Psychotic killers, evil clowns, and Rob Zombie? Yep, it must be the turn of the century.
Today’s list was created by MoPOP staff member Sam, and it’s epic. Here are Sam’s picks for the top slashers at the turn of the century.
The Plot: Three backpackers stranded in the remote Australian outback are stalked and tortured by a psychotic local.
Why it's Top 10: Australia’s answer to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I have a somewhat personal connection to this film as it is loosely based on true events—influenced by the backpacker murders of the early 90s that took place less than 15 miles from my home. Changing the story to a desolate outback setting helps the film as it brings a level of hopelessness to the characters trying to escape the clutches of the maniac Mick Taylor. This is dirty, vicious, and uncomfortable viewing.
The slasher section of Scared to Death at MoPOP
The Plot: A lovers tiff turns into a psychological night of terror when three masked strangers arrive at their remote vacation home.
Why it's Top 10: Light on kills, but heavy on suspense, The Strangers tells the story of a couple in the wrong place at the wrong time. While there is a graphic, grizzly-ness at the film conclusion, this film excels in its slow build up. Seeing the strangers in the shadows or when the protagonists start to realize “something is not right here” is the real creepiness that this film does better than any other in the decade.
Cradle of Fear
The Plot: An evil hypnotist imprisoned in an asylum uses his demonic son to wreak vengeance on those that sentenced him for a series of violent murders.
Why it’s Top 10: Low in budget, but high in horrific-ness, this four-part anthology film was praised by Empire as "the best British horror film since Hellraiser.” It’s not. But it is still fun.
While amateur in both production and acting, Cradle of Fear excels at making an authentic homage to the trashy and overly violent “video nasty” that were banned within the United Kingdom and Australia for many years. For its shoestring budget, the CG and practical effects are not what I would call good—but they are most definitely interesting—featuring some of the most grizzly, grindhouse gore ever put to tape.
Ghoulish decorations adorn MoPOP's exhibit walls
The Plot: It’s Friday the 13th… in space.
Why it's Top 10: As a big fan of the franchise, I thought the idea of Jason in space was too ridiculous even for my (low) standards, so I avoided this movie for more than 16 years. But after finally watching it earlier this year, I was genuinely surprised at how enjoyable it was.
Taking more than a page or two out of the Scream handbook, this is the first film in the franchise that pokes a little fun at itself and invites you along for the ride. Self-referential, satirical with a splash of well-placed scares, and violent death, it knows exactly what it’s trying to be.
Yep. He's as big as he looks
Freddy vs. Jason
The Plot: Banished to hell for his past shenanigans, Freddy Krueger devises a plan to manipulate Jason Voorhees into hacking up the teenagers of Elm Street, creating a fear campaign which will result in him being reborn.
Why it's Top 10: This film stars two all-time slasher greats, so it would be impossible not to include this monster mash on the list. But what about the plot? WHO CARES! The cast? WHO. CARES. This movie is about one thing and one thing only: Freddy and Jason going all east coast/west coast on each other.
I've never been more afraid of a sweater
The Last Horror Movie
The Plot: The fine line between fiction and reality is blurred when a serial killer uses a horror video rental to lure his next victim.
Why it's Top 10: Taking elements of The Blair Witch Project, Man Bites Dog, and American Psycho, The Last Horror Movie plays like a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the life of a serial killer.
A sharp script, dark humor, and some gruesome effects are all strong points of this release, and the murderous Max has a swag about him. Unfortunately, the films gimmick (no spoilers) falls flat due to modern day technology, but as a time capsule piece it is definitely worth a look.
I'd try to avoid eye contact
The Plot: A remake of the 1978 classic. Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to Haddonfield to kill again.
Why it's Top 10: The early 2000s were a wasteland of classic horror remakes, but Mr. Zombie’s offering dug deep into the Myers mythos and showed the audience something a little different.
The brief prologue of Carpenter’s original in which the juvenile Michael Myers slaughters his family is expanded to showcase Michael’s troubled upbringing. In true Zombie fashion, the skeletons in the Myers closet are grim, unpleasant, and shocking. We gain a level of understanding that was absent in the original. The rest of the film is pretty standard, but fans of the franchise should give it a watch for the first half alone.
Aw! Smile, Michael!
The Plot: A once-innocent man now thrives on an unimaginable bloodlust after adapting the identity of psychotic clown Mr. Jingles.
Why it’s Top 10: I bought this film in a bargain bin store in Australia over 10 years ago for the price of $1AUD. It is one of the worst films I have ever seen.
It is one of the worst films ALL my friends have ever seen (because I forced them to watch it), they forced their friends to watch it, and so on and so forth. This is one of those films that deserves to be witnessed. If someone can make a movie of this quality and sell it to a reputable studio like Lion's Gate, receive international distribution, and get royalties every time people like me buy it, then I tip my hat to them.
Our slasher wall of fame
House of 1000 Corpses
The Plot: While researching the legend of Dr. Satan, a group of teens get more than they bargained for when they come across a family of sadistic serial killers.
Why it's Top 10: An homage to exploitative grindhouse and films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Rob Zombie’s directorial debut dishes up something hard to swallow in a genre that at the time had become watered down. While there are definitely problems with this film, the aesthetic and ghoulish throwbacks to the horror of yesteryear more than make up for it.
P.S. Dwight from The Office gets turned into a fish—it’s gnarly.
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