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10 Goriest Slashers of the ’80s!

10 Goriest Slashers of the ’80s!

While Halloween was by no means the first slasher film, it was the definitive classic that launched what’s lovingly dubbed as the Golden Age of Slashers, the period from 1978 to the mid-eighties where the slasher sub-genre was at the height of popularity. After that, slasher fatigue set in and most became straight-to-video releases, where they still remained profitable. Why are slashers so popular? One of the reasons is the death scenes; the more creative and memorable the better.

When trying to find the 10 most ruthlessly gory slashers of the ‘80s, a funny discover was made; most of the slashers I remembered as being particularly bloody weren’t so bloody after all. Often, perhaps mostly as a budgetary constraint, kills were off screen or suggestive, cutting away from the kill moment and opting to rely on sound and the power of the viewer’s mind to fill in the blanks. In other cases, the body count was increased by a lot with blood and gore effects on proud display, but the movie itself wasn’t so great. For better or worse, here are the 10 bloodiest slashers from the ‘80s.


The Prowler (1981)

The Prowler

The Prowler is an underrated slasher with some of the most authentically violent looking kills on screen. So it should surprise no one that Tom Savini is the one behind the effects in this underrated slasher. The killer, dressed in vintage Army fatigues, stalks and kills college co-eds during the annual spring dance. Though his appearance isn’t exactly iconic, his kills certainly are. The killer’s preferred weapon is a pitchfork, though he makes excellent use of knifes, shotguns, and even a bayonet. The most brutal death occurs when the Prowler shoves his bayonet through a victim’s skull so hard that it emerges through the throat. It’s so realistic looking that I tend to agree with Savini’s assessment that The Prowler showcases his best work.


The Burning (1981)

The Burning

A summer camp slasher with remarkable similarities to Friday the 13th, filmed and released in close proximity to one another, this slasher has the edge in terms of blood and gore. Tom Savini’s special effects are fantastic, and the bloodbath on a raft is a highlight. It earned notoriety on the Video Nasty list due to a very graphic death involving a prostitute being impaled with scissors, but even the American MPAA had issues with the gore. It wasn’t until a 2007 DVD release that the cut scenes of gore were restored. Cropsy was an iconic killer, based on an urban legend, which never quite received the attention he deserved.


The Mutilator (1985)

The Mutilator

Originally titled Fall Break, this goofy slasher even has its own theme song, albeit one that’s jarringly out of place in its upbeat tone. That’s just one of the many campy qualities that makes The Mutilator so endearingly bad. This slasher is a weird whodunit type, in that it’s only the victims that don’t know who the identity of the killer. The acting is bad and the dialogue is laughable, and yet that only enhances the entertainment value. Most importantly, though, is the gore. The killer’s use of a fishing gaff is bloody and brilliant, but it’s final showdown between lead protagonist Ed Jr. and the killer that solidifies its splatter reputation, spilled guts and all.


Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

Hack o Lantern

If the pun title isn’t already an indication, this slasher is Halloween themed. It’s also very, very strange. With a plot about a Grandpa who oversees a cult that sacrifices victims on Halloween, this low budget slasher takes a sort of kitchen sink approach. An insane amount of nudity, Satanism, a female demon that shoots lasers from her eyes, and hair metal bands are just some of the weird inclusions in this slasher. It’s a cheese fest, for sure, but it least it delivers on the blood and gore. Decapitation by pitchfork is especially great, but there’s no shortage of blood at all here. Hack-O-Lantern is not a holiday classic, but it is one of the bloodiest slashers.


Nightmare (1981)

Nightmare

Also known as Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, or the movie Tom Savini sued to have his name removed from the credits, stating he only served as a consultant on the effects and nothing more. It also marks the only instance where a distributor served time in prison for refusing to release a film uncut during the Department of Public Prosecutions persecution of films deemed too obscene, relegating them to the Video Nasty list. As a slasher film, it tends to drag in the middle while slowly doling out its plot, which sees a mental patient escape from his hospital and stalk a family in Florida all while stacking up a body count in the neighborhood. The climax is worth the wait with the killer finally entering the house and unleashing terror while donning a creepy mask. What really makes this worthy of the list, though, is the over the top, extremely bloody flashback sequence that’s shown in part during the film’s opening before unveiling its entirety during the final act. Between Tom Savini’s influence and it being an Italian production, it’s extreme.


