Follow TV Tropes

Following

Our Slashers Are Different

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/movie_slashers.png
Pick anyone you like. Either way, you're still dead meat.

"The most common predator in the horror movie universe, slashers are named for their tendency to use sharp objects to violently kill or mutilate human prey. Like a shark's, a slasher's beauty lies in its simplicity. It's the perfect killing machine — an engine of death. Every molecule — every action — is devoted to extermination. And just as there are hammerheads, great whites, and nurse sharks, slashers come in different shapes and sizes."
Advertisement:

Sub-Trope of Our Monsters Are Different. This one deals with the sometimes Near-indestructible Serial Killers stalking teenagers, college students, or the people around a Final Girl. Even ridiculously cute critters aren't (at least not always) immune! This is further elaborated on in the Slasher Movie trope.

Slashers are not traditionally thought of as a kind of monster, though many of them display seeming to outright supernatural powers. Most of them will be motivated by some sort of Revenge based motivation, are to some degree or another Made of Iron, and, despite being closer to indiscriminate, often stalk the young, which is the most universal trait among them (aside from the use of sharp weapons. They're called "slashers" for a reason). If there's a sequel, they usually possess some form of Resurrective Immortality.

Advertisement:

The majority of slashers never receive any sort of explanation for the source of their powers. While Freddy Krueger is a spirit turned demonic but still effectively a ghost, Jason Voorhees is simply a deformed serial killer living in the woods before he suddenly becomes a near-unkillable undead being with his own agenda intact, which deviates from a Romero-style zombie. The origins of their powers are less important than what they do with these powers, which is kill. However, slasher franchises that run long enough often do Retcon an explanation to the source of the killer's powers if there wasn't one before (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th).

Despite this, some works of fiction have actually made it so slashers are their own distinct type of monster. They apply rules, a commonality of origin, or a category to their activities that does not normally apply to fiction. It also implies that there are many slashers in existence and not just a single unpleasant monster stalking the teenagers of whatever city they're in. Some of them expand on the supernatural elements while others do away with them entirely, revealing them to just be a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax. This trope is about works that take time to get into the worldbuilding of their slasher villains and how they might or might not be dealt with.

Advertisement:

