A masked killer with a signature weapon. A group of victims anchored by a Final Girl. And a structure that evenly disperses the death and mayhem. Even people who don’t watch slasher movies know the game. The look and feel of these movies have become baked into pop culture. This has happened to such a degree that even non-slasher movies can’t escape their influence. What follows is a list, in no particular order, of the best slasher movies that don’t technically qualify as such.

Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

1. No Country for Old Men (2007)

"Will you hold still, please, sir?"  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Anton Chigurh, as portrayed by Javier Bardem, is ripped straight out of the slasher film handbook. He’s expressionless and seemingly devoid of a soul — he’s not wearing a mask, but he might as well be.

Chigurh’s signature weapon is a cattle gun, making it an original and dehumanizing choice. It is an efficient weapon with very little mess, and it matches the simplistic and passionless demeanor of he who wields it.

His name, his accent, his hair cut — everything about this guy is a mystery, and that’s what makes him more terrifying. He pursues his prey with unstoppable and focused energy. He is the stuff of nightmares.


No Country for Old Men

  • Weapon: Cattle gun, shotgun w/ silencer, handcuffs
  • Tomatometer Score: 93%
  • Watch Now

Dir. David Robert Mitchell 

2. It Follows (2014)

Cold observers of a terrible thing

David Robert Mitchell’s loving homage to the slasher has everything you’d expect — minus a recognizable killer. This modern and meta take on the slasher is smart but not too smart for its own sake.

We still get a group of young, suburbanites led by a central female protagonist stalked by a nameless, faceless villain. The soundtrack is synth-driven and menacing, but the actual time period is left ambiguous.

The killer is an amalgamation of characters, and we never know who to expect. It takes the “sex = death” mythology and turns it on its head. Even if the theme of the film is loftier than what most people want or expect from a slasher movie, it doesn’t get in the way of the terror.


It Follows

  • Weapon: Bare hands
  • Tomatometer Score: 96%
  • Watch Now

Dir. Ridley Scott

3. Alien (1979)

A marathon of tension

“In space, no one can hear you scream.” From the get-go, Ridley Scott’s Alien knew what it was: a horror movie set in space. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is our Final Girl, and one of the best of all time. 

Our killer is unknowable and unbeatable — qualities all slasher movies share. The xenomorph is heartless and predatory, knowing only that its job isn’t done until the last survivor falls. 

There’s also the single, claustrophobic location but, instead of a suburban home, it’s a commercial mining ship. The crew is dispatched one-by-one until our heroine assumes her title as Final Girl. 



  • Weapon: Acid blood, tongue with its own mouth, tail
  • Tomatometer Score: 94%
  • Watch Now

Dir. Jonathan Demme

4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

It's hard to shake this movie, once you've seen it.

One thing this film does quite differently is to give the killer a name, a personality, and screen time. Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) isn’t a lifeless killing machine like his antecedents, and he is not unstoppable. But Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) is. And this is what makes The Silence of the Lambs such a fascinating progeny of the slasher film. 

Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling is perhaps the most complex and sympathetic Final Girl ever. She is entirely in over her head but strong enough to press on. Her showdown with Buffalo Bill, the epitome of vulnerability, takes all the tension and suspense of a regular slasher movie and condenses it into one, heart-pounding sequence.


The Silence of the Lambs

  • Weapon: Bare hands, teeth, police baton
  • Tomatometer Score: 96%
  • Watch Now

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

5. The Birds (1963)

Man has not been unmindful of his debt to the bird.

The body count might be low, and the gore left to a minimum compared to today’s standards. Plus there’s no creepy music (no music at all, actually). But Hitchcock’s film FEELS like a slasher movie.

Instead of an unstoppable human killer, we get an unstoppable force of nature. We assume that birds would be pretty low on the list of things in life that can kill you. And that’s precisely why they work for Hitchcock.

One of the greatest things about The Birds is that we never get an explanation. People living their everyday lives are suddenly thrust into chaos — a situation with many questions and zero answers. 


The Birds

  • Weapon: Beak, talons
  • Tomatometer Score: 94%
  • Watch Now

Dir. Jonathan Glazer

6. Under the Skin (2013)

How did they pull this movie off?