Intruder (1989)

Intruder

The guy who went to school with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell and co-wrote Evil Dead II, Scott Spiegel, should surprise no one that he understands gore. This slasher sees a killer stalk and slaughter the overnight crew of a local grocery store. The setting alone makes for some of the most inventive, gruesome deaths in slasher memory. Both Sam and Ted Raimi have lengthy roles as two of the grocery store’s employees, and even Bruce Campbell makes a brief cameo. Spiegel holds nothing back, capturing every detail of the kills. The meat slicer to the face is particularly great, but no death here disappoints. Intruder is one of my absolute favorite slashers of all time. In terms of fun and gore, this one is tough to beat.


Evil Dead Trap (1988)

Evil Dead Trap

This Japanese slasher draws a lot of obvious influence from Dario Argento, including a Goblin-like score, and gore master Lucio Fulci. The plot centers on a TV crew that explores an abandoned warehouse where a snuff film was purportedly filmed. Of course, they get more than they bargained for when they get picked off one by one. There’s a very sleazy aesthetic to this film that lingers long after, and the amount of plot twists involved are impressive. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the death sequences. So. Much. Blood. Those with a distaste for eye trauma beware; there’s a slow close-up of eye slicing so painfully gross that it’s a tough watch for even the most hardened of horror lovers. The killer’s identity is so bizarre; I’ll leave that discovery for you.


Maniac (1980)

Maniac

This William Lustig directed slasher sees Joe Spinell’s Frank Zito loose in New York, killing women and collecting their scalps as trophies. The plot alone is ripe for glorious splatter, and Tom Savini’s effects really make this something special. The opening kill that sees copious amounts of blood washing ashore sets the tone, and it never lets up. Stabbings, throat garroting, head ripping, and Tom Savini’s head being blown off in one memorable scene all prove to be some of Savini’s finest work. No one offers realistic gore like he does. Maniac is sleazy, exploitive, and full of violent gore, landing it among the top in terms of the bloodiest slashers ever.


Violent Shit (1989)

Violent Shit

German filmmaker Andreas Schnaas aims to truly offend with his aptly titled slasher. The plot is as simple as it gets, with Karl the Butcher (aka K. the Butcher Shitter) goes on an extremely gory killing spree after killing the police. Not only is this slasher violent, but, well, it’s also shit. This low budget slasher seeks to serve no other purpose but to showcase the most brutal death sequences. That may sound great, but it somehow manages to get boring in its repetitiveness quickly. Feces eating, dismemberment, disembowelings, castrations, and more, Violent Shit is a vicious assault on the senses. As a gory slasher, it earns its place on this list in every way. Beyond that, though, it’s terrible.


Pieces (1982)

Pieces

An Italian interpretation of an American slasher that sees a killer murdering college co-eds in an attempt to put their body parts together to form a human jigsaw puzzle is every bit as gory as the plot would make it seem. It also happens to be nonsensical in plot, making this a definitive cult classic. The film opens with a boy violently axing his mother to death upon her discovery that he’s assembling a puzzle of a naked woman. Inexplicably, he decides to go on a spree 40 years later without explanation for what triggered him. That’s really the least of things that can’t be explained plot-wise. So bad it’s funny dialogue and a random violent kung fu teacher makes this film hover in a constant state of “WTF?” More importantly, the gore is rampant. The killer’s chainsaw rips through limbs with the most amazing frequency, delivering a never-ending torrent of blood.



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COMMENTS

95 Comments
  • Good list!

  • Motion Fiction Media

    The Prowler is soooo underrated. That kill in the image for it is one of the best, and so creepy when his eyes roll back

    • turk

      Awesome slasher. But I’d say the pool throat slashing is the best kill. That is by far the best throat slash ever put to film.

    • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

      Makes any Friday the 13th film look tame.

    • Saturn

      The Prowler really is ripe for a remake.

  • Jay Bennett

    Pieces, does exactly what it says on the tin

    • Saturn

      Bad Chop Suey.

      • turk

        Crazy movie. That part was so out of nowhere.

  • Which ones do you guys recommend? (I’ve seen Intruder)

    • Necro

      The Prowler

    • Saturn

      Out of those mentioned I’d say The Burning, The Mutilator, Maniac, The Prowler & Evil Dead Trap are the best one of the bunch, I’d also add 1980’s The Boogeyman (although not it’s sequels).
      Although not as gory as some of the above, from an 80’s slasher standpoint I’d also recommend My Bloody Valentine, Just Before Dawn, Silent Night Deadly Night, Happy Birthday To Me, Sleepaway Camp, Stage Fright & Body Count as those that are great, but perhaps not as obvious as the Friday 13ths/Halloweens of this world.

