Top Seven Slasher Scripts You Must Read

One of the most iconic subgenres in Horror is the Slasher genre. When one thinks of Slasher Films, images of knife-wielding maniacs, gratuitous nudity, gore, and late teens partygoers come to mind. Slasher films are iconic because there is a certain audience expectation that comes with each film, but these trends were made by certain films and were subverted in others. What films and scripts were able to withstand the test of time and became iconic or made iconic characters?

These are the Top 7 Slasher Scripts You Must Read!

1. Halloween (1978)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%; Audience Score: 89%)

Critic’s Consensus: Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.

Why you must read: Halloween may be the first Slasher Film, but it may be the most impactful. The simplicity of the antagonist in comparison to the more complex cast makes a great dichotomy. By taking away Michael Myer’s humanity, it makes him stand out as an antagonist and his realistic kills makes him all the more terrifying.


2. Scream (1996)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%; Audience Score: 79%

Critic’s Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven’s subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it’s a little too cheeky for some.

Why you must read: Scream is both a great Satire and Horror film. It lists off every slasher trope you can think of, parodies it, and makes the audience react to them. It takes a rare understanding of the genre to make the audience forget what they were just told and tow the line between the two, as well as add in their own twists.


3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%; Audience Score: 84%)

Critic’s Consensus: Wes Craven’s intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.

Why you must read: Freddy Krueger is the stuff nightmares are made of (pun intended). This was a premise that thought outside the box and is something unescapable. You don’t have to live in Haddonfield, you don’t have to go to Camp Crystal Lake, but you have to go to sleep. Once asleep, you’re in his world, and he makes the rules.


4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%; Audience Score: 82%)

Critic’s Consensus: Thanks to a smart script and documentary-style camerawork, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieves start-to-finish suspense, making it a classic in low-budget exploitation cinema.

Why you must read: Realism. The documentary approach, the sheer brutality, and the Ed Gein-like imagery, it’s a masterpiece in disgust. It’s focus was based off of the coverage of the Vietnam War, and by doing so, shows that even the most exploitative works can have cultural importance beyond the voyeuristic filmmaking.


6. Candyman (1992)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%; Audience Score: 62%)

Critic’s Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.

Why you must read: Nuance. This is a Slasher film that subverts the genre by being a social commentary as well. Themes of gentrification and urban legends add an aura of unease in a familiar environment of a major city. Adding in the idea of these atrocities happening in broad daylight, Candyman embraces the civil discourse that many face on a daily basis.


7. Psycho (1960)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%; Audience Score: 95%)

Critic’s Consensus: Infamous for its shower scene, but immortal for its contribution to the horror genre. Because Psycho was filmed with tact, grace, and art, Hitchcock didn’t just create modern horror, he validated it.

Why you should read: Though not a traditional Slasher film, one could argue it started here. Seen as exploitative, grotesque, and was initially given mixed reviews, Psycho was the film that opened the door for what horror could do. With a nuanced story and incredible characters, Psycho was a great film.


Bonus Film:

Child’s Play (1988)

(Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%; Audience Score: 63%)

Critic’s Consensus: Child’s Play occasionally stumbles across its tonal tightrope of comedy and horror, but its genuinely creepy monster and some deft direction by Tom Holland makes this chiller stand out on the shelf.

Why you should read: Child’s Play is a reminder that you’re supposed to have fun writing and making movies. When reading, you can see how much fun the writer’s had making it. A serial killer in a doll’s body is going to be taken with a grain of salt. Tis script is a reminder to dial any idea you have to 11.


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