Well, we skipped last year when we did our list of Christmas movies to ruin the holiday. Sure, we gave you ten in 2018 and ten in 2019 — as well as a Letterboxd list of seasonal sleaze — but let’s see what we can do this year.
1. Two Front Teeth: Clausferantu — a demonic vampire anti-Santa Claus — has unleashed zombie elves, demonic snowmen and an army of ninjas known as the Silent Nights. Look, if you don’t watch this, do you even have a heart?
2. Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D: The whole reason you should watch this anthology film is for the last segment, Visions of Sugar Plums. Two kids are left in the care of their grandmother, who has run out of her medicine and ends up singing Christmas carols about puking all over the place and killing Santa with a brick before she brines the cat. Then things get really weird.
3. Last Stop on the Night Train: Leave it to the Italian exploitation industry to make a Last House on the Left rip off into a Christmas story where two girls are victimized, murdered and forced into suicide while their parents attend a dinner party and speak on the violence of society, then come face to face with the idea of revenge. Also: Macha Méril and the score by Morricone are two gifts you won’t bring back.
4. Santa’s Christmas Elf Named Calvin: If you hate kids, then treat them to this slice of sheer hell, which features an elf who is so brutalized throughout this movie that even the narrator continually reminds us of how ugly he is. Barry Mahon, you are a menace and I love you for it.
5. I Come in Peace: I can’t tell you how strong the urge to say, “And you go in pieces!” is every time I hear the title of this movie. Look — we’d all be better people if we forgot our differences and got together to kill aliens. Be like Dolph Lundgren and do it. Keep the good holiday feels going with a double feature of director Craig R. Baxley’s other magnum opus, the Brian Bosworth battling bikers saga Stone Cold.
6. Legend of the Christmas Witch: I can hear you now: “This is a stupid kids film Sam and it’s obviously foreign and the dubbing…” and then I say, but look under the title. Regia di Michele Soavi. So shut up. Shut up and realize this is made by the same madman who showed up to be an extra in a Joe D’Amato movie because he had a motorcycle and ended up keeping Italian horror alive with movies like Cemetery Man and The Church. Buon Natale!
7. Prancer: The same director who made Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, John D. Hancock, made a movie that ends with either a reindeer leaping to its death or flying off to reunite Santa and Hancock left that up to you, the viewer. He also gave you Sam Elliott — for the ladies and the men too — and Rutanya Alda too.
8: To All a Good Night: Before the glut of slashers, there was this one, which has Harry Reems as a pilot and look out — David Hess leaving that final house on the opposite of the right and settling down in the director’s chair.
9. Santa Visits the Magic Land of Mother Goose: Santa is tacked on here, as he reads about Mother Goose and it’s so interesting he promptly passes out and sticks us with this movie, which is a spookshow Christmas stage play filmed with a single camera by Herschell Gordon Lewis! What!?!
10. Santa’s Summer House: David DeCoteau. Family Christmas movie. Chris Mitchum. A whole bunch of martial artists not doing any fighting, like Cynthia Rothrock playing Mrs. Claus. Consider this my service to any parents reading this. Now you can say, “If you kids don’t settle down, we’re all going to watch Santa’s Summer House as a family!” You’ll have little cherubs in no time.
Look, I know the world outside our TV screens isn’t all that fun, but at least we can watch movies. Thanks for reading the site all year and keeping me inspired. I wish you only the best of the season and a much better 2022 to come.
During the earliest days of the site, we put together a loose, in no particular order, Top Ten listing of “Ten Possession Movies that Aren’t The Exorcist.” We’ve since teased, on a few occasions, we’d do a list to honor the Italian and Spanish film industry’s next favorite horror film to copy: The Omen.
Well, it took the power of the Internet three years to compel us to finally make up the list. Feel free to share it on your social media and comment on your favorites, below.
1.The Tempter, aka The Antichrist (1974) — Okay, so the business model here is The Exorcist — with a dash of Rosemary’s Baby. Yes, this was made before The Omen, but this was also made under, and originally released as, The Antichrist, so there you go. Alberto de Martino (behind one of our favorite Giallos with Strange Shadows in an Empty Room) weaves a tale about a Mia Farrow-cum-Rosemary lookalike who, under a psychiatrist’s care, goes into past-life regression therapy and becomes possessed by a Spanish Inquisition ancestor. Yes, the ancestor is the feared Antichrist. Yes, the nudity and swearing is mind-numbing in is ferocity. Yes, this movie is out of control in its crazed ripoffery. And it only gets stranger with de Martino’s next ode to the Dark Prince.
2. Holocaust 2000, aka The Chosen (1977) — We still haven’t figured out how Stanley Donen convinced Kirk Douglas to star in Saturn 3, and here’s the three-time Oscar nominee starring in an Antichrist romp directed by Alberto de Martino, back for another bite of the Crucifix after giving us The Tempter. So what’s this Italian-British co-production all about? Well, it seems the dreaded beast of the book of Revelation . . . is actually a nuclear power plant built near a sacred cave in the Middle East by Kirk’s industrialist, Robert Caine. Oh, and as in Saturn 3, regardless of his age, Kirk’s a virile young buck shacking up with a woman half his age. Oh, and his son, the aptly named Angel Caine, turns out to be the Antichrist.
