Back in the late 90s, there was no horror movie bigger than Scream.
Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, Scream injected new life into the veins of a very tired and overworked sub-genre. While seen by many as a serious slasher film, Scream has many satirical undertones. Often poking fun at well known horror films like Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Scream invented the boogeyman Ghostface and started the franchise involving Sidney Prescott and her friends as they struggle to survive being slaughtered.
After a recent re-watch I found that Scream still holds up – even to this day. So I thought to myself what other movies like Scream will fellow horror fans like myself enjoy? I narrowed the list of over 100 movies to just 27 picks. Enjoy ticking these off your bucket list!
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th is probably the most famous slasher film (with the exception of Halloween). It stars Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Robbi Morgan, and Laurie Batram. It was released in the year 1980.
In Friday the 13th Part 1, as it’s now known due to many other successful sequels, a group of camp counselors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake, which has a grim past, are stalked by a mysterious killer. The killer is eventually revealed to be Mrs Vorhees, the mother of Jason Vorhees, a kid who drowned in the lake while the counsellors were off making out.
Friday the 13th has many memorable kills. The most famous of which is probably the one where Kevin Bacon is lying down on a bed and is stabbed through the mattress and through the throat. Although, an elderly woman would probably lack the strength to do so – it’s still so much fun!
2. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown, The Slumber Party Massacre stars Michele Michaels, Robin Stille and Michael Villella. It was released in the year 1982.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this horror film probably involves a slumber party and it probably involves a killer looking to take them all out. Right? I mean, it’s all there in the name. The killer in question isn’t like Michael Myers in preferring a kitchen knife with each kill. Oh no, the preferred weapon of choice in this horror flick is a power drill. What’s more 80s than a crazed killer looking to take out hot young women in a sleepover scenario involving power tools? It’s a really fun time if you ask me.
3. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Directed by Jim Gillespie, I Know What You Did Last Summer stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Johnny Galecki and Bridgette Wilson. It was released in the year 1997.
I Know What You Did Last Summer is quintessentially 90s. With heartthrobs like Freddie Prince Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Jennifer Love Hewitt as part of the cast it’s hard not to get swept up the 90s furor of this movie about these teens who run over a fisherman, dump him in a like and then flee in terror as he kills them off one-by-one a year later. While the killer’s outfit is quite ridiculous, there’s something about a raincoat, his face drenched in darkness and armed with nothing but a hook that adds a level of fear to this horror film.
4. Prom Night (1980)
Directed by Paul Lynch and written by William Gray, Prom Night stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen. It was released in the year 1980.
A couple of years after the success of the first Halloween film, Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the Slasher sub-genre of horror in Prom Night. While far from a complicated plot, the film follows a masked killer and the teenagers he’s killing off as revenge for a young girl that died accidentally years before. While the kills aren’t spectacular by today’s horror standards, they are fun, and the movie itself is a time honoured horror classic which everyone must watch at least once in their lifetime.
5. Valentine (2001)
Directed by Jamie Blanks, Valentine stars David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Fulvio Cecere and Katherine Heigl. It was released in the year 2001.
After seeing David Boreanaz as the brooding and heroic Vampire with a soul in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s spin-off Angel, it’s hard to imagine David Boreanaz as a relentless killer in a slasher film. Valentine is a sexy slasher film from the early 00s involving a killer taking out numerous attractive women in ways that can only be described as “101 ways to kill a Hollywood starlet.” The kills, brutal, inventive and sometimes random – but it makes for a better film than you’d expect given the synopsis is about a heart broken killer.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Produced and directed by Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen. It was released in the year 1974.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the first horror films which took the violence of murder to extremes (at least for the 70s). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre first introduced us to Leatherface and his miserable cannibalistic family. Interestingly, some of the details in this film were inspired by the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein. While Leatherface’s weapon of choice was often a chainsaw, it’s the “meat hook” scene that is still so iconic.
7. X (2022)
Directed and written by Ti West, X stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure and Scott Mescudi. It was released in the year 2022.
Set in the 70s, where a group of young adults find a secluded barn to shoot their porn movie. X quickly morphs from a sordid sexy film into a movie filled with horrors as the elderly owners of the barn figure out what the porn film makers are doing and look to kill them off one-by-one. Despite all the carnage that ensues, nothing will prepare you for Mia Goth’s character hiding under the bed while the two elderly killers go at it like a pair of rabbits.
8. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Directed by Danny Cannon and written by Trey Callaway, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Brandy, Mekhi Phifer, Matthew Settle, Jennifer Esposito, Bill Cobbs and Muse Watson. It was released in the year 1998.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer and sets the scene with Julie (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) dealing with the deaths of her friends Helen Shivers and Barry Cox while she attends summer classes in Boston. However, all is not well as pretty soon a new hook brandishing killer appears and starts terrorising Julie and her friends.