      • turk

        I have a fondness for “Final Exam,” But it definitely had it’s flaws. Still, the fake terrorist attack scene is so WTF…

        • Saturn

          You know I’ve watched that movie around 10 times, but aside from the beginning I can never really remember much about it.

      • J Jett

        regarding MY BLOODY VALENTINE, i recommend the restored version that had the edited out footage put back into the film. some of the restored footage is overtly poor quality (it’s a tad jarring when the video quality switches from normal/good to VHS-ish quality) but it’s awesome to have the complete film with all the gore intact!

        • Saturn

          I agree – hopefully there will be a fully restored bluray release at some stage, with better quality additional footage – although the dvd will do me fine for now – like you say, it’s nice to have it uncut nowadays when it seemed like it would never happen.
          With MBV, the director’s cut of Exorcist 3, Nightbreed and some others we never thought we’d see, there is still hope for the Friday The 13th series.

          • J Jett

            THE EXORCIST III is in my top 5 horror movies ever and of course i bought the bluray with the director’s cut version included but i tried watching it but the restored footage is SO poor in quality (it’s worse than VHS quality…it’s pretty much betamax quality! LOL). it is cool to have that restored version though. thankfully the MBV restored footage was in better shape. i will always forever wish that the powers that be hadn’t lost/destroyed/whatever the edited footage (thanx to the MPAA) from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. god i wish that one was still a possibility. 🙁

    • turk

      Prowler. But make sure it is the uncut version. Savini’s finest, in my opinion.

    • Eastman420

      Maniac and The Prowler are a must watch for any horror fan. Should almost be a requirement lol!!!

      • Prowler has been thrown out by quite a few people, I’ll make that one a priority!!!

  • Creepshow

    The moral of this story is:

    Tom Savini is the shizballs.

  • I tried Pieces a while ago because it sounded right up my street but I couldn’t get past how absolutely ridiculous that first scene was

  • Necro

    Very nice list Meagan! Besides ‘Body Horror’ & ‘Creature Features’, the ‘Slasher’ sub-genre is probably my favorite in all of Horror; well probably a favorite of many fans. But again a very nice list! I racked my brain and although there are tons of ‘slasher’ movies, there are only a select few that go specifically onto this list. Here are a couple more worth mentioning IMO:

    – ‘The Eyes of a Stranger’ (1981)
    – ‘The Slayer’ (1982)
    – ‘Scalps’ (1983)

    • Motion Fiction Media

      The Eyes of a Stranger is great

      • Saturn

        All alone now

        Except for the memories
        Of what we had and what we knew
        Every time I try to leave it behind me
        I see something that reminds me of you.
        Every night the dreams return to haunt me
        Your rosary wrapped around your throat
        I lie awake and sweat, afraid to fall asleep
        I see your face looking back at me, looking back at me
        And I raise my head and ask
        What have you done with my dvd copy of
        Eyes Of A Stranger.
        I need it back so I can rewatch it myself
        Agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!

      • Mightygil

        I LOVE Eyes of a Stranger. Definitely doesn’t get enough love

  • biff

    Excellent list — although I have yet to see Evil Dead Trap or the wonderfully titled Violent Shit, I still vividly remember me and a slew of high-school buddies huddled around the VCR either high or drunk watching Pieces (on a double-bill with the original XTRO), effectively predating MST3K by a couple of years. Good times.

    • Saturn

      The first EDT movie is fantastic – the 2 sequels, on the other hand…..
      When it comes to the Violent Shit franchise they at least do what they say on the tin, as they are not only Violent, but……

      I can imagine a double bill of both Xtro and Pieces would be a fun night, especially if you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for….!

      • biff

        We had no clue — I think I had read a blurb or two in Fangoria magazine, but the other folks had no idea what they were in for. One guy, a big strapping football player I regularly got high with, was particularly taken during the “birth sequence” in XTRO. He just kept saying, “What the FUCK, man?” It was golden.

        • Saturn

          I remember the first time I watch Xtro I was take aback by the wackiness of it (it’s one of the movies that was on the video nasties list, section 3); I was kinda disappointed when I watched it’s sequels that they were more straight-ahead sci-fi horror movies which knocked off Aliens & Predator.

          • biff

            Yeah, the sequels are no good, but I’d like to think the original had an influence on later productions like The X Files, with its craziness.

        • diapers

          Never even heard of XTRO, will watch as soon as possible… looks all kinds of WACK.

      • Evan3

        Wait… you’re buying movies encased in tin?!

