The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part VIII: #30-21
*According to me. Me, me, me! So expect to see some of your faves missing…
30: Haute Tension (2003)
Bord de votre siège vibrer de France. While the much maligned ending of ‘High Tension’ likely stops it from achieving a higher placing here, nobody can deny that the first three quarters of this film lives up to its name: Pure edge of yer seat tension. College friends Marie and Alex go to the latter’s secluded family home for a break when a madman in a creepy van stops by, slays the family and takes Alex hostage for more depraved yearnings. Marie, her presence unknown to the maniac, follows to try and rescue her friend, dodging the loon’s capture at every turn.
Crowning moment: The killer stops at a gas station and Marie follows, keeping out of sight by the skin of her teeth.
29: Wilderness (2006)
And one place above is an abrasive piece of gritty horror from the shores of Britain. After the suicide of a bullied inmate at a juvenile detention center, a group of the responsible companions are sent to an island boot camp for punishment under the watch of Sean Pertwee. Similar delinquents from a girls’ center are also there along with an S.A.S.-trained killer who has a quartet of vicious attack dogs as his favoured weapon. Add in all manner of survival traps, self-serving characters, and a hefty dose of grue, and jolly old England won’t look like tea and cucumber sandwiches after all.
Crowning moment: The initial attack on the camp, with Pertwee pinned to a tree with arrows while the dogs come running in and the others all panic and escape.
28: Final Destination 2 (2003)
One year after the crash of Flight 180, a college girl has a premonition of a freeway pile-up, blocks an on-ramp, and subsequently saves several lives. But soon after, they all start dying in weird accidents and she turns to sole survivor from the first go-round, Ali Larter, for help. While much of the dwelling on mortality is gone, essentially replaced with the bus splatter shock factor from part one over and over, the ‘rules’ of the franchise were cemented in this installment, which features inventive but not yet ludicrous means for Death to off his quarry.
Crowning moment: The opening accident is rendered in terrifying realism, though I’m a fan of the horribly scripted scene where the survivors realise that each event from the first film gave them a one-year stay of execution. Kudos to the actors for keeping straight faces while delivering such awful dialogue.
27: Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Students at a film school competing for the coveted Hitchcock Award wish they’d left well enough alone when budding director Amy (Jennifer Morrison) begins a film where a killer offs people based on urban legends. Of course, cast and crew are soon being done in for real. Does ex-Pendleton University security officer Reese (Loretta Devine) see history repeating? Goofy and replete with cliches, but lots of fun.
Crowning moment: The Kidney Heist myth – discussed but never realised in the first film – is carried out on a young Jacinda Barrett.
26: Friday the 13th (2009)
The most un-‘remakey’ of the slasher remakes, Platinum Dunes at least had the sense to make their vision of Jason’s origins a sort of ‘Greatest Hits’ by combining elements of the early movies. Jared Padalecki is snooping around Crystal Lake looking for his missing sister, Whitney (the beautiful Amanda Righetti), when he and a group of college kids on vacation come under attack from a hockey masked nutter who just wants to be left alone to mourn his dead mom…
Crowning moment: The open twenty-minutes of the film scream ‘pure’ Friday with a quintet of sexy campers sharing the story of Camp Crystal Lake around a roaring fire, smoking dope, showing tits, and getting slain by pre-hockey masked Jason.
25: Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)
More summer camp hi-jinks in the top-placed Sleepaway Camp outing. Several years after the Camp Arawak murders, kids at Camp Rolling Hills who piss of puritanical camp counsellor Angela (Pamela Springsteen, Bruce’s sister) are ‘sent home’. Also known as: stabbed, barbecued, power-drilled, chainsawed, and beheaded. Much like the opening section of the aforementioned Friday the 13th re-do, this has an appealing campy pureness about itself, unafraid to really be a cheeseball slasher film. Awful hairstyles and campers named after Brat Pack actors only elevate its status.
Crowning moment: Angela takes on nasty girl Ally and, in a scene almost completely cut from the UK video releases, forces her down the pan of a shitty outhouse.
24: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
And yet more summer camp fun! Jason 6 rectifies the ‘sins’ of A New Beginning (hated by most, loved by me!) by halting the concept of Tommy becoming the new Jason and instead having him accidentally bring Jason back from the dead. Zombie Jason then returns to Camp Crystal Lake (renamed Forest Green), for the first time found with kids, and hacks up horny teenage counsellors left, right and center.
Crowning moment: Nice camp counsellor Paula escorts a scared camper back to bed and begins to realise a few people are missing. Spooked, she heads back to the main cabin only to find the bloody machete that’d been found has vanished. Then the door blows open…
23: A Bay of Blood (1971)
If Psycho and Peeping Tom were the mom and dad of slasher movies, then A Bay of Blood was their firstborn. Italian giallo at it’s most Friday the 13th-ey, several groups of people come to an island to lay claim to a land inheritance but a few of them have a homicidal streak and will kill off anyone who stands to thwart their plans… The scene with a quartet of teenagers who happen by and end up slaughtered contains almost everything that films would be made of a decade later.
Crowning moment: The pictured bed shish-ke-bob kill that was later recreated in Friday the 13th Part 2.
22: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween III was a misfired attempt to take the series in a new direction, but as Jason Voorhees’ fortunes went up and up, in 1988 Moustapha Akkad and co. decided to bring Michael back from the dead. He returns to Haddonfield to kill his nine-year-old niece Jamie (Scream Queen to be, Danielle Harris), who is fiercely protected by her sister-by-adoption, Rachel. Donald Pleasence is also back as the ever borderline-nuts Dr Loomis, spouting prophecies nobody will listen to. Easily the best of the Halloween sequels.
Crowning moment: The rooftop tussle as Rachel and Jamie flee from Michael by crawling out on to the slates of a house full of dead people.
21: Prom Night (1980)
Six years after accidentally causing the death of a young girl, four high school teenagers are stalked and slain at their senior prom by a ski-masked killer out for revenge. Jamie Lee Curtis’ first post-Halloween slasher venture, a strange combo of Carrie and Saturday Night Fever, complete with an embarrassing disco dance scene, which was already dated before the film made it to the screen.
Crowning moment: The epic eight-minute chase scene as nasty girl Wendy is chased around the dark corridors of the school by the axe-toting killer. Still the best chase scene in the genre.