9. Scream 2 (1997)
Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, Scream 2 stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O’Connell, Elise Neal, Timothy Olyphant, Jada Pinkett, and Liev Schreiber. It was released in the year 1997.
Scream 2 is the first sequel to Wes Craven’s hit slasher film, Scream, and follows Sidney Prescott and the gang as they try to get on with their lives after the Woodsboro Massacre. However, a fictional film called “Stab” based on the events that happened in the first scream movie, causes the Ghostface Killer to come out of the woodwork and start killing again.
10. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Written and directed by Fred Walton and co-written by Steve Feke, When a Stranger Calls stars Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst and Tony Beckley. The original film was released in the year 1979.
When a Stranger Calls is a classic film in the psychological thriller genre. It follows Jill Johnson who is being terrorised by a serial killer while she’s babysitting. The killer then returns years later to torment Jill again as she’s the one who got away and so the film pivots to follow not only Jill but also the detective trying to track down the serial killer.
11. Scream 3 (2000)
Directed by Wes Craven and written by Ehren Kruger, Scream 3 stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox Arquette, Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Matt Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Deon Richmond, and Patrick Warburton. It was released in the year 2000.
Scream 3 is the second sequel in the Scream franchise and draws Sidney Prescott and her friends back into the fold when the cast of “Stab 3” start being killed by another Ghostface. During the sequence of events Sidney learns some uncomfortable truths about her mother, her past and why Billy wanted to kill her back in the original Scream movie.
12. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Directed by Steve Minor, Friday the 13th Part 2 stars Adrienne King, Amy Steel, John Furey and Peter Stein. It was released in the year 1981.
In this film we’re formally introduced to Jason Vorhees be a vengeful killer of camp counsellors at Crystal Lake. However, he isn’t adorned the hockey mask just yet, in this movie he’s wearing a burlap sack over his head with eyes poked through – which I feel adds some eeriness to his kills.
There’s also the relationship between Jason and his mother which is explored as the head of Pamela Vorhees is worshipped by Jason like some kind of shrine. It’s here we learn that this is one screwed up family.
13. Scream 4 (2011)
Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, Scream 4 stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, and Roger L. Jackson. It was released in the year 2011.
Scream 4 is the third sequel in the Scream franchise and is set 15 years after the original Woodsboro murders took place, as depicted in the first Scream film. The plot follows Sidney who meets up with her publicist in Woodsboro to discuss her self-help book but who then finds herself the suspect in a murder and is ordered by the police not to leave town. Bit by bit, Sidney finds herself entangled in a web involving a new Ghostface killer.
14. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Directed by Steve Miner, Friday the 13th Part 3 stars Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka and Richard Brooker. It was released in the year 1982.
Friday the 13th Part 3 is the second sequel in the Friday the 13th franchise and is also the first time that Jason Vorhees takes on his signature hockey mask. The plot follows a group of teenagers who stupidly decide to camp near Crystal Lake and Jason, who is recuperating nearby from his injuries sustained in Friday the 13th Part 2, then goes on a fresh new killing spree.
15. Urban Legend (1998)
Directed by Jamie Blanks, Urban Legend stars Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid, and Michael Rosenbaum. It was released in the year 1998.
Urban Legend has long been called the Scream copycat film, however, I’d argue it’s just as clever with its horror and pop culture references. With every twist and turn there’s a link or reference to the horror films that came before.
16. Happy Death Day (2017)
Directed by Christopher Landon and written by Scott Lobdell, Happy Death Day stars Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard. It was release in the year 2017.
Happy Death Day is about a University student called Theresa who keeps getting murdered and waking up at the start of the day and doing it all over again. If you’re thinking is this a mix between Scream and Groundhog Day then you’ve hit the nail on the head.
17. The Babysitter (2017)
Directed by McG and written by Brian Duffield, The Babysitter stars Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne. It was released in the year 2017.
There aren’t many memorable Netflix movies out there. In fact, I’d argue that the vast majority is complete and utter trash. However, the same couldn’t be said about The Babysitter, which is a fun little addition to the slasher franchise. It follows a 12 year old boy named Cole and the crush he has on his babysitter Bee. But when Cole figures out that Bee is part of a satanic cult of teenagers that secretly wants to kill him things go from bad to worse very quickly. Definite highlights are seeing actress Bella Thorne’s character get killed and Robbie Amell act like a f***ing lunatic. It’s so much fun!
18. Candyman (1992)
Directed by Bernard Rose, Candyman stars Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons and Vanessa E. Willliams. It was released in the year 1992.
Candyman is about a Chicago graduate student who is completing a thesis on urban legends and folklore, which leads her to the legend of the “Candyman”, the ghost of an African-American artist and the son of a slave who was murdered in the late 19th century for his relationship with the daughter of a wealthy white man.
