The 12 Best Slasher Movie Monsters Ever, Ranked
By Chris E. Hayner on
It's spooky movie season, which means different things to different people. Some love their psychological horror films, while others love a good zombie apocalypse. Still, there are also more than a few fans of the slasher sub-genre that somehow keep those movies successful, even decades after the end of the supposed boom.
What makes a good slasher movie, though? Of course, you can always point to the final girl, like Halloween's Laurie Strode, as a big selling point. The idea that, for the most part, someone survives whatever is trying to kill them. Beyond those figures, though, it's the killers that make slasher movies interesting.
As the years have rolled on, it's the killers, themselves, that have become pop culture icons, for better or worse. While we all love Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's Freddy Krueger that people dress up as. Likewise, while a new Halloween movie wouldn't have happened without Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie, it's impossible to imagine her going toe-to-toe with anyone other than Michael Myers.
With that in mind, we've revisited arguably too many slasher movies to figure out who the best big screen killers of all time are. Once we had the best 12 figured out, we simply ranked then on how awesome they are. Because let's be honest, the mark of a great slasher killer is how memorable they remain even years after they've left theaters.
12. Billy Chapman
First appearance: Silent Night, Deadly Night
Billy Chapman deserves more credit than he's given as a slasher killer. Silent Night, Deadly Night is a movie that is largely forgotten by modern audiences, but this film about a many who has a psychotic breakdown and takes to killing on Christmas Eve while dressed as Santa Claus is a classic. While the movie spawned a franchise--there are 4 sequels and a remake--it's Billy that made Silent Night, Deadly Night such a weird and fun thing to watch.
First appearance: Hellraiser
The thing about the Hellraiser franchise is it's mostly bad. Pinhead, the central evil in most of the films, though, is very memorable. I mean, he's a ghostly white figure with needles sticking out of his head. How do you forget that?
It's thanks to Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites--the name of his species--that so many disturbing kills were pulled off throughout the series, though the movies only get worse as time goes on.
First appearance: Final Destination
This is a peculiar one. You can't actually see this killer, but it's perhaps the most deadly. In Final Destination, a group of teens manages to avoid dying in a horrible accident when one of them has a vision of it unfolding. However, after avoiding their fates, Death must now take them out. That premise was repeated throughout five films, and there's something fun about each one of them. Death, as it turns out, can be very creative when it wants to.
9. Norman Bates
First appearance: Psycho
It was Norman Bates that uttered the line, "We all go a little mad sometimes." While Psycho arrived long before even Halloween, this 1960 horror movie can easily be classified as a slasher. Norman, in many ways, set the stage for what slasher killers would become. He's a man who has fallen over the edge of sanity and given into the urge to kill. Of course, for him, he thinks it's his mother doing the dirty deeds. As we all know, though, she's dead and he's wearing a wig.
First appearance: Saw
Somehow, there have been 8 Saw movies, dropping unsuspecting victims into the worst escape rooms of all time. Behind just about all of them is the Jigsaw Killer, otherwise known as John Kramer. What makes Jigsaw so good--and hard to watch--is how inventive he is. Instead of outright murdering people, he essentially challenges them to complete gruesome obstacle courses that kill them in over-the-top ways. Seriously, what mind thought up the reverse bear trap?
Sadly, though, the Saw movies are less about Jigsaw than the gore he inflicts. The franchise helped a resurgence of "torture porn" films that are far more focused on blood and guts than developing any character.
First appearance: Child's Play
If you were a child of the '80s and had a My Buddy or Kid Sister doll, Child's Play was pretty much the scariest thing you could imagine. Chucky, the Good Guy doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, has no problem slashing down everything in his way. For seven movies, Chucky raised all kinds of hell while making jokes. Honestly, if anything takes away from the mystique of Chucky, it's all the jokes. The sillier you get, the less scary you are.
6. Mrs. Voorhees
First appearance: Friday the 13th
Sure, Jason is the more important name in slasher history, but he's nothing without his mother. While Jason didn't get his hockey mask until Friday the 13th: Part 3, he didn't even appear, as an adult, in the first film. Instead, it's revealed after several bodies have dropped that it's actually Pamela Voorhees that's murdering campers, in a twisted quest for vengeance after blaming camp counselors for her son's death. Pamela launched the Friday the 13th franchise and left an impressive trail of bodies in her wake.
First appearance: Scream
The slasher franchise was dead and buried, but just like the killers that haunted so many dreams, the genre was resurrected by Scream. Ghostface, a mantle worn by multiple people throughout the four Scream films, became the new face of slasher movies. With meta references at the ready, Ghostface patterned itself after a wide range of classic villains and kickstarted a resurgence of slasher movies. Unfortunately, titles like I Know What You Did Last Summer weren't quite as good as A Nightmare on Elm Street.
First appearance: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
What made Leatherface so scary in the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that the film opened with the idea that it was based on a true story. Of course, that's not exactly true, but the idea of a cannibal killer in Texas--or even an entire family of cannibals--was downright terrifying. Arm that killer with a loud chainsaw and a mask made out of the skin of victims, and you have something special.
3. Jason Voorhees
First appearance: Friday the 13th
When slasher killers are parodied, it's usually Jason that serves as the template. While he appeared briefly in the first film, it wasn't until the sequel when he became an iconic slasher. He's a giant and menacing force wearing a mask, wielding a machete, and stalking horny teenagers at a summer camp. When you think of slasher movies, that's probably the image that first comes to mind. Of course, with 12 movies to his credit, that's not surprising.
And while they've varied in quality--never forget that Jason went to space--this killer has the most films under his belt. Now if he'd just move on from the death of his mom.
2. Freddy Krueger
First appearance: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy is a nightmare come true, which is what makes him so scary. Over 9 films--if you include Freddy vs. Jason and the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot--Freddy and his glove of knives have been haunting the dreams of kids who grew up in the '80s and '90s. The idea of a child killer who now haunts the nightmares of kids, hunting and killing them, is bone chilling. That said, there was some silliness as the Nightmare franchise went on. Freddy killing a kid using the NES Power Glove is great comedy, though not necessarily scary.
1. Michael Myers
First appearance: Halloween
It's hard to argue against Michael Myers as the best slasher killer of all time. After all, he's the one that launched the genre craze. And while it's been argued for years who deserved the honors between him, Freddy, and Jason, the answer is simple.
Michael, as introduced in the first movie and again in the 2018 film, is evil and chaos incarnate. His killing is random and doesn't really serve an ulterior motive. Yes, that was muddled in the films that followed. Thankfully, though, that piece of the Myers legacy has been retconned. Instead of a killer seeking some sort of vengeance, Michael is just demented and evil and there's nothing scarier than that.