        • Saturn

          That’s how we get them in the UK, in a tin can.
          When we want to watch the movie we have to get the tin opener out.
          🙂

          • Dennis Giles

            Ha !

  • Hamilcar Racho

    You forgot sleepaway camp

    • Saturn

      Sleepaway Camp wasn’t really gory though, so doesn’t really qualify as such.

      • 1000

        HUH ??? It was exceedingly gory from what i remember.

        • Saturn

          Re-watch it again – it’s not that gory at all (especially compared to The Burning & The Mutilator).

        • Mightygil

          I love Sleepaway Camp, but it’ definitely not very gory

  • Dennis Giles

    There was so many great gore fests in the late 70’s and through the 80’s this list is indeed a good one,but could extend to 20-25 easily !
    I was watching a dozen horror movies over the weekends at least through the 1980’s..loved and still love em !!
    “slasher” wise.. May i add :
    Happy Birthday To Me.
    Madman (Marz)
    Black Christmas (1974)
    The New York Ripper (Italian slasher)

    • aschrec

      I like a lot of your list, but I’ll never understand why Black Christmas gets added to or mentioned on any of these lists. It’s so slow and boring, and there really isn’t any gore. I’m convinced that horror fans have been deluded into thinking it’s a real slasher horror.

      • Dennis Giles

        Granted very slow paced,but for tension reasons I think.
        Black Christmas is underrated in my book,and was well acted.
        So there’s a “killer” aka a “slasher” it is classed as a horror typically.
        But I see ya point.

        • Eastman420

          Love the fact to that they never catch the killer and there was never a sequel. Cool to kind of think where he went and what he did after.

        • Mightygil

          probably my biggest issue with Black Christmas is it spends too much time following the boring dad trying to figure out what we saw on screen. Not an exciting way to pad a film.

      • Saturn

        It’s one of the GREAT slasher movies.
        Now, if you go into it on the back of Rabid Slumber Party Sorority Chainsaw Demon Cheerleaders pt 13, you may be a little disappointed with the lack of grue, but for of it’s time it was a great movie – and STILL is. Much better than that shitty remake it go a few years back.

        • aschrec

          Oh it’s for sure better than the remake. And no, I don’t watch the kind of crap you are suggesting. If I were to watch it on the back of anything, it would be Bay of Blood, Alice Sweet Alice, Driller Killer, Maniac (OG), Any Argento or Fulci (or the like), etc. etc.

          I think people just get nostalgic for Black Christmas for various reasons, and that’s fine. I just never saw the appeal.

          • Saturn

            Each to their own.
            I’m about to put my order in for the new UK bluray disc of it, so will have in plenty of time for my yearly Christmas Eve viewing…..

          • Mightygil

            haha I was about to agree with your Black Christmas comment until you mentioned A Bay of Blood..

      • 1000

        Wash your mouth out dude. Black Christmas is a MASTERPIECE !!! Does it belong on a “gory” list though ? NO.

    • J Jett

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME instantly came to mind when i read this article! i love that movie! as much as i love the original BLACK CHRISTMAS, i’d add the remake to the list. it has tons of great gore (eyeball eating, etc.)!

      • Mightygil

        Happy Birthday to Me isn’t really gory though, it’s mostly suggested

    • 1000

      Little to NO gore in Black Christmas dude. Good call on New York Ripper though.

  • Jon Macmenamin

    Pieces is Spanish not Italian!

    • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

      Yes, by Juan P. Simon, who also did Cthulhu Mansion. But let’s put that one under bad comedy.

  • Evan3

    A horror list comprised solely of movies I’ve never seen. I’ve added at least half of these to my movies to watch list.

    • Saturn

      If you’re a slasher fan then you will have a great time catching up with them – there’s some really good stuff there.

    • Eastman420

      Dude missing out man……

  • diapers

    Oh wow, Violent Shit! Ok, if you are thinking about seeing this, please see Violet Shit 3 instead (aka Zombie Doom, aka Infantry of Doom). The version dubbed into English is a mastercraft in absurdity.

    • Saturn

      Indeed – that is the one with the white doctor who has been obviously dubbed by a black guy iirc? HILARIOUS!

      • diapers

        Ah yes, Zombie 90 is my other favorite Schnaas movie. The dubbing is so freakin crazy! I’ve tried to watch some of his other flicks but they are tough to sit through (like “Nikos the Impaler”). But anyway, check out the dubbed to english version of Infantry of Doom. Here be a clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdWOAJPAbSE

    • J.J.

