Beginning as far back as Mario Bava's Bay of Blood in 1971 - or even Peeping Tom in 1960 - and codified with the release of films like Halloween and Friday the 13th, the slasher may be the horror movie subgenre whose formulas and "rules" have been most often publicly dissected and discussed. We're all pretty familiar with the common beats of the slasher movie: A (usually masked) assailant knocks off a cast of (usually nubile) victims, often as revenge, earned or otherwise, for some mysterious wrong committed in the past and kept in the dark. Frequently, there is one survivor - the so-called "final girl," who is often the most "pure" or "good" character in the group.
One of the reasons the formula of the slasher has been so widely discussed is that it just works, and while masked slashers like Halloween or Friday the 13th might be what we mean when we use the term, they're far from the only movies that have borrowed the slasher formula, to varying effect.
In these other flicks, the person behind the proverbial mask isn't always even a person. Here are 16 movies without a human antagonist that nonetheless follow almost all of the slasher beats - the twist is that these slashers are things like cars, sharks, bears, and... tires?
- 113 VOTESPhoto: Open Road Films
Liam Neeson and a gaggle of other oilfield workers in Alaska survive a plane crash only to be menaced - and eventually picked off one by one - by wolves in this existential thriller from director Joe Carnahan.
It may owe as much to notable naturalist writer Stephen Crane as to Friday the 13th, but it's hard to deny that Liam Neeson plays the role of the "final girl" here, with the various trials he endures forging him into a weapon that is capable of fighting the slasher - or in this case the wolves - on their own terms and on their own turf, as he memorably does (with broken bottles strapped to his fist) in the film's climax.
- 221 VOTESPhoto: Universal Pictures
In his novel My Heart is a Chainsaw, Prolific author Stephen Graham Jones has gone on record to say that Jaws counts as a slasher movie. And it makes sense. After all, Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster hits (or invents) many of the now-familiar beats, including the all-time cold open, as the eponymous shark pulls down a skinny dipper in the film's intro.
That's not all, though; Jaws also gives its stalker iconic theme music (a trick that would be echoed in Friday the 13th years later), numerous POV shots, and even a sort of final girl in the form of Roy Scheider's Chief Brody.
- Photo: Concorde Pictures
If you aren't convinced that Jim Wynorski's mall-set 1986 farce is a slasher movie, we challenge you to just look at that poster. The premise sees a trio of newly invented security robots being unveiled to guard a mall after hours. Naturally, lightning strikes damage the computer controlling the robots and they go haywire. That same night, several teenage employees lock themselves inside the mall for a little unsanctioned after-hours party.
The result is pretty standard slasher stuff, as the three robots go after the trespassers with extreme prejudice, knocking the teens off in a variety of gruesome ways until only a couple make it out alive.
- 46 VOTES
'Dial: Help' - The Slashers Are PhonesPhoto: Overseas Filmgroup
It would probably be more accurate to call Dial: Help a supernatural giallo than a slasher film, but given that the origins of slashers and gialli are inextricably bound up, trying to separate the two very quickly becomes a matter of semantics, at best. In this weirdo 1988 flick from the infamous director of Cannibal Holocaust, it's also technically true that the motivating force behind the deadly phones is the ghosts of former operators of a defunct lonely hearts hotline.
But given that the ghosts only ever use phones to take out their targets, whom they knock off one by one in a series of creative, slasher-esque sequences, it's safe to say that Dial: Help is an underseen stealth slasher you should check out if you get the chance.