More than two decades ago we were served with some of the most iconic horror killers ever put to screen, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, Leatherface and Pinhead. If anything has been evident since then it’s that remakes haven’t been able to truly do the classic films justice in the modern age, and with the trend of watered down Hollywood releases lacking everything that made those killers as daunting and intimidating as they were, we wonder when that next great icon will turn up. While there are some very good candidates in the works I feel like the field is still lacking in the amount that we were dominant in the 70’s and 80’s. So I’ve put together a list of my favorite horror killers from horror films and that have been released since the mid 90’s that fit the bill one way or another.
5. Chrome Skull (Laid to Rest): LAID TO REST is a very mediocre film and that’s being kind. However, it does have one thing going for it though, some very cool gore effects and a slasher that has some really cool and interesting characteristics. The killer is a very bald man that dawns a chrome skull mask, dresses in a suit and straps a small video camera to his shoulder to record his dirty deeds. He also wields a pretty wicked knife to slaughter his victims. The potential is in the making for a very cool and memorable icon; let’s just hope the sequel (which is in the works) improves greatly on the first.
4. Victor Crowley (Hatchet): Love it or hate it, Adam Green’s HATCHET is a film that evokes the old 80’s slasher vibe. It’s not going to take home many awards for it’s over the top and subpar acting, but the film has lots of fun laughs and kills lurking within the frames. The films villain is a disfigured mad man by the name of Victor Crowley, who swings a hatchet and many other tools to stab, dismember and mutilate his victims when they trespass in his swamp. The sequel promises buckets upon buckets of blood and severed body parts and was released uncut and unrated in select theaters October 1, 2010.
3. Sam (Trick R’ Treat): TRICK R’ TREAT sat in limbo far longer than it deserved. When it finally made its way to DVD last year lots of horror fans were pleasantly surprised by the quality, since it took nearly two years to find its way to the general public. The film focuses on several different stories but one character is prominent throughout and featured in the last segment of the film. The character I’m referring to is Sam, a small trick or treater going around town in an orange costume with a knapsack on his head. In the last segment he stalks and spooks an old man that lacks the Halloween spirit in a very well done and creepy sequence. He also makes a weapon out of a huge pumpkin sucker, and that’s a win in my book.
2. Jigsaw (Saw): I refuse to believe at this point that no one has seen the original SAW film, so everyone should know by now that JIGSAW is the orchestrator of the events in that film and the subsequent sequels. Sure each film becomes a little more redundant than the one before it and we are heading into SAW 3D (SAW 7) by the end of the month, but the idea of a man setting all these elaborate and brutal traps to punish and test the evil people of the world is pretty cool. JIGSAW rears his head in every single sequel pumped out even though he’s been dead since the end of the third film. It will be interesting to see IF SAW 3D doesn’t end up being the last, how they will continue integrating the dead icon into more sequels.
1. Ghostface (Scream): Back in 1996 Wes Craven directed a little film known as SCREAM. It was a serviceable skewering of the slasher genre as well as being a fantastic entry into it as well. Out of that film and it’s sequels we were treated with a simple yet memorable foe known as Ghostface, the costume the killers in each film dawn to stalk and terrorize Sidney and her friends. The third film surely left a bitter taste in the SCREAM fanbase, but that hasn’t kept me from looking forward to what Craven has in store for us in SCREAM 4, which I’m sure should be better than his NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET & SCREAM hybrid, MY SOUL TO TAKE.
SOMEWHAT HONERABLE MENTIONS
Cupid (Valentine): This doesn’t make the top list because VALENTINE is a perfect example of Hollywood just trying to emulate other slasher films rather than set their own trends and rules. The look of the killer is actually pretty cool with the Cupid mask, black trench coat and a nose that would bleed at certain moments, but the inventiveness just wasn’t there, minus one sweet kill involving Denise Richards, a hot tub and a drill. So the potential was there for a franchise set around a Valentine’s Day killer, and if there’s anything we need around that holiday, it’s a good old fashioned massacre. There was very little setting the film apart from its predecessors which is why it’s likely that Cupid won’t even be revisited anytime soon.
Hook Dude (I Know What You Did Last Summer): I always think of this as the lesser SCREAM flick. It was released a year after Wes Craven’s fine piece of work and is quite similar as far as a killer stalking teens for revenge and what not. When I was younger I always enjoyed watching it from time to time, but I don’t believe that it holds up near as well as SCREAM. The killer waived around an ice pick and wore a fisherman’s had an a black raincoat,and once again each subsequent sequel just tarnished whatever good came from the original. However, the second film did feature a token Jack Black parading around on a resort trying to sell weed to the teens being slaughtered and that’s always good for a laugh or two.
The Djinn (Wishmaster): I still fondly remember the story of how WISHMASTER entered my life. I saw a trailer once on TV and talked my mom into letting me go to a movie while she went shopping at the mall; I rolled the dice and tried to buy my own ticket, to no avail. Needless to say I never got to see the film in theaters and I went to see THE EDGE with my mother instead. When the film came out on VHS I picked up a copy and I remember loving it. It’s been years since I’ve revisited the film, but I’ve seen each sequel later that followed, all entertaining in some way or another, but none of them can be mistaken as great pieces of film. The Djinn was a fun villain though, an evil genie that only needs to convince one person to make three wishes, each with a not so great side effect, then on the third wish the Djinn is given power to release Hell on earth. It wasn’t executed with great success, so in the future I wouldn’t be totally surprised or against revisiting the idea with a tweaked filmmaking approach.