words; playing catch has never been so murderiffic!
Happy Birthday to Me
This serviceable slasher finds someone killing off the smarmy eggheads who smugly call themselves “The Top Tenners” in a variety of dreadful ways, including cramming a shish-kabob skewer into one unlucky fellow’s gaping maw. The image is so outrageous that it graced the movie’s poster: Meat is murder, indeed!
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child
When murdered child-murderer Freddy Krueger made his debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, he was literally the stuff of nightmares. He kept to the shadows, flaunted that razor-fingered glove and was flat-out terrifying. In sequels, however, poor Freddy lost his way: His threats became jokes, he employed his fancy glove with less frequency and started using his “dream master” abilities to morph into stuff. Like a motorcycle. Yes, in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5, Freddy turns into a murderous motorcycle, a horrible idea that somehow defies the rules of logic, space and time to become a horribly awesome idea.
Pieces is hands down the best bad slasher movie you’ll ever see. From the acting to the dialogue to the nonsensical murders, it’s one gloriously horrendous movie — and the world is a better place because of it. While each death sequence is like a little treasure, the best comes very early on and the killer is nowhere to be found: A propos of nothing at all, a girl skateboards into a giant mirror, essentially committing accidental suicide. Believe me, this isn’t the only time Pieces will leave you simultaneously scratching your head and howling with joy.
This slasher is like a little slice of ’80s heaven, replete with leotards, leg warmers and former members of G.L.O.W. — that’s the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling to the uninitiated. As a horror movie, this tale of a masked (and caped!) psycho murdering inept dancers in a run-down theater is an absolute failure. But that doesn’t mean it’s a total waste of time: There’s nothing quite like seeing a retired female wrestler (“Americana,” to be exact) throw a high-heeled shoe so hard that it sticks in the forehead of said psycho. Go G.L.O.W.!
Though perhaps most notorious for its shocker of an ending, Sleepaway Camp also features several outrageous, if impractical, murder sequences. In one scene, the killer actually has bees do the dirty work by shaking their hive in a victim’s face; in another, camp bitch Judy has her curling iron used against her in ways Clairol surely never intended.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown
This little-seen slasher gem is based on the true story of a maniac who terrorized the small town of Texarkana in the 1940s, though I’m not sure whether or not the real-life killer actually used a trombone with a knife attached to dispatch one of his young victims. Yes, a trombone with a knife attached, an invention second only to Graduation Day‘s football with a sword attached for memorable perversity. I guess I’m a sucker for jury-rigged, MacGyver-style pointy weapons!
Some of the movies I’ve cited above, such as Black Christmas, are superior horror movies, both terrifying and well-crafted. Some aren’t. But in the end, who cares? Sometimes you just want to be entertained, and how can you not be entertained by an outrageous kill sequence involving, say, a high heel to the forehead or a curling iron to the no-no parts? And hey, who says slasher movies ain’t got class?
A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.Read More