Top 5 Non-Franchise Slasher Films From The 1980s

Neal Damiano hooked up with the Super Retro Throwback Reviews podcast to chat about the best slasher films that didn’t turn into franchises.

Outside of the Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets and Halloweens, the slasher genre didn’t always provide us with bloated franchises that didn’t know when to quit.

In addition to The Burning, a terrific standalone slasher film from 1981 that we’ve championed previously on Top 10 Films, Neal Damiano chats to the Super Retro Throwback Reviews podcast about five other non-franchise stalk and slash classics that deserve their place in genre lore.

The Burning, Top 10 Films,

Also check out: Top 10 Slasher Films | Canada’s Contribution To The Slasher Genre | Every “Friday The 13th” Film Ranked Worst To Best | Top 10 Influential American Horror Films

5. Slaughter High

Neal says: “Cheesy fun film…the actors all look in their mid 30s. Marty is a nerd killer in a jester outfit. It’s so bad it’s good and stars the terrific Caroline Munro. The set up sees a chemistry prank going wrong so Marty comes back and sets up this fake high school reunion to exact revenge. There’s decent bloody kills. It’s one of those films you can watch with a group of fellow horror fans and laugh. And it’s got an absolutely fantastic twist ending.”

4. Terror Train

Neal says: “It’s a moody atmospheric slasher starring the most famous scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. The plot concerns a prank gone wrong and it all takes place in a train so there’s nowhere to run to. Terror Train features great cinematography for a slasher. It’s strange to: a really weird story and an ending with the androgynous killer. The killer sports a sick very creepy Groucho Marx Halloween mask.”

3. The Initiation

Neal says: “Just a really good well made stalk and slash film which sees sorority girls and frat boys getting picked off one by one with a POV killer style, set inside a mall. Staring Daphne Zuniga who has these weird dreams that terrify her and she doesn’t know why she keeps having them, The Initiation has some gory kills and a surprise twist ending. If you’re a slasher film fan, The Initiation is a must see. Check it out.

2. Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday to Me, Canadian Horror Film,

Neal says: “Canadian flick…such a unique slasher film because it has such strong character development which is so rare for these types of films. Has a POV killer who’s knocking off the elite students at an academic private high school. The interesting thing about this film is all the core group of friends sport the same pattern scarf, and it’s shown at every murder scene so it leads you to question every one as the killer during the film. It plays out like a mystery giallo film almost. A really intriguing and well made slasher film with a mouth dropping ending.

1. My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine, Film, 1981,

Neal says: “I absolutely love this film; it’s at number one because in my opinion it’s the quintessential slasher film, all the key elements here. The actors are likable, there’s character development and a well written jilted love story. It takes place in a unique setting; there’s funny moments to it but also bizarre kills. The replay value is very high. The killer has a sick miners uniform with a pick axe. The laundry mat scene is disturbing; the chief of police receives a human bloody heart in a Valentine chocolates’ box; the surprise twist ending with a haunting scene when Axle says “Sarah will you be my bloody Valentine”; the creepy credits song -i t’s just the epitome of slasher film.

Neal Damiano is quoted from the Super Retro Throwback Reviews podcast.

Also check out: Top 10 Slasher Films | Canada’s Contribution To The Slasher Genre | Every “Friday The 13th” Film Ranked Worst To Best | Top 10 Influential American Horror Films

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About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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    Mark Fraser Reply

    Compelling list (of which I’ve only seen three) , but I would still have Spinell’s/Zito’s Maniac in there. No franchise, no remake for 22 years. A stand alone piece of exploitation from the 1980s if ever there was one.

    • Avatar
      Neal Damiano Reply

      I considered Maniac, Mark. It’s a gritty fantastic horror film, I consider it on the teeter edge of grindhouse
      Thanks for the read & compliment.

  2. Dan
    Dan Reply

    Fascinating choices Neal. I haven’t seen The Initiation or Slaughter High but they look pretty entertaining.

    • Avatar
      Neal Damiano Reply

      Dan Stephens, 👆🏼two fantastic slasher films. If we’re talking the true essence of the definition of a slasher film, they are a must see.

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