For slasher antagonists that aren't different, see Stock Slasher.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • HackSlash is set in a universe where slashers are a kind of Revenant Zombie that comes back from the dead after violent death. The possibility of becoming a slasher is genetic in nature and they eventually become compelled to kill in their normal lives, though they may be apparently normal people up to that point. Much of the protagonist's issues stem from the fact her mother was a slasher whom she was forced to kill. Cassie Hack, herself, has the same urge to kill as her mother but expresses it against her fellow slashers.
  • The Sandman (1989) has the first Corinthian. He occupies a position as both an all-powerful supernatural slasher as well as the muse of other serial killers. He was created by Dream to be the embodiment of humanity's worst fears but, much to his master's disappointment, just became an immortal monster. The second is a more nuanced but still terrifying figure.
  • Jei in Usagi Yojimbo is basically an immortal slasher in a Medieval Japanese setting. Constant Slasher Smile, wielding a black-bladed spear, never stopping, slaying people for inscrutable reasons... It takes the legendary sword Kusanagi to kill him, and even then he just takes a new body.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Alien movies take the Slasher Movie trope and apply it to a science fiction universenote . How is the alien able to stalk its prey so well? Because it moves around the ventilation system and tunnels. Why is it so dangerous? Because it's a predatory animal that evolved that way. Why is it so mindlessly hostile? Because it's territorial and reproduces via its prey. How is it almost invulnerable? Because it has natural armor and an exoskeleton - and if you shoot through it, it's been established that acid blood might annihilate its way through your ship's material.
  • Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon takes place in a universe where slasher movie villains like Freddy Krueger, Chucky and Michael Myers are all real and well known enough that normal serial killers like the titular Leslie Vernon want to emulate them.
  • In The Cabin in the Woods, slashers and other horror movie monsters are captured and contained by the Organization, which uses them for the purpose of carrying out Human Sacrifices. It is mentioned that they are relics of an old world where magic reigned instead of science.
  • The Candyman deals with the concept of urban legends, one example being that the Candyman was created by people fearing him and making legends about his death. He is required to kill by the nature of their beliefs and wants to pass on his curse to make more of his kind. He succeeds with the film's protagonist.
  • Final Destination is essentially a Slasher Movie series with a twist: Death itself is hunting the protagonists and killing them off one by one after they survive a major freak accident or incident. Separate movies adopt slightly different attitudes towards the exact nature of the connection.
    • Final Destination 2 played this twice in separate ways: All of the protagonists previously survived events in their lives that were directly or tangentially related to the Flight 180 explosion in the first film. E.g. Eugene avoided getting stabbed to death by a student because he was subbing elsewhere for Ms Lewton, who was killed in the events of the first film, and Kimberly was watching a news report about Todd's suicide that prevented her from being with her mother when she was killed in a botched robbery. Then Kimberly appears to circumvent it altogether by dying and then being revived. However, this was ignored by the sequels, which show that she died offscreen between the sequels.
    • Final Destination 4 revealed that it was actually Death itself that sent these visions, meaning that Death was essentially just playing with the people who survived before killing them off the way they'd always intended.
    • Final Destination 5 introduced the element that if the survivors killed someone else, they would gain their years and survive much longer. However, the one person who gets killed like this (even if by accident) turns out to have had an enlarged blood vessel in his brain that gave him only a few weeks to live anyway. Nathan, who was responsible for his death, learns this just before he gets squashed.
    "Life's a bitch."
  • Friday the 13th: Jason Voorhees was a malformed, possibly mentally impaired serial killer who became an unstoppable 'zombie' thanks to a lightning bolt in Part VI and was said to have a Healing Factor even later. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday also made him a demon linked to the Evil Dead's Necronomicon. The Friday the 13th (2009) reboot actually attempts to explain away Jason Voorhees' abilities non-supernaturally. He is a self-trained survivalist who uses traps, knowledge of the land, and a series of underground mining tunnels to stalk his prey. He is not an immortal zombie but simply a terrifying woodsman that his victims are unaware of.
  • Halloween: Michael Myers was a chilling but still very human sociopath, a carrier of pure evil before he became an incarnation of mysterious, ancient power that was even sought after by a Religion of Evil, etc. Notably, his powers were inexplicable in the first movie, attributed to what was behind his eyes being "pure evil" by Doctor Loomis and the Boogeyman by Laurie Strode. Later ideas would be that he had a psychic connection to his niece Jamie and was tied to a Samhain-worshiping cult. Most of these were retconned away by Halloween (2018).
  • Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise is a Zig-Zagged example. He starts out as a neutral entity, being a Demon of Human Origin like his fellow Cenobites who captures and tortures anyone who solves the Lament Configuration. In the first and second film, he sticks to this, with characters like Frank Cotton and Julia being the ones who fit more into the traditional Serial Killer mold. The only time where he can generously be called a "slasher" is in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, being freed of Leviathan's laws and his humanity leading to him going on a massacre, turning all of his victims into cenobites with aspirations of ruling the Earth on a throne of eternal human suffering.
  • It Follows is a slasher film using the Sex Equals Death principle. Teens are being stalked by an invisible, seemingly invincible killer only visible to them and eventually mercilessly kills them. The movie adds two major changes: it's a curse of unknown origin passed through sexual intercourse and it only targets teenagers who've been exposed to the curse.
  • The Jeepers Creepers franchise has the Creeper following carefully constructed rules.
    • Jeepers Creepers has the Creeper, which is a being of unknown origin who returns every 23 years to eat humans and to use their body parts to replenish his body. Unlike most slashers, though, he hunts boys or men as what can seem to be a preference for women/girls, although there are female victims.
    • Jeepers Creepers 3 also expands the mythology by demonstrating that the Creeper has been around for thousands of years and that he will apparently return to hunt anybody who is on the property where Kenny buried the Creature's hand.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • Freddy Krueger came Back from the Dead after being subjected to a Vigilante Execution by the angry parents of the children he murdered, cursing the town by coming for their children through their dreams as a vengeful spirit. Later films revealed that he was also a Child by Rape after his mother, a nun who worked at an insane asylum, was accidentally locked inside late at night and gang-raped, and that the reason for his apparent immortality is because he's actually, as what seems to be his afterlife, serving three dream daemons.
    • The spinoff Wes Craven's New Nightmare proposes that slashers such as Freddy Krueger are in fact the avatars of an ancient entity of pure evil, whose essence can be captured by stories. Unfortunately, it liked being Freddy Krueger so much that it started to think it was him, and starts targeting Heather Langenkamp and her loved ones in the real world because he thinks she's really Nancy. It notably employs many of the metatextual ideas that Wes Craven would explore in greater depth in Scream.
    • In the remake, Freddy is now a child molester instead of a child killer. The film alludes to the idea that he might have been wrongly accused, and that his killing spree is vengeance against the parents who murdered an innocent man on the basis of suspicion, but it's later revealed that he did, in fact, abuse those children.
  • Reeker features a malodourous zombie cyborg slasher who is the embodiment of Death by Car Accident, who kills the people who enter his stretch of Limbo by giving them the injuries that killed them in Reality. Presumably, this lets them go to their actual Final Reward, whatever that may be. He still plays fair, though, pretending he'll be hurt/killed by being shot or run over, and if his victims can escape him, they get to survive their accident.
  • The Scream franchise is a deconstruction-reconstruction of slasher movies and clichés. The killers aren't supernatural monsters, but merely evil, mortal men and women wearing a basic Halloween costume, and their seemly supernatural abilities have mundane explanations. Offscreen Teleportation? There's more than one killer. Immune to Bullets? He's wearing a bulletproof vest underneath his cloak. The killer keeps returning for each sequel? Ghostface is a Legacy Character, and once the killers in the movie are killed, they don't come back for the sequel; somebody else puts on the mask and cloak. The creepy voice on the phone? They're using an electronic voice changer to mask their identity. However, the Ghostface killers are still dangerous enough to rack up a high body count, and while most everyone is Genre Savvy, people still get killed by being overpowered or by making poor decisions.
  • The Terminator films, specifically the first one, introduce a Science Fiction aspect to their Slasher, the T-800. It's an imposing, cold-blooded, and seemingly indestructible killer, with the twist being that it's actually a Killer Robot covered in artificial human flesh from a post-apocalyptic future who was sent back in time to assassinate the mother of a human resistance leader who will lead his army to victory against Skynet. Also, rather than use bladed weapons like other Slashers, T-800 prefers using ranged weapons (firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, etc.) but will also use its bare hands to kill its main target and those who remain its way. Ironically, it's the villain of the second one, a movie that played the slasher angle more low-key for a more purely action-focused approach, who preferred using bladed weapons.
  • Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is human, though heavily deformed, and a Psychopathic Manchild born to a cannibalistic hillbilly family who sends him out to cut people up with a chainsaw and make meat of them.

