Before people scream “Bullshit!” and cry foul, let’s first clear the air—no, Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre aren’t slasher movies. And, sorry, Norman Bates and Leatherface aren’t slasher movie killers.
Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre belong to a different subset of scary movies, ones in which some unlucky characters go to the wrong places at the wrong times and find themselves trapped inside a kind of hornet’s nest where the hornets have two legs and carve innocent folks up. Imagine if Jason Voorhees never left a ramshackle cabin in the woods, and all 12 (yes, 12!) Friday the 13th movies featured dumb kids tragically stumbling across his secluded domain. If that were the case, Voorhees wouldn’t be the most widely recognized slasher movie villain of all time—he’d be Norman Bates in a hockey mask.
The longstanding tradition of cinematic slashers—i.e., the Jason’s, Freddy’s, and Myers’ of the horror genre—aren’t confined to one central location. They’re always mobile, armed with a bladed weapon of some kind, and stalking nubile youngsters in the woods, or throughout suburban streets, or, in Freddy Krueger’s case, in their dreams. This week sees the debuts of two textbook examples: See No Evil 2, in which the WWE’s Kane returns as Jacob Goodnight and decimates a bunch of pretty faces inside a morgue, and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a Ryan Murphy-backed quasi-sequel of the 1976 cult classic fictionalization of the real-life 1946 Texarkana “Moonlight Murders.”
In both films, there’s a psycho killer on the loose, picking off an assortment of under-written, cardboard-like characters in elaborate ways. Some of those characters are, naturally, caught either having sex or in the middle of foreplay; one is killed by a trombone, and another is forcefully fed embalming fluid to the point where his veins turn blue. Their DNA traces back to the Jasons of old. Although neither See No Evil 2 nor The Town That Dreaded Sundown will ignite a mainstream slasher revival, they’re the closest modern filmmakers have come to emulating the great hack-and-slash flicks of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
And since it’s October, what better time than now to honor their superior predecessors? These are The 25 Best Slasher Movies. It’s about to get extremely f’n bloody.
Matt Barone is a Complex senior staff writer whose love of slasher flicks traces back to childhood nights watching these movies in his parents' bedroom (without them knowing). He tweets here.