“No blood, no nothing, you’re just taken like a bag of meat and dragged off into some dark place to meet an unknown nightmarish fate.”
Hello there! It’s such a nice day outside, why not spend some time huddled in the dark, fearful of a stalking malevolent fiend hell-bent on ripping you apart? On that note, here are my top five movie slasher monsters!
I picked this list based on different tones and how a movie feels, and these movies always feel like they take place in the summer. Who doesn’t like summer vacation! Yeah, let’s all head down to the lake and..
Jason, deformed child, turned psychotic killer, turned zombie, turned nano-bot (the movies really went out there, like to space!) is the master of the jump scare and the king of “who cares, you’re dead” kind of murder with just so much property damage. When you watch one of these movies, you’re here for the top-notch death scenes and gore. The amazing practical effects and creative kills keep the franchise fresh and innovative, far above other “killer kills people in the woods” sorts of movies. The Friday the 13th series stands tall in a field of imitators and still manages to shine, even if on a shoestring budget. Jason is brutal, effective, stalks when he feels like it, but is quick to kill you if you’re in the way or just nearby by crushing your skull with a belt or shoving your face into the side of an RV.
“In space, no one can hear you scream,” and scream you shall when the xenomorph from Alien climbs along the ceiling silently and punches the back of your skull out with its proboscis. While the Alien series started back in 1979, the biggest mystery around this beast was its changing forms. Sure, other monsters might get new weapons, but the xenomorph gets new biology and is the “Perfect organism… a survivor, unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality”. Most scary of all is it is just so damn… well… alien.
The slasher cred for the xenomorph is especially apparent in 1979’s Alien which is essentially a slasher movie in space. I feel that we know too much about the Alien now, but here it starts as an egg, then a parasite spider attached right to the face. Surprise, it has acid blood so “we don’t dare kill it” then it bursts out of its host as a little crawling cutie, only to abduct you as a giant version looking less cute, but still wanting a hug. Who knows what it could or probably will turn into next! No blood, no nothing, you’re just taken like a bag of meat and dragged off into some dark place to meet an unknown nightmarish fate.
Michael is a different sort of slasher. He doesn’t have a plan, or a face, or a motive really, but I like what he represents. In the movies a lot of time is spent trying to analyze Michael in a psychological context, and what is interesting is that this never works. Trying to understand Michael is borderline futile; he’s not evil, he’s insane and broken and beyond reason. But it’s easier to label him as evil, and that’s what the characters in the movie do.
He’s not a supernatural horror or some sort of monster from space, he’s a broken person and the movie is about how a family deals with that scenario, or even just survives it. I like the subtext here, even if it feels unintentional, but Michael is a wonderful slasher; the monster you know because he was at your family reunion.
With themes of isolation, paranoia, and body horror, “The Thing” is an outstanding movie. A shapeshifting monster that can mimic anyone, or anything, and can live in and replicate its victims means you can’t be alone. You can’t chop it up because it will spout legs or extra hands or tentacles or who knows what and just run off. It can survive freezing, can infect you by feeding itself to you, and if it escapes, will consume the world. I mean, jeez at least with Jason, just don’t go camping at Crystal Lake or leave his machete alone if you happen upon one in the woods.
The Thing, we never know its true form, if it has one, we never know who is or isn’t a Thing and when. Eventually people reach a breaking point and “Nobody trusts each other”, combine that with an insidious horror, you’ve got a recipe for an excellent slasher to stalk you through the snow before taking you over from the inside out.
What could be scarier than a slasher who kills you in your sleep? Freddy Kruger is a demonic fiend that knows your fears and kills you in irreverent and hilariously sadistic ways. Granted he can only kill you in your sleep, but what options do you have? You could never sleep again and go crazy or die from a lack of sleep, or go to sleep and die anyway? Unlike the previous two monsters on this list, Freddy draws out your death, taking his time, knowing that sooner or later it’s light out. What I feel is best is that at a certain point, you stay up long enough that you don’t even know it is a dream at all until the nightmare becomes lethally real.
I tip my hat (in this case, a dirty fedora) to Robert England who played Freddy in all the movies, aside from the remake. England grew with the character, taking Freddy from a sadistic murderer to a wise cracking ghoul with a smile to die for. Since the kills usually take place in dreams, there is a wide variety of both humor and creativity, like here with Freddy doing a Wizard of Oz parody, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little soul too!” I like this bit of silly in a monster; Freddy is a sadist, and he loves it.
For more slasher movie madness, check out Captain Chris's "Starter Guide: Friday the 13th".