Candyman is a fantastic play on the Bloody Mary myth which tells of a phantom or ghost which can be conjured up if you chant her name several times in front of a mirror. Candyman is also a break out role for actor Tony Todd, who had appeared in many films and tv productions prior, but few had highlighted his acting skills until the release of this film.
19. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Directed and written by Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street stars John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, and Robert Englund. It was released in the year 1984.
There’s no other horror boogeyman quite as terrifying as Freddy Krueger. A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced us to the infamous child molester who was set on fire by the townsfolk and now haunts teenagers in their dream before killing them in their nightmares. Unfortunately, as the lore tells us, killing someone in their dreams also kills them in the real world.
While later in the franchise actor Robert Englund took his approach to Freddy in a bit more comedic way, it’s the first film which depicts Freddy Krueger as a supernatural homicidal maniac – complete with metal claw. It’s worth giving this movie a watch to see Johnny Depp’s character die in a spray of blood and guts!
20. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Directed by Joseph Zito, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter stars Kimberly Beck, Peter Barton, and Crispin Glover. It was released in the year 1984.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a first for a couple things. It’s the first film that starts to establish Jason Vorhees as the unstoppable and almost supernatural force to be reckoned with as he erupts from the morgue and heads back to Camp Crystal Lake. Then it’s also a first for the character Tommy Jarvis who is a protagonist across three Friday the 13th films (including this one) and a well loved character amongst fans. Other than that, it follows the same usual premise so expect plenty of fun murderous rampage because that’s what you’re gonna get!
21. Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter, Halloween stars Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P. J. Soles, and Nancy Loomis. It was released in the year 1978.
In the first Halloween we’re first introduced to Michael Myers as he stalks Laurie Strode throughout the neighbourhood on the eve of Halloween. John Carpenter expertly builds tension throughout the film and creates a spooky atmosphere, unlike any other slasher movie, which adds to the fear of Michael Myers. The scene where Michael Myers appears in the dark behind Laurie Strode with just his mask showing is so iconic and still terrifying, even to this day. It’s hard to believe this movie is over 50 years old!
22. Final Destination (2000)
Directed by James Wong, Final Destination stars Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, and Tony Todd. It was released in the year 2000.
Of all the murdery filled films of the early 2000s, Final Destination still has one of the most interesting premises. While on one hand it’s a disaster film, on the other hand it’s a film which toys with this idea of “what if you didn’t die when you were supposed to?” and how would the universe right this error? Enjoy the death that ensues with this early 00s classic.
23. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Directed by John Ottman, Urban Legends: Final Cut stars Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Joseph Lawrence, Anthony Anderson, and Loretta Devine. It was released in the year 2000.
Urban Legend: Final Cut which is usually just referred to as Urban Legend 2 is the sequel to the first Urban Legend film and follows character Amy Mayfield who’s creating a thesis film about urban legends. However, someone in a fencing mask starts killing members of the film crew and begins to close in on Amy and her friends.
24. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Directed by George Mihalka and written by John Beaird, My Bloody Valentine stars Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Alf Humphreys, Keith Knight and Patricia Hamilton. It was released in the year 1981.
The original My Bloody Valentine is one of the many horror films in the 80s named after a popular holiday. Like most of those movies, My Bloody Valentine has very little to do with the holiday itself and more to do with the fact that it just so happens to be set on Valentine’s Day during which a party occurs. A party where the teenage partygoers suffer at the hands of a killer in mining gear. If the idea of teens getting killed by an array of mining gear appeals to you then check this movie out.
25. Psycho (1960)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, Psycho stars Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh. It was released in the year 1960.
Psycho is probably the very first slasher film ever created. In it, Norman Bates, one of the owners of the Bates Motel, seems harmless enough but pretty soon who turns into a savage killer who likes to turn his kitchen knife on his guests while they’re in the shower. There’s also the aspect of his fetish for cross dressing as his dead mother who happens to be just a skeleton looking down at the motel from their house. If you’re looking for that infamous horror scene involving a stabbing in a shower – this is the movie it’s from.
26. Halloween II (1981)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, Halloween II stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence and Dick Warlock. It was released in the year 1981.
The plot picks up directly after the cliffhanger ending of the first Halloween film, with Michael Myers following survivor Laurie Strode to the local hospital, while his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis continues his pursuit of him. Interestingly, as much as this film is known and remembered by fans as a John Carpenter film, Carpenter didn’t film the entire thing – only portions of it. Instead, he’s credited as the co-writer, along with Debra Hill.
27. Black Christmas (1974)
Directed by Bob Clark, Black Christmas stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Lynne Griffin and John Saxon. It was released in the year 1974.
The story follows a group of sorority sisters who receive threatening phone calls and are eventually stalked and murdered by a deranged killer during the Christmas season. Black Christmas (originally titled Silent Night, Evil Night), followed the fad of taking a well-known holiday and then turning it into a horror film. To this day, Black Christmas is still celebrated and has a rabid cult following.
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