The term “slasher” conjures many terrifying yet thrilling images in the minds of horror cinema lovers. From the vibrant giallo cinema of the late 1960s, to the birth of the contemporary slasher flick in the dying days of the 1970s, the murderous genre has left a crimson blood trail that can be traced back through several decades.
However, when you talk about teens who just want to party and deformed maniacs who just want to mutilate, one period stands out like a sore thumb, or rather, a basement full of severed limbs, the 1980s.
The success of Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (1974) and John Carpenter’s seminal slasher, Halloween (1978), would alert studios to the fact that audiences were more than willing to hand over their cash to witness the simplistic yet gruesome conventions this form of horror served up, sparking production on countless additions to the sub-genre.
The decade of excess would commit more slasher flicks to screen than any other, presenting gloriously gory highs and laughably lacklustre lows. This tidal wave of releases would eventually drown the genre before the decade was done as audiences grew desensitized and weary. However, with slasher cinema being rejuvenated by a slew of turn-of-the-century releases, let’s revisit the 1980’s best and most influential releases.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Alongside Halloween, Sean S. Cunningham’ s Friday the 13th is responsible for establishing and defining many of the conventions that are recognised as essential when creating a quintessential slasher picture. As an unsuspecting group of camp counselors – including Kevin Bacon – experience a nightmare vacation on Camp Crystal Lake thanks to an unseen killer, audiences were treated to a POV murder montage that punished those who sullied sacred ground with their flirtatious teen antics.
Despite the franchise being synonymous with the hulking Jason Voorhees, the debut picture in the series saw a very different yet closely connected murderer take up arms to enact their revenge.