Top Five Slashers According to Larry
Welcome back everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the review last week of “Video Palace”! It was a lot of fun to write and I am thankful for all of the feedback I received, both from Here’s Johnny listeners and the people behind the scenes whom made “Video Palace” possible. But I am going to change course a little bit this week and do another Top Five list, focusing on the Slashers whom I think reign supreme. I am not ranking movies, I am ranking the killers themselves. As always, these opinions are my own and are totally open for you to debate. But not with me, because it is my list and I stand by it. So with that out of the way, let’s dive on in with an honorable mention.
Honorable Mention: Norman Bates
It is a very easy case to make that Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic “Psycho” was the original slasher, and thus he must appear on this list. However, just because you are the original does not mean that he deserves a higher rank. Why you ask? His body count is low in comparison to the others who will appear on this list, the only film that matters in the series is the original (don’t get me started on the 1998 remake), and finally Bates is a far less “appealing” character when compared to the top five. That being said, it is crazy that so many tropes associated with the slasher genre can be traced back to him. One of the most well-known would be how Wes Craven killed off Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of “Scream” after billing her as lead actress and using her for all promotional material. Even Tarantino paid tribute in “Pulp Fiction” with the scene where Butch crosses eyes with Marsellus as he crosses the street. It is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the scene where Marion Craine sees her boss crossing the street after stealing a lot of money from him. So thank you Mr. Bates for starting a subgenre of horror I love so much.
Favorite Kill: The shower scene… duh!
Fifth Place: Jigsaw (“Saw” Franchise)
This was hard. I originally wanted to put Candyman here, but I think that Jigsaw deserves a place in the top five. Why? Because of his personality and body count of course. Who doesn’t immediately recognize his voice and doesn’t get goosebumps when he says “I want to play a game…”. He came quite a long way from his original iteration in the James Wan original. Jigsaw hasn’t even always been the same person, starting with John Kramer and working its way through several different characters impacted by his crimes. There is also a very unique discussion to be had as to whether or not Kramer ever killed someone, since for his traps there was ALWAYS a way out. He also has very unique kills, in particular because he is not supernatural and all his traps are grounded in reality and human ingenuity. The franchise has lost its way in recent years, but I am sure more and more films will be released as long as Jigsaw keeps raking in the cash.
Favorite Kill: The boyfriends who decided to get revenge on the woman who cuckolded them both.
Fourth Place: Charles Lee Ray (“Child’s Play” Franchise)
I am referring to Charles Lee Ray specifically to separate this timeline from the new timeline being established by the 2019 remake where a robotic doll will be hacked by the Russians to downvote “The Last Jedi” and get Rian Johnson’s panties tied in a knot. So with that cleared up, Chucky has certainly earned a spot on this list. I placed him here for one main reason: he forced an entire generation of children to be terrified of dolls. There have always been creepy dolls and people terrified of them, but the idea of a mass murderer possessing a doll with the intent of then transferring his soul into a child? Woof. The humor and presence of Chucky, which simply wouldn’t (and won’t) exist without amazing performances by Brad Dourif bring the character full circle. Chucky has the second best one liners on this list, and almost all of them are still funny even after multiple viewings. Yes the franchise got a little weird with “Seed of Chucky”, but it truly feels back to its old roots with “Cult of Chucky”. Chuck also has the BEST sidekick on this list. Tiffany, played to perfection by Jennifer Tilly, is a great character in her own right and solidifies her man coming in at number four.
Favorite Kill: The Lover’s Motel Mirror Scene
Third Place: Freddy Krueger (“A Nightmare on Elm Street” Franchise)
I am going to be excluding the 2010 remake for my analysis for this character. Mainly because even though I think that Jackie Earl Hailey is overall a great actor and tried his best to replace Englund, the director didn’t seem to know if he wanted Freddy’s original vibe or his later vibe and thus we got the super uncomfortable Freddy. But with that out of the way, can we start talking about how AMAZING this character is? Sure, all facts point to him being a diddler in his real life, but supernatural Freddy is an icon. He toyed with his victims in a way that few others on this list do. He could be laugh out loud funny one scene and then immediately terrifying in the next. He had a great protagonist to go up against with Nancy, and in New Nightmare we even got to see the meta treatment that later horror films would do to far larger degrees. Robert Englund became synonymous with Freddy and I truly argue that you cannot have a Nightmare movie without him underneath the make up. And just like Chucky, Freddy took something out of everyday life and made it terrifying; sleep and dreams. If you were being honest, I know you can admit that you had trouble going to sleep after watching his victims be forced to endure their deepest fears before being slaughtered and added to Freddy’s body count.
Favorite Kill: Have to go to young Johnny Depp getting sucked into his bed
Runner-up: Ghostface (“Scream” Franchise)
Yes, Wes Craven gets another one of the slashers he made famous onto my top five list. And it is so well deserved! Ghostface is the second newest slasher on this list, but he has made an impact like few others have. “Scream” helped revitalize and forever change the future of horror and the slasher subgenre like no other film since Hitchcock established it back in 1960. The film was self-referential to the genre it existed in, laid out the rules for a slasher film in a way that was both enlightening and hilarious, and added an element of black comedy to the horror genre while still being just as scary. Another pro for Ghostface was that to me it was the first horror film I have seen where the sequel was better than the original. “Scream 2” took that black comedy, meta horror from the original and applied it to sequels. The full cast returns and the stakes are raised, and even though Billy and Stu are dead (and not brought back for some stupid reason) Mrs. Loomis and Mickey do a great job feeling in their shoes. I have more issues with the third and fourth entry in the franchise, but Ghostface was never one of them. All though a very large part of me hopes that the franchise will stay at rest without Wes Craven being able to take up the lead again (rest in peace sir) I still want to see Ghostface back on the big screen. And not that shit that MTV put out in the ether.
Favorite Kill: Makes me basic, but Casey and Steve set the tone for all that followed
Winner: Michael Myers (“Halloween” Franchise)
C’mon guys, if you have listened to any of the podcast you know that this was going to be the winner. Michael Myers is the king of the slashers. Although “Psycho” could be considered the first slasher, many believe (and I concur) that John Carpenter and Michael created the slasher genre and the tropes that contain the subgenre to this day. The morality clause? It came from “Halloween” whether Carpenter meant to include that or not. It started the final girl trope, which Jaime Lee Curtis wonderfully portrayed and went on to portray in several other horror films. Michael did have a low point though, and that cannot be ignored. The Cult of Thorne timeline and “Halloween: Resurrection” are worse films than the shittiest entries of the others on this list (except maybe “Psycho” (1998), because who the hell thought casting Vince Vaughn as Bates was a good idea?!?). But when Michael Myers is treated properly; like in the original, H20, Rob Zombie’s first entry, and 2018; none can compare, and the box office numbers support this assertion. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t run, he doesn’t even hold a grudge. He is evil incarnate, motivated by some unknown force to kill and destroy whatever is in front of him. It does look like the end of the Michael/Laurie saga ended this year, in a good way. They will obviously make a sequel because he brings in too much money for Blumhouse to not. I just hope that the writers and director remember what makes Michael the slasher deity that he is today.
Favorite Kill: From 2018, where he stalks the Soy Boy in the backyard with the flashing lights ending with the Beta Male being impaled on the iron fence.