3. Fear No Evil (1981) — Sure this is a low-budget Omen rip, but this tale of a high school student who, upon turning 18, discovers he is the prophetized Anitchrist is oh, so good. In a pinch taking from Carrie: Andrew is a dorky, weirdo bookworm who spends his days as a bully punching bag. Before you know it: Andrew has paralyzed his mother, his dad is in the booby hatch, and his mortal enemy, Tony Idavino, spouts breasts. Yes, the baby Jesus is murdered — don’t worry — its during the town’s annual Passion Play. Then Andrew — looking more like an ’80s glam rocker than a demon — lays waste to the town with a zombie apocalypse. Yes. It is as awesome and strange as it sounds.
4. The Inquisition, aka Inquisición (1977) — Okay, so this is more about “witch hunting” than the rise of the Antichrist. However, unlike Michael Reeves’s Witchfinder General (1968), Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil (1970), and Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971), the sexually depravity and spiritual corruption of Witchfinder Bernard de Fossey (Paul Naschy, who writes, but also in his directing debut), actually conjures a reincarnation of Satan. And when Naschy conjures an “Antichrist,” rest assured that his Ol’ Scratch enjoys (plenty) of naked women and nipple-ripping.
5. The Visitor (1979) — Did you hear the one where Ovidio G. Assonitis (Tentacles) and Giulio Paradisi (who worked with Fellini on 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita!) decided to cash-in on The Omen with a cross between Chariots of the Gods meets Rosemary’s Baby? So goes this tale regarding the soul of a telekinetic young girl at the center of a war between God and the Devil. Franco Nero is a space god? Check. Sam Peckinpah — yes, the director of western classic The Wild Bunch — as an abortionist who removes one of the space babies? Check. John Huston — yes, the director of The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen — as an angel to stop Zathaar, aka Satan, the “bad alien” from succeeding? Check. Lance Henriksen (Near Dark, Aliens) as an ersatz Ted Turner media mogul who wants the power? It’s all there . . . and it just goes on and on . . . The Bad Seed meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Okay, if you say so. And we thought Jodorowsky’s El Topo was a chore to interpret.
6. Bloody Sect, aka Secta siniestra (1982) — Spain’s “Roger Corman,” Ignacio F. Iquino — in his only horror film — takes no chances with his take on the birth of the Antichrist as he clips scenes not only from The Omen, but Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, as well as The Shining, Suspiria, and Rabid, along with stylistic soupçons from Dario Argento, Joe D’Amato, Ruggero Deodato, Jess Franco, and Bruno Mattei. It’s a tale of a woman artificially inseminated with the sperm of Satan (!) by a fertility doctor. It’s also a tale that never lets up as it piles on the plot absurdities — refer to your favorite Mattei opus — amid the gore and the sleaze.
7. The Late Great Planet Earth (1978) — Narration by Orson Welles intersperses the biblical reenactments, as chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling talking-head academics babble to stock footage of war and starving children, then tell us about planetary alignments and supercomputers running Ronald Reagan through numerology algorithms to determine if he is the dreaded Antichrist. Nuff said, for we love you, Hal Lindsay: you frightened us kiddies unlike no other Spanish or Italian ripoff purveyor before or since.
8. Prince of Darkness (1987) — Basically, John Carpenter did a remake-retool of Hammer Studios’ Quartermass and the Pit (1967) for $3 million dollars. As the characters prattle about theoretical physics and atomic theory, we learn that a canister of green liquid discovered in an abandoned church is the essence of The Antichrist. Yeah (yawn), before you know it: we are back in Carpenter’s old 13th precinct haunts with another variation on Rio Bravo as we hear about theories that Jesus is actually an alien and the Catholic Church covered it up and the world will end in 1999. (For the record: I’m the “yawner”; Sam likey. We are still friends, canisters of green goop, be damned.)
9. God Told Me To (1976) — According to Larry Cohen (The Stuff): God is one of the most violent characters in literature. Take that insight, then concoct a police procedural drama about a cop mixed up in some ancient astronaut tomfoolery à la Chariots of the Gods as a series of killings sweeps New York City in which the perpetrators claim, before their own suicide, that “Gold told me to.” Of course, it’s not “God,” but Bernard Phillips, the Antichrist, who according to his mother, was a immaculately concepted aliens, you know, just like Jesus.
10. The Sect (1991) — Is there a real life, worldwide Satanic “army of evil” responsible for the Manson Family and Son of Sam murders? Well, Michele Soavi (Stage Fright, The Church) answered the call with this story about a German schoolteacher impregnated by a giant bird that opens a glowing, blue gateway to Hell in a basement that will unleash the Antichrist to Earth. And that’s the short version synopsis, which doesn’t even begin to describe this film’s crazed, biblical non non sequiturs.
Never say “ten” movies. Never.
11. Reborn (1981) — Okay, so we are cheating one more . . . and there’s no actual “exorcism” . . . but it’s all for the love of Bigas Luna. Mixing the erotic with the spiritual, it’s a religious fantasy piece that questions faith, explores Luna’s own Catholicism, and the mysteries of one’s acquiring healing powers. Then things go bonkers, more so, as Dennis Hooper shows up as the maniacal Rev. Tom Hartley — our “Antichrist” — an American televangelist-head of a racketeering revivalist church who wants to exploit a young woman’s abilities of “hearing” the Holy Ghost, for his own, greedy purposes.
