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Photo of Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) in Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985). // Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.

Five classic slasher films to check out while you’re staying home this Halloween

By Jenn Gorrie, October 30 2020—

Halloween is by far the best holiday when it comes to the selection of films as there are several genres to choose from. Anything paranormal can tickle your spine as it may leave you thinking about the unknown, whereas thrillers may leave viewers at the edge of their seat, hoping the protagonist is able to survive. With COVID-19 interfering with plans this year, it may be difficult to keep the Halloween spirit alive. So below is a compiled list of five classic slashers to check out.

Friday the 13th (1980)

What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than by watching one of the most iconic slasher films of all time — Friday the 13th. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, the first film on my list follows a group of counsellors who visit Camp Crystal Lake which was previously closed down. Years before, a young boy had drowned in the lake, following sudden murders taking place. What the counsellors fail to realize is that they are being stalked.

The popular Friday the 13th franchise has 12 movies to date, and for anyone who has not seen the series, you don’t have to watch the films in order to understand the gist of it. While there are other renditions of similar plots that make some Halloween films come off as repetitive — it seems as though it’s either children or young adults who are constantly targeted by serial killers in slasher films — the Friday the 13th franchise is definitely a classic that should be watched at least once. 

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

If the storyline for Friday the 13th isn’t for you, Nightmare on Elm Street has a different twist, and is also another slasher to check out. Have you ever been afraid of your dreams? Or the possibility of not waking up from your nightmares? The first film stars young Johnny Depp, among other actors who struggle with recurring nightmares. To them, the dreams become more realistic and particular deaths start to happen throughout the town. Could this have anything to do with what everyone is dreaming about?

Just like Friday the 13th, there is an entire series of them and they do not need to be watched in order. I highly recommend the second one, especially if you’re interested in Queer-related films. At a younger age, watching Freddy’s Revenge, it may not come off as a Queer film right away, as the main character is dating someone of the opposite sex. However, after rewatching it, there are hidden messages that start to become more noticeable. Both Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street do have a crossover film called Freddy vs. Jason, which also is a great film to watch. 

Scream (1996)

The Scream franchise is one of the newer films on my list and it’s considered more realistic when it comes to slasher films. For those who have not seen the film, it follows main character Sidney Prescott who is grieving the murder of her mother. Almost a year later, Prescott starts to receive threats and soon discovers she’s being stalked by an unknown serial killer. Could the person who is interested in killing her be one of her close friends? Or could it be the same person who murdered her mother?

I recommend watching the Scream films in order to understand the context and follow the main characters. Unlike the other films, there are only five movies of Scream, so it may be more realistic to binge watch versus the other suggestions. In 2015, Netflix also released a TV series as an adaptation to the film, which received great ratings and lasted for three seasons.

If you don’t want to be frightened, Scary Movie (2000) directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, is a parody series and an excellent mockery of Scream

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

The American franchise Halloween produced some entertaining slashers, with its iconic representation of serial killer Michael Meyers. For those who haven’t seen the films, it may be shocking to discover that the Season of the Witch is considered to be one of the worst Halloween movies ever, and responsible for almost ending the series. Those familiar will not recommend the third film, as the storyline does not include Michael Meyers, but instead focuses on a toy-manufacturing company. But, by looking at the film as a standalone, I think it is an underrated film that deserves some appreciation.

Season of the Witch takes place one week before Halloween, and has a commercial advertising for children to purchase one of three masks — a witch, jack-o-lantern and a skull. The commercial is flashy in appearance, accompanied with a catchy song that counts down the days until Halloween. “Three more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween,” is a song that tends to get stuck in my head each year, as the days get closer. The plot of the movie is also quite different, as each mask can control and kill children if placed over their face at a certain time. 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Let’s get this straight — slasher films may scare you just enough to keep you in the spirit, but at least you can know that they are not based on a true story. Instead some plots tend to be somewhat predictable, but have you ever seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The first film will leave viewers thinking about their actions, as it is based on an actual true story. If you want to watch something that will leave you with an unsettling feeling, check it out and discover how gruesome serial killers can be.

Released in 1974, Texas Chainsaw Massacre introduces a group of friends who encounter a hitchhiker. They make the decision to pick up the stranger, and soon realize they had made a grave mistake. The group of friends start to become unfamiliar with the direction they are heading, and eventually realize they are dealing with a family of cannibals. The film is really long and the subsequent films aren’t that great. However, if you are curious about what cannibals are capable of and what exactly they will do to your flesh, this may be for you. 

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