Best Slasher TV Shows

With their masked killers, excessive gore, and abundance of knives, the slasher subgenre is a mainstay of horror. Though horror movies like Halloween and Texas Chain Saw Massacre are the most well known examples of a slasher, between the recent premiere of Chucky and the upcoming I Know What You Did Last Summer, television slashers seem to be the future of the horror world. With Halloween right around the corner, now's the perfect time to dive into the bloody genre, and what better way than with some binge-worthy and gory TV series for you to enjoy.

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Scream

Following the common trend of movie-to-TV adaptations is MTV’s, and later VH1’s, Scream. The series has almost as much camp charm as the original movie, giving a teenage twist to the gory genre. Scream takes place in an alternate timeline to the movies, in which the legendary Ghostface killer has become a small town legend. The first two seasons feature an ensemble cast of highschoolers, hunted down by a masked killer, similar to the original film. The TV show differs by surrounding the killer with a fabled backstory: the villain had been conquered years before, and now he’s returned for his revenge. The third season, Scream: Resurrection, acts as a reboot for the show, providing a new cast and setting. Instead of the quaint-feel of the first seasons, season three takes place in the hustle of Atlanta, following a young football star. While the general storyline is loosely the same, this season embraces the film’s villainous roots, trading “The Lakewood Slasher” for the aforementioned Ghostface. Season three may not work as well as its predecessors, but even it has its merits (namely its use of the original Ghostface costuming).

Slasher

Slasher is pretty much The Little Engine That Could of the slasher genre. For only having four seasons, the anthology series has been passed around to a ridiculously large number of networks (Netflix, Shudder, Chiller, etc.), but still, the show lives on. Every season features a new cast, setting and storyline, with each paying tribute to beloved slasher clichés. The first season, The Executioner, revolves around a small Canadian town, terrorized by the masked "Executioner." The second season, Guilty Party, takes viewers to an abandoned summer camp where a group of counsellors return to recover the body of a victim they had murdered years before. The third season, Solstice, centers around an apartment complex during a summer solstice. The neighbors are targeted by a masked killer due to their ignorance during a murder the year before. The most recent fourth season, Flesh & Blood, features a wealthy family reunion set on a deserted tropical island. Family rivalry ensues as the relatives are all picked off by a mysterious murderer. The series focuses on an adult cast of characters, successfully setting itself apart from other slashers while still maintaining the most notable traits of the genre. Bloody, gory, and over-the-top, Slasher is most definitely worthy of its name.

Dead of Summer

In 2016, popular family television channel, ABC Family, rebranded to Freeform, marking the channel’s shift to teen oriented programming. To celebrate the occasion, the network announced a slate of new adolescent inspired shows, one of which being the ill-fated Dead of Summer. Sometime in the mid-1980’s, a midwestern summer camp is thrown into terror as its teenage counsellors are hunted down by a mystical serial killer. The teens must deal with first love, self-discovery, and tons of teenage drama, all while trying to expose the killer before they all meet their demise.

In contrast to the summer camp setting, Dead of Summer is most definitely more I Know What You Did Last Summer than Friday the 13th. The teen melodrama can definitely hold the show back from its fullest potential, but boy does the killer end-of-season plot twist make up for it. Sadly, the series only made it to one season before an abrupt cancellation. Luckily for everyone though, the show was designed to be an anthology, meaning season one’s 1980’s storyline had a chance to be fully wrapped up.

Scream Queens

One of the most popular slasher shows, Scream Queens follows Kappa Kappa Tau (KKT), a college sorority led by "The Chanels" mainly, Chanel No.1 (Emma Roberts). The sorority is stalked by The Red Devil, a killer dressed as the mascot of their college. The second season goes a different route, taking the sorority girl's to a hospital setting as they are hunted by a new killer, The Green Meanie. Screen Queens embraces the ridiculousness of its situations by turning into a self-aware comedy. Don't be fooled though, the show has all the bloody kills of any great slasher, just with the added benefit of a laugh or two. Though it satisfied many horror-lovers' gory desires, Screen Queens was cancelled after its second season.

Harper’s Island

The short-lived Harper's Island was a primetime slasher years ahead of its time. In it, Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy) returns home to her glum island hometown for a wedding, years after her mother's murder at the hands of John Wakefield (Callum Keith Rennie). Her homecoming seems to mark the return of her mother's killer, what should be an impossibility due to his death long before. As the wedding party attempts to discover who the murderer truly is, each is killed off one-by-one. The show truly feels like a more violent portrayal of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which is a feat in itself. What truly set the show apart though, was its ability to provide a solid thriller on cable during 2009. It is a shame the show never made it past one season, as there is no doubt it would have been a killer time.

AHS: 1984

With its anthology-style scares, American Horror Story has become infamous in the world of horror television. Though every season takes obvious ques from horror classics, season nine, American Horror Story: 1984, fully embraces its slasher roots. In homage to Friday the 13th, five friends escape from their issues by becoming counsellors at the secluded Camp Redwood. While facing their own personal obstacles, the group is hunted down by a killer. Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire plot.

The storyline is extremely thin and based mostly on the nostalgia of the 80’s, but the kills are delightfully gory and the season features all the camp goodness of any slasher film. Is it the greatest season of AHS? No, but boy does it scratch that itch for juicy slasher violence.

Chucky

The television adaption of Chucky acts as a sequel to the seventh (and most recent) film of the series, Cult of Chucky. Jake (Zackary Arthur), a 14-year-old boy and doll collector, finds a retro version of the popular Good Guy doll. Unknown to Jake, the doll had been possessed by an infamous serial killer, Chucky. Middle school is hard enough, but having to deal with a cursed doll intent on murdering everyone around you? Jake's eighth grade experience is only going to get worse. The series also deals with LGBT+ themes, something that has oddly become heavily attributed to the Chucky series. Chucky brings back the killer doll's original voice actor, Brad Dourif, and with him captures the crude charm of the original Child's Play film.

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Aubrey Carr (9 Articles Published)

Aubrey Carr is a journalist and film critic with a passion for horror movies. When she is not writing she can be found painting, baking, and obsessing over French cinema.

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