Friday the 13th, Totally Killer, and the 35 best slasher horror movies to watch

Friday the 13th. Image Courtesy Paramount Pictures, Shudder
Friday the 13th. Image Courtesy Paramount Pictures, Shudder /

The horror genre has more sub-genres than nearly any other form of media, but the slasher genre has been one that has endured over the years, despite being frequently scorned for low budgets and formulaic plots. Despite being relatively predictable, viewers have continued to enjoy the dynamic of the killer and his victims for nearly 50 years.

Generally speaking, slasher horror movies feature a single killer who is hunting down victims, one by one, until he comes to a final conflict with the most sympathetic protagonist—the final girl. The formula makes for some amazing death scenes and a constantly-building source of tension as viewers wait for the next big kill.

While some slashers are too predictable, following boring moral codes, many subvert the rules to make interesting new points. At their core, they are stories of survival, hidden trauma, and the relationship between the killer and their victim, elements which audiences can easily connect to.

Whether you’re looking for a Halloween marathon or just want to explore the genre, we have the breakdown for you, featuring classic slashers, modern masterpieces, genre-bending slashers, and obscure options for the more devoted fans who are looking for something they haven’t seen before.

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(Photo by: Universal Studios Hollywood) /

The 35 best slasher horror movies

Psycho (1960)

Perhaps one of the best-known horror movies of all time, Psycho focuses on Marion Crane’s stay at the Bates Motel and the investigations it prompted. While some debate whether or not it should be considered a slasher film, it cannot be overstated how significant it was in the sub-genre moving forward.

  • Rated R; 1 hour and 49 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock Premium

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas has a familiar premise, following a group of sorority sisters who are being stalked and killed by a mysterious killer. While it has historically faced negative reviews, it is one of the first slasher movies and was particularly influential for suburban and home-invasion slashers.

  • Rated R; 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock Premium. With ads on Freevee, Tubi, and The Roku Channel

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The first of the traditional slasher canon, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a particularly grizzly slasher that includes cannibalism, dismemberment, and body horror. The film follows a group of friends being hunted down by a family of serial killers after getting stranded during a road trip.

  • Rated R; 1 hour and 23 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock, Shudder, and AMC+

Halloween (1978)

Halloween is perhaps the most iconic slasher film, seen as the perfection of the earlier films’ ideas. The movie follows Michael Meyers as he returns to town after 15 years to hunt and kill a series of babysitters, with a particular fixation on Laurie Strode.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Streaming on Shudder and AMC+

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th is responsible for many of the summer camp slashers that would come out in the next few decades, including American Horror Story‘s ninth season. The movie followed a group of teenagers hired to be counselors for Camp Crystal Lake, which had been closed after a tragedy in the 1950s.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

Friday the 13th: Part 2  (1981)

Perhaps the only slasher sequel to become more iconic than its original, Friday the 13th: Part 2 is mandatory viewing, officially introducing Jason Vorhees to the franchise. The film follows yet another group of teens being hunted around Camp Crystal Lake.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 27 minutes
  • Streaming on Max
Nightmare on Elm Street
(Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images) /

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

While there have been supernatural elements in slashers for a while, A Nightmare on Elm Street leaned into that trend heavily with the newest slasher villain, Freddy Krueger. A group of teenagers is brutally killed by Krueger, a killer who hunts his victims in their dreams.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

Child’s Play (1988)

Child’s Play further expands the slasher genre by introducing Chucky, a serial killer whose spirit was transferred into a child’s toy. Not only does this rely on the idea of a haunted doll, but it also adds a layer of horror with the idea that a toy, unlike a person, is unstoppable.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 27 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

Candyman (1992)

Candyman is one of the most nuanced classic slashers, introducing complex racial dynamics to the genre. The film follows a woman named Helen who is investigating the idea of the urban legend figure the “Candyman.” As she tries to disprove the legend, the figure itself appears to her to tell his story and strengthen his myth.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 39 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock Premium and AMC+

Scream (1996)

Scream is successful as both a slasher and a parody of the slasher genre, appearing on the scene when the horror genre was struggling to survive and innovate. The film follows the residents of Woodsboro, California as they try to survive a serial killer. The twist? The killer and the victims are horror fans, and they know the rules.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Streaming on Max and AMC+
Pearl movie
Pearl from Ti West, courtesy A24 | slasher horror movies /

