Content Shifter: 13 ’80s Slasher Flicks
The original Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) movies didn’t invent the “slasher” genre, but they did kick off a bloody wave of horror that ruled the ’80s. It makes sense—have you seen archival photos of ’80s people? They needed some killing.
Since the entire month of October has been swallowed up by Halloween, Inc.™, “Content Shifter” is digging up some lesser-known ’80s slasher flicks. There’s a reason you’ve haven’t heard of most of these: They’re fucking terrible. Some don’t even hit that “so bad, it’s good” sweet spot—meeting a “13” quota isn’t easy, just sayin’.
Here are 13 ’80s slasher flicks to stream between the Halloween parties that nobody invites me to anymore. You dress up as “Sexy Ben Shapiro” one time …
Slumber Party Massacre II (1987; Prime Video, Tubi, Shudder, YouTube)
High-schooler Courtney (Crystal Bernard) takes her girl group on a weekend retreat, only to have band practice and brushes with lesbianism interrupted by the return of the Driller Killer! Even better, he’s been reincarnated as a singing rockabilly greaser with a sick drill guitar! Yes, it’s slasher flick with cool kills and musical numbers—sex, blood and rock n’ roll, baby!
New Year’s Evil (1980; Prime Video, YouTube)
Speaking of rock n’ roll, early slasher New Year’s Evil features the most over-the-top metal theme song of the genre—suck it, Halloween. Blaze (Roz Kelly), host of a New Year’s Eve new wave countdown TV show, receives a call from a mystery fan claiming he’ll kill a “naughty girl” in each time zone at midnight, and she’ll be the last. Bonus: “punk” rockers galore.
Sleepaway Camp (1983;
Eight years after a Camp Arawak boating accident killed her father and sibling, teen Angela (Felissa Rose) is sent off to … Camp Arawak. This well-thought-out plan goes awry when campers and counselors start getting dead—is Angela the killer? The answer is obvious; Sleepaway Camp’s infamous twist ending is anything but. A fifth sequel is coming.
Chopping Mall (1986; Prime Video, Tubi, Shudder, YouTube)
With an impossibly fantastic title to live up to, Chopping Mall barely even tries. At least there’s a spin on slashers: killer robots. A group of idiot 20-somethings break into a mall to spend the night (because … fun?), only to have the party crashed by boxy security Roombas set to berserker mode. Extra comedy points: Mary Warnov and Paul Bartel from Eating Raoul.
Death Spa (1989; Prime Video)
Another tech-gone-evil slasher, Death Spa pits spandexed workout dopes against a haunted gym—as the pitch says, “You’ll sweat blood!” A bloodthirsty ghost infiltrates a health club’s computerized control system and starts killing gym rats with exercise machines, weight gear and overheated saunas. Death Spa is stoopid to the max, but it did introduce gym sushi(!).
Killer Workout (1987; Prime Video, YouTube)
For some reason, the film distributors thought Killer Workout would sell better than the movie’s original title, Aerobicide—SAD! Buff boneheads are being murdered by a safety pin-wielding psycho at an L.A. gym, so why not keep it open during the investigation? Also, safety pin? What it lacks in logic, Killer Workout makes up for in excessive T&A (not triceps and abs).
Visiting Hours (1982; YouTube)
On the flipside, a feminist journalist (Linda Purl) provokes a serial killer by simply presenting her position on a TV talk show—sorry for the ’80s, women. She survives his attack, but now he’s in her hospital to finish the job. Her boss (William Shatner, who must have had a boat payment to make) is no help whatsoever. It’s surprisingly tense yet still overtly Canadian.
Night School (1981; Prime Video)
Not to be confused with the 2018 Kevin Hart movie of the same name, this Night School featured this immortal tagline: “A is for apple, B is for bed, C is for coed, D is for dead, F is for failing to keep your head.” This serial killer is for decapitation aficionados, though the original title was Terror Eyes—also, there’s little schooling. At least it gave the world Rachel Ward.
Final Exam (1981; Prime Video, Tubi)
College students are being slain on campus days before summer break, and the killer is a completely random psycho with no connections or backstory. As long as jocks and cheerleaders are being taken out, cool. For a chintzy slasher flick, Final Exam is short on blood and boobs, but long on—WTF?—character development, meaning you get to know these coffin-stuffers. Yay?
Nail Gun Massacre (1985; Prime Video)
No title ambiguity here—nail on the head, literally. Six Texas construction workers who skated on a rape charge are murdered one by one by a mystery motorcycle man with a high-powered nail gun. Like a Home Depot RoboCop, he serves wisecracks with his vengeance and kills more than a few innocent bystanders. Actual tagline: “A very penetrating story.”
The Mutilator (1985; Prime Video)
A group of horny college coeds hang out at a beachfront condo during fall break, only to be killed off in increasingly gruesome fashions: axes, pitchforks, boat motors, fishing gear, etc. The creative killer is Big Ed, the father of one of the coeds who never forgave his son for accidentally killing Mrs. Ed. It’s almost Shakespearean, this little Mutilator gem.
Girls Nite Out (1982; YouTube)
A college-campus scavenger hunt turns bloody when a killer in a mascot bear costume starts slashing up students with serrated-knife “claws.” Even worse, he involves the college-radio DJ to help broadcast his murders—as if that gig wasn’t already humiliating enough. Girls Nite Out was originally titled The Scaremaker, but they really should have gone with TerrorBear.
Stripped to Kill (1987; Prime Video, Tubi)
An LAPD detective (Kay Lenz) goes undercover at the Rock Bottom strip club to investigate a string of stripper murders. Never mind that Emmy-winning actress Lenz is pole dancing (badly) in a low-budget slasher—Stripped to Kill features the most bizarrely ludicrous killer reveal of any flick on this list. Even weirder: The strip club is owned by Norman Fell (Three’s Company).