The 37 Best Slasher Movies of All Time

Masked killers, bladed weapons, summer camps, innocent teens, and tons and tons of blood. Slasher flicks are the ultimate thrill-ride. Unlike the twists and turns of so many modern scary flicks, slashers’ sinister beauty lies in their simplicity.

And in that simplicity lives a genre that has lasted decades and decades, and will certainly continue for decades more. Is there not something comforting in flipping on a horror movie where you may not know what exactly is going to happen, but you kind of know? We love Halloween (1978), and the entire Friday the 13thseries, and we fully know what’s coming. It doesn’t matter; it’s just fun. But in those familiar themes in old movies come the occasional twist; movies (included on the below list) like The Cabin in the Woods or The Final Girls bring a self-awareness and sense of humor that only works within a genre that has its own built in frame of reference. And again, it comes down to that sense of familiarity.

A slasher, seeking revenge, hunts down a group of young people in their nightmares. A family, desperate to maintain the status quo, hunts down a new member of the clan. A serial killer, inhabiting the body of a children’s doll, wants out. Slashers have one goal in mind: to kill. And we, as viewers, have another goal: to throw popcorn at the screen whenever our protagonists just can’t seem to do anything right. So join us as we survive some of the most terrifying horror flicks out there. Below, the 30 best slasher movies of all time, beginning with a classic:

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s masterpiece isn’t the OG slasher (that honor more commonly goes to Bob Clark’s Black Christmas or Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho), but you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s more influential and universally beloved. Jamie Lee Curtis is introduced to the world here as a babysitter named Laurie Strode who is (rightfully) suspicious about a certain looming figure…who just happens to be an escaped madman named Michael Myers. You probably know the rest, but if you somehow don’t…you’re in for a treat. And bonus points for the greatest theme song in horror movie history (composed, of course, by Mr. Carpenter himself).

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For some reason, Halloween and Scream seem to go together really perfectly (and this Variety conversation between stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Neve Campbell certainly helps with that). Just like Halloween, Wes Craven’s meta re-imagining of the slasher genre is an annual classic, a movie people flock to year after year. But the thing that makes Scream special is that while it’s not taking itself all that seriously, it still has some serious scares, some serious kills, and a bunch of characters that you just really, really like. Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are still playing these same roles 25 years later—and for good reason.

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Fear Street (2021)

Netflix didn’t just drop one Fear Street movie, but a whole damn trilogy of them in July 2021. The movies pay homage to some key styles of slasher film—one movie largely set in the ’90s and with Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer vibes, another in the ’80s channeling Friday the 13th, and the last set hundreds of years ago with the vibe of The VVitch—but still standalone and (mostly) succeed in telling a rich and well-done horror story. Think slasher meets Stranger Things for these. Great soundtracks throughout.

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Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy vs. Jason is far from a masterpiece of cinema, but what are you expecting? This early 2000s movie may not quite be there, but it should be considered a silly horror classic. Freddy Krueger—in Robert Englund’s final turn in the iconic role—is worried he’s being forgotten, so he brings Jason Voorhees (ever heard of him?) to Elm Street to wreak some havoc as he regains his own strength. The two eventually face off. Some teens get in the way. The movie lives up to its title! And it’s fun! It’s as 2003 a horror movie as there could possibly be, and with these two legendary horror villains at its center, you could do much, much worse.

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Freaky (2020)

Have you ever wanted to see a serial-killing Vince Vaughn switch bodies with a teenage girl? It’s probably never crossed your mind, but guess what: it’s really good. Freaky is a horror-spin on the various iterations of Freaky Friday, and it comes complete with some solid scares, good kills, and a lot of laughs.

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I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson went back to his teen slasher roots for the delightfully scary and fun slasher I Know What You Did Last Summer. This is not a movie you should take particularly seriously, but it’s very fun, has a decent mystery angle to it as well, and the super 90s cast—Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Phillippe—are really fun to watch and good in their respective roles.

If you love this movie and want more, perhaps consider checking out the brand new Amazon Prime Video series of the same name, re-imagining the story for a modern age.