    Literature 

  • Benny Rose, the Cannibal King: Benny Rose is a supernatural slasher killer. He has a deformed face, ghoulish white skin and a touch that can corrode his victims. He also has a Hook Hand on his left wrist, which he uses to slash at his victims. Benny is cannibalistic and feeds on children.
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter does a Doing in the Scientist version during one of its books where it states Serial Killer types like the protagonist are all possessed by demons. The author eventually backtracked from this and it was rarely mentioned thereafter.
  • The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix focuses more on the other side of the Slasher Movie, the Final Girl, but it does deconstruct this trope by having the slashers be ordinary human murderers whose crimes became enough of a trend in the '70s and '80s to spawn a wave of Based on a True Story horror movies. Heather DeLuca (the story's expy of Nancy Thompson) insists that the Dream King, the slasher who tried to kill her, had supernatural abilities, and Chrissy Mercer attempts to ascribe a higher philosophical/mythological meaning to slashers by connecting them to ancient Greek Dionysian cults, but both are extremely Unreliable Narrators; Heather is a strung-out junkie living in a halfway house whose ordeal is heavily implied to have been at least partly made up by the studio to hype their movie, and Chrissy is a Monster Fangirl of slasher killers who's deservedly called "Crazy Chrissy" by other characters. At the end, slashers are also explicitly compared to modern Spree Killers by the villains, who see the latter as more terrifying murderers due to their use of guns enabling much higher body counts, such that they stage their own slasher-style killing spree as a mass shooting instead of an '80s-style hack-and-slash.
  • Final Girls by Riley Sager is another deconstruction of the concept. The story is about how three serial killers are elevated by the media into "slashers" because their murder sprees were eerily similar to slasher movies. Their attacks each result in lone female survivors and spur a tasteless public interest in the titular Final Girl heroines.
  • How to Survive a Horror Movie groups slashers into five categories.
    • The Strong, Silent Type is the classic Stock Slasher: huge, silent, feels no pain, wears a mask and overalls to conceal their identity (possibly because they're disfigured or undead), can Power Walk faster than you can run, prefers bladed weapons, stalks forests and small towns, and very hard to kill. Their main weakness is that they're single-minded to the point of stupidity, meaning that they're easily led into traps.
    • The Gamesman is more akin to Jigsaw, a killer who forces victims into Life or Limb Decisions and prefers overbuilt torture devices and surgical implements as weapons of choice. Beating them involves Bothering by the Book, constantly asking for instructions until they grow frustrated.
    • The Half-Retarded Hillbilly is precisely that, a backwoods redneck who stalks rural areas and kills people with farming implements out of a mix of boredom and the genetic damage of generations of inbreeding. You beat them by out-crazying them, regaling them with tales of the things you've seen on the internet.
    • The Wisecracker is a Faux Affably Evil killer with a Deadpan Snarker attitude, going for humor and creativity with their kills in order to get the audience on their side. To beat them, play to their insecurities or, if that fails, say the magic words: "I don't get it."
    • The Mama's Boy is emotionally crippled due to their relationship with their mother, and takes it out on everybody who reminds them of such. In short, you need to get them laid — take them out on the town and pay an attractive man to flirt with them (whether they're male or female, their mommy issues prevent them from being attracted to women).
  • I Hunt Killers initially appears to be a pretty archetypal serial killer novel, but by the end of the trilogy, it's revealed that all of the serial killers seen thus far have been members of a Crow King cult of serial killers, and have been participating in "games" to match up or exceed each other's crimes, ruled over by Jazz's parents Janice and Billy Dent.
  • Psycho Killers In Love by C.T. Phipps is set in the United States Of Monsters universe and has slashers as a kind of monster related to urban legends. It is an Urban Fantasy take that has them as both Antihero and Villain Protagonist. Slashers are all descendants of the original Nephilim and were once warriors that defended the world as long as they were worshiped by mortals. Becoming tainted by demons, they now derive their worship from the fear they generate in their victims. Apparently, the horror industry is controlled by demonic cultists who make movies similar enough to the crimes of the real-life slashers to empower them, with the Weinsteins being alluded to.
    • Despite actual slashers being a thing in-universe, the slasher in A Nightmare on Elk Street for the Bright Falls Mysteries set in the same universe is actually an indestructible spirit. It is the Boogeyman, the King of the Boggarts, and a literal god of fear invoking a movie slasher from the script they're working from.
  • The Web Serial Novel Pact has Bogeymen, who are slasher horror monsters from the Abyss, a magical realm that tortures inhabitants until they turn into killing machines strong enough to fight their way out. Blake becomes one after a Demon eats his connections, sending him to the Abyss. By the time he's out, he's a fear-eating tree-person monster.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World's "And Then There Was Shawn" has the Skullfaced Killer terrorizing the gang while they were trapped inside the school during detention. At the end of the episode, he is unmasked to be an evil double of Shawn. Luckily, it was All Just a Dream.
  • Tying in with the show's longtime affinity for horror plotlines, the Doctor Who episode "Dalek" takes the conventional slasher outline and transplants it to an American oligarch's private underground museum, with the killer being a Dalek that survived a Great Offscreen War that wiped out the rest of its species. The killer being an Implacable Man takes the form of the Dalek's self-defense mechanisms, and the relentless slaughter is motivated by the fact that the Daleks were deliberately engineered to be Absolute Xenophobes, with the Doctor describing them as "the ultimate in racial cleansing."
  • Zig-zagged and explored in Hannibal: The serial killers hunted by Will Graham vary widely in their methods of killing and personal reasons; his work always involves deducing their internal logic, motivations, and weaknesses. While no practical links are formed between them, the killers are all obsessed with committing various artistic/surrealist murders (and many can be traced, in one way or another, to Dr. Hannibal Lecter).

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crimson Jack from the Betrayal at House on the Hill scenario Stacked Like Cordwood is a serial murderer with Resurrective Immortality. He has his Identical Grandson lure him more victims, since he went into hiding in the eponymous Haunted House. The scenario plays out much like the middle installment in a long-running slasher movie franchise.
  • The Implacable Stalker template from Pathfinder is based on this archetype, allowing for the creation of unkillable, inhuman murderers. The abilities granted even include a Shout-Out to A Nightmare on Elm Street, allowing them to be reborn from their victims' nightmares.
  • In the Ravenloft campaign setting, there is a template for human beings driven mad by horror called Broken Ones. A small number of these become murderous killers. The most famous of these is the Midnight Slasher that goes after couples due to her parents being murdered by Gabrielle of Invidia after seducing her father.
  • In the Vampire: The Masquerade setting for the Old World of Darkness, there is a group of Nosferatu vampires called Leatherfaces. These basically act like slashers in their indiscriminate stalking and murder of humans. They do it because their deformities and the Beast have driven them mad.
  • World of Darkness: Slasher is a supplement for Chronicles of Darkness by Chuck Wendig. It gives numerous types of slashers based on a variety of archetypes. They gain their supernatural powers as an inverse of the Vigil, becoming more obsessed with killing than protecting humans. One of them might start with a motive like stopping rapists after their child is assaulted but gradually will suffer Motive Decay until they're killing everyone with the slightest interest in sex.

