Best Slasher Flicks of the 1980s

by: Larry Dwyer

 

So, after reviewing The Sleeper (a 2012 slasher flick set in 1981), I got the idea to come up with a list of my favorite 80’s slashers. Wikipedia defines a slasher film as “a type of crime film typically involving a psychopathic killer stalking and killing a sequence of victims in a graphically violent manner, often with a cutting tool such as a knife or axe”. That’s as fitting a definition as any but it also should be noted that they tend to take place at summer camps or sorority houses.
 
I’ve managed to whittle this list down to my 25 favorites (in no particular order). I’m sure you’ll notice a few glaring omissions which can mean only one of two things: A) I forgot about it or B) I didn’t like it. Go ahead and ask, I’ll tell you which one it is.


 

 

Friday the 13th Parts 1-4 (1980, 1981, 1982 & 1984) – Yes, I’m lumping parts one through four under one section here because they belong together. Some people say that part two was the last good part of this franchise and others celebrate the entire catalogue but I disagree. While part three didn’t really need to be in 3D, part four was a perfect ending to the series for me. I refuse to acknowledge that there were any more Friday the 13th movies after Corey Feldman (unjustly) murdered the young Mr. Vorhees.

 

 

Halloween 2 (1981) – Seriously…if you don’t love this movie, we can’t be friends. The biggest knock I hear on part 2 is that the characters weren’t developed as well as they were in the first part of this franchise. Well boo-hoo, why spend time developing secondary characters when, by this time, you know all that matters is Michael, Laurie and Dr. Loomis. In my opinion, if you watch parts 1&2 back-to-back, you have a perfect 3 hour and 5 minute movie.


 

Sleepaway Camp (1983) – This one is dedicated to my sister-in-law Katie since this is one of her favorites. It seems like summer camp was an easy place to get yourself killed in the 80’s, huh? Honestly one of the craziest endings of all time!  I don’t want to ruin it for anyone so if you’ve never seen it, go see it!

 

 

Madman (1982) – Summer camp again! Madman is one of my favorites and it should be one of yours too. Great effects and highly suspenseful; a real gem!

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me (1981) – Another one with a good twist at the end. Some nice creative kills plus it stars Mary Ingalls..I mean Melissa Sue Anderson..whatever. I liked Little House.

 

 

The Burning (1981) – Is that really George Costanza from Seinfeld? Why, yes it is and this is one of the best slashers of the 80’s (and it, of course, takes place at a summer camp). Way under-rated film with fantastic effects by Tom Savini.

 

 

House on Sorority Row (1983) – If summer camp was the easiest place to be murdered in the 80’s, then a sorority house must be a close second. HOSR is actually a much better film than a good portion of the slashers that were rolled out in the early 80’s. While it’s not as gory as I like, they actually take some time to set the story up. A remake was done which was largely ignored by me (as most remakes are).



Funhouse (1981) – Hey, it’s another deformed maniac movie! BUT, it’s a deformed maniac movie that involves kids who were dared to spend the night in a carnival (creepy) and it was directed by Tobe Hooper. Win!


 

My Bloody Valentine (1981) – If this list was in order, MBV would be very close to the top. Honestly one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve ever seen. It supposedly had almost ten minutes of gore cut from the original that has now been restored for the DVD edition. Unfortunately, it was remade as a 3D piece of shit a few years back.


 

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) – Is this a great movie? Not really…but it’s certainly worth a watch. I remember being intrigued the first time I saw the VHS cover in the horror section of my local video store. Santa’s arm sticking out of a chimney with an axe in his hand? Yes, please.


 

The Prowler (1981) – A soldier gets home from WWII only to find out that his girlfriend is now with another guy so he kills them both at the graduation dance. The town then suspends their graduation dances for 35 years and then decides that it’s safe to do them again. Wrong! Awesome effects again by Savini.


 

Slumber Party Massacre (1982) – Boobs and a cordless drill. What else could you possibly need to know?

 

 

Stage Fright (1987) – Probably my favorite Italian movie made by someone not named Argento or De Laurentis. Good story with some really funny moments. It’s definitely one to look out for if you’ve never seen it.

 

 

Mother’s Day (1980) – I saw this Troma gem at the drive-in with my parents and remember being really freaked out by the two redneck brothers. MD is a classic that was apparently ruined…I mean remade recently.

 

 

The Silent Scream (1980) – I picked up a bootleg VHS copy of this at a Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors in the early 90’s just because someone told me Lily Munster is in it. Really good, suspenseful slasher. Worth a watch.

 

 

Prom Night (1980) – One of three horror movies that Jamie Lee Curtis did in 1980 (the other two being The Fog and Terror Train). First rate story and top notch acting. Spawned a couple of awful sequels and a remake.

 

 

Just Before Dawn (1981) – Please…if you do one thing, see this movie. So under-rated and it still creeps me out.

 

 

Intruder (1989) – A slasher movie that takes place in a supermarket with cameos by Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and Ted Raimi? Yep. You need to see it.

 

 

Slaughterhouse (1987) – This is as cheesy, low-budget as it gets but I loved it. Slaughterhouse and its main characters, Lester and Buddy, are just plain fun and that’s what good B movies are about.

 

 

Maniac Cop (1988) – A deformed ex-cop starts killing some innocents. In no way the best movie in the world but it’s fun to see Bruce Campbell in a serious role without his “boom-stick”. Check it out.

 

 

Graduation Day (1981) – It’s a Troma movie. Linnea Quigley is in it. Need I say more?

 

 

April Fool’s Day (1986) – Winner! One of my all-time favorite movies! I remember my mother renting this one from our local video store because she was convinced that that was Ginny (Amy Steel) from Friday the 13th part 2 on the cover and my dad disagreed (she was right). I’m not going to go on about this movie other than to say it fucking rules…and not just because Biff from Back to the Future is in it!

 
Well there you have it, fellow gore-whores. I am sure that when you see that I’ve left out your favorite slasher, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I implore you to argue with me and call me crazy; after all, that’s what lists are for.
Larry Dwyer on Twitter
Larry Dwyer
Staff Writer at Horror News Network
Larry Dwyer has been writing for Horror News Network since 2012. Catch up with him on Twitter at @LarryDwyer and read his in-depth bio on our About Us page.
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