12. Raging Angels (1995) — Okay, so we are cheating two . . . and this is actually a “Satanic Panic” flick about the Devil using rock music to control the world. Released in the ’90s but made during the end of the Hair Metal ’80s, Michael Paré stars as a religious rocker fronting an organization pushing for a one-world government. An aspiring rocker played by Sean Patrick Flanery of The Boondock Saints fame tries to stop the Rapture and the rise of the Antichrist. Hey, Christian metal band Holy Soldier shows up to belt out Ronnie James Dio-era Rainbow with “Gates of Babylon” . . . as you ponder the awful CGI of it all amid Shelly Winters and Diane Ladd doing what they can to battle the evil.
Honorable Mentions Roman Polanski’s pre-Exorcist/Omen game changer that is Rosemary’s Baby, Al Pacino’s tour de force as the Antichrist in The Devil’s Advocate, James Glickenhaus’s debut oddball, The Astrologer, aka Suicide Cult, and the Richard Matheson TV movie-penned The Stranger Within. Does The Godsend fit in here? It has a creepy devil kid, but it’s more sci-if . . . eh, why not? Can we toss William Girdler’s The Manitou — with it’s tale of a gigantic growth on a woman’s neck that ends up being the reincarnation of the Native American spirit Misquamacus? That’s short of “Antichristy,” right? Eh, The Next One with Keir Dullea and Adrienne Barbeau? Yeah, Keir may or may not be an alien washed up on a Greek island — and he may or not be Jesus Christ (or the Antichrist; been so long, I don’t recall, fully) — but that’s a sci-fi flick and not the least bit horror.
What’s your favorite? Did we miss it? Let us know in the comments, below.
About the (hyperlinked) Review Authors: Sam Panico is the founder, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, and editor-in-chief of B&S About Movies. You can visit him on Lettebox’d and Twitter. R.D Francis (who wrote this piece) is the grease bit scrubber, dumpster pad technician, and staff writer at B&S About Movies. You canvisit him on Facebook.
Somehow, for as much as I dislike Christmas, I find myself watching tons of holiday movies. Much like the fruitcake that no one wants to eat but me, I continually try and binge as many seasonal films as possible. Each year, I discover movies that boggle my mind and upset my sensibilities.
2019 is no different. As I enter the end of December with nothing but rage in my heart and a determination that I will have Dr. Phibes-like revenge on my enemies in 2020, I try and remember that this season is one of love and forgiveness, not stress and recrimination.
Here’s the list from last year, where I demanded that you scream “Horray for Santy Claus,” meet the Ice Cream Bunny, meet incestual Nazis for family dinner and battle both Satan’s henchman Patch and Kirk Cameron.
Now, one more year is here and again, I’ve decided to take ten holiday films and gift you with a list of Santa-themed cinema that will decimate nearly any family gathering. Want people to leave? Put one of these on.
1. Sint: The Nightmare of Santa Claus, as the poster above claims, is the kind of movie that will save you thousands of dollars from your kids. No child is ever going to put out milk and cookies or send Santa a letter again after this one. It’s truly horrifying and a movie that not enough people that post-holiday horror lists ever discuss.
2. Dial Code Santa Claus: Home Alone ripped this off yet didn’t take its menace and pure fear. All hail Shudder for finally sharing this movie with America this Christmas, as this is a holiday horror film that everyone should see.
3. Blood Beat: I’ve watched this movie more times than I’d like to admit to you and I fall in love with it more with every single viewing. It takes all the fear of the holidays at your significant other’s family’s home and boom — it adds a possessed samurai helmet and psychic powers and sex scenes that are also murder scenes and man, just watch it. It’s on Amazon Prime right now.
4. Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation: Pure drugs. This movie is for people that do LSD before they hang out with their extended family and then people discuss their behavior every Christmas thereafter. If you watch one movie where a bug is inserted inside someone’s special place this Yuletide, make it this one. This is available for free — with ads — on Vudu.
5. Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker: This movie is astounding. A human toy child, Mickey Rooney beating a child to death, toys that come alive and tear people to shreds…it’s everything you need to power through the last few hours of the season. You can watch this for free — with commercials — on Vudu.
6. J’ai rencontré le Père Noël: No moment in this movie makes sense or is based in the world that you know. It is 100% batshit insanity and everything you need for your holiday season. This might be my favorite non-horror holiday film, because, well, it’s pretty much a horror film without trying to be frightening. It’s on Tubi — feliz navidad!
8. Home for the Holidays: You know what makes my holidays bright? A made for TV movie. But not just any made for TV movie, but a proto slasher that sees three sisters — Freddie (Jessica Walter, Arrested Development), Joanna (Jill Haworth, The Brides of Dracula) and Christine (Sally Field, Steel Magnolias — menaced by a hooded killer. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating, you can’t go wrong with a John Llewellyn Moxey movie. You can watch this on Amazon Prime.
9. Santa’s Slay: If I say to you, “Bil Goldberg as an evil Santa,” you may run from this film. You shouldn’t. It’s so much better than it has any right to be. Bonus points for casting Dave Thomas in this movie!
10. Rare Exports: A Santa that wants to kill everything in its path and a quest to capture elves and send them to American malls? Yeah, Rare Exports isn’t like any other holiday horror you’ll watch this year. It will also teach you not to swear around Santa. You can check it out on Shudder or Amazon Prime.