    Video Games 
  • Alien: Isolation takes the Slasher Movie tropes of Alien up to the eleven. The alien is completely indestructible for the majority of the game and stalks our protagonist relentlessly. Amanda Ripley must hide, run, and distract the stalker because she's quite disadvantaged compared to an evolved, towering killing machine that shrugs off forms of gunfire and has mastered the endless labyrinthine tunnels that are around the space station. It even explains why it seems to be stalking her, in particular. It's not. There's dozens of aliens on the station due to the original having had time to procreate. Amanda is possibly running into multiple ones versus being hunted by a single one.
  • Clock Tower 3 explains that vulnerable people are recruited by dark Entities and turned into serial killers. Once these killers are invariably executed for their crimes, the Entity resurrects them as immortal undead Subordinates to continue these sprees unimpeded. Both the Subordinates and Entities can only be truly stopped by the Rooders, a bloodline with supernatural, evil-fighting powers (although Entities are created by blood relatives sacrificing another Rooder at the peak of their power, creating a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario).
  • Dead by Daylight has slashers coming from a variety of supernatural and natural sources but all of them are recruited by the Entity. They are then forced to hunt a group of survivors over and over again in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. While some of the slashers resent this and how their powers have been altered, others relish the fact they can continue hunting their prey for all eternity.
  • Friday the 13th: The Game takes time to explain away Jason Voorhees' Offscreen Teleportation powers as well as other abilities. His abilities are further explained away as due to being a Child by Rape with an unknown (possibly supernatural) father.
  • The Mortal Kombat franchise has featured at least four slashers as Guest Fighters in the Continuity Reboot trilogy: Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat 9, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface in Mortal Kombat X, and (depending on whether you count him as a slasher) the Terminator in Mortal Kombat 11. They're as frightening as ever, but for gameplay purposes, they're as vulnerable to conventional weaponry and martial arts blows as any kombatant.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 2 (Remake) is a video game where the two primary enemies are variations on the slasher concept. Mr. X is an immortal regenerating bioweapon that is programmed to stalk the protagonists throughout the police station as well as Raccoon City. William Birkin is similarly also empowered by the G-Virus to be nearly indestructible as well as have an animal-like cunning. A humorous inversion is there's a stealth segment where the protagonist faces a much more powerful unkillable foe. It's just that said opponent is an adult male while you are temporarily playing an eight-year-old girl.
    • In both the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and its remake, the titular Nemesis is designed to invoke many of the tropes of a slasher. Nemesis is unkillable, possessed Offscreen Teleportation, and chasing a beautiful woman in a short skirt. Jill, notably, can defeat Nemesis but only temporarily until she blasts it to pieces with a rail gun.
  • Until Dawn does a Bait-and-Switch with the initial setup being a traditional slasher stalking a group of teens at a ski lodge. The slasher is an escaped mental patient with a grudge against the family. POV shots indicate that the slasher has thermal vision and the lodge may be haunted too. It's actually their friend, Josh, who is the son of a special effects genius and has set up the house as a place to invoke Slasher Movie tropes. Only after he's unmasked do they discover there's a real supernatural threat; Josh's sister, Hannah, who was presumed dead when she vanished after being pranked by Josh's friends the year prior. Only now, she has transformed into a Wendigo hell-bent on killing that entire group.
  • Yoshi's Crafted World, an otherwise adorable game, has Shadowville, whose first level is home to several Creepy Dolls brandishing huge axes that emit hellish screams whenever they see Yoshi and chase after him. They cannot be defeated by any means. Even the hint-giving Message Boxes have been given a foreboding upgrade:
    If he
    sees you,
    run
    away...

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

Michael Myers

Michael Myers was a chilling but still very human sociopath, a carrier of pure evil before he became an incarnation of mysterious, ancient power that was even sought after by a Religion of Evil, etc. Notably, his powers were inexplicable in the first movie, attributed to what was behind his eyes being "pure evil" by Doctor Loomis and the Boogeyman by Laurie Strode. Later ideas would be that he had a psychic connection to his niece Jamie and was tied to a Samhain-worshiping cult. Most of these were retconned away by Halloween (2018).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / OurSlashersAreDifferent

Media sources:

Report