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The Final Girls (2015)

The Final Girls is a fun meta-horror movie, where the protagonists of our story get sucked into a slasher horror movie in their own story. It’s a unique concept and one that doesn’t take long to be entranced by. Alexander Ludwig, who stars in the movie, thinks if the movie landed a few years later it would have been received way better.

“I just feel like if it came out now, when you have all these streamers, it would have had a different life,” he said in a Men’s Health interview. “But at the time everything was still kind of starting out, and they didn’t really have a place for it, which is too bad.”

Get on board! You can watch the movie right now.

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Sleepaway Camp (1983)

First and foremost: this movie is not good. I repeat: Sleepaway Camp is not good. But boy oh boy is it entertaining! This movie is completely batshit insane in every way, hitting all sorts of slasher genre tropes before an outrageous twist closes the movie out. My biggest recommendation here is to watch the movie as cold as possible, and then listen to the How Did This Get Made podcast episode discussing the movie. Lots of laughs, lots of fun.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Once you consider yourself a true fan of the Slasher horror genre, you should check out The Cabin in the Woods, which at first seems like just another entry in the genre but…very much is not. This is one of the most unique and fun horror films on the list. Another one you should go in as cold as possible. Features a young, pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, too, as an added bonus.

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Friday The 13th Part 3

Some sequels get a bad rap. But with Friday the 13th, as the movies get campier and campier…they sort of become more and more fun. We don’t have to talk about the brilliantly titled Jason Takes Manhattan or the outer space hijinx of Jason X right now, but we do want to recommend Part 3, which was the very first movie where Jason put on his iconic hockey goalie mask. A legend was born in his truest form here, and this goofy, campy, violent movie is an absolute blast. A ton of fun for any fan of the genre.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street

It was the horror flick of a generation that forced all of us to fear the one place we thought we’d always be safe: in our dreams. Freddy Kreuger, fedora and all, would go on to become one of horror’s greatest villains ever, forever influencing slasher flicks to come. Kruger’s mission was simple: to avenge his own death by seeking the deaths of those living on Elm Street. In dream world, he’s invincible. In the real world, he’s powerless. Therein lies the crux of both this film and the multiple sequels that followed.

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Few horror movies were as ambitious at the time as the Clive Barker-adapted story of Candyman, a murderous boogeyman stalking one of Chicago’s housing projects, waiting for his presence to be invoked with the simple, repeated calling of his name. A grad student launches on a mission to debunk his myth, only to come face-to-face with the consequences of her actions in a most violent, bloody manner. Don’t miss out on the Jordan Peele-adaptation coming in 2021, starring MH cover star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

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Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Another one that’s both an oldie and a goodie! The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (yes, for some reason its title is stylized differently from the newer films in the franchise) is disorienting in so many ways, and it works perfectly for its cast of normal-enough, unrecognizable young adults who are just on a trip to check some stuff out and wind up in a nightmare that most of them probably will never wake up from. Leatherface as the villain is, well, it’s a slasher classic for a reason. And by the end, you’ll feel just as fucked up as any of the on-screen victims.

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Child’s Play

Sure, vampires, clowns, and masked killers are scary—but what about a murderous, knife-wielding children’s toy? We have Child’s Play to thank for single-handedly fueling our pre-adolescent nightmares with the sentient Chucky doll, an evil counterpart to the likes of Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

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You’re Next

There are final girls, like Halloween’s Laurie Strode or A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Nancy Thompson, and then there are final girls like Erin from You’re Next, who make it their mission to not only survive, but to fight, strategize, and ultimately outsmart their masked killers. Erin’s invited to her boyfriend’s innocent-seeming family dinner in a house in a remote, snowy area, with the horror movie catch that several killers are stalking them from outside, with a bow-and-arrow as their weapons of choice. It’s violent, bloody, and an all-around good time watching Erin give the bad guys a run for their money.