Happy holidays, everyone. No matter what you celebrate, what movies you like and how much you care about this season, thanks for coming to our site. It’s a labor of love, one that some folks don’t understand. But thank you for supporting it. Here’s hoping you get some great movies under your tree and some fun movie themed stuff, too.
We originally ran this article in December 2017 to commemorate the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But here at B&S About Movies, Sam would much rather discuss the films that are inspired by, well, more like completely ripoff Star Wars. So, in commemoration of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker being released this week, it’s time for a redux of Sam’s insights of the ’80s clones of Star Wars.
The Humanoid: Jaws from James Bond! Ivan Rassimov as Darth Vader! A robot dog who pees on stormtroopers, wearing the costumes from Yor Hunter from the Future! It’s everything great about movies!
Message from Space: Vic Morrow and Sonny Chiba appear in what was, at the time, Japan’s most expensive film ever made. If you love space disco, well, you may want to call the day off work to enjoy this one.
The Black Hole: One of the darkest Disney movies ever — a haunted house in space that has the gateway to Hell inside, guarded by demonic robots!
Starcrash: Faith healer Marjoe Gortner, a young Hasselhoff, Caroline Munroe, Joe Spinell and a ton of stop motion rule my childhood.
Battle Beyond the Stars: The Magnificent Seven in space, featuring George Peppard, John Saxon and Sybil Danning? Is there any wonder this is one of my favorite movies of all time?
And don’t forget . . .
Star Pilot: Originally titled 2+5: Missione Hydra and released in 1966, this movie was re-released to Drive-Ins in 1977 under its new title to cash in on Star Wars.
The Last Starfighter: One of the first two movies (the other was Tron) to use extensive computer-generated imagery, with 3D-rendered models by Ron Cobb who also worked on Star Wars.
Space Mutiny: You have to see South Africa’s “Star Wars” to believe it. Cameron Mitchell! John Philip Law! Reb Brown! And it’s directed by Dave Winters of Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare fame. A must watch!
Flash Gordon: Sam J. Jones, from TV’s The Dating Game, going toe-to-toe with master thespians Max Von Sydow and Topol? Go, Flash, Go!
Galaxy of Terror: Okay, so this Roger Corman sci-fi romp is more of an Alien rip-off (see our list of those films) that shares sets with Corman’s other Alien rip, Forbidden World, about a host of our TV and horror movie favorites menaced, maimed, mutilated and molested on the planet Morgantus. Meanwhile, on the planet Xerxes, a mystical, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back-inspired dude, “The Planet Master,” with a glowing red ball of light for a head is controlling “the game” that controls Morganthus . . . or something.
So we hope you’ll join Sam as he shares his insane ramblings on these movies, some of his favorite films of all time! Sure, other people can debate midichlorians and why people have a certain color lightsabre. Who cares! It’s time to embrace the ripoff side of the force!
After everyone has had a chance to share their ten favorite slasher films, I’ve finally decided to take my turn. I’ve watched a couple hundred, according to our Letterboxd B&S About Slashers list, so I certainly have plenty to choose from. I should pretty much have entitled this “How Slasher Movies Ruined My Life,” as from high school when I was investigated as part of an occult task force due to my constant drawings of Leatherface and love of metal to even today, when my obsessive need to keep thinking about movies has professionally damaged my life, these movies are really important to me.
I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately and have used slasher movies as the lens through which I see myself, if that makes sense. Why do I keep watching these movies? What is the comfort that I find within them when life grows chaotic and upsetting?
I think it’s the fact that you know the rules and you know why you’re there to watch. There’s no ambiguity or even promise of artistic experience. Instead, you’re going to get a cathartic release of adrenaline. To quote Pieces, “It’s exactly what you think it is.”
But enough of my depressive rambling. Let’s get to the slash, stalk and kill.
1. The Prowler: For all the excesses of Tom Savini’s blood and chunks FX, this movie — as well as Maniac — go as far as possible without becoming a class in anatomy. Joseph Zito would also make Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which is pretty much the movie most non-slasher fans think of when they imagine Jason Vorhees. I’ve debated putting that movie on the list as well, but there are just so many to choose from.
2. Slumber Party Massacre II: I’ve really based my list on what movies would go best with a group of your friends, some beer, some pizza and probably some other substances. This is by no means a serious slasher, but it rewards you with everything you wanted and a lot that you didn’t — musical numbers, self-aware characters and a guitar drill.
3. Trick or Treat: I lived this movie. Fuck, I’m still living this movie. Every day, I feel like people laugh at my love of metal and horror movies and think that it makes me childish or unprofessional. Unfortunately, I have no Songs in the Key of Death to play backward and get my revenge. The bait is you, I say to myself every day.
4. Bad Dreams: You may have noticed that I’ve been trying to list movies that haven’t made it to many of the lists before. That’s because these are the ones that again — I’d ply you with beer and pizza — you would watch if you hung out with me. I fucking love this movie. I want more people to discover it. It’s got everything — dream death, cults that set themselves on fire, Richard Lynch — and it’s worth tracking down.