      Why is your name “diapers”? xD

      • diapers

        A loooooong time ago, about age 20, I was at a beer festival and drank so many beers that I soiled my undergarments while trying to unlock my bicycle. My peers anointed me that nickname pretty quick. Needless to say, the boozing days are done, but the name kind of stuck 😉

        • J.J.

          I see. I was thinking you were one of these…

  • Jaguar67

    Evil Dead Trap? Hack O Lantern? Wow. Never heard of them and I followed horror movies very closely in the 80s and worked at a video store. They sound intriguing. Although I can’t handle eye gore. Zombie, Strange Behavior, Hostel—I have a fairly strong stomach but eye slicing/piercing/needle entering is too much.

    • Saturn

      Back in the 80’s something like Evil Dead Trap would have been hard to get hold of outside of Asia; I first saw it sometime around the mid 90’s back when I did a lot of tape trading. Fine memories indeed of nth gen bootlegs where you could just make out that something nasty was happening on screen……….

  • KSE1977

    Evil Dead trap is brutal!! Nice inclusion and some others I have never heard of.

    • Saturn

      I enjoyed that the movie started off more like an Argento movie, but then ended with more of a Cronenberg feel

  • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

    Evil Dead Trap is something else. The only horror film I know set in an abandoned and very dark aircraft hangar. The reveal at the end is the most bizarre and original thing.

    • J.J.

      Wasn’t Quarantine (American REC) 2 set at an airport?

      • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

        Dunno. Not seen it.

  • Nicolas Caiveau

    I only saw a few movies on this list,like Maniac. I’m glad to know I haven’t explored all of the 80’s yet 😀

  • BreeBennett

    From this list, I’ve only seen The Multilator and it is pretty good in my opinion.

    • MrX13

      I’m going to watch that one this week. It’s on Amazon Prime

      • BreeBennett

        You will like it.

        • MrX13

          I just started watching it last night, only about 20 mins but wil finish it tonight. The kids just got to the beach condo and started cleaning up so looking forward to the rest of the movie.

          Catchy tune in the beginning when they drive off…haha classic cheesy 80s music

          • BreeBennett

            Watch the rest and tell me your thoughts.

        • MrX13

          Finished The Mutilator this weekend and it was really good. The gore and death scenes were intense and I really loved that last “chopping” scene at the very end. Very surprising.

          The only thing I was laughing at was when they playing that game with the lights out. The moon light shining all over the house and they were acting like they couldn’t see anything…haha was too funny.

          • BreeBennett

            I’m happy you loved it as well!! The death scenes are really good!! And I also laughed at that part lol
            The movie is a great fun!!!!

  • Jaguar67

    How about Killer! from 1989 (no to be confused with John Woo’s “The Killer”). Made on a shoestring budget in North Carolina in 1988. Recorded it off HBO years ago and ripped a DVD copy.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097666/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

    And although not a slasher film per se, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer deserves a mention.

    • diapers

      Fuck, never heard of this 1989 Killer. Seem Elusive.

  • MrX13

    Wow! I really need to catch up 80s slasher movies. I’ve only seen The Prowler, Maniac, and parts of The Burning. Amazon Prime…here I come!

  • Eastman420

    Great list!!!! Some all time classics in there and not just because of the insane amounts of gore.

  • J. Moses

    I would also recommend:
    MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)
    TENEBRE (1982)
    STAGE FRIGHT (1987)

    And remember, always check beforehand it’s uncut. The 80s was whack for that shit.

    • Mightygil

      really My Bloody Valentine should be on this list

  • discochic

    Tenebrae, Hellbent, Stagefright, Slayer, Twisted Nightmare,

  • darklordofgorgoroth

    The Slayer, Der Todesking

  • RJ MacReady

    The shotgun blast to Tom Savini’s exploding head in ‘Maniac’ was pretty awesome.

  • dvsinla

    warning to anyone who uses shudder… The Intruder version on Shudder edits out the gore… was very disappointing.

  • 1000

    A list of the goriest 80’s horror without STREET TRASH – ain’t no list.

    • discochic

      duh – it ain’t a slasher – UNDERSTAND?

    • Farmer Vincent

      I love Street Trash, but slasher?

  • Raul Calvo

    Why Maniac is considered a slasher? It’s not. It has more things in common with Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer than with The Burning or The Prowler or any other slasher released at the time.

    • Mightygil

      Yeah, must be the same people who consider Evil Dead a slasher

  • h_a_l_l_o

    no ‘guinea pig 2 ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’?!

  • Bmac

    I have all these movies except for Hackolantern, Evil Dead Trap and Violent $#!+. I think I will track down Hackolantern…

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