5 modern slasher horror gems

Hatchet (2006)

Hatchet follows a group of tourists who have to survive the swamps of New Orleans, despite a killer who attempts to keep them away. While this is not the scariest slasher by far, it has a lot of fun moments that call back to the best of 80s horror.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 33 minutes
  • Streaming on Prime Video

You’re Next (2011)

You’re Next updates the slasher genre with a group of killers hunting down the members of a family in their own house. One of the best reveals is that Erin, the presumptive final girl, actually grew up in a survivalist compound which made her uniquely qualified to take down their assailants.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

It Follows (2014)

It Follows adds to the horror of a determined serial killer with the idea that the victims are implicated in their own and others’ deaths. The film follows Jay Height, who learns that she has become the most recent target of a supernatural killer that can only be delayed by passing on the curse to another through sexual intercourse.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 37 minutes
  • Streaming on Paramount+ and Showtime

X (2022)

X is a modern slasher with plenty of homages to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), further catapulting actors like Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega into Scream Queen territory. The film follows a team of actors and crew members who are trying to film a pornographic film on a farm. However, the old couple that lives there is a little too interested in the production.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Streaming on Paramount+ and Showtime

Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Fear Street is a supernatural slasher trilogy by R. L. Stine, and it is the epitome of teen horror. The films follow Samantha Fraser and Deena Johnson as they try to survive life in the murder capital of the country, figure out what has caused the town’s darkness, and find their way back to each other.

  • Rated R | 5 hours and 30 minutes total
  • Streaming on Netflix
Happy Death DAy 2U
Happy Death Day 2U – Courtesy of Universal — acquired from Happy Death Day Movie Site /

7 genre-bending slasher horror movies

Frightmare (1981)

While slashers can include supernatural elements, Frightmare skirts the line between being a slasher and being a Gothic horror, with a good dose of comedy thrown in. After a group of theater kids steal the body of their favorite horror actor, he uses a combination of brute force and dark magic to pay them back.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 26 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock. With ads on Tubi and Freevee

Scary Movie (2000)

Scary Movie is the ‘slasher’ for those who like comedy more than horror, as it is a strict spoof without any of the scares typical of the genre. Full of sexual innuendo, the film basically combines the plots of I Know What You Did Last Summer with the first two Scream movies to make a greatest-hits compilation of slasher tropes.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 28 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

Final Destination (2000)

What do you do when the killer intent on finding you is Death itself? This is the premise of Final Destination, which sees a group of students try to avoid death after escaping a fatal plane explosion. This movie (and franchise) is known not only for the idea of death as inescapable but also for the Rube Goldberg-esque kill sequences that stick with the viewer long after watching.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods is a sci-fi slasher, but in a very different way from Alien. Without too many spoilers, the movie features the traditional “teens in a creepy cabin” plot but changes it up by having the entire scenario orchestrated by engineers in a lab. Ultimately, the film prompts audiences to think more seriously about the nature of watching horror movies.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Streaming on Max

Happy Death Day (2017)

Described by websites like Gizmodo as “Groundhog Day meets Scream,” Happy Death Day follows Tree Gelbman as she gets murdered on her birthday only to wake up at the start of the day. A classic time loop story, it takes Tree a while to figure out how to break the loop before realizing that she has to find and stop her killer before they can get to her.

  • Rated PG-13 | 1 hour and 36 minutes
  • Streaming on FuboTV and FXNow

Freaky (2020)

Spoofing the concept of Freaky FridayFreaky plays with the idea of a much less heartwarming body swap. When high schooler Millie Kessler swaps bodies with the Blissfield Butcher, she has to figure out how to get her body back without taking the fall for his many crimes.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 42 minutes
  • Streaming with ads on Freevee

Totally Killer (2023)

Continuing the trend of smashing a classic sci-fi movie together with a slasher film, Totally Killer has Jamie Hughes accidentally travel back in time to just before a massacre her parents narrowly survived in the 80s. Since the killer was never caught, Jamie has to figure out who it is while protecting her parents and finding a way back to her own time.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 46 minutes
  • Streaming on Prime Video

13 obscure slasher horror movies

Peeping Tom (1960)

Pre-dating Psycho by a few months, some critics believe Peeping Tom to be the original slasher movie. The movie follows a serial killer who records his victims’ deaths, playing up the idea of voyeurism that will become a major element of horror critique in the future.