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Ready or Not

This one is almost like an inverted slasher, as our heroine—played here by the excellent Samara Weaving—is all on her own, being hunted down by a group of out-of-control rich people (did we mention that the movie works perfectly when paired with Knives Out?). The movie is perfectly paced, and the plot will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Further proof that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett knocked this one out of the park? They’ve been hired to direct the upcoming Scream 5—the first movie in that storied franchise to not be helmed by horror legend Wes Craven, who died in 2015.

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Happy Death Day

So picture Groundhog Day, or Palm Springs, or Russian Doll, but with a murderous twist. Part slasher, part mystery, and all fun, Happy Death Day makes a star of its lead, Jessica Rothe, and features just enough thrills, chills, and scares to keep slasher purists happy. And did we mention its funny? Oh yes, it’s funny.

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“Do you want to play a game?” an innocent-seeming question that terrified so many characters within the Saw universe. The first Saw, by comparison to its sequels, was far less complicated and concerned with piling on twists, which is precisely why we think it stands as the best of the franchise. Two strangers wake up in a room in an abandoned warehouse, chained to the room. They must follow Jigsaw’s directions to survive, but soon realize their lives are connected in ways they hadn’t realized.

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This one was a big deal when it came out, and certainly pushed Eli Roth into the status of “horror filmmakers worth a damn” after his promising debut Cabin Fever. But where Hostel is best, really, is if you don’t know what’s coming. For the first 45 minutes, if you don’t know any better, the movie is basically a sibling to the similar but very funny Eurotrip. And then, well, it earns its place on this list. Don’t go for this one if you have a weak stomach. Seriously.

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Tucker & Dale vs Evil

A horror-comedy two-for-one, this movie features a pair of inadvertent villains. Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies, accidentally become terrifying antagonists to a group of students staying in a cabin in the remote woods. It’s hilarious, dark, and everything you need in a fun horror flick of the non-scary sort.

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This Jason Blum-produced flick turns several horror movies cliches—a woman, home alone, discovers she’s being stalked from outside her home by a masked killer—into a refreshingly innovative film. The fact that the film features a protagonist who is deaf adds a whole new terrifying element to an otherwise ordinary movie, as the audience learns of the slasher’s whereabouts well before she does. (And we’ll be hiding under our covers tonight because of it.)

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The Strangers

Perhaps no movie on this list left more questions in viewers’ minds than this. Who are the masked killers? Why do they kill in such bloody fashion? And why did they go after this exact couple? Turns out, we do know the answer to that last question: “Because they were home,” perhaps the most unsettling thing ever uttered in any horror movie to date. Be prepared for a bloody good time, but don’t expect any real resolution.

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The Hills Have Eyes

At the time of its release, the original 1977 Wes Craven-directed film was a minor success, perhaps shadowed by the releases of Halloween and Dawn of the Dead a year later. The 2006 reboot just as quietly entered theaters, but some critics applauded the movie’s ambition, taking the original to a whole other level in terms of action, violence, and gore. (The premise that several people who survived a nuclear blast have become disfigured cannibals in the aftermath is, in itself, a terrifying thought.) It’s not for the faint of heart, but that’s exactly why it’s on this list.

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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

High school’s hell, unless you’re popular, rich or beautiful, according to this slasher flick. Lucky for Mandy Lane, the whole school—mainly, the male student body—is obsessed with her. When a group of hormonal teens decide to trek to a remote cabin (where all good things happen), they realize they’re being stalked, and killed off one-by-one. Except, there’s a lot more to this story, and the origin of the slasher, than you might think.

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‘Tis the season of the spooky haunted house attraction, except, the actors in this particular house literally want to kill you. Be prepared for some severed limbs, violence, and all-around seasonal fun in this indie flick about the horrors of signing away your life via liability waivers.

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Scream 4

In case you’re new to Scream, or just under the age of 25, Scream 4 is an otherwise excellent entry-point into the iconic horror franchise. Gone are the days of Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox being chased by Ghostface (though all do make solid appearances in the reboot). Now, a whole new set of teens who now mythologize Ghostface as a murderous deity must face him in the flesh two decades later.

