Sometimes, they come back. Kim Morrison aims for the head as she counts down the Top 10 times that slashers went supernatural…
Slasher movies often follow a formula so simple that Randy had a whole rant about it in Scream (1996). There’s a killer, often in a memorable mask and/or costume, who likes stalking and killing a bunch of people (usually teenagers) with something sharp and pointy. There’s lots of death, usually even more blood, and typically a battle with the final girl that sees the killer defeated…for now.
However, sometimes slashers like to combine their unique features with aspects of other sub-genres to create something entirely different altogether. And frequently we’ve seen the slasher genre venture into the supernatural side of things to give us a killer that’s a bit different from the standard slasher villain.
So, let’s take a look at 10 of the best times the slasher has combined with the supernatural world to create something wonderful!
10. I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)
Even though I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) finishes with a stinger ending which suggests that Ben Willis might not be dead after all, the third instalment in the franchise decides to take a more supernatural route to bring the hook-loving fisherman back without any other established characters.
This time around the Fisherman is a supernatural entity, who comes to life to take revenge on a group of teens who lie about the circumstances surrounding their friend’s death. It means we get the killer costume and hook deaths we’re used to, but there doesn’t have to be as much logic for how the Fisherman manages to appear in places or kill his victims.
9. Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)
Another third instalment turning supernatural comes from the Urban Legend series, and perhaps thinking it unlikely that a third serial killer would pop up using modern myths as a murder method, a revenge ghost seemed like a good way to go.
After being murdered by her prom date, Mary returns 35 years later for payback on the children of those who knew about her death. Moving to a supernatural killer allows Bloody Mary to use more over the top urban legends than the previous two movies, including spiders bursting out of a girl’s face and death by peeing on an electric fence.
8. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
While Prom Night (1980) was a standard stalk and slash movie, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II decided to give us a more memorable killer, and also goes down the ‘killing someone at prom and having them come back as an avenging spirit’ route.
After a jealous prank goes wrong, Mary Lou is killed by her date before she can be crowned prom queen. Thirty years later, her spirit is accidentally released by Vicki (Wendy Lyon), with Mary Lou possessing her in the hopes of finally becoming prom royalty. The now possessed Vicki gives us some lovely kills, mixing the more traditional slasher murders with straight-up supernatural slaughter, such as when one unlucky teen is crushed to death in a locker.
7. Child’s Play (1988)
After being shot to death by the police, serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) uses a voodoo spell to transfer his soul into a nearby Good Guy doll and starts calling himself Chucky.
With the police believing Charles dead, Chucky hopes to find a new host so he can move his soul back into a living person, and start his life afresh. However, the longer he’s trapped in the doll’s body, the more human he becomes, making him easier to kill in doll form.
6. Hatchet (2006)
In a Mardi Gras tour of the swamp gone wrong, a group of friends quickly find out that the legend of Victor Crowley is very real. Played by genre royalty Kane Hodder, Victor lived in the swamp with his father to avoid local bullies: but when the Crowley house was set on fire Victor’s father tried to rescue him, accidentally hatcheting V in the face.
After the tour group finds the old Crowley house, the undead Victor quickly makes his presence known, and shows himself to be one of the most brutal serial killers out there. His massive frame – combined with his undead abilities – means he can literally rip people in half with ease.
5. Candyman (1992)
Straying into urban legend territory again, Candyman tells the story of the eponymous Black artist (Tony Todd) who was killed by a lynch mob in the 1880s after falling in love with a white woman. He’s said to return if anyone says his name five times in a mirror, which people in this film are apparently all too eager to do.
After graduate student Helen (Virginia Madsen) summons Candyman, he becomes obsessed with her, killing those around her and isolating her from everyone she loves. Brutally murdering folk with his hook hand, he continues to grow his own macabre mythology.
4. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Sleepy Hollow is maybe not the first movie you think of when we talk about slashers, but considering the amount of decapitation that happens it definitely fits the slasher requirements.
The titular town is plagued by the regular beheading of its citizens after someone decides to raise the Headless Horseman to do their bidding. As an undead killer, the Horseman is pretty much unbeatable, even if he does have trouble going near holy ground. The fact that he’s not trying to hide his identity means he doesn’t have to be subtle whilst attacking, and can simply keep killing till he gets the job done.
3. Freaky (2020)
We’re dipping into soul-swapping again: this time Millie (Kathryn Newton) ends up changing bodies with the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) when he stabs her with an ancient dagger. The Butcher takes full advantage of being in a new body and begins a fresh killing spree, but Millie is stuck looking like a serial killer as she desperately tries to reach her friends for help.
The pals soon work out that stabbing the Butcher with the dagger will reverse the swap, though if it’s not done before midnight, the body switch will end up being permanent.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
After developing a taste for murdering the children of Springwood, and getting away with it on a technicality, Fred Kruger (Robert Englund) finds himself on the wrong side of the town’s parents: they attack Freddy at his hideout, burning him alive in revenge for his crimes.
However, Freddy’s anger and thirst for vengeance bring him back from the dead as a creature that can attack the town’s teenagers in their dreams, where their parents can’t protect them. Not only that, but Freddy can manipulate the dream world to reflect your worst fears and prevent his victims from escaping.
1. Tourist Trap (1979)
Tourist Trap has the set-up of a typical slasher movie, with teens getting lost in the middle of nowhere after their car breaks down. When they’re offered help by the kindly Mr Slauson (Chuck Connors) he takes them to his roadside attraction to wait while he tries mend their vehicle. Slauson is mourning his dead wife, and warns the teens of his strange brother who lives in the house next door. And things get even weirder when it turns out there’s a serial killer on the loose.
The thing is not only does this killer enjoy turning people into wax mannequins, but he also has the power to move inanimate objects and can control these uncanny effigies. This makes for a lot of creepy mannequin moments, one character having a range of objects thrown at them until they’re finally impaled with a pipe, and a wax museum coming to life to bolster the body count.
This article is released as part of our Slashanuary series. Also be sure to check out our slasher podcast episodes including deep-dives on Scream (both the 1996 original and 2022 requel).