  • Not rated | 1 hour and 26 minutes
  • Streaming with ads on Tubi and The Roku Channel

A Bay of Blood (1971)

Although technically a Giallo, not a slasher movie, A Bay of Blood definitely hits all the right notes for slasher fans and was extremely influential on the emerging genre. The Italian film follows a string of murders taking place over the ownership of a bayside mansion, with more than enough blood to earn it an honorary slasher label.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 24 minutes
  • Streaming with ads on Freevee, Tubi, and The Roku Channel

Deep Red (1975)

Many hard-core horror fans know the name Dario Argento, and Deep Red is considered one of his best films. Marcus Daly tries to investigate a series of murders, but the killer always seems to be one step ahead. Despite a fairly standard plot, the movie ties a compelling mystery in with brutal kills to make for a must-watch movie for slasher lovers.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Streaming on Shudder and AMC+

Eaten Alive (1976)

Directed by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s Tobe Hooper, Eaten Alive is a controversial film that was censored in the 80s and 90s for its disturbing content. The film sees the arrival of many guests at the Starlight Hotel, where they find themselves falling prey to the owner and his swamp-dwelling pet.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock, Shudder, and AMC+

Tourist Trap (1979)

Tourist Trap is sure to terrify those disturbed by mannequins, as it plays with the implication that they were once human. After a group of friends get trapped at a museum due to car trouble, they are hunted down by a supernatural killer capable of moving things with their mind and breaking the boundaries between life and simulation.

  • Rated PG | 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock, Shudder, and AMC+

Terror Train (1980)

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and intended as “Halloween on a train,” Terror Train might seem like little more than a copycat slasher. And though the plot—a group of friends is hunted by a masked killer—is nothing new, the idea of the killer wearing the costume of their victims makes for an interesting twist, as the killer gets to play with identity in an interesting way.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 37 minutes
  • Streaming with ads on Tubi and The Roku Channel

The Prowler (1981)

Although it received negative reviews when first released, The Prowler has gained a cult following in recent years. The movie follows a group of college students trying to celebrate graduation. However, they find themselves hunted by a killer whose motive prompts complicated questions about the nature of war and the military.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 29 minutes
  • Stream on Prime Video and Shudder

The Burning (1981)

Based on urban legends about Cropsey, The Burning is a brutal slasher leaving no questions about who the killer is. Instead, the movie opens with a depiction of a prank gone wrong that horribly disfigured the leader of a summer camp. As he goes on a murderous rampage, audiences have to decide whether or not his rage is justified.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Streaming on Prime Video

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Serving as a major source of inspiration for American Horror Story: 1989Sleepaway Camp is a film that casual horror fans often overlook. This is in part because it has very complicated messages about gender and sexuality. However, it is an impressive slasher film that stands out from similar films featuring a summer camp under attack thanks to interesting plot twists and questions of morality.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and  minutes
  • Streaming on Peacock Premium. With ads on Freevee, Tubi, and The Roku Channel

Opera (1987)

Opera is another classic from Dario Argento, this time following Betty, a soprano who becomes the object of a killer’s obsession. The killer forces Betty to watch him kill his victims, taking the horror of each murder to a new level. She is not just the victim, but in some ways becomes an unwilling accomplice as the killer’s muse.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 28 minutes
  • Streaming on Shudder and AMC+
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) slasher horror movies
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) slasher horror movies /

Stage Fright (1987)

When a controlling director demands his actors stay overnight for rehearsals, they become easy pickings for an escaped murderer. While some of the cast members are desperate to find the keys to escape the theater, others attempt to stop the killer directly, creating opportunities for each character to respond to a classic horror situation in their own way.

  • Not rated | 1 hour and 34 minutes
  • Stream on Prime Video, AMC+, and Shudder

Popcorn (1991)

Popcorn is one of many 90s films to play with meta-horror, portraying a screening of horror movies that turns into a horror movie of its own. The film plays on classic tropes of a past event inspiring a modern murder, but it adds some engaging plot twists and jabs at the horror field that make for a fun watch.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Streaming on Shudder

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

If Scream portrays a world where slasher victims know the rules, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon provides an intriguing take on the killer knowing the rules. The movie is a mockumentary following a man who intends to become the next great slasher villain, presenting an interesting analysis of the slasher genre and its inherent morality in the real world.

  • Rated R | 1 hour and 32 minutes
  • Streaming on AMC+

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