5. Stagefright: This is at the same time the smartest and dumbest slasher on the list and that’s exactly how I like it. The first time I watched this, I was shocked by just how gory and violent it is. It’s great to see a progeny of Argento who was a progeny of Bava who both gave birth to the slasher and the giallo go full on and make this movie, which is pretty much my perfect film.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: This movie is the biggest fuck you, which is why I love it so much. It also never stops, giving you a limitless buffet of blood and entrails. Every single scene is awash in gore and grossness. This is the six-pack of movies.
7. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2: Slashers where the villain wants people to have more sex are few. This would be one of them, a movie that blows away the original while having delirious and demented joy with every single frame.
8. The Town That Dreaded Sundown: I get it. The comedy parts don’t work. That said, there’s also a scene where the Phantom Killer murders someone with a fucking trombone. And if that doesn’t entertain you, get off my site, the internet and the planet.
9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: When people think of a slasher, this is the movie that they’re imagining. Throw in Crispin Glover dancing and a bald Corey and you have the best Friday there is.
10. Halloween 2: This is THE slasher in my book. Brutal. Uncompromising. Funny. Terrifying. Influenced by the giallo. And the end, when blood comes out of Michael’s eyes? I get emotional every single time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lana Revok is the curator of STARTS TODAY!, a collection of vintage movie newspaper advertisements which can be found on Twitter. Her ads have also been featured in DRIVE-IN ASYLUM, SCARY MONSTERS and TEEN MOVIE HELL.
Here are my top ten favorite slashers. It was hard to narrow it down to ten so I tried to stick to the late 1970’s/1980’s golden age of slashers to make my decisions a little easier.
10.) Memorial Valley Massacre (1989): A feral Willie Aames lookalike spends a long holiday weekend violently offing campers in what has got to be one of the most entertainingly bad films horror films ever made.
9.) Visiting Hours (1982): Michael Ironside gives one of his most chilling performances in what I consider to be the second best slasher film ever set in a hospital.
8.) Eyes of a Stranger (1981): I didn’t actually see this one until much later in life but boy, did it creep me the hell out! And top notch gore effects from Tom Savini to boot!
7.) He Knows You’re Alone (1980): What can I say? I’m a sucker for a severed head in a fish tank.
6.) When a Stranger Calls (1979)/ When a Stranger Calls Back (1993): Sure, the opening scenes are iconic but I find both films terrifying from beginning to end.
5.) Prom Night (1980): A Vaseline smeared nightmare of revenge fueled by the beautiful melancholic sounds of spooky disco music.
4.) Terror Train (1980): Love the boozy New Year’s Eve atmosphere and freaky masks.
3.) Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982): I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan in general but this installment is my favorite by far. It’s a genuinely scary film filled with memorable characters and death scenes. The last shot of Jason in the window traumatized me for life!
2.) My Bloody Valentine(1981): Speaking of memorable death scenes, the extended version of My Bloody Valentine features some of the most jaw dropping slasher effects ever! The kind of stuff that will make you say “OH MY GOD!!” out loud no matter how many times you’ve watched it. Plus it’s got a great story, great cast and a jammin’ theme song that will get stuck in your head forever. Just a really fun movie all around!
1.) Halloween (1978)/Halloween 2 (1981): There isn’t much left to say about these two underwear staining classics that hasn’t been said before but I will admit that I find Part 2 to be a little bit scarier than Part 1. #nucleartake
Gregg Harrington is a journalist, musician and podcaster. He co-hosts the 80s horror podcast Neon Brainiacswith filmmaker Ben Dietels, and sometimes performs in the bands Rabid Pigs and Pummeled. You can also find Neon Brainiacs on Twitter.
10. The Stepfather (1987):Having only seen this movie for the first time a couple years ago when covering it for Neon Brainiacs, I’m kind of disappointed I hadn’t seen it earlier in life. Despite being very freaked out its real-life horror (literally: it’s loosely based on John List), I really enjoy. Terry O’Quinn gives a hell of a performance, as does the always fantastic Jill Schoelen. It’s not very effects heavy, but you can tell the story kind of unravels in a way our killer stepfather probably didn’t anticipate, with a healthy body count in his wake. I still haven’t seen the two sequels that followed the original, but I wouldn’t doubt if Stepfather 2, which sees the return of O’Quinn, is just as tense and entertaining.
9. The Majorettes (1987): While Pittsburgh and its surrounding neighborhoods may be known as “Zombie Capital of the World”, largely due to George Romero’s cinematic contributions, the steel city has also been the setting for a few oddball slashers, including the 1987 giallo-inspired cut-em-up The Majorettes, penned by John Russo (co-creator of Night of the Living Dead) and directed by Bill Hinzman (the first ghoul to appear in Night). This one’s got it all: gore, nudity, a religious angle to the slayings, plenty of red herrings, and a litany of terrible Pittsburgh accents. Have you ever wanted to see a man get hit with a chair by someone wearing a Jack Lambert jersey for trying to grope a snake-handling stripper? How about a by-the-book slasher that houses a third act that largely resembles a Charles Bronson revenge flick? Russ Streiner as a priest with a mustache? The Majorettes has it all.
8. You’re Next (2011):To repeat what I said about The Stepfather, real-life horrors get under my skin, so home invasion really freaks me out. From the entire swath of ideas you can build upon for a horror movie, it strikes me as the most real scenario. So when you get a dysfunctional family together for a healthy dose of bickering and a gang of masked intruders start picking off each family member one by one, it really makes for a terrifying scene. The film also boasts a great collection of horror masterminds in cast and crew, including director Adam Wingard, actors Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Ti West and AJ Bowen.
