Halloween (1978) was one of the first movies to kick off the slasher craze of the 1980s. The film follows a group of teenage babysitters on Halloween night who are blissfully unaware of the horror that awaits them. Unbeknownst to them, a homicidal mental patient, Michael Myers, had escaped the night before and is ready to kill again. Michael's doctor is desparately searching for him to stop the inevitible horror that will befall Haddonfield.
Friday the 13th: Series (1980-)
The Friday the 13th series revolves around a cursed campground, namely Camp Crystal Lake. The first in the franchise features Pamela Voorhees as a mother dead set on avenging her son's death (Jason). In the 1950s, the camp counselors at the time neglected Jason to go "full around," which led to his drowning as a result of their carelessness. Mrs. Voorhees is of the mind that all camp counselors are subsequently to blame, and seeks to murder them one by one. In the sequel, Jason returns from the dead as the masked force of nature to pick up where his mother left off.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven's creation that tells the story of a town full of teenagers tormented by the same nightmare. In their sleep they meet Freddy, a maniacal villian with knives for fingers. These dreams are not dreams-- what happens while they sleep is real, even death. The A Nightmare on Elmstreet franchise spawned several great sequels, such as the third installment A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. Craven's direction simulates a dreamlike atmosphere for the viewer and the movies feature a number of over-the-top deaths.
Child's Play (1988)
This is the movie that introduced audiences to Chucky, a doll possessed by homicidal convict Charles Lee Ray. When young Andy wants nothing more than a Good Guy doll for christmas, his impoverished mother fears she will be unable to afford one. As a stroke of luck she finds a homeless man with one for sale. What she doesn't know is that this doll in particular is possessed.
Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas (1974) is one of the first great slasher films of the 1970's. It even inspired John Carpenter to start work on Halloween (1978). The movie weaves a mystery around a sorority house on Christmas where the co-eds seem to be dropping off like flies. If you're someone who has only seen the remake, don't let that stop you from seeing the original.
Prom Night (1980)
The movie begins with a group of kids playing a game inside of an abandoned house. When they accidentally cause the death of a girl, it quickly becomes a distant memory and life returns to usual. The children soon become teenagers and it's the eve of prom night. In the midst of all the preparations, strange phone calls start coming in. No one knows who is doing it, but it could be an omen for what's to come.
The Fun House (1980)
The Fun House was directed by Tobe Hooper in 1980 after his success with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The plot centers on a group of teenagers who decide to stay at a carnival after closing time. Hiding above one of the rooms they discover that a hideous monster is chained up directly below their feet. When the beast escapes it smells blood and hunts them down one by one.
The film tells the story of a psychopath that roams the streets of New York seeking out young women to scalp and kill. Tom Savini's horror makeup and practical effect innovations are on full display in this one.
The Burning (1981)
This early 1980s slasher is often overshadowed by its predecessors, namely Friday the 13th. The Burning is about a summer camp where a former caretaker, Cropsy, was accidentally burned beyond recognition. He returns to camp 5 years later with a pair of garden shears to exact his revenge.
Stage Fright (1987)
Stage Fright has never really gotten the attention it deserves and has become somewhat obscure over the past couple of decades. It's a highly stylized film that plays more like a giallo. The plot revolves around a group of stage actors in preparation for their new play. During the rehearsal one of the girls gets hurt, and her friend drives her to the nearby psychiatric hospital. In the midst of her examination a psychotic killer escapes, hiding away in the back of their car. The killer manages to sneak into the theater leaving a number of over-the-top death scenes in his wake-- using anything from drills to chainsaws. It's pretty comical seeing the killer stomping around in an owl mask, but it's effectively creepy at the same time.
This under-the-radar slasher is about a young boy who kills his overbearing mother after finding him with an X-rated jigsaw puzzle. Never being punished for the crime he turns up at a Boston college campus 40 years later in hopes of making a human jigsaw puzzle of his own.