5. Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Leslie Vernon seems like a likable young man. He has a fine appearance, good manners, and a good sense of humor. However, there’s something more to him. He is a passionate serial killer. And make no mistake, it’s not an easy job. Especially if you try to live up to your idols like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. Luckily if there are urgent questions, retired serial killer Eugene is still there, who lives nearby with his wife Jamie and always provides helpful tips. For to film his job, he invites some students but when he starts to kill, they become unsure of what they’re doing is right. This is probably one of the most unusual ones, it’s a mockumentary overall.
Perhaps most slasher fans did actually see it but it still deserves a bigger audience because no matter if you’re a fan of the genre or not, you probably have seen “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th”. This is a great homage to genre, it respects slasher while simultaneously makes fun of its genre conventions. In fact, it’s one of the strengths of the film that deconstructing a genre is not always negative. Surely there’s a bit of “Scream” influence and maybe underrated European film “Man Bites Dog” influence here as well but “Behind the Mask” manages to stand out on its own, as something original.
4. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
The plot centers on a group of popular high schoolers who’re all in love with the title character. They invite her to spend the weekend at a secluded ranch house, but then things turn bloody. One by one, they start to get killed. It’s understandable why the mainstream audiences didn’t necessarily have interest in this but if you’re a genre fan, you may want to check this one out. The movie is directed by Jonathan Levine who has some duds in his filmography but also great films like “50/50” and another original/entertaining horror genre pic “Warm Bodies”.
Levine pays homage to 70s grindhouse films but there’s a surprisingly rich Terrence Malick-like poetic elements also which makes the movie an unusual kind of slasher. Amber Heard is perfectly cast in the leading role and the most of the acting in the film are on satisfactory level. The final twist may be a bit divisive but its gory moments and great aesthetics do easily make up for the slasher fans. It’s also notable for treating its high school characters more than just random stock characters. Even there’s bit of a Richard Linklater influence to be found. Levin do actually care about catching the certain aspects of high school life well which is another thing that makes “Mandy Lane” a slightly smarter recent entry to the genre.
3. Amsterdamned (1988)
Another European entry in the list is coming from the Netherlands. It has a cool title, isn’t it? The film follows an investigator who tries to figure out who is behind the series of grisly murders that occurred in the murky canal of Amsterdam. His investigation leads him to a diving club where he falls in love with a woman whose therapist is also in love with her. At first our main guy thinks therapist is the killer but he soon realizes that he’s wrong.
This is almost unusually classy slasher where the killings are not similar to other entries of the genre but still delivers on body count. The cinematography is cool, the movie has rich elements of thriller and even action with a cool speedboat chase scene. Some of the elements may look dated but maybe it’s because that it’s not an American production or not coming from a country that has rich horror traditions like Italy have, the movie has a lot of interesting aspects into it that makes it different than your average slasher movie. Antagonist is uniquely different also which is important for a slasher film. Amsterdam setting is used to a great effect. The acting is bit uneven; there are some good moments and some moments that doesn’t fully work but it’s not a bothersome element. Important is, as a film, “Amsterdamned” surely does work.
2. Intruder (1989)
Jennifer Ross is a hypermarket clerk who is separated from her ex-boyfriend, Craig Peterson. One day, however, her boyfriend shows up and tries in vain to persuade her to start a new relationship. When he grabs her and starts threatening her, several men intervene. The following night, Craig wants to apologize, but gets into an argument with his rival Bill. In the following minutes, a serial killer appears and things go to the places you don’t expect it would.
They promoted this film with two cast members: Bruce Campbell and the great Sam Raimi. None of them have any major parts and it didn’t help the film to become much known anyway but it’s great to see them. It has an interesting cast in general; Renee Estevez of Sheen family is here! When the film goes over-the-top, you can sense the cast is actually having fun with the whole thing.
While it’s great to see some cool names in the cast, the movie is more than that. It’s one of the best slashers of its decade and would definitely please the most slasher fans because it brings its killings and genre conventions in such a creative and fresh way. The movie uses setting to its advantage, placing the action in a local grocery store about to close up shop for good. Some critics even thought there’s a capitalist critique among themes but what makes the film work for slasher fans is the blood. This whole movie is a bloodbath. Fine camera angles and a good twist also helps.
1. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
Small town in Deep South. Bubba is a gentle, mentally challenged man. He befriends with a little girl Marylee but townspeople don’t like it. When Marylee is mauled by a vicious dog and lies unconscious at a doctor’s office, postman Otis who particularly hates Bubba promptly assumes that he has murdered her even though Bubba did actually saved her life. Otis and three friends form a lynch mob and murder Bubba. When the town realizes that he was innocent, it’s too late already. You can imagine what happens next in the film but no, don’t think it’s some average revenge story or anything.
It’s more than that. The original intent was to make and release it as an independent film but suddenly CBS bought the rights and they didn’t even do much changes to the script. It shows that it was supposed to be a theatrical release first because there’s almost nothing that one could associate with the cheap television products of the era, In fact, some of the critics called it as the best TV film since Spielberg’s “Duel” at the time. No wonder it turned out to be one of the best horror films ever aired on television.
It’s not much gory, it doesn’t rely on blood to shock the audiences. Instead, it has such a strong, tense atmosphere that carefully takes you in it and leaves some parts to your imagination which can be truly terrifying. Creepy score also helps. It uses some of the southern gothic elements well and the acting is truly excellent for a film like this. Charles Durning particularly shines. Might not be the most “fun” movie to watch compared to the rest of the titles on the list but definitely the most haunting.