This artsy sci-fi film flips the script on slasher movie conventions. The surface-level connections are easy to make (the killer is a girl hunting men!), but the movie is about way more than that. The striking imagery and hypnotic pacing provide for a much more deliberate and almost existential viewing experience.

Scarlett Johansson’s character is the perfect slasher villain, a cold-blooded and methodical killer. But she changes and adopts a species of sympathy for us lowly humans. Jonathan Glazer’s film shows us how to elevate one’s influences and turn them into something more that simply a carbon copy.

Did you know that the men picked up by Johansson's character were non-actors who had no idea they were in a movie? The making of Under the Skin is just as fascinating as the film itself. 


Under The Skin

  • Weapon: Sex appeal, liquid abyss
  • Tomatometer Score: 85%
  • Watch Now

Dir. John Carpenter

7. The Thing (1982)

The ultimate in alien terror.

There aren’t many movies, especially horror movies with significant special effects, but John Carpenter’s The Thing almost seems to get BETTER over time. This time, it’s a group of grown men being methodically iced (wink!) by an unknowable and unbeatable force. 

The slasher movie twist in this classic is the anonymity of the killer. It could be any of them, a perfect mimetic killing machine. The single, isolated location levels up the tension and effectively eliminates all of the complaints people have about slasher movies. They can’t just leave, and they can’t call the cops — they just have to survive.


The Thing

  • Weapon: Ability to mimic prey
  • Tomatometer Score: 84%
  • Watch Now

Dir. James Cameron

8. The Terminator (1984)

It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with..

James Cameron’s breakout film takes a smart and fresh approach to the slasher film, which had already begun to stale in 1984. In a sense, Cameron gave us a slasher movie that makes sense.

Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees can’t be killed but we never really understand why that is. Cameron uses cyborgs from the future programmed for one purpose, and suddenly we don’t question it.

The Terminator’s signature weapon (guns) may be a bit unoriginal, but he is deadly just the same. The thumping electronic heartbeat on the soundtrack is always there, reminding you that this killing machine will not stop.


The Terminator

  • Weapon: Robot strength and lots of guns
  • Tomatometer Score: 100%
  • Watch Now

Dir. Quentin Tarantino

9. Death Proof (2007)

Meet Zoe Bell

Tarantino approached his first semi-horror film with a simple twist: what if a slasher movie killer used his car to kill people? Now, that’s about as close as Death Proof gets from actually becoming a slasher movie. The majority of the film is Tarantino’s trademark verbose non sequiturs, barefooted women, and retro-cool soundtracks. 

For a slasher film, even one as tangential as this one, the violence is minimal with only two actual murder scenes. But this is an excellent example of how to put a personal spin on something so well-worn like slasher movies. 

Death Proof  has some amazing practical stunts and the most thrilling parts of this movie is how they were able to capture them. It is a love letter to stuntmen and stuntwomen.



  • Weapon: 1970 Chevy Nova, 1969 Dodge Charger
  • Tomatometer Score: 63%
  • Watch Now

Dir. John McTiernan

10. Predator (1987)

If it bleeds, we can kill it.

Another genre-bending exercise that takes slasher movie conventions and repurposes them in exciting ways. A clear nod to Aliens, John McTiernan's action-horror hybrid is almost a companion piece. 

The killer is silent, deadly, and has a gruesome habit of collecting skulls. The protagonists are badass troopers any other day of the week, but here they've met their match. Schwarzenegger as Dutch does a pretty convincing job as the Final Girl and the musical score is simply fantastic.

Like any good slasher movie, the kills are spread out to maximize their emotional impact, and Dutch's "Final Girl" showdown is a much more testosterone-soaked version of what we usually get.



  • Weapon: Arm blades, laser-guided lasers
  • Tomatometer Score: 81%
  • Watch Now


Top 10 scariest movies

Scary is subjective...usually. In this list of the scariest movies ever, we'll get into the "how" and "why" they are successful at getting under our skin. We've got storyboards from The Exorcist, a script breakdown from The Babadook and scene examples from other films on the list including The Blair Witch Project and The VVitch. For fans of the genre, or horror filmmakers looking for inspiration, this list sets the bar on what scares us and how they do it.

Up Next: Scariest scary movies → 
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows.

Learn More ➜

  • Brent Dunham earned his B.A. from USC and an M.A. from Chapman University in Film Studies. He has taught various film courses to students from 7th grade to undergraduates.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link