What makes a great movie slasher? Michael Myers prefers the strong silent-type role and a knife, while Freddy Krueger likes to crack wise and a bladed glove (which is technically a set of knives, but whatever). All slashers have to have a penchant for killing, scaring the shit out of viewers and a hatred of all things immoral — except murder, of course. When Myers appeared on the scene in 1979’s Halloween by John Carpenter, a slew of followers, imitators and innovators soon followed and still do to this day. Sure, everyone remembers the big baddies like Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and Michael, but what about Cropsy, Angela and Jerry? Where’s the love for those crazed lunatics with a penchant for murdering teenage fornicators and drug enthusiasts? Well, here it that love, folks. With Halloween right around the corner, here’s a list of forgotten slashers. Because if these movies have taught us anything, it’s never to forget about a crazed serial killer.
10) Driller Killer, Slumber Party Massacre 1-3
In most slasher franchises, the killer gets more powerful as the series continues, but few change quite as much as the driller killers in the Slumber Party Massacre flicks. The first one features an escaped mental patient who likes to kill with a drill, but the second one? Well, he’s a dream-hopping rockabilly dude with a guitar that would make B.C. Rich cringe with a giant drill on the end. Seems like somebody wanted to cash in on some of that Elm Street dough. The third movie follows a different killer with a penchant for bits and hole-making. While we like the human killers, there’s something magical about watching a completely ridiculous leather-clad man with Elvis hair spouting off quotes from rock songs while murdering co-eds. “I can’t get no satisfaction” has never sounded more sinister… or hilarious.
9) Maniac Cop
In addition to featuring a back-from-the-dead psycho cop slasher, the first Maniac Cop film boasts Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins in the cast. While the flicks may not have ever lived up to the potential of an unkillable slasher on a rampage in New York City, as he sticks mainly to boring side streets and alleys and avoids landmarks we really want to see a slasher go to town on like Times Square or Central Park. We’ll blame that on a lack of budget and fully support the Hollywood remake machine to stop churning out flat Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th embarrassments and give some money to a new Maniac Cop.
8) Jack Frost
How can you not like Jack Frost? It’s a weird, depraved piece of black humor horror with sled decapitations, anti-freeze squirtguns and the strangest — and grossest — use of a carrot in film history. The wise-cracking, mutant snowman flick who can manipulate water and all its forms was a bright spot of horror in the shitty ’90s and not to be confused with the cutesy Michael Keaton family flick from around that time, as we’re pretty sure that Shannon Elizabeth wasn’t banged to death in that one. Ignore the sequel, you’ll feel better about yourself.
7) Cropsy, The Burning
Cropsy — a creep who worked at a summer camp — gets what’s coming to him when a group of campers accidently torch his cabin. After unsuccessful attempts to heal him with skin grafts, Cropsy finds himself near another camp where he starts slicing and dicing a group of campers on a canoe trip using a giant pair of gardening sheers. Not one to paint himself into a corner, Cropsy finishes the film by brandishing a flame-thrower. Overall The Burning is a great little slasher flick from 1981 with an interesting — and ugly — killer and a group of campers including Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter that we actually like! An almost unheard of feat in any horror movie.
6) Angela, Sleepaway Camp 1-3
There are plenty of more dangerous and terrifying slashers out there than Angela from the Sleepaway Camp flicks, but she might be the most disturbing. See, as a kid, her parents and sibling were killed in a boating accident, so she went to live with her weirdo family members. The catch? Well, Angela was actually a boy but her man-aunt (don’t ask) already had a son and wanted a girl, so he/she raised Angela as a girl. After one of the creepiest final scenes in movie history the first film was followed by two more where Angela was played by Bruce Springsteen’s sister Pamela as well as a continuation in the 2000s with some of the original cast members. Having gone through a sex change in the mental institution, the now-female Angela set herself loose on the traditional teen sexhounds and drug users going so far as to kill literally everyone in a fairly full camp in the second flick. With an impressive body count and a longer stretch of killing time, Angela earns her spot in the Slasher Hall of Fame. Spoilers galore in the clip from the very end of the second movie.
5) The Miner, My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine came out in 1981 just as the slasher boom started and damn, it’s a great flick, especially as much of the action takes place in a freaking mine. Twenty years ago, a man named Harry Warden went nuts after being in the caved-in mine for weeks thanks to people wanting to get away to the Valentine’s Day dance. He went on a killing spree, warning the town never to celebrate the Hallmark holiday again. Now it seems like he’s returned in one of the coolest slasher costumes of all time: head to toe black mining gear and a mask that completely covers his face. Even the 3-D remake from a few years ago didn’t screw things up too bad and kept the look and claustrophobic feel of the original, plus it had eyes and whatnot flying at the screen.
4) Victor Crowley, Hatchet
One of the best horror movies to come along in the past decade, Hatchet just so happens to be an old school slasher movie with a modern cast that includes Dodge Ball‘s Joel David Moore and Buffy‘s Mercedes McNab along with horror icons like Robert Englund and Kane Hodder. Focusing on a swamp legend by the name of Victor Crowley, Hatchet finds a group of New Orleans tourists coming up against the living legend who brutally murders them with everything from his bare hands to a sand blaster. Hodder plays the killer with great flare, harkening back to his better turns as Jason. We hear the sequel’s pretty damn good too, but haven’t had a chance to see it, as it’s currently on the festival circuit.
3) Jerry Blake, The Stepfather 1-2
If you liked seeing Terry O’Quinn struggle with his sanity as Locke on Lost, you’re love The Stepfather flicks which he did in the late ’80s. O’Quinn plays Jerry Blake, a hard-nosed killer who’s M.O. Involves meting a nice lady with kids, becoming part of the family and then brutally murdering them when they don’t live up to his standards. The opening scene from the first movie and his later freakouts show just how crazy Blake is, that and all the innocent people he murders to keep his little family “happy.” We haven’t seen the remake or the O’Quinn-less third movie and have no plans to.
2) The Strangers
Another great horror film from the past few years, The Strangers features three masked sadists dubbed Pin-Up Girl, Man in the Mask and Dollface terrorizing a couple in an off-the-beaten path house. The trio don’t just want to kill the couple, they spend an entire night making them suffer in an orchestrated effort. We never get to see the faces of these mysterious slashers who each take a turn stabbing the couple, which makes them all the more mysterious as does the admission that the only reason they performed such terrible acts was because the couple was home.
1) Dr. Phibes, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rides Again
Long before scarred revenge seekers filled video rental stores and the term “slasher” was even coined, horror icon Vincent Price starred as the titular character in The Abominable Dr. Phibes and it’s sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again from the early ’70s. Hellbent on revenge, the brilliant mutilated Phibes devises a string of murders based around ancient traditions. In the first flick he kills eight people with everything from an ever-tightening frog mask to face-eating locusts. In the second he runs over to Egypt with his dead wife and tries bringing her back to life, but not before using all kinds of Egyptian iconography to defeat his sort of enemies.