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Halloween (2018)

There have been many Halloween sequels, but the latest entry in the franchise—directed by David Gordon Green and co-written by Gordon Green and his buddy Danny McBride—makes the smart choice to serve as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. 40 years later, Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, now a grandmother, and her tale with Michael Myers continues. And this update fits perfectly in our present. A sequel, Halloween Kills, is on the way, and if its anywhere near as good as this first new installment, we. are. ready. –

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Friday the 13th Part 1

So the original Friday the 13th was kind of a Halloween rip off, but guess what? We simply do not care, because this movie created its own mythology centered on the haunting setting of Camp Crystal Lake, and a bunch of dumb, horny, teenagers who just do not know how to get out of their own way. Pair this one with Animal House for a very fun “random early-career Kevin Bacon role” double feature if you so like. But just don’t expect that super iconic franchise villain to show up just yet—at least, not how you most expect him.

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Happy Death Day 2U

Yes, we stan this franchise hard, if only because the sequel somehow managed to be as good (if not, better) than the already incredible original. Once again, we find our protagonist Tree forced to live out the same day over and over. (Boring, right? Bare with us.) This time, the franchise tip-toes into sci-fi territory, placing Tree into multiple dimensions. It’s a fun twist that forces her into making the ultimate decision by the movie’s end.

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Final Destination

What if the slasher never truly made its physical presence known? That’s the eery premise behind the Final Destination franchise (made up of five films, with a sixth on the way), where the true villain, Death, lurks behind every corner. The first is the best for so many reasons—the terrifying plane scene, the terrifying bathtub scene, the terrifying fire scene—you get the picture. A truly remarkable start to a wonderfully crafted franchise that never feels old or stale.

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When a Stranger Calls

Carol Kane stars in this spine-tingling flick about the dangers of pre-caller ID communication. When a babysitter starts receiving calls from a stranger, asking if the children are safe, she assumes it’s a practical joke. It becomes very clear that it is not a joke when she gets an urgent call from the police, who utter one of the most iconic lines in horror film history. (You should probably check behind your couch right about now.)

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Iconic for so many reasons, and for the purposes of this list, likely having birthed the slasher subgenre itself. An excellent entry into Hitchcock’s films, and one that might forever burn onto your brain. Perhaps not as scary as the other films on this list, but its influence on horror films to date won’t go unnoticed.

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Black Christmas

Forget holiday cheer—if you’re a cynic, like us, perhaps it’s time you take a dip into this terrifying tale of a sorority house slasher, wreaking havoc during the Christmas season. Be prepared for lots of jump-scares in this horror flick that would go on to influence the making of another seasonal classic: Halloween.

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Prom Night

Carrie meets Saturday Night Fever in yet another horror classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Sure, it didn’t quite have the flare or scares of Halloween, but it’s become a cult classic over the years, exploring one masked killer’s mission to hunt and murder a bunch of teenagers on the most important night of their adolescent lives.

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Deep Red

The 1975 Deep Red, directed by a pre-Suspiria Dario Argento, has been called one of the most cutting-edge horror cinematic masterpieces to date. (Both Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro have raved about the film.) There’s really no adequate way to explain this film other than this: a pianist witnesses a brutal murder taking place, and the movie only spirals from there.

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The House on Sorority Row

Perhaps not all that distinct from Black Christmas, The House on Sorority Row tends to fall more in line with your traditional slasher flick: A group of sorority sisters inadvertently murder their house mother, and are then stalked and murdered by an ominous figure in the aftermath. It’s good horror fun, but whatever you do, avoid the very bad 2009 reboot.

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This flick about the horrors of an endless video call (feel familiar?) falls somewhere between the supernatural subgenre and slashers. In any case, it’s a damn good one, following a group of teens stalked by an avatar who plays the ultimate series of games that end in bloody murder. (And for a follow-up, try Shudder’s Host, a paranormal iteration that’s just as excellent.)

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Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.

Josh Ocampo is the Senior Editor at Men’s Health.

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