7. The Burning(1981): What can be said about the effects prowess of Tom Savini that hasn’t been said by most of us already? The man is a legend in the horror game, and one of his crowning achievements is 1981’s The Burning. Telling the story of bullied and burned camp janitor Cropsey, Tony Maylam’s early slasher flick was heavily censored by the MPAA and cut down to gain an R rating. This is another one I wish I’d seen at a younger age instead of in my 30s, but nothing sticks out more in my mind than Fisher Stevens getting his fingers lopped off with garden shears. Well, maybe seeing Jason Alexander with hair is more alarming…
6. A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors(1987): As a kid, I was brought up on two things that really laid the foundation for the pop culture I would be into as a kid: horror movies and hair metal. My dad was a huge hair metal fan and was pretty well versed in the modern horror of that time, but his big interest as far as slashers went was Freddy Krueger. Now maybe the fact that Dokken had not one but two songs in Dream Warriors (the titular theme song as well as the ass-beater “Into The Fire”) was a determining factor in that, but we’ll never know. All I can tell you is this one has it all: peak Freddy one-liners, great special effects, a great soundtrack and score, and fantastic acting from the cast, including Patricia Arquette, Ken Sagoes, and the returning Heather Langenkamp. Not to mention it was also directed by Chuck Russell, who a year later would take The Blob and turn it into a gory monster movie that, in my eyes, far surpasses the original flick.
5. Child’s Play 2 (1990): Chucky is one of those slasher icons that even people who barely watch horror movies are familiar with in name and face. Our favorite killer doll has really slashed and hacked his way into the public consciousness, and one of the best stops along the way is Child’s Play 2. Following our pre-school protagonist Andy once again, now in the foster care system, we’re set on the roller coaster of Chucky tracking down Andy once again in an attempt to possess his body and exit the Good Guy doll he’s been trapped within. This one also boasts an impressive genre cast including Gerrit Graham (Phantom Of The Paradise, CHUD 2), Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf In London) and Grace Zabriskie (Galaxy Of Terror). This one enthralled me and terrified me as a kid all in one fell swoop; as I would watch it, I would cautiously look at the My Buddy doll that would usually be seated across the room and wonder if it would come alive and try to kill me.
4. Intruder(1989): When a horror fan is asked to name a film Sam Raimi worked on, usually Intruder isn’t the first thing out of their mouth. However, this 1989 supermarket slasher directed by Scott Spiegel is a wild thrill ride of dark moody lighting, gruesome effects, and over-the-top acting (in the best way possible). Producer Sam Raimi and his brother Ted appear as employees of our doomed market, as well as Evil Dead II’s Danny Hicks, Renee Estevez, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by the chin himself, Bruce Campbell. It’s an absolute blast that will have you laughing and gagging from one scene to the next.
3. Halloween (1978):I felt a bit vexed about which Halloween film to include on my list, as I’m a big fan of a good chunk of the franchise. The Michael Myers-less Season Of The Witch is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. But, as the saying goes, a true classic never goes out of style. John Carpenter’s 1978 kickoff Halloween really set the blueprint for the modern slasher. The final girl trope, the promiscuous teens being picked off one by one by the antagonist, the synthesizer-driven score… Carpenter really set the stage for a majority of horror films during the 1980’s. Iconic roles are delivered by Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, PJ Soles and Charles Cyphers, many of which are still ripped off to this day. Let’s not forget that the Halloween franchise, including the Rob Zombie-directed efforts, have spanned five decades. Five! How is that not impressive as hell?
2. Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985): Okay, look. I know you’re reading this and wondering why A New Beginning is the Friday The 13th film I chose to pick for this list. I get it. Much like Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, the franchise’s familiar face is missing. Kind of. But hear me out. Part V is a sleazy, bloody good time with a gigantic body count and enough nudity to appeal to most prepubescent horror fans. As for me, I caught this on TNT’s Monstervision more than any other Friday film up to that point, and it was always available at the video store on a Friday night. In hindsight I’ve pieced together that it was because this one is the least sought after sequel, but as it stands on its own, A New Beginning is a damn good slasher with some wild kills and a decent twist at the end.
1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre(1974): There’s a pretty damn good reason Tobe Hooper’s 1974 magnum opus The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been heralded as one of the best horror movies of all time. Its gritty, stomach-churning cinematography makes it feel legitimately dangerous to watch. Hooper shot the movie in such a way that makes it seem more like a documentary than a fantastical horror flick. The acting in it is terrifyingly convincing as well, with gigantic performances from final girl Marilyn Burns, the iconic Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, and the offputting nature of Edwin Neal as the hitchhiker. And if the patron saint of the drive-in, Joe Bob Briggs, claims it as his favorite movie, that’s a pretty damn good seal of approval. Even horror’s number one enemy of the 70s and 80s, Roger Ebert, praised the technical prowess and acting the film conveyed. That may be even more high praise than Mr. Briggs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Becca is the B in B&S About Movies and the love of my life. How many women do you think will put up with endless discussions of obscure 1970’s giallo and the emotional mood swings of a writer? Plus, she also has tattoos of the Anti-God from Prince of Darkness and Dr. Phibes! I lucked out. Here’s her list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Freese has been a staff writer for Videoscope Magazine since 1998. He also contributes to Drive-in Asylum. Slasher movies are some of his favorite movies. In fact, slasher movies are most of his favorite films. He probably enjoys slasher movies more than anyone should.
