With Scream recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, and a brand new Ghostface killing spree just around the corner in Scream (2022), we ask; is the opening of the film the best in slasher history to date?
After answering a phone call from a mysterious person, Casey Becker is forced into a deadly game of movie trivia, specifically horror movies, concluding with both her and her boyfriend Stephen being slaughtered by a killer with a Ghostface mask and black robe.
The slow escalation of this scene is masterful, as things really turn once the caller reveals they can see Casey, which alerts her to being in immediate danger. This proves to be the tip of the iceberg, as she sees her boyfriend gutted on the back porch before being attacked and then hung from a tree with her insides on the outside.
What are the other contenders for the greatest slasher opening scene? Here’s some worthwhile considerations –
When A Stranger Calls (1979)
Perhaps the pre-cursor to Scream’s motif of harassing phone calls. When A Stranger Calls is an exercise in nerve-shredding tension. The caller keeps asking the babysitter to check the children, and despite us dreading the worst, we never expect the caller’s threats to be followed through so viscerally.
The scene is played completely straight and even though the film is not an out and out slasher, this sequence is an all-timer.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Tom Mcloughlin’s sixth chapter of the Friday the 13th series goes straight for the jugular as the previous survivor Tommy Jarvis sets off to incinerate Jason Voorhees’ corpse at the cemetery nearby the former Crystal Lake, which has now been renamed Forest Green.
This doesn’t go to plan, and Jason is resurrected via a lightning bolt and returns to wreak more havoc on the newly reopened summer camp.
Urban Legend (1998)
Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks knew the assignment when he took on this slasher ensemble from the late 90s.
We follow Michelle who runs out of gas when driving back to Pendleton college, she is creeped out by the gas station attendant (Brad Dourif), who in fact was trying to tell her that there was someone hiding in her backseat. From here it is a ticking timebomb as the silhouette of the hooded killer appears in the backseat before swinging an axe at Michelle.
Intense, and made oddly melancholic by Michelle’s bad singing to Total Eclipse of the Heart, right before her heart is eclipsed for the final time.
Prom Night (1980)
One of Jamie Lee Curtis’ slasher follow-ups to Halloween, features one of the darkest openings to a slasher film.
We follow a group of small child friends who are playing a twisted game called ‘The Killers are Coming’, where one group hunts another around an abandoned derelict building.
The scene ends in tragedy when a small girl is forced out of a second storey window and falls to her death. We later find out this is the catalyst for a killing spree years later on Prom Night at Hamilton High.
The Mutilator (1984)
Despite being released in the years following the initial slasher boom of the early 1980s, The Mutilator has become a staple watch for slasher fans, especially since a bumper release from Arrow Video. In fact, it has become such a favourite that a long-gestated sequel is set to start filming in 2022, with original director Bud Cooper back in the directing chair.
While the others entries on this list go for tension, The Mutilator opts for pure insanity as young Ed finds his father’s hunting rifle and accidentally blows his mother away. It really does need to be seen to be believed.
A list such as this couldn’t get away without mentioning the greatest slasher film of all time, John Carpenter’s Halloween.
With its creepy music and POV camera work, we follow young Michael Myers into his home where he picks up a butcher knife and stabs his sister to death. While the effect is slightly tainted on repeat viewing, Carpenter’s masterful direction and music coupled with Dean Cundey’s cinematography make for a truly twisted and hypnotic scene which is only rounded off with the revelation of the 6-year old holding a bloody knife as his mother and father try to process what he may have done.
What is your favourite opening scene of a slasher film? Let us know in the comments.
And don’t forget Scream (2022) hits cinemas on 14th January 2022.