Whittling down the mountain of slasher films that I love into a “Top 10” favorites list was a daunting task of “Sophie’s Choice” proportion. I literally love hundreds of these dumb flicks. They are the films of my twisted youth, most of which I first saw on VHS and Beta tapes and cable until I was able to see them in theaters. My list is ten random favorites I don’t think any fan will feel too cheated by spending a little time with. They are presented in alphabetical order with an additional title for each one to make it a slash-tastic Halloween double feature.
Cheerleader Camp (1988): “Give me a K! Give me an I! Give me an L! Give me an L!”
Cheer squads converge on Camp Hurrah so the gals can shake their pom-poms and the guys can leer at them creepily. It’s the site of both the all-state cheerleading finals and the slashing grounds for a psycho who is chopping the pep-girls and boys into puddles of chunky teen chum. This one ladles on the gore but never takes itself so serious it doesn’t slow down for some good old fashioned teen jackassing and horndoggery. Pure 80’s slasher delight! Double bill it with The Majorettes (1987).
Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984): “…t’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…they were all dead!”
Father Christmas is the repeated target for a nut job in this scummy, greasy British slasher. Kate Briosky becomes connected to the killer and Inspector Harris is determined to keep her safe. The slayings are graphic with one concerning a urinal and a straight razor that always gives male viewers the heebee-jeebees. Sleazy good fun! I probably rented the Vestron Video VHS a half a dozen times back in the day. Double bill it with To All A Goodnight (1980).
The Final Terror (1983): “Without knowing, they have awakened an unknown force. Can anyone survive?”
Junior forest rangers and wayward girls head into the mountains for a weekend of what appears to be community service. Uppity bus driver/head geek Eggar taunts the junior rangers and basically gets on everybody’s bad side before disappearing. They find a cabin filled with stuff stolen from their camp and soon a wild woodland lunatic is hunting them. Fast moving and filled with great characters and dialog, it’s not considered a classic by most slasher scholars but it checks all the right boxes during its abbreviated running time. I still remember first seeing this on cable with friends, then seeking out the Vestron Video at the local vid shop. (Although these tapes were movie only, at the time that was enough. Vestron Video was the gold standard for VHS releases in the ‘80s and any flick you saw available on their label you knew you’d have a good time with it.) AKA Campsite Massacre. Double bill it with Madman (1982).
Girls Nite Out (1984): “The next time you go to a fancy dress party…check who’s going with you”
After the big homecoming basketball game (?), the team mascot goes on a murderous rampage, slicing coeds into taco filling with a homemade claw. An all night scavenger hunt keeps plenty of victims out and about. Anyone can die at any time and anyone can be the killer. Above average cast may confuse you into thinking this is a better movie than it is and includes Hal Holbrook, Julie Montgomery and Rutanya Alda. Some of the awkward soundtrack is provided by The Lovin’ Spoonful. This was one of the last theatrical releases from Sam Sherman’s Independent International Pictures. What’s not to love about this one? AKA The Scaremaker. Double bill it with Splatter University (1984).
The Midvale High track team is screwed once an unseen killer begins stalking them one-by-one, timing each death to sixty seconds on a stopwatch. This is a great teen hack ‘n slash whodunit with plenty of quirky characters, roller skating, disco music, big hair, gratuitous Vanna White, gratuitous Christopher George and a fairly sick wrap-up reminiscent of Psycho (1960). Well worth a watch. Double bill it with Fatal Games (1984).
House of Death (1982): “He wants your body…in pieces!”
Lily Carpenter and her friends party and fall prey to a madman with an axe to grind…in their heads! Completely brain dead and all but forgotten today, I still have a soft spot for these old slasher flicks I discovered on tape. Most fans saw it during its only home vid release on VHS via Video Gems in one of those glorious “big box” packages. Playmate Susan Kiger keeps her clothes on as Lily while her pals suffer gory extermination. Filled with bizarre characters and regional charm to spare. Directed by David Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. AKA Death Screams. Double bill it with Funeral Home (1980).
The Last Horror Film (1982): “The Cannes Film Festival. A cast of thousands, but only one killer.”
Cab driver Vinny dreams of making a horror film with scream queen Jana Bates. He travels to the Cannes Film Festival to stalk her while she promotes her new film Scream. (She was also in Stab!) People around her begin dying in glorious slasher fashion and Vinny always seems to be nearby. Most fans know the Joe Spinell/Caroline Munro slashfest Maniac (1980), but unfortunately, this follow up effort has gone mostly unseen. Among all the bloody shenanigans, Spinell makes time to share a joint with his real life mom on screen (!). AKA Fanatic. Double bill it with Fade to Black (1980).
Little Ed fatally wounds his mother in a shotgun cleaning mishap in an attempt to surprise his father for his birthday. (Suffice to say, Big Ed is surprised.) Years later, college aged Little Ed and his friends go to close down his dad’s coastal condo for Fall Break. Unknown to them, Big Ed is waiting to hunt them when they arrive. One of the best regional slashers of the era with plenty of loony characters and buckets of stomach churning gore. This was another Vestron Video VHS I rented repeatedly back in my youth. Double bill it with Sleepaway Camp (1983).
Silent Scream (1980): “Terror so sudden there is no time to scream.”
College students seek housing and a quartetof coeds find themselves rooming at the big, creepy Engels’ house on the hill. Mrs. Engels is a strange old bird and her geeky son Mason is more than a little bit off himself. Scotty tries to mind her own business, but that becomes increasingly more difficult between her flat-mates disappearing and the strange noises coming from the attic above. She soon finds herself in a decades’ old web of madness and murder. A solid shocker that is less a Halloween/Friday the 13th clone than one of the last “Sons of Psycho” that were still being produced for drive-ins at the time. Top notch cast and plenty of depraved creeps along the way. (I still remember the joy of finding a brand new, still sealed copy of the Media VHS in a “cut-out” bin at a Camelot Records at the mall in the early ‘90s.) Extra points to anyone who recognizes the Engels’ house as the Merrye house from Jack Hill’s Spider Baby (1964). Double bill it with The Unseen (1980).
Student Bodies(1981): “At last, the world’s first comedy horror movie.”
Prudish Toby abstains from sex while her friends hook up and die under the wrath of the unseen (but quite audible) killer, the Breather. This is a silly but fairly successful melding of slasher with comedy in an attempt to deliver an Airplane! (1980) type horror parody. It’s ridiculous and dumb as a sack of rocks but fans still quote it and it is the only film on my list that is instantly recognizable by quoting the simple line, “Horse-head bookends.” Oddly, the characters are no less obnoxious or asinine than characters in slasher flicks played straight. Remember, “Sex kills!” Double bill it with Wacko (1982).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Donald maintains the site Schlockmania and has contributed to Drive-In Asylum, Cinema Sewer, DVD Delirium 2 and All Movie Guide. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook. He considers the slasher film to be the comfort food of horror cinema and had a hard time paring his favorites list down to ten, hence the copious “honorable mentions” that follow…
Bay of Blood: The unspoken godfather of the slasher cycle, complete with murders later aped in the Friday the 13th series. Bava gives it Italian style and oddball humor that leavens the bloodshed.
Black Christmas: a crucial body count predecessor to Halloween but with a more elaborate murder-mystery style plot.Pioneering use of phone call tracing as a plot device in a slasher, a really unnerving psycho (those phone calls!) and a desolate ending.
Halloween: From score to killer to the performances of Curtis and Pleasance, everything about this film is iconic. I wish newer horror movie directors would study this film’s techniques. It’s a masterclass in how to stage suspense in the widescreen format.
The Toolbox Murders: The first 45 minutes is a pureblood slasher with a grim, sleazy edge and the second half is a psycho flick with a lovably bonkers performance from the surprise killer. Two for the price of one!
Prom Night: This is on the lighter end of the genre but benefits from clever scripting and a good motivation for the killer. Complain about the disco if you must (hint: you’re wrong) but the chase through abandoned school halls is one of the best setpieces in a slasher and the final killer reveal is almost DePalma-esque in its staging.
Happy Birthday to Me: The most wonderfully baroque/insane of the big slashers, with elaborate kills, a fun backstory for the killings that harkens back to ’60s Psycho knockoffs and a lovably wacko final set of reveals. The right blend of fun, lunacy and style. I bet William Castle loved this one.
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The Burning: This is the movie the first Friday the 13th should have been: wild Savini kills, slick rock video-style camera work, powerhouse opening and closing sequences and even early roles for Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter. The raft scene is one of the all-time slasher highlights.
My Bloody Valentine: The mining town setting and use of adult leads instead of teens lends this a grit and drama unique to the genre. The uncut version has some jaw-dropping kills, the mine-set finale is staged with panache and the killer reveal/final moments offer one of the genre’s best, creepiest closers. Great end credits song, too.
Night Warning (a.k.a. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker): The director of Beach Party made an impressive slasher with a jaw-dropping opening stunt, oedipal insanity, surprise police criticism and the progressive inclusion of a brave, likeable gay character. Susan Tyrell is a grand dame psycho here and almost matched by Bo Svenson!
The House on Sorority Row: DePalma protege Mark Rosman brings tons of style to this one and a clever plot that mixes in a dash of The Trouble With Harry plus a killer third act that kicks in some left-field twists, including medical experiment traumas and hallucination scenes.
Alone In the Dark: As much a dark satire of the quietly insane ’80s as it is a horror movie, with a killer cast and a great final scene.
Maniac (1980) and Nightmare (1981): More psycho movies than slashers but both have paint-the-walls setpieces and a sinister sleaze ambience that will leave you in need of a shower afterwards.
Eyes of a Stranger: Also more of a psycho movie than a slasher but the final 20 minutes are rousing stuff.
Visiting Hours: Breaks the rules in fascinating ways, like having a middle-aged heroine and surprise commentary on misogyny in the backstory of its killer.
Slumber Party Massacre: Starts as a classical slasher, complete with “male gaze” gratuitous nudity but mutates into something with oddball humor and a genuine feminist frisson during an ending where sisterhood takes down masculine rage.
Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives: I never understand when F13 fans don’t like this one. It’s got the best script of the series, legitimately funny humor, genuinely likeable characters and a